Chancellor George Osborne badly missed the mood of the nation in his speech at the Tory party conference in Manchester today.
In the knowledge his analysis of the dangers facing the British economy would be compressed into a 15 second sound bite in news bulletins, he repeated the phrase “Together we will weather the storm” more-or-less four times to get his main theme across to the public.
This is a variant of the “We are all in this together” mantra he has been repeating since before the General Election. He riled many last time round, who questioned how Osborne, a multi-millionaire and former Bullingdon Club member, had the gall to include himself among those facing hard times.
Now he’s gone one better. With growth non-existent, inflation and unemployment rising, and our biggest trading partner the Eurozone in danger of imploding, he has the brass neck to talk about the country weathering the storm together.
Well, Mr Osborne I’m sorry to tell you that some people are too exhausted to bale any more and are already drowning.
Charities report a growing need to get food parcels to poverty stricken families raising the spectre of 1930s soup kitchens. The numbers claiming free school meals are climbing.
It’s good that council tax is being frozen for another year but it’s not a big deal. The saving is modest and council tax has soared in recent years to the extent arrears levels are climbing.
Young people are coming on to the labour market ill-educated. Where they are properly qualified, there aren’t the jobs.
Osborne’s confident tone was at total odds with Vince Cable’s “grey skies” speech at the LibDems conference a fortnight ago.
We’ll learn more in the Autumn Statement when the Chancellor should spell out just how far he is prepared to go with his new “credit easing” policy to help small and medium-sized companies.
Osborne is playing a long game and if – and it’s a big if – he’s right the Tories would expect to dump the LibDems and secure an overall majority in 2015.
He would also be well placed to see off the challenge of Boris Johnson as David Cameron’s successor.
The tragedy is right or wrong there will be many thousands of casualties throughout Britain for whom life may never be the same by the time we know the fate of Osborne's Plan A.
For them the Chancellor adds insult to injury to claim he shares their fate in the ship of state.