Like Osborne, Carney abused the prestige of his office quite abominably during the EU referendum.
Did you see that odd photo of George Osborne looking shifty, queuing up in the Vietnamese jungle for the chance to fire an M60 machine gun? I found it interesting for a number of reasons.
One, obviously, is that it’s probably the first time in five years Osborne hasn’t been pictured wearing a hard hat and goggles. Another is what it tells us about his earnings prospects on the US speaker tour circuit: those guns can fire up to 650 rounds a minute — so at the local tourist rate of £1 a bullet that’s quite an expensive cheap thrill.
Mainly, though, what struck me about that snap was just how quickly fortune’s wheel can turn. Only two months ago, Osborne was the UK’s second most powerful politician, in charge of the world’s fifth largest economy. Today he’s just another middle-class, middle-aged tourist, with kids in tow, living out his midlife-crisis Rambo fantasy.
I wish I could feel sorrier for him than I do. But I’m afraid I found him as disappointing a chancellor as David Cameron was a disappointing prime minister. Some years ago, I used to chat to him in our kids’ school playground. ‘Just you wait till we get into power, then you’ll see how Conservative we really are,’ he once promised when I complained about the wet, centrist, anti-free-market direction his party was taking in opposition. He never delivered on it, though, did he?
His darkest hour, most of us will probably agree, was during the EU referendum when he masterminded the confected and mendacious Project Fear, promising all manner of made-up disasters if Britain voted the ‘wrong’ way. But even before that, he was showing some pretty worrying tendencies: his kowtowing to the Chinese; his closeness to Russian oligarchs and sinister Machiavels like Lord Mandelson; and, most dangerous of all, his addiction to micromanaging and neo-Keynesianism, whose damaging effects we may yet be ruing for many years hence.
Whatever had happened to the zealous young Thatcherite I used to know in the playground? Probably the same thing that happens to a lot of senior politicians: seduced by high-level shindigs at Davos, Brussels and wherever Bilderberg is holding its roadshow this year, they become convinced that the people best placed to run the world are a Brioni–suited cabal of enlightened corporatists, globalist technocrats and Goldman Sachs-trained central bankers like his Canadian import Mark Carney. It’s like the Bullingdon for grown ups, and naturally George wanted to be with them on the superyacht.
Read the rest in the Spectator.