The three chancellors debate

Posted on: 30 March 2010 by Gareth Hargreaves

The three men who want to be chancellor after the election talked about consensus more than their own ideas and direction on C4's first live debate.

Last night was the start of the great debates. Channel 4 had the ‘Three Chancellors’ in a live televised debate. It wasn’t up to the Three Tenors but it was entertaining enough.

Of the Three Stooges on show, Vince Cable (Liberals) got the most laughs with Alistair Darling playing the ‘dour Scott’. George Osborne tended to keep centre stage for most of the show although you were able to see the wheels whirring when the audience threw him a googly or our friend Vince took him to task, as he did on a couple of occasions.

As a voter it was pretty terrifying to watch and think that one of these men would have mine and your financial destiny in their hands. It really is a matter of taking your pick and seeing how it all pans out over the next four years.

Darling (what an unfortunate name!) stayed in character as the steady hand on the tiller backed by years of experience, which did little to take the sting out of barbs from Cable and Osborne reminding the audience that Labour has the party in charge of the economy for the past 13 years.

Cable ran the old faithful ‘I told you so!’ recording (at least three times) and got a couple of good laughs and claps. In some ways it was sad – he’s a very experienced man and an economist by trade and more than likely best able to do the job. But as Osborne pointed out the contest is between Labour and the Tories. He gave no ground to the likelihood of a hung parliament.

Osborne has one big disadvantage – he looks younger than his years and you wouldn’t be surprised to find a sling shot and a bag of sticky boiled sweets in his trouser pockets. New team, new ideas and (implied but not said) youth was his mantra and he played it well.

For the very first time they all agreed on one thing – we are going to face swinging cuts to government spending during the next decade!  The cuts will be deeper than those during the Thatcher period and will last longer!

All confirmed (as if it made any difference , Vince agreed!)  NHS spending would be kept safe. Other than this everything is up for grabs when the knives come out. Public services will be scaled back and this will cause unemployment – which we are all expecting.

So who do we go for – well our friend Vince would be my choice if he wasn’t quite so smug. Darling is out for me even though he has done a good enough job in the past two years. After all he’s been in the Labour government since 1997 and has to carry his share of the blame for the wanton waste of our taxes over those years.

Osborne is my bet and for two reasons: the first is it is time for a change – Labour is tired and out of ideas and it shows. You only have to watch Brown’s body language to see this. The second is a much more practical one – the Tories will put the knife to public spending and bring us back to an economy we can afford.

There will be pain but that will happen whoever wins. I’d sooner have it tough but over quickly rather than drag along for two more parliaments! The Tories in power will boost us in the international community especially those who have to lend us money to stay afloat!

Is he too young – maybe? But that doesn’t mean he can’t succeed and there are plenty of experienced people in the Conservative party – Ken Clark to name but one! Change for changes sake is not a good thing but in this case I think it is right!

That's my twopenneth, whether you agree or your opinion differs, I want to hear your views. Comment below or contact me at

You can watch the full discussion at 4 On Demand Chancellor Debate

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