Ed will be held hostage with a £18.4bn SNP ransom, warns Osborne

DAVID WOODING joins Chancellor GEORGE OSBORNE on the campaign trail.
NICOLA Sturgeon would hit working families with a £1,063 tax bill as the price for propping up a Labour government, George Osborne warned yesterday.
He claimed the SNP leader would force Ed Miliband to raid the nation’s pay packets to meet nine hidden spending pledges in her party’s manifesto.
The Chancellor says the new £18.4billion “ransom note” would hurt real people – and trigger a mass exodus of job creators.
Mr Osborne declared: “This is a really stark situation and we are only five days away from it.
“Ed Miliband is not strong enough to win the election outright so we face a toxic combination of a weak Labour PM being held hostage by Scottish Nationalists, night after night, budget clause after budget clause.
“The SNP have only two objectives – one is to get maximum resources for Scotland and the other is to make the government look shambolic to further their cause of independence.
“They have already said they would borrow £148billion to meet their promises and now we’ve found nine more unfunded commitments they would write into Ed Miliband’s Budget.
“We’re talking serious money here. It would add £1,063 a year to the average working family’s tax bill.
“If interest rates go up by one per cent because of all this political chaos, that would add £1,000 to the average mortgage repayment.”
In an exclusive interview, Mr Osborne also warned that businesses and investors who base themselves in Britain could flee abroad – putting thousands of Brits out of work.
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He said: “All this would be put at risk by Ed Miliband’s high tax, anti-business, anti-growth policies that will destroy investment, cost jobs and drive these companies away.
“If we see the economic chaos of a weak Ed Miliband held hostage by the Scottish Nationalists, then jobs and investment will leave Britain.
“We’re in a fight now for our country’s future now. In just a few days time, we could be plunged into political instability and economic chaos with a weak Ed Miliband, who is clearly not up to the job, propped up by the life support machine of the Scottish Nationalists.
“It would be a disaster for our country.”
Mr Osborne added: “We’ve just done some new work on the SNP’s manifesto, which they have made very clear they will demand as their ransom note.
“It would cost an extra £1,063 a year in taxes for the average working family in this country.”
The SNP has already said it would borrow £148billion – and no more – to meet its election promises. But the nine hidden commitments to boost welfare spending at a cost of £18.4billion would have to be paid for with tax rises.
Nicola Sturgeon yesterday scoffed at Ed Miliband’s refusal to do any deals and vowed to derail his government if he didn’t jump to her tune.
She said: “If he’s not prepared to talk and to compromise then he will not get things through.”
Mr Osborne spoke during a campaign visit to Blackpool North and Cleveleys, a key marginal seat where Tory Paul Maynard is defending a 2,150 majority.
He branded Mr Miliband a “spendaholic” who would crash the economy again and “screw it up” for hard-working Brits.
The Chancellor brandished a copy of the note left in the Treasury in 2010 by departing Labour minister Liam Byrne admitting there was no cash left.
“We know he will end up causing everyone a lot of grief because we’ve been through it all before,” he declared.
“Let’s not end up in the situation where we have to wait for another Labour Treasury minister to write another letting telling us they’ve spend all our money.”
Asked what note HE would be leaving on his desk, he replied: “I’m not thinking about writing letters. I want to be back at work on Friday morning bringing jobs and prosperity to towns like this.
“I don’t want to hand over what we’ve achieved over the last five years though the hard work and sacrifice of the British people and businesses to Ed Balls and Ed Miliband for them to smash it against the wall.
“I am fighting with every last breath we’ve got in the next five days to make sure that doesn’t happen. I want to make sure we build on what we’ve achieved and don’t allow these Labour politicians who screwed it up in the past to screw it up in the future.”
Mr Osborne admitted her burst into laughter at Ed Miliband’s stumbling performance in the BBC election debate last week.
But it wasn’t the sight of him tripping up that amused him, but the labour leader’s insistence the last Labour government didn’t overspend.
The Chancellor said: “I think the entire nation laughed out loud. I thought that was a really telling moment, probably the defining moment of the campaign for me.
“He looked like a rabbit in the headlights, unable to convince the audience that Labour didn’t mess up the public finances.
“”The terrifying thing is not his view about history, but that he’d do it all again.
“It wasn’t just that Ed Miliband physically stumbled off the stage. He metaphorically stumbled. He was unable to answer the basic question of whether we can trust him with our money. That’s the most fundamental question for a Prime Minister.
During the campaign, Mr Osborne has become convinced that voters will put the economy at the forefront of their minds when they vote on Thursday.
He said: “These are not abstract ideas for people who read The Sun on Sunday. It means you don’t get that job, or the job you have is lost and the mortgage bill goes up. Your income is cut, you family’s economic opportunities snatched away.
“We have it within our power to have David Cameron back at work on Friday morning, the economy continuing to grow, jobs being created, free childcare and the tax-free minimum wage implemented into law.
“Is a community like this going to get a look in if the Scottish Nationalists have got the whip hand over Ed Miliband? Of course not. So I am seriously worried about the future if we head down that road as a country.”
Mr Cameron hit back at his Lib Dem deputy Danny Alexander who has accused him of claiming all the credit for tax cuts and economic growth.
He declared: “We did some good work together but ultimately they were my budgets and I had to make the big calls about what was in them.
“The Liberal Democrats are probably desperate in this election and they are shouting and screaming to try and get noticed.
“But, to be honest, people know the contest is between David Cameron and the stability of a majority Conservative government or the chaos of Miliband and the Scottish Nationalists. A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for that chaos.
“If people want David Cameron in Downing Street they have got to vote for David Cameron.”
HE was famously booed at the London’s 2012 Games.
But there’s one fan who’s always pleased to see George Osborne – his new pet pooch Lola.
The cute and fluffy Bison Frise always gives the Chancellor a warm welcome when he arrives at 11 Downing Street, where she has been top dog since December.
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Mr Osborne said: “She’s great and is always pleased to see me, which doesn’t always happen to a politican.
“There’s an unquestioning love there which is reciprocated. I didn’t grow up with a dog. We had cats. So it was quite a big step for us but it’s been brilliant.
“It has really advanced all of our lives. Lola leaps on you and starts tying to lick you. She’s fantastic.”
Lola has even brought new meaning to his job of clearing up the mess “Labour left behind”.
He added: “Even when at 6.30 in the morning I’m downstairs in the Downing Street garden with my little black poop bags chasing around after Lola, I’m still thinking she brings joy to our lives.”
Dad-of-two Mr Osborne admits that when it comes to running the household economy, his author wife Frances has an equal say.
“That is a shared endeavour,” he insists. “Frances and I do it together. She’s a brilliant lady in her own right. She writes great books and she has been brilliant.”
To relax they watch boxed sets and recently he’s spent his spare hour off glued to TV hit Poldark and admits to having a soft spot for heroine Demelza.
The Chancellor  admits 11 Downing Street is an “odd place to grow up” for their kids Luke, 13, and Liberty, 11.
He said: “They are pretty level headed and we try to keep it as real as possible for them. They get pocket money  like other children.”
Luke is into vinyl records and uses “every spare penny” to buy old LPs from the 70s and 80s from groups such as Duran Duran.
Liberty loves cooking and has been watching the Masterchef finals and the Great British Bake Off.
Mr Osborne said: “She’s into cooking and I’m her sous chef, the under chef for her and do what she says. I say ‘Yes, chef!’
“I used to do a slow-cook leg of lamb with macaroni. You put the lamb in the oven with some tomatoes and onioins for about four or five hours and they you add the macoroni for the last 20 minutes. It’s really good.
“But look, there is a big difference between turning up on th weekend, spending an hour in the supermarket geting all your individual ingredients and producing suppoer on a Saturday night and what I call reall cooking, which is producing a meal every night for the kids.”
Which kitchen does he prefer to cook in?
“I just have the one,” he said.
CHILLED George Osborne served ice cream at a seaside shop and admitted: “I’m a bit of a vanilla man”.
He was invited to a few scoops from an array of flavours at the New Yorker sundae parlour in Cleveleys, Lancs, but plumped for the plain and traditional.
The Chancellor said: “You may think it’s boring but there’s a lot to be said for a good, old-fashioned, dependable vanilla. I quite like the look of the cherry and the pistachio but you can’t beat a good vanilla.”
Mr Osborne served The Sun on Sunday an extra large cone and declared: “You get better helpings with the  Cone-servatives.”
But being a vanilla-lover is not as boring as it sounds. An ice cream personality test website describes them as colourful, impulsive risk-takers who set high goals and have high expectations of themselves.
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GEORGE Osborne has made so many factory visits he’s now got his own high-vis jacket and hard hat.
He’s had to wear flourscent safety gear at least 40 times during the election campaign after stepping out of his Treasury “bunker”.
He admits he dug himself in during a “difficult period” but added: “Then, I realised you can’t behave like that when you’re democratically and accountable politician and you’re taking decisions that affect people’s lives.
“You have got to go out there explain yourself. I found that if you’re stuck in the Treasury, you don’t hear anything new and you don’t engage with people.
“So I got myself out and about and I’ve really enjoyed it. A lot of things we’ve done, a lot of initiatives we’ve pursued like the concept of the Northern Powerhouse, came from these conversations and not thinking all the answers like within the square mile of Whitehall.
“Somebody did give me my very own high-vis jacket and hardhat because I was getting out to so many different workplaces.”
The hi-vis Chancellor has also posed for a string of selfies – including one with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
Blues fan Mr Osborne for once the person doing the asking when they met for the first time at an event for football-loving MPs.
He’d like to be at Stamford Bridge tomorrow where Chelsea hope to secure their fifth league title.
But he says: “I don’t know whether people would ask what I’m doing but on the other hand we haven’t won the league for five years – and last time we were in the middle of an election, too.
“I was thrilled to meet Jose. We needed the special one back, didn’t we? Let’s hope we can have a double this week with a win for both blue teams.”ENDS
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New Sneers Honours

By DAVID WOODING
IT’S been a year when the people of Britain have stuck a collective two fingers up to MPs.
Voters have used the ballot box to take their revenge on politicians of all varieties, whom many see as out of touch.
But some MPs and peers  haven’t learned a thing as they hurl insults, throw tantrums and sneer at ordinary people.
So in an irreverent, but light-hearted, look back at the past year in Parliament, here are my New Sneer’s Honours.
Sneer of the Realm: Labour’s Emily Thornberry who scoffed at a house with three England flags and a white van outside. She resigned as shadow attorney general hours after tweeting a picture of them hours before the Rochester by-election result.
Life sneerage: Fouled-mouthed Tory Andrew Mitchell fought a £3 million, two-year legal after denying he called cops “plebs” when they refused to let him ride his bike through the Downing Street main gates. A High Court judge sided with the cops and told the snobbish ex-Chief Whip: “On yer bike.”
Cabbie-net Minister of the Year: David Mellor berated a taxi driver who suggested a quicker route, calling him a “a smart-arsed little b*****d” and telling him: “Shut up you sweaty little git.” The Tory ex-minister added: “I’ve been in the Cabinet, I’m an award-winning broadcaster, I’m a Queen’s counsel.” He was forced to apologise after cabbies threatened to ban him. I’d like to see how long he waits next time he wants to hail a taxi.
Sneer of the Year: Tory MP Mark Garnier for telling his party not to bother with “dog-end voters” who live in “outlying regions”. Suspect he’ll soon be at the dog-end of his political career.
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Emily Thornberry and the twitpic that cost her her job.

Yes, Yes, Yes Minister: Deputy PM’s wife Miriam Clegg wins the honesty award for saying “women have been faking it for years”. But has she told husband Nick?
Snooze-Night TV Award: David Cameron, who admitted he often dozes off on the sofa when he has a night in front of the telly with wife Sam. The PM said: “Half an hour of Silent witness and we’re both asleep.” At least Sam doesn’t have to fake it.
The “Three minutes is a long time in politics” Award: Tory chief whip Michael Gove was nominated by his gossipy wife Sarah Vine. When told that men burn 4.2 calories a minute during sex, she quipped: “Wow! That’s 12.6 calories a session.”
Big Benn Clanger of the Year: Diane Abbott for live tweeting from inside church at Tony Benn’s funeral. An angry admirer of the Labour legend (that’s Benn, not Abbott) raged: “Why not go the whole hog and do a selfie with the coffin?”
The Prat that got the Queen: The royal claws were out for David Cameron after he claimed Her Majesty “purred” with pleasure when he phoned her the No vote in the Scottish independence referendum.
OBE – ‘Orrible Butty Eater: Ed Miliband, who bit off more than he could chew when he tried to battle his way through a bacon sandwich. The sarnie won.
The Gillette Award for Sharpest Political Putdown: Louise Mensch after MP’s wife Karen Danczuk posted saucy cleavage selfies on Twitter: “Put them away, love. Frankly, I’d rather see Ed Miliband eating a bacon sandwich.”
Karen Danczuk gives yours truly a lesson in how to take a selfie.

Karen Danczuk gives yours truly a lesson in how to take a selfie.

Gold Medal for Selfie-Exposure: Charities Minister Brooks Newmark resigned after sending explicit photographs of himself to an undercover reporter. The nation was appalled at his bad taste. Surely, no self-respecting MP would be seen dead hanging out of paisley pyjamas.
Class Warrior of the Year: Singer Myleene Klass for ripping Ed Miliband to shreds on TV over his planned mansion tax. “You can’t just point at something and say let’s tax it,” she stormed. “You might as well tax this glass of water.”
Worst political U-turn: Ed Balls, who was investigated by cops after hitting a parked car while doing a seven-point turn in a narrow street then driving off. It’s not the first time the shadow chancellor has found himself in a tight spot.
The Jack Horner Award for Women’s Rights: Nigel Farage, who infuriated mums by telling them to breastfeed in the corner of cafes and restaurants where nobody could see them.
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Exposed: My story about Brooks Newmark.

Feminist of the Year: Sports Minister Helen Grant for her efforts to get more women involved in physical activity with these fine words of advice: “There are some wonderful sports you can do and look absolutely radiant and very feminine. Ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading and even roller-skating.”
Overseas Aid Champion: Harriet Harman who wore a T-shirt with the slogan “This is what a feminist looks like”. Her selfless act helped to boost employment in Mauritius, where women were paid 62p an hour to work in a sweatshop making the garments.
House of Lards Pin-up of the Year: Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who has been bombarded with demands for signed photographs from young girls in Russia. A puzzled aide admitted: “I’ve no idea why Eric is so big over there.”
Cockup of the Year: Communities Minister Penny Mordaunt for using the word “cock” six times and “lay” or “laid” five times during a Commons speech on poultry welfare. But she later let slip it was part of a smutty dare from Royal Navy officer friends.

Twerking twerp of the year: David Cameron for twerking at an Ibiza-style rave he hosted at Chequers to celebrate his wife Samantha’s 40th birthday – after branding top twerker Miley Cyrus a bad role model for kids.

Pint of Order: George “We’re all in this together” Osborne, for keeping a padlock on his office fridge to stop staff raiding his milk. Well, at least he’s miserly with the rest of us, too.
Rocky Belt for Parliamentary Punch-ups: SNP chief Alex Salmond and Labour’s Alistair Darling who squared up in live TV debates over Scots independence. Two Scottish men shouting at each other and they didn’t have the decency to do it in a Glasgow pub.
Resignation of the Year: Home Office minister Norman Baker quits, saying that working there was like “walking through mud”. Think how your boss, Theresa May copes, Norman. She does it wearing kitten heels.

 

Scottish independence: The choices in a nutshell

By DAVID WOODING

MUCH has been said and written about the break up of the United Kingdom and what it would mean for the people of Scotland and the rest of these islands.

Some have claimed that a fully independent Scotland would be landed with a debt-ridden economy and others have argued over the timing of a referendum and what the question on the ballot paper should be.

Michael Gove (left) with David Wooding

But nobody has brought the key issues into sharper focus than Education Secretary Michael Gove.

In a few off-the-cuff words, he summed up the choices facing voters north of the border. He accused SNP leader Alex Salmond of ducking the big question about independence – and lacking the nerve to call a referendum on full independence.

Scots-born Mr Gove’s unrehearsed words on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning get straight to the point and are worth reading in full.

He said: “We need to have a decisive yes or no question on whether or not the people of Scotland want to be independent or not.

“Alex Salmond has been trying to play a tactical game here in order to strengthen the political position of his party. By doing so, he has avoided and dodged so far some fundamental questions.

“Do the people of Scotland want to have the same level of welfare benefits as the rest of the United Kingdom? Do they want to be part of the same nation that has the British Broadcasting Corporation and a National Health Service?

“Do they want the Royal Navy and the British Army to remain institutions that embody patriotic feeling and sentiment or do they want to sunder and separate them?

“Do they want you and I to be forced to choose between being British and Scottish, to have a narrow, exclusive, ethnic nationalist identity as our only choice or do they believe that we should be plural, multi-cultural, modern and 21st century?

“These are big questions that Alex Salmond has dodged. He shouldn’t have to dodge them for ever.”