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    A hapless government produces an unlikely hero

    Mabbett, Deborah (2022) A hapless government produces an unlikely hero. [Editorial/Introduction]

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    Among the many unpleasant features of British politics since the Brexit vote have been the persistent attacks by Conservative politicians on the country’s independent public institutions. The BBC and the Supreme Court were perhaps the most high-profile targets, but we have also seen the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards undermined and criticised. And if the Civil Service ever thought that it was an independent public institution, it has learned that it is not. It has been hard for these bodies to defend themselves in the face of the Conservatives’ populist embrace of the claim that a mandate from voters trumps everything else. It is easy to portray senior officials and judges as part of a stuffy and out-of-touch elite. The public, it often seemed, shared the idea that elected representatives have the right to do whatever they were supposedly elected for, despite the ambiguities that surround any election mandate. Then came the short-lived Truss government with its ill-fated mini-budget. One of its remarkable achievements was to elevate the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) from dull forecasting body to central pillar of fiscal responsibility. The OBR is an unlikely hero. It is relatively young: its first forecasts were produced in 2010 at the request of then-Chancellor George Osborne. Unsurprisingly, Osborne’s motives were opportunistic. One of the factors limiting the traction of the fiscal rules favoured by Gordon Brown was that they could be tweaked with optimistic forecasts. Osborne recognised that independent forecasts would protect the government from accusations of gaming the fiscal numbers, even if the forecasts then turned out to be wrong, as they often do.


    Item Type: Editorial/Introduction
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: British Politics and Public Life, Centre for
    Depositing User: Deborah Mabbett
    Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2023 23:24
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:20


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