Lord Forsyth urges Osborne to rethink austerity

Chancellor George Osborne. Picture: PA
Chancellor George Osborne. Picture: PA
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FORMER Scottish secretary Lord Forsyth has called on the Chancellor George Osborne to “change direction” with his austerity policies ahead of the Budget later this month.

• Lord Forsyth has urged Chancellor George Osborne to “change direction” with his austerity policies

Former Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth. Picture: TSPL

Former Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth. Picture: TSPL

• Former Scottish Secretary calls for Osborne to cut taxes for ordinary people and “encourage enterprise”

The Tory Scottish peer, who was brought in to advise Mr ­Osborne early in the coalition, said Mr Osborne has to tackle the flatlining economy by cutting taxes for ordinary people.

After the showing for the Conservatives in the Eastleigh by-election and increasing ­questions over his economic strategy, the Chancellor is under pressure from the left and right of British politics to come up with a plan B.

Lord Forsyth said: “Out there in the country people are hurting. Their living standards are falling. They’re finding it difficult to pay their gas and electricity bills.

“The amount that’s left in their pay packages after stoppages is getting less and less, and to coin an old cliché, it’s the economy stupid, and George has actually got to change direction.

“He’s got to put a touch on the tiller, he’s got to start cutting taxes and encourage enterprise to invest because at the moment we are flatlining.”

Chris Leslie, Labour’s shadow Treasury minister,said: “There are now growing demands from right, left and centre for George Osborne to change ­direction and act to kick-start the ­economy.

“We need a strong and sustained economic recovery made by the many, not just a few at the top.”

David Cameron is under pressure from Tory backbenchers to defy his Liberal Democrat coalition partners and press ahead with the abolition of the controversial Human Rights Act.

The Prime Minister insisted there would be no “lurch to the right” in the wake of the ­Tories’ drubbing in the Eastleigh ­by-election, which saw the party beaten into third place behind Ukip.

But after Justice Secretary Chris Grayling suggested the next Conservative general election manifesto would include a pledge to repeal the Human Rights Act, Mr Cameron faced calls from Tory MPs to take ­action immediately.

Backbencher Mark Field said if ministers failed to act, having raised the issue in public, they would simply fuel the disillusionment of voters who turned away from the party in Eastleigh.

“Either do something now and call the Liberal Democrats’ bluff on this, or stay quiet. ­Because it’s that sort of cynicism , it’s just politicians saying words and not doing anything,” he told Sky News’s Murnaghan ­programme.

Any move to scrap the Human Rights Act – which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights in British law – would be fiercely resisted by the Lib Dems, and would open a huge rift in the coalition.

Many Tories remain ­determined to free Britain from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights following a series of controversial ­rulings blocking the deportation of the radical cleric Abu Qatada.