George Osborne. My role in his political rescue

February 23, 2011

Just as Spike Milligan played a part in Hitler’s downfall, I can claim my modest role in the rescue of George Osborne from political oblivion

Not alone of course. Gentle George may never know that I was among millions of loyal citizens whose collective efforts in January 2011 rescued the Chancellor’s political career.

Your country needs you

You could say I failed to heed the first calls to service. As Christmas approached I was beguiled by the gentle and soothing reminders by the lovely Moira Stewart that my country needed me. Or at least it needed my contribution, however small, to buttress its finances.

I was under the comfortable impression that before January the 1st I should find an hour or so to complete my tax return on line. Maybe while waiting for Her Royal Highness to speak to her subjects on Christmas Day.

George was too busy fighting the Generals

In hindsight I was too soothed when what I needed was a sharper call to arms. Perhaps George himself in Kitchener pose, pointing down sternly at slackers from posters on every street corner. Your country needs your taxes. But George had been fighting on the city front, urging the Generals of the banking world to do their bit. For whatever reason, the little people constituting the big society had to show their loyalty without further leadership from the top.

So sometime in the week before the deadline of of January I settled down to feed into the Government’s database the relatively straightforward account of my earnings. I know it was during that week, because the website Moira had directed me to was quite curt. “Too late” it snarled. “You will now incur a £100 penalty because it takes over a week for your return to be processed”. Hmm.

More electronic hurdles

Somewhat shocked by the news, I pressed ahead. Only to discover there were several more electronic hurdles to jump over. For reasons I can’t remember the password I had used was no longer valid. I learned how I could be sent this vital information but that is a State secret about which I will remain silent and which took a week to reach me. Then, when the system accepted my password it needed a new User ID which again could only be communicated through similar Top secret channels.

Meanwhile January turned into February. The face of the world was changes as revolutions gripped the Middle East. And I had still failed to send my contribution to help my country in its darkest hour of financial need.

The electronic doors open

But then after several weeks of regular battles to be let in, the mighty electronic doors at the Government Gateway opened up to me. I was in. A hundred or so clicks later and I had committed myself to swelling the country’s fighting funds by at least as much as a Premiership footballer does in the time it takes to play a game.

Even the Guardian, no friend of General Osborne, admitted a great victory had been won:

Government finances show biggest surplus since 2008. Bumper income tax receipts bring a January surplus of £3.7bn and could put coalition on track to meet borrowing targets

And I could feel pride in the role I had played in rescuing my country and Mr Osborne from ruin.