Profile of a Chancellor: who is George Osborne?
The Conservative causeAnd today he runs the UK economy. He is not an economist. However he has worked tirelessly behind the scenes promoting the Conservative's cause since the early 1990s and has always been ambitious, for both the party and himself. His eye is always on the next prize and while opposition finance spokesman (at the tender age of 33), he battled with Gordon Brown and often won.
He helped secure the leadership of David Cameron and championed the highly popular cut in inheritance tax in 2007, which put Labour on the back foot and stopped Brown from calling a snap election that the Tories would have inevitably lost.
His greatest challenge has always been to be the acceptable face of the Conservatives and to hold the Coalition together. Rightwing Tories blame him for losing the election after he co-ordinated the Tories political campaign, and saddling them with the Liberal Democrats. Osborne is reported to have admitted privately that placing the Big Society message at the centre of the campaign was a massive mistake.
European tiesIn Europe he has spent months, if not years, cementing ties with the German and French governments and has been sensitive to the Euro crisis. But the UK's isolation in that debate has led to his eyes widening in every TV interview during the past month. As UK plc limps along like a child suffering rickets, he knows that another gust of wind from the Med can knock us of course for a generation.
Both he and Cameron cut their political teeth shortly after Margaret Thatcher was ousted from her iron throne, working with the Major administration and then the various Tory leaders. Osborne is understood to meet with former Chancellors Norman Lamont and Nigel Lawson regularly to stress test his ideas.
However Osborne is more in tune with Peter Mandelson in his behind the scenes political philosophy, stalking the corridors like a modern day Machiavelli. He needs to present a package of tax cuts and deregulatory initiatives to focus the minds of the electorate. He must also present his plan as robust.
The spotlight is never kind to him. Today he must show some backbone and statesmanship.