Osborne Booed By Olympics Crowd as Economy Worsens
Staff Writer, CNBC.com
It should have been the ideal public relations gambit for a politician whose ratings are plummeting in the polls.
Yet when Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne went to the Olympics Park to present the medals for the Men's T38 400m Paralympics race on Monday, he was greeted with a chorus of boos.
Osborne, whose working relationship with Prime Minister David Cameron is one of the key tenets on which the coalition government – and indeed the current Conservative Party - is based, is not thought to be in danger of losing his job in Tuesday’s much-trailed reshuffle of the U.K. cabinet. (Read More: U.K. Cabinet Reshuffle)
He is likely to retain his post despite his stewardship of the U.K.’s economy being increasingly called into question, as recent data has showed disappointing results for almost every area of the economy apart from employment. This has led to him becoming the most unpopular member of the Cabinet in recent polls. (Read More: Why Voters Are Dumping Osborne)
Confronted with a booing crowd, a clammy-looking Osborne smiled nervously and continued with his task of handing out the bronze medal.
Part of his emphasis on austerity has included cuts to disability living allowance, the handout which helps many physically and mentally disabled people in the U.K. with their living costs – which may have made his appearance at the Paralympics particularly ironic for some viewers.
The appearance came after a high-profile interview with the BBC on Sunday.
Asked about his “terrible unpopularity” by the BBC, he tried to play it down and said it would be “somewhat surprising” if he was the most popular member of the government.
“If I was trying to win popularity stakes, there are some easy things I could do. I could spend a lot more money, but that wouldn’t be the right thing to do,” he said.
Osborne also urged his critics to “get behind the Government in making easier to develop things, to get things built, to support infrastructure development.”
The latest piece of bad news for the U.K. came on Tuesday with the announcement that retail sales weren’t boosted by the Olympics after all, although data earlier in the week suggested that supermarkets did well from food and merchandise sales.
Written by Catherine Boyle, CNBC. Twitter:@catboyle01