A piece in the Evening Standard this week highlighted that Londoners had picked me as their no.1 choice to be Chancellor. I tracked down the origins of this to an Opinium survey of 1,000 Londoners press-released by Nutmeg, which includes…
When asked from a pre-defined list who respondents would replace George Osborne as Chancellor with if they could, the most popular figures were:
• Martin Lewis (15%)
• Richard Branson (12%)
• Alan Sugar (7%)
• Ed Balls (6%)
• Boris Johnson (5%)
Now I won’t use the same line as I did last time this happened (see my 1 in 4 say they want me to be Chancellor – do they hate me that much? blog post).
But while I appreciate the faith people have in me, I’m afraid I think it is misplaced. I suspect the reason I come top is that within my work I am entirely biased towards consumers. I don’t balance the interest of businesses at all (hence the stick I often get from travel agents, retailers, etc, for ignoring "the impact on us").
The UK’s Chancellor doesn’t have such luxury. (S)he must look at all the interests out there – consumers, high earners, benefit recipients, businesses, charities, public services, overseas investors and more, to ensure the economy is functioning as well as it can for the population.
I suspect were I made Chancellor, as I’d need do this too, within six months people would say "you’ve changed, you’re just as bad as the rest of ’em".
And let’s be honest here, my consumer finance work leaves me far from qualified to run an economy. I’m not an economist, I don’t pretend to be. It’s a very different discipline to what I do.
Having said that, I’m not sure even being the world’s best economist would make you a great Chancellor, as ultimately at the big end, much of the finance world involves random elements and chaos. So who is truly qualified?
As a final note, personally I couldn’t think of anything worse than being Chancellor or any form of Westminster-elected politician. To do a job where by definition you have people whose job it is to oppose you feels pretty soul-destroying to me.