A Rothmans rasp is what his weak voice needs

Less state spending? When my beloved tells me she intends to cut back on the shopping, my reaction is invariably one of pathetic, hog-whimpering relief. Same yesterday listening to George Osborne.

Inside the Commons, the Chancellor was squeaky and judiciously glum. So statist have our politics become in recent years, MPs are terrified of standing up for the taxpayers.

Outside the Palace of Westminster there was a sunnier mood. TV crews had set up camp on College Green, many with little marquees.

It's over! David Cameron and Nick Clegg give George Osborne a pat on the back

It's over! David Cameron and Nick Clegg give George Osborne a pat on the back

Loonies and single-issue lobbyists thronged in the stark October light. Toned anchor types narrowed their eyes and burbled into furry microphones. Here, at least, an air of fiesta.

Mr Osborne stood at the Dispatch Box and pinked. The voice, never strong, was terrible. He kept coughing – dry, hesitant ahems, a consumptive nun studying her missal.

No wonder electors think him jejune. He sipped water but the larynx would not relax.

He should take up smoking. Something full tar. Left-wing walrus Lady Warnock was on Radio 4 this week and sounded far more butch. We need this young Chancellor to develop a Rothmans rasp. That or daily infusions of London gin.

Talking of Gordon’s, there was no sign of G Brown (Lab, Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath).
David Cameron sat beside the Chancellor with eyebrows in a Vulcan bomber V. The Prime Minister was hoping to demonstrate concern.

At PMQs earlier he had been less gentle, mind you. He pulverised Ed Miliband, who gave as bad a performance as we have seen from an Opposition leader since Iain Duncan Smith.

During that session Mr Cameron used a revolting little word, ‘progressivity’. On a quieter day this would have deserved a full stewards’ inquiry but we must press on. Mr Osborne’s 62-minute speech began with an alliterative double, ‘Britain back from the brink’ after ‘the decade of debt’.

He spoke of the nation putting its finances in order ‘like every solvent household in the country’.

Shades of early Thatcher. He hoped future generations would not have to pay ‘interest on the interest on the interest’ from Labour’s deficit.

The House was so full that Mr Osborne had encountered trouble finding a seat. He practically sat on William Hague’s lap. Careful, lad! Danny Alexander, Treasury Chief Secretary, made a ‘shoo’ gesture to Kenneth Clarke. A purpling Mr Clarke fled. Dim Danny owes his elder and better an apology.

Much of Mr Osborne’s speech was heard in silence. There was the occasional Labour whistle when he announced cuts (he preferred the word ‘savings’). ‘Debt interest payments will be £5billion over the course of this review,’ said Mr Osborne. Tory MPs: ‘Shame!’

Claire Perry (Con, Devizes) tapped at a calculator and scribbled notes. Good girl. Ed Balls smouldered, exchanging lip-curl gestures with an eyelid fluttering Michael Gove.
Luciana Berger (Lab, Liverpool Wavertree) composed herself in a side box, all in black, a grieving senorita at the bull fight. She inspected her purple-painted fingernails.

Mr Alexander filled Mr Osborne’s water glass. When the decanter ran dry, another Treasury minister, Justine Greening, was despatched to secure a refill. Eric Pickles, Communities Secretary, excavated his right nostril.

Mr Osborne’s killer moment came at the end. It was done in a News At Ten ‘and finally’ manner.

He had received a submission from the Labour Party, he said. It had sought cuts of 20 per cent. Well, folks, ‘instead there will be cuts of 19 per cent’.

Total gut emptier for Labour MPs. Even cool Miss Berger allowed a flicker of alarm to fracture her Hispanic composure.

Alan Johnson, in a gameshow host’s tie, had to speak seconds later. That he managed to do so with raffish assurance was greatly to his credit. The Shadow Chancellor cheered up Labour. They needed it.

Mr Johnson was broad-brush. He had no credible alternative but he did not sound depressed.

After such a comprehensively political spending review, that was some achievement.

source: dailymail.co.uk

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