Andy McSmith's Sketch: Clegg gets the elbow as Cameron gives ‘him indoors’ a day out

 

Only days after Tony and Cherie Blair were spotted on holiday together in Marabella, another couple not seen together in public for years have made a joint public appearance. David Cameron has stepped out with Nick Clegg so often in the past four years that people have been wondering where his real affections lay, but this time he was accompanied by his long-term partner, George Osborne.

“We are an economic team led by a very strong Prime Minister,” the Chancellor declared, thus making it clear that no matter what secret fantasies Nick Clegg may be harbouring about  the beauty of David  Cameron’s butt or whatever, he is not going to bust up  the most successful partnership in recent Conservative history.

It’s not hard to see why Mr Cameron might prefer to leave his significant other indoors. Prime ministers perform for the public almost every day, when chancellors are locked away inside the Treasury doing domestic chores. Just like Gordon Brown, George Osborne has forgotten how to behave in public.

While David Cameron strode confidently into the packed hall at the Skanska factory in Maple Cross, Hertfordshire, fashionably late, George Osborne trailed behind already looking as if his thoughts were somewhere else already. His face was a deathly shade of white.

By the look of him, he has not been out in sunlight all year, while Cameron’s face glowed with a Lanzarote tan. And George’s haircut! It looks like the detachable hair on a Playmobil toy.

Skanska was chosen for this ground-breaking visit because it has been named as “the greenest company in the UK”, because of its involvement in prestigious public projects, and because it is about to advertise 1,500 new jobs.

The staff, who filled every available inch of floor space in the hallway, and the spiral staircase, and the balconies overhead, had been told only that two Cabinet ministers were coming to address them. When the names were revealed there was a cry of “Oh!” That is ‘Oh’ as in “Oh, that’s quite special, isn’t it?”, not “Oh God, what a disappointment.” David Cameron actually thanked them for not being disappointed.

The visiting twosome took questions from Skanska employees, and a few from the journalists in the back row – well, four, actually, two from broadcast journalists, one from the Watford Gazette and one from  Construction News. None from national newspapers. When Osborne spoke,  Cameron put on the full  eyebrows knitted in  concentration, hands on pointed chin, nodding in agreement act. When  Cameron spoke, which was most of the time, the Chancellor managed the occasional desultory nod, but mostly he stood with mouth turned down, hands clasped together, and a blank look that could almost have been a snarl. This is a man with better things to do with his time.

They were bidding for votes at next year’s general election. David Cameron’s basic argument is well rehearsed. He repeats that the coalition inherited an economic mess in 2010, which they have begun to clear up, but what would really do the trick would be  if the voters returned a majority Conservative  government in 2015.

George Osborne rather gave the tactics away when asked about whether he agreed that it was important to achieve all-party consensus on big public projects. The Chancellor agreed that it is, citing the HS2 rail link as an example. He added: “Attempts to break the consensus by some politicians have actually not got anywhere because the rest of the political party concerned said we want to go ahead with this.”

He named no names, but those of us in the back row all thought we detected the name “Ed Balls” lurking in the unspoken section of the thought. Their tactic is to play the Balls.

There is a European election coming up a whole year sooner than the one they were talking about. In it the Tories are expected to suffer the indignity of being outpolled by Ukip, but the duo did not want to talk about that. Invited to condemn Ukip’s latest election poster, David Cameron batted the question away. “I just want to talk about the issues,”  he declared.

There is a long road ahead to May 2015. It is going to  be a trudge.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
Extras
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch attends the London premiere of his new film The Imitation Game
people He's not as smart as his characters
Life and Style
healthMovember isn't about a moustache trend, it saves lives
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities