Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Long-winded George Osborne really must mind his language

George Osborne may feel like he is on a roll, but  that’s no excuse for serially violating the English language.

“Growing” the economy is so common it can be overlooked. But not “we said we would recover the economy and the recovery is taking place.” No, Chancellor! “Recover” (transitively) is what you do to old sofas. Or possibly to something that’s fallen behind them.

But then this was the (even more) dumbed down Treasury Questions. No sooner had the cheers of Tory backbenchers (apparently ecstatic just to be in the same room as Osborne) faded, than one, Jeremy LeFroy asked for his “assessment” of the Government’s fuel duty freeze.

With superhuman restraint Osborne waited a nanosecond before giving Labour a violent kicking.

“Petrol will cost a full 20p per litre less than if we had stuck with the previous government’s hated fuel duty escalator,” he announced. And much more in this vein.

So much more that he was brutally cut off. “Order. The Chancellor will resume his seat. The answer was not just too long – it was far too long,” Speaker John Bercow shouted, so resembling the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass that you were ready to hear him declare: “Off with his head.”

The Chancellor might once have been fazed by this, but he merely grinned like a delinquent schoolboy contemplating horrible revenge.

He was ready for Ed Balls, who reminded him of his  not-to-be fulfilled 2010 promises to “balance the books” and see living standards rising “steadily and sustainably” by 2015.  Accusing the shadow Chancellor of having “fled the scene” after his well-publicised altercation with a stationary Peugeot, Osborne declared: “He has apologised to the lady whose car he crashed into - why does he not apologise to the British people?”

But Balls was ready too, with a car crash reference of his own, to the dominatrix with whom the Chancellor had been notoriously photographed in his student days. “If this Chancellor wants to have a discussion about whiplash we can do that any day of the week – Mr, Mrs or Mistress…..” The grin faded for a moment.

The new City minister (and HS2 dissident) Andrea Leadsom, was brimming with confidence, strikingly since she has not always had the best of personal relations with the Chancellor.

But she was unabashed by shadow Chief Secretary Chris Leslie’s pointed welcome for “the Prime Minister’s decision to appoint her to the Chancellor’s Department.”

And by Labour’s Julie Hilling’s oblique reference to the tax arrangements of the property company Ms Leadsom founded with her husband in 2003. When the Chancellor had threatened: “‘If you are hiding your money offshore, we are coming to get you’ did he mean ‘coming to get you to work in the Treasury’”? she asked.

So this was the Teflon Treasury. Teflon always wears off in the end. But, for now, the opposition are having quite a hard time rubbing it away.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003