Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Mud wrestling is only entertaining now and again
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt.
Tuesday 14 May 2013
Oh, how they laughed. Explaining George Osborne’s absence from Treasury Questions, Chief Secretary Danny Alexander was on side-splitting form. “My right honourable friend the Chancellor is in Brussels today at the Ecofin council,” he told MPs, “exercising the considerable influence that Britain enjoys as a full member of the European Union.” Boom, boom!
Only with the coalition in its current euroshambles, could this have been so hilarious. The mere idea that Britain enjoys such influence is a joke in itself for diehard Eurosceptic MPs. For others there was the delight of seeing the Cabinet’s divisions laid bare by a Lib Dem minister who used to run the European Movement. Or the Hell Fire Club as those same backbenchers would see it.
The normally super-loyal Alexander revelled in his pro-Europeanism. When Heidi Alexander (no relation, but she might as well have been, given that it was such a patsy question in the context) asked him how the latest Prime Ministerial wheeze of a draft referendum bill “will 1) create jobs 2) attract investment and 3) secure Britain’s future in the global economy?” his reply was crispy in the extreme. “I don’t think it would achieve any of those objectives and that’s why I don’t support it.”
Ed Balls later reminded Alexander that the IMF were “in town” – the phrase conjures a posse of gun-slinging marshals led by Sheriff Christine Lagarde in a Stetson – and asked why the Treasury was planning to ignore their verdict and press ahead with its “failing plan”.
Alexander recalled that an anonymous Shadow Cabinet member had been quoted in The Sun saying: “Balls is a busted flush when it comes to economic competence because of his legacy with Gordon.”
Before this unedifying mud wrestle, Tory ultra-grandee Sir Peter Tapsell, also with Europe on his mind, had sought to lift the tone by asking how the G7 finance ministers had been “remarkably cheerful” at their weekend meeting in Aylesbury while “the Archbishop of Toledo was warning that their fiscal policies were threatening to cause social breakdown and the overthrow of democracy in Spain and much of southern Europe?” He did not mention that Osborne had been so cheerful that he had slipped out of the meeting to help the members of the local Women’s Institute make the tea.
But then it was probably only a ruse to get away from the baleful presence at Aylesbury of Ms Lagarde.
- 1 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 5 YouTube social experiment shows just how easy it is to kidnap a child
How the language you speak changes your view of the world
'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
First-time buyers in London 'need to earn at least £77,000'
General Election 2015: Photographic history of Bullingdon Club tracked down - including new picture of David Cameron in his finery
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£30 - 40k (£65k Y1 OTE Uncapped): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Business Deve...
Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...
£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...
£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...