By the miracle of transubstantiation the opposition's Squeaky George has become the Government's imperial chancellor.
He used to be someone on the bus and now he has a driver. He has an enormous, multinational organisation to run. He has £600bn of income to do this and that with. He has thousands at his bidding. "Go!" he says, and they goeth. "Come! he says, and they say, "What, now?" It's put three inches on his chest and as other men of substance have an extra chin he's put on an extra sneer.
That's one side. On the other, the burly, bruising Edward Balls. The stuttering, finger-jabbing shadow, eyeballs pulsing in time with some interior music. The man who was knocked out of the leadership by the niece of a countess. Someone must pay! (It'll be us in the end.)
The shadow chancellor answered the Pre-Budget Report with all the cunning of one who is continuously pitching for the Labour leadership, and the confidence of one who spent his formative years at Eton (Ed's father was a teacher there). Poor George is himself the worst sort of Etonian - he's the one who didn't go.
Never has there been such personal rancour between two opposite numbers in parliament. If the Speaker allowed spitting they would spit at each other. But David Heath - the Liberal's great win in this parliament - has ruled this to be one modernising step too far.
Mind you Ed isn't the only one who hates George. He is the Tories' cartoon chancellor. Never has a cold, cutting, castle-dwelling draculoid been more necessary - and here he is, jump at the hour His speech made much of emergency care for the fragile and vulnerable the excluded and other riff-raff, but his manner and demeanour said: "This is going to hurt you a lot deal more than it's going to hurt me."
That's inevitable when his main economic tool is the cavalry sabre.
The right to die at home has been entrenched, but the right to die at work is a real innovation. Next year it'll be a responsibility.
Is the end in sight, other than by dying at our desks? Alas, George is only expecting to achieve something less than the cuts that Gordon Brown was promising in April. And so he is being denounced for attempting to achieve what the outgoing government had promised, by the very fellow who wrote the promises. Like the wrong sort of snow, they are the wrong sort of cuts.
This antipathy actually matters because these two enemies have a third enemy very much more powerful than either of them singly or both of them together. The banking industry can only be taken on if they manage a united front. That ain't going to happen any time soon. Politics is a lagging indicator. Only when the doom loop goes into its next-phase-but-one, when the banks have doubled-up their bets yet again - only then will the politicians perhaps join forces and take them on.
So in the new quandary (it used to be stagflation when I was young) we have a new asset bubble and a constricting money supply. No one knows what to do. We're in terra incognita. Here be dragons but we don't know where.
Labour, resuming their position as the natural party of opposition are on wonderful form. The worse things get the more energetic they become. The country's bankrupt and it's all the fault of Tory cuts. They are delighted. Or they sounded delighted. Actually, they sounded like a the aftermath of a bomb in a barnyard. Wailing, hooting, growling and some of the new young intake rending their clothes. It's an unparliamentary use of visual aids but the new Speaker was powerless to control them. Maybe he was enjoying the view.
The caretaker opposition wanders round round the two crater's where once stood the mighty oaks of Blair and Brown. Some have fallen into the hole left by Brown and others into the hole left by Blair. But left and right, government and opposition, young and old - the same thing unites us all. We haven't a clue as to what's going on, or how we get out of this, whether to slow down or speed up, to cut or to spend, to laugh or to cry.Reuse content