The Sketch: A distinct shortage of AAA metaphors as George Osborne still blames Labour for economic woes

 

It may be that most of the Tory backbenchers who are really perturbed by George Osborne’s dogged pursuit of Plan A simply failed to turn up for his ritual session in the noisy parliamentary equivalent of the stocks to which Ed Balls subjected him today. But they left the field clear for awe-inspiringly repetitive variations on a theme, that Labour was still exclusively to blame for the trouble we’re in. Including the “humiliation” as Balls put it, of losing a Triple A credit rating the “downgraded” Chancellor had once so prized.

A typical sample of questioning from his own side included Mark Garnier who wanted to know if he agreed that “it is going to take slightly longer than two-and-a-half years to sort out a mess that was more than 13 years in the making”. Classier, perhaps was Jacob Rees-Mogg’s magisterial dismissal of the credit ratings agencies suggesting he should quote Lord Chesterfield by telling them that “they are foolish people, who do not know their own foolish business”; an invitation which Osborne was sensible to decline, having made so much of the rating’s importance in the past.

Labour was hardly less repetitive in its search for metaphors with which to suggest that the “downgraded Chancellor”, as Balls called him, should consider his position. Dennis Skinner’s routine “if he was a football manager he would have been out on his neck already” was eclipsed by his colleague John Mann’s Captain Oates analogy: that the Chancellor should attend the next Cabinet only to announce that “I’m going outside and may be some time”. And this did provide Osborne, having decided that attacking Balls was the only possible form of defence, with probably his best line, that Mann had previously also suggested the shadow Chancellor should go. (He hadn’t quite, but by calling for the return of David Miliband and Alistair Darling, he had done the next best thing.)

Neverthless Balls largely overcame his own handicap which was that he had previously not been that enamoured of credit ratings as a measure of economic health. The Chancellor should “get out of his denial and get a new plan for growth, jobs and the deficit which  will actually work, or else the Prime Minister will need to get a new Chancellor”.

Osborne was not going anywhere however. There had not been “excessive volatility” in the markets, which he insisted were the real test of his policy. “No excessive volatility” may not be the most resounding battle cry. But it got him through today.

News
people

Arts and Entertainment
JJ Abrams' seventh Star Wars, The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of Episode VII has gone online after weeks of anticipation
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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: Skilled Machinist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of additional skilled machini...

Recruitment Genius: Toolmaker

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of additional skilled toolmak...

Langley James : Head of IT; e-commerce; Blackburn; up to £55k

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Langley James : Head of IT; e-commerce; Blackburn; ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you have experience of B2B s...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game