Simon Carr: With a warm-up act of the living dead, George could hardly go wrong

Sketch: His chinwork is more developed. His face a little broader but even more bloodless
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The Independent Online

A brass band. They had one on stage after Boris. A brass ensemble, they said. Playing, oh, Bach – that's different. The light little trumpets started the air, the French horn lifted us away into a special place, the trombone picked up a line from the trumpets and developed it as the tuba added a gently humorous commentary; and while everything was adding to the effect of everything else, I was sobbing quietly in the auditorium – I sometimes wonder whether I'm all right.

Boris had appeared as New Boris II, Serious Boris. Take on the unions Boris. Lots of first person singular, man-to-man Boris. Just a sliver too much earnestness in his cocktail of effects but the fellow is the country's second Tory.

Post Boris (or is it post Borem?) omne animal triste est. That's Latin. So they put the brass ensemble on and we mused over what instruments the Tory leadership represented, and putting the Tory ensemble against Labour's we wondered which band plays best to middle England. We won't know for a while but I'm not betting it's Labour.

George Osborne was due soon, they'd just be getting him out of his portable coffin in the wings. But they needed some device to depress our expectations.

A parade of the Undead! That would do the trick! The Treasury team of Gauke, Hoban and Greening lurched onstage groaning. They're not dead but very far from alive. They gave a perfectly judged performance.

And so he got a walk-on standing ovation. George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer. Some of us still aren't used to that arrangement of words.

His chinwork is more developed. His face a little broader but even more bloodless. He makes a grim statement and his mouth snaps shut like a trap. He does persist in those terrible old lines about the sun and the roof. And a new one, "Don't give the keys back to the people who wrecked the car."

But he made another – yet another – game-changing speech. Perfectly triangulated to take the right with him in the first half, and the left in the second.

The stripping out of middle-class benefits was quite brilliantly done. He'd got them applauding the maximum-benefit plan - and then arguing that it wasn't fair poor people should be taxed to pay for middle class child benefit, he had them applauding their own sacrifice.

That is how the game changes. The middle-class sacrifice entitles them to condone sacrifices everywhere else. The response to the wails and complaints will come to be: "Oh, stop moaning, we're all having to make do."

This ensemble George has put together, the way the bass parts play with and against the tune – it could keep them in power for a decade.

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