The Sketch: Although the Tories are right, they look small

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The Independent Online

Oh, to be a bag carrier in the Prime Minister's entourage. You'd need one of "Jacksi" Smith's new nuclear security suits. He must have been radioactive over the last few days. There was the Governor of the Bank of England (who "ripped up his credit card" in George Osborne's words). And then that failing gilt auction (a hint that the markets glimpsed the possibility of national bankruptcy). And then for a man the size and weight of Gordon to be reined in by his pygmy, his poodle, his pet chancellor! The quiet revenge of the quietest chancellor since Geoffrey Howe – that would have put up a mushroom cloud over the prime ministerial head all right.

And what did the Tories make of it all at Treasury questions?

Bear in mind that David Cameron's position of fiscal rectitude is now the way things are flowing. He had been derided for being isolated – then, gradually, European heads came out on his side, and the US Congress is moving more his way than Gordon's. Even the Bank Of England looks slightly like defecting. It's a great reward for a brave position. How did his followers react?

The Tories laughed. They slapped their thighs when Darling claimed "the Bank of England fully agrees with us". They rocked forward and back. It fills them with a sense of election-winning elation.

Rewind a moment: the Government policy is so flawed it will destroy five years of jobs, revenues and the public finances. It will impoverish Britain for a generation and the Tories are... delighted?

They really haven't the hang of this. They believe the statisticians and analysts and algorithm writers who promise they will win the next election. But they looked like one big, stupid, many-headed Kinnock plucking defeat from the jaws of victory. They still haven't even nailed the Government's lines on them: "They're not prepared to spend any money." And "We are taking action. The Conservatives would do absolutely nothing."

It must be a question of scale. When Gordon speaks it's like an earthquake. If you're in the affected area your whole world view shakes. We scoff, we pour scorn but the sheer, shaking size of his convictions really are world class. It's why we're a first division disaster, of course, but even if it doesn't make the Tories wrong it makes them look small.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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