Simon Carr:

The Sketch: Concern for the vulnerable? They couldn't care less

Share
Related Topics

Well, there it is, now we know. From its statement on public spending cuts, the coalition's "concern for the vulnerable" is revealed as a hoax. They couldn't care less about the weak, the fragile, the incapacitated. If they cared, they'd never have made Danny Alexander answer questions for an agonising hour, exposing to the Commons his parliamentary disabilities and piteous lack of preparation. That was not an example of "compassionate Conservativism" (unless, of course, it was).

Danny is the coalition's second Chief Secretary to the Treasury, replacing that young Patroclus David Laws. Normally you'd expect to get to Danny in Year Three of the second term when halfway through the second barrel of Chief Secretaries. Danny had the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury to contend with. Liam Byrne laid aside his affectation of good-humoured nonchalance and affected the manner of an aggressive and angered hamster. Attack, he had decided, was the best form of attack. And he was right. Faced with the furry fury, poor Danny decided the best form of defence was shaking, stammering, stuttering and rolling up in a ball on the floor.

From Liam Byrne's passionate squeaking, you'd never have thought he had marked out £50bn worth of cuts of his own, or that his boss Alistair Darling had promised "more severe cuts than Thatcher". He declared that these cuts, amounting to 0.05 per cent of this year's government spending, were insignificant – while at the same time claiming they would cause immeasurable anguish in the country. Still, if you can't ride two horses, you've no business being in the circus. Danny can't ride two horses – I'm not sure he can ride a tricycle.

His main line of argument was that Labour had cruelly raised hopes by promising the spending of money that wasn't there. This argument was disposed of by Derek Twigg's observation that Permanent Secretaries demand written authorisation for questionable spending – and no such letters were written. Danny's answer relied too heavily on trembling. Another claim – that the Future Jobs Fund wasn't value for money – that was knocked out of the ground by Chuka Umunna, who reported that as the data for this project hadn't been returned yet, there was no way of evaluating success or failure. "I don't have to answer that if I faint," Danny said, more or less.

Angela Smith made the most dashing contribution – she said that pulling the plug on a loan for Sheffield Forgemasters was an act of "spite" because "Sheffield votes Labour". Danny said words to the effect of, "I've got red hair, you know!"

Anyway, they were all able to cry "Shame!" at each other, and each side accused the other of causing misery and unemployment and death, and everyone demanded apologies from everyone else and a pretty good time – considering it was Thursday – was had by all.

Bank regulation. Michael Meacher's question claimed there was nothing in the new proposals to change bankers' behaviour. He's right. Bankers shouldn't be fined half a million quid for misfeasance. They should have their house sold from under them, and their children taken out of private school. That – and only that – makes bankers assess risk prudently. The rest, as Meacher says, is "shifting around the institutional infrastructure".

twitter.com/simonsketch

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits