Simon Carr:

The Sketch: Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee – the Chancellor turns pugilist

Share
Related Topics

It was like Henry Cooper or Rocky or Frank Bruno running Mastermind – with the exciting innovation of being allowed to punch the contestant for answers he didn't like. "It was Queen BerenGARIA! Oof! Get up! Gonnora was his SECOND wife! Stop LYING there, get him UP!"

John "Slugger" Mann was quizzing the Chancellor on the statistics of the spending review. He named six countries and demanded loudly: "Which of these six has the lowest budget deficit?" Then having stung the Chancellor with a couple of other what's-the-price-of-a-pint-of-milk jabs, he swung a big one: "In four years' time which will have the lowest budget deficit?"

"Germany," the Chancellor said flatly. There was a pause while Mann wound himself up for another haymaker. "Why?" he asked. "Prudence," the Chancellor replied. The haymaker was already in motion but, oh!, it landed fat in the middle of John Mann's own face and there was this terrible, extending pause as he wandered blindly round the ring bellowing "'Arry!" or "Adrienne!", or whatever prizefighters bellow when the sense has been knocked out of them.

The spectators in the committee winced. The pain they felt was moral, or social – committees are supposed to be a game of chess not a donnybrook. The rest of us loved it, whatever side of the divide we came from.

Your lot would have said: "See, the Chancellor doesn't know how many children – innocent children with faces like flowers – will be turned out of their homes to live in rubbish dumps." And my lot will say: "Blimey, do people really get £20,000 to pay their rent?"

What else? Chuka Umunna went through the Chancellor's salary and benefit allowances to ask whether he, at £140,000-odd, would be as affected by the cuts in child benefit as someone on £33,000 net (as they like to call a salary of £40,000).

Chuka's man-o'-the-people pitch is somewhat at odds with his establishment hauteur and Savile Row tailoring (all right, Jermyn Street dress), but he'd be forgiven a lot if he smiled occasionally.

Chairman Andrew Tyrie gently chastised the Chancellor for using "the language of opposition" in his more colourful images (such as Britain on the edge of bankruptcy), and Osborne took it without flinching (they're used to chastisement at his end of the spectrum).

Osborne, for his part, engaged with the committee in an entirely original way. He cheerfully revealed the date of the 2011 Budget, for instance, and he laughingly described how, once in power, one's opposition ideas about cabinet government become less attractive. David Cameron had been forced to adhere to the proposition by the reality of coalition. "It's my private view which I am now making public." The candour is not just refreshing, it's a relief.

George Osborne has been through some sort of fire and as a result has become (like Ed Balls, oddly enough) more likeable. People like a shocking end to a sketch, and there it is.

twitter.com/simonsketch

React Now

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

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London