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

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: A royal serving the nation

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
David Cameron met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko prior to the start of the European Council Summit in Brussels last month  

David Cameron talks big but is waving a small stick at the Russian bear

Kim Sengupta
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn