Simon Carr:

The Sketch: Keep calm and carry on … Chloe Smith puts on a brave face despite it all

Having survived two televised maulings, the Treasury minister faced another grilling in the Commons yesterday

Share
Related Topics

There she was on the front bench chatting happily, exuding fragrance, what a brave face Chloe Smith put on yesterday morning. She looked quite unconcerned that capitalism was now officially devouring itself and the end of our world is actually visible. It's a question of priorities.

What a 24 hours she's survived. A brutal mutilation – actually two brutal mutilations, she went from one to the other last night without any intervening briefing and now this. The banking system her pals are supposed to be supervising is run by racketeers. From the silly to the supreme, she is equally in her element.

Chloe's boss had been conspicuously absent from Newsnight; was that why Tories were shouting "Where's Balls!" to cover their shame? The shadow chancellor was absent for the Libor statement. Ah, but was he there in spirit? From their front bench the same hectoring, humourless, self-exculpating partisanship – it wasn't Balls himself but almost as good: Rachel Reeves is Balls in a dress.

On the front bench, that little monkey Chris Leslie kept yelling to Osborne "YOUR mess!" And the Treasury yelled back, "YOUR mess!" And Chris Leslie yelled – but you get the idea.

He does lack a lower register, but the Chancellor spoke as gravely as he could about Barclays traders failing "to give proper information about the true price of money". It's a dusty way of putting it.

Andrew Tyrie, chair of the Treasury select committee, told the House that Barclays had lied. Lied to the markets. It's a whopping charge. Institutional lies that rigged the bank rate. Why wouldn't the Chancellor make this a criminal offence, he asked, in the Bill going through parliament now?

It's a corporate crime, but the task is to sheet the charges back to individual criminals. Osborne said we must find out "who knew what when". All very well for civil penalties, but who DID what when is better for our blood lust.

Ex-banker Desmond Swayne asked: "When did bankers start treating their customers as punters to be devoured?" Round about the time Glass-Steagall was repealed perhaps. Dennis Skinner thought Big Bang started it. "When you [Osborne] were in the Bullingdon Club!" And Chloe was rollerskating in a little blue dress.

Others had put more work into their descriptions. "A sewer of systematic dishonesty" (John Thurso). "Daily daylight robbery - anything goes but nobody knows" (Mark Durkan). "Thieves and criminals who've made beggars of our constituents!" (Clive Efford)

Thieves and criminals, Efford heckled, increasingly loudly until deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle told him to desist. Nor would he. "Speak For England" Efford kept up his gargling, incoherent anger until Hoyle asked lightly, "Are you challenging me?" Efford stood quickly. "I apologise," he said. It was a snack, not the Big Mac meal with extra fries the Speaker would have made of it.

What a relief it is when Alistair Darling speaks. "In his quieter moments he will reflect..." he began. It had all been pandemic, he said. "But Libor can't be a work of fiction." And even if they can't be prosecuted, bank executives can be "put off the road".

Why isn't he on the front bench? Because he'd make George Osborne look like Chloe Smith.

React Now

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

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

I saw the immigration lies a mile off - and now nobody can deny it

Nigel Farage
The Uber app allows passengers to hail a taxi with a smartphone  

Who wouldn’t like a sharing economy? Well, me, for one

Mary Dejevsky
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game