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 Round about the time Glass-Steagall was repealed perhaps.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

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
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
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003