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 Round about the time Glass-Steagall was repealed perhaps.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

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?