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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

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 Round about the time Glass-Steagall was repealed perhaps.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.