The Sketch: The Stupid Wing fighting for the soul of the Tory Party

Click to follow
The Independent Online

If they were biologists or physicists, the gaps in their reasoning and knowledge would be more obvious: "You'll never cure adult polio by waving chicken bones over the victim's bed! What superstitious rubbish!" they'd yell across the House, "Ostrich bones! That's your man for adult polio!"

If they were biologists or physicists, the gaps in their reasoning and knowledge would be more obvious: "You'll never cure adult polio by waving chicken bones over the victim's bed! What superstitious rubbish!" they'd yell across the House, "Ostrich bones! That's your man for adult polio!"

Kelvin Hopkins said we should massage more elephant dung into the Chancellor's symmetrical inflation target. He'll deny it, of course, but who wouldn't? A Welsh Tory assured us the Climate Change Levy causes warts. A Labour backbencher said: "Low tax economies make maggots grow in fresh meat." And Des Browne, the new Treasury Secretary replied to every question he was asked with one of two assertions: "Off-balance sheet liabilities have disgustingly swollen livers" or "The economic cycle is kept turning by turtle juice". Some say Des is a dud, but I... hang on, I've lost what I was going to say.

One of the new Tories cried piteously, "One million jobs have been lost in manufacturing because of the government's 66 tax rises!" You think I'm making this up now but you can check it in Hansard. The Stupid Wing is back fighting for the soul of their once great party. By a pleasing symmetry, the minister's answer was quite as stupid. "The consequence of this government's tax policy is simple: low interest rates" (huh?) "low unemployment" (wot?) and something else, probably "the longest period of economic growth for 200 years" (thwurrrp!).

In such a forum the Chancellor can say anything he likes, and because he can, he does. Michael Fabricant made this point when he noted the deficit was already £5bn more than forecast: "The Chancellor will brush this off and say, 'Yeah, whatever' ... " The rest of his remarks were lost in gales of rolling laughter. Michael Fabricant occasionally gets frontbench work but he temps. He should stick at it.

Now, those who deny the reality of the "mood of the House" should roll back their tape recorders on Squeaky George Osborne's second outing yesterday as Shadow Chancellor. Normally, when members mention the early death of a constituent they get an immediate respectful hush. In this generous silence, even lightweight speakers make an impression. By contrast, Squeaky George tried to establish himself as an independent parliamentary presence by consensualising over Gordon Brown's Third World poverty plan. He used the words "Each day we delay, 30,000 children die ..." and he was immediately swamped with jeers, heckling, rude noises, loud muttering and even laughter. It's an achievement, that. Try it yourself. I'll say, "Thirty thousand children a day die of hunger and disease" and you try going: "Wooo! Pwurgh! Ha ha ha!" It's not easy, is it?

It's a tribute to George's interesting talent for destroying a consensus by joining it.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

Comments