The Sketch: Osborne's detractors take boo cue from Paralympics

The loud boos that greeted the Chancellor will haunt the posh boys for ever
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The Independent Online

If the crowd at the Paralympics can do it, so can Labour MPs. As George Osborne arrived to take his seat in the front row for Prime Minister's Questions, they booed.

Mr Osborne had done something different with his hair. It was very neat, but very swept back, making him look disturbingly like a vampire. He did not move or smile, but everyone was uneasily aware of his presence.

Dennis Skinner, called to ask the first question, suggested that while the ministerial reshuffle does not mean a thing to the world outside, the booing of George Osborne at the Paralympics did. "The loud boos that greeted the Chancellor of the Exchequer will haunt the posh boys forever," he crowed.

To that Ed Miliband later added: "The Paralympic crowd spoke for Britain." He also had a pre-prepared joke about Osborne being a "part-time Chancellor" doing a job share with the ex-Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, who has been given a brief to speak on the economy.

There is a risk in using the word "Chancellor" around David Cameron, because it puts him in mind of the shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls. The Prime Minister cannot stand Ed Balls, but equally he cannot ignore him. He is obsessed with Ed Balls. He may even be in need of some kind of Balls-related therapy.

"I have got my first choice as Chancellor, while you've got your third choice as shadow Chancellor," he exclaimed. Then, with reference to a recent story about how Ed M was once the office junior in Gordon Brown's entourage when Ed B was a senior adviser, Mr Cameron continued: "You still have to bring in the coffee every morning. That is how assertive and butch the leader of the Opposition really is!"

Should opposition leaders be butch? Was Margaret Thatcher butch? And from which recess of the memory did Mr Cameron drag that word? The other night, one of the satellite TV channels was re-showing a 1960s western in which Paul Newman played an outlaw named Butch. Could that be what triggered Mr Cameron's strange use of an out-of-date adjective? We shall never know.