How Osborne Got Caught Short

Article excerpt

An official notice appeared in the men's toilets outside the Commons chamber after George Osborne ladled further austerity on top of declaring war on low-earning Britons. The typed A4 sign, inside a transparent plastic sheath to keep dry both the paper and ink as red as Boy George's extended borrowing, went straight to the point: "This Cabinet is Currently OUT OF ORDER." And who could conceivably disagree, when the coalition has turned economic recovery into recession, when its "new politics" is worse than the old, and when Cameron's compassionate greenwash was long ago rinsed off to reveal a diehard Thatcherite in a Buller Boy's Edwardian waistcoat?

Briefly the movie minister in Tony Blair's first regime, the hand-wringing Scottish MP Tom Clarke starred as an executioner of his Labour colleague Denis MacShane on the Commons Inquisition that is the standards and privileges committee. Yet every cloud has a silver lining. The Coatbridge assassin, muttered a snout, now occupies the former Rotherham Europhile's much-coveted office, along from Jack Straw, under the Chamber. He moved into the vacated room on Status Row after the Inquisition forced MacShane to quit parliament over dodgy receipts to finance Continental jaunts. Not so much walking in a dead man's shoes as sitting at a dead man's desk, after helping despatch that very man.

Best-laid plans and all that when Michael Dugher herded a group of MPs from an Irish embassy bash to a United Arab Emirates shindig, promising a sparkling evening at what the party animal and shadow frontbencher billed as London's equivalent of New Year's Eve in Las Vegas. …