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Ouch. The Chancellor is caught between
a crock and hard place
Parliamentary Sketch, The TImes
Filed 21 Nov 07
This article was originally published
in The Times on 20th November 07.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of
the Author and of the Newspaper
The Chancellor’s statement on Northern
Rock seemed, at first, to be pointless. He said that he wanted to
“update” us on the bank’s current position. But
then he couldn’t tell us anything about the current position
because it’s all top secret. His only update was to tell us
that he would be updating us in future.
He reminded me of one of those commuters
who calls home every night to say: “I’m on the train.”
This surprises no one, because the only surprise would be if the
caller wasn’t on the train. It’s a holding call, an
attempt to reach out and touch someone, a way to let people know
you are alive. This, too, seemed to be what Mr Darling was trying
to do. This statement was Alistair Darling ringing up all the taxpayers
to say: “I’m on the train.”
So now you know: he’s on the train.
All of us have a stake in this journey because Mr Darling has taken
the liberty of “investing” £900 for each of us
in Northern Rock. There are some who now believe that we may not
get all our money back. Is Mr Darling among them? It was almost
impossible to tell. The only thing for sure is that, in the interest
of accuracy, Northern Rock now should be renamed Northern Hard Place.
Commuters everywhere will recognise the
flat, non-emotional tone in Mr Darling’s voice. The journey
is not going to plan. The Northern Hard Place express has been diverted
to God knows where. There are the wrong sort of loans on the line.
Mr Darling is sitting somewhere unknown (possibly near Crewe –
it so often is). He’s weary and they’ve run out of even
remotely edible sandwiches. He may be Chancellor but he has no control.
It is not a “quiet carriage”.
Indeed, from what I heard yesterday, it was a “shouting carriage”.
Right across from him was a man with jet-black hair who was being
extremely rude. It was the Shadow Chancellor and Mr Darling sorely
wished he would move. “This is a tale of incompetence and
weak leadership!” cried George Osborne. “We have a Chancellor
whose job is now on the line!”
Mr Darling sighed. He wanted to say “shush”
but, because he is Chancellor, he cannot say something so easily
understood. So instead he said: “I’m sorry that you
aren’t able to put forward any constructive proposals.”
He then settled back and tried to close his eyes but, because his
eyebrows have a life of their own, this is always quite hard to
His reverie was interrupted by the nasal
whine that is the voice of Vince Cable, the acting leader of the
Lib Dems. “Tony Blair was criticised for providing £800
million for the Millennium Dome. In the last few weeks this Government
has provided the equivalent of 30 Millennium Domes to this bank
without even the prospect of a decent pop concert at the end of
it,” Vince noted. Mr Darling’s face was set in stone
now. How dare the Lib Dems accuse him of failing to organise a pop
concert. He was dealing with Northern Rock, not Northern Rock Band.
He couldn’t believe that everyone else on the train didn’t
already know that.
The carriage was in chaos now, with everyone
demanding he do something. Labour passengers (sorry, customers)
wanted him to safeguard all Northern Rock jobs. Others wanted him
to give details about that tiny £24 billion loan. It was all
very tedious. In true commuter tradition, he said as little as possible.
He wished that he had brought his iPod.
Treneamn, Ann (2007). 'Daveheart'victorious
after heated battle with auld enemy. A Parliamnetary Sketch
Originally published in The Times, 25th October 07, Reproduced
here by kind permission of the Author and of the Newspaper
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 26th Oct
07, www.land-care.org.uk Click
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