The lighter side of economic policy
Though the chancellor’s annual Budget is a pretty serious event outlining plans for governmental spending, those #LADS in the House of Commons can’t resist making a few jokes at each other’s expense.
To give credit where it’s due, Osborne kicked off the jokes with one aimed squarely at himself.
He said: “I prefer to follow the advice the Secretary General of the OECD gave us all last month: “Britain has a long term economic plan – and it needs to stick with it”
“A long term economic plan” – now there’s someone with a way with words.”
Quite – Osborne must have developed some sort of repetitive strain injury from uttering that phrase so frequently.
Next up was a classic personal dig at Miliband and his power grab from elder brother David.
Announcing £1m to be spent on commemorating the battle of Agincourt, Osborne said: “The battle of Agincourt is, of course, celebrated by Shakespeare as a victory secured by a “band of brothers”, which is sadly not an option available to the party opposite.” Raucous laughter ensued in the chamber.
He then rounded it off with a jibe at the SNP, by adding, “it is also when a strong leader defeated an ill-judged alliance between the champion of a united Europe and a renegade force of Scottish nationalists.”
Next in the line of attack was the Labour party’s pink van which was ridiculed by some after being used to encourage women to vote. After announcing a cut in the price of crossing the Severn Bridge, Osborne said it would be a “boost for white vans – and let me assure the Labour party, it will appeal to pink vans too”.
I wonder if that policy was introduced purely as a vehicle (geddit?) for that gag.
Following David Cameron’s lead in Prime Minister’s Questions, which immediately preceded the Budget speech, Osborne also went in for a joke about Miliband’s kitchen. Speaking about government support for the Internet of Things, he said: “This is the next stage of the information revolution, connecting up everything from urban transport to medical devices to household appliances.
“So should – to use a ridiculous example – someone have two kitchens, they will be able to control both fridges from the same mobile phone.”
Balls and miliband react to osbornes 2 kitchens gag. pic.twitter.com/w58OBA2U18
— Harry Fairhead (@hfairhead) March 18, 2015
Miliband steps into the ring
It’s a tough gig for the opposition leader who has to respond to all this on the spot, but Miliband managed to throw in a few “here’s one I made earlier” gags to maintain interest.
First up, Miliband said the chancellor has “bludgeoned Liverpool”, adding, “at least Dick Turpin had the decency to wear a mask when he robbed people”.
He then adds, “I would have quoted a Tory mayor from the north, but there aren’t any!”.
Extra points for Miliband for describing the LibDems as being “locked in the boot”, as the Tories have driven policy, and he also got a few cheers for saying he won’t take lessons from the “Trust Fund chancellor and the Bullingdon prime minister”.