Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Can't they take a joke?

I had always thought that George Osborne's ignorance of economics was only matched by his humourlessness. But I had thought more of his new deputy David Laws. He was a first-class schools spokesman for the Liberal Democrats. But now he seems not only to have come under the economic spell of Boy George, he has lost any sense of irony. Liam Byrne's rather witty note where he simply said:

Dear Chief Secretary, I'm afraid there is no money. Kind regards - and good luck! Liam

was the best of British black humour and hardly something to be treated with the po-faced sanctimony that Laws started which has been echoed in today's press.

The truth is that Byrne had laid the groundwork for many of the savings that he publicly recognised would be needed, and that is why the Tories will be able to make speedy announcements on cuts. But the realisation that coalition has turned a rather able Liberal Democrat into a pompous mini-Osborne with American levels of ignorance of irony is nearly as frightening as the level of cuts that he is preparing.

1 comment:

DEnright said...

Sorry Conor, it wasn't funny. It plays into a perception that the last Govt was holed up, desperate, doing all it could to mess things up for successors without a thought for the country. At the very least it shows insensitivity to those outside the Westminster bubble (and gives fuel to the hateful Mail and crew).

To someone worried about losing their job in this recession, to someone worried about mortgage, or the cost of gas and electricity, to someone worried about overdrafts and unexpected bills and keeping their family finances in control, such a note seems distant, uncaring and arrogant. I am sure that wasn't Liam's intention, but there it is - a stick with which the new government can beat us.