OH, let’s go back to those vultures. When last we met, the IDS vulture had flapped off to a distant rock to lick his wounds, surfacing again on Sunday on the Andrew Marr perch, where he insisted he was more in the way of a dove.
Having caused mayhem by attacking his Conservative companions, and having dipped his mean beak in the self-delusion pool, the IDS vulture withdrew once more, leaving much political mayhem in his wake.
Yesterday the King of the Vultures put on his darkest suit and indulged in a spot of smooth fighting talk in the Bird House, cheered on by his fellow vultures, even those who were not fully on side.
Now the King of the Vultures is good in a corner, and came out with his feathers standing proud, insisted that his party were on the side of the little birds, and that they really were caring and compassionate vultures, contrary to the rumours. He also defended the traitorous IDS vulture and the bean-counting money vulture, who stayed away from the Bird House, even though his cunning financial plan now lay in blooded tatters on the floor, having been sabotaged by the IDS vulture.
The leader of the others put on a bit of a sparrow show, hopping about in the budget dust without really scoring a hit. All this suggested that the vultures were doing the most damage to themselves, and needed no help from their enemies opposite…
David Cameron was in pinkly puffed-up fighting mood yesterday, and you have to admit that he is good in a corner – even if all that amounts to is being easily up for the performance.
So we got the usual compassionate Conservatism stuff and the one-nation stuff, all of which he can say by rote. And there’s the rub – he makes these proclamations with such regularity and such ease that in the end they sound like what they are: just words, well-meant, clever words with little bearing on reality.
Cameron doused the flames by praising Iain Duncan Smith, whom he allegedly called a “shit” when he read the resignation letter, and also praised chancellor George Osborne – as he always does. Say what you like about the Tories but those two stick together, having been united from the start, and having learnt how not to conduct themselves by watching the endless Blair/Brown civil warfare.
Sometimes it seems that Osborne is really the man in charge, with Cameron wheeled out to give the presentational spiel. And this is why the busted budget is such bad news for the government: so much hinges on Osborne’s grand financial plan (or, if you wish, grand financial illusion) that if it threatens to tumble, everything really is in a bad way.
Osborne stayed away from the Commons yesterday. Perhaps there were other demands on his time; a High-Vis Fetish Convention somewhere, maybe. In truth, of course, he was hunkered down in the Treasury trying to dig his way out of that £4 billion hole caused by the abandonment of his harsh disability cuts. Today he will go to the Commons to defend his battered budget – the first time a chancellor has done that in 20 years.
Oh, my mood does perk up when the vultures land themselves in a mess. Incidentally, do you know what the collective noun is for these birds? A search produces conflicting answers, but the best one by far is a “venue of vultures”. How grand is that?