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Jerry Hayes

Cameron and Osborne at war? How a Telegraph column might be written.

October 24th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

The security guard nods his head, puts down the telephone and grunts an order, “It’s time”. Two burly men in white coats lumber towards a large iron door, armed with a syringe, an electric cattle prod and a cosh; just in case. God knows what could happen  when room 101 is opened. Nervously, they peer through the peep hole and stare at a large man with a  florid face looking very angry, but sedated enough not to be too dangerous. There is a scraping of a key, a clank of  a latch and the door is open. They survey with some resentment a room plushly decorated with fine hunting scenes, cases of ancient malts and empty Jereboams of the finest Pol Roger. One of the burly men places a laptop on a Louis XIV desk (sadly from Maples), and cranks it into life. The other begins unlocking the curiously tight leather straps that hold the man’s arms tightly behind his back. Carefully he is sat down in front of the glowering screen. At first, the stiffened fingers tap gently on the keyboard. But soon, his face becomes more crimson with rage and flecks of spittle splatter onto the screen. Crazed words such as, “Osborne, cunt, disgrace, I hate you”, screech from his cracked lips. The first burly man speaks quietly into his transceiver, “Sir, Mr Peter Oborne is now writing his column”.

Maybe this is an ever so slight exaggeration as to how dear old Peter writes  a piece, but even after all the years of cynicism and disbelief that politics and journalism has rendered me, I really could not comprehend his latest outpouring that Osborne is at odds with Cameron.

Oborne, for reasons beyond my comprehension, is always hugely angry about something or other. And this is not the ersatz anger that columnists have to feign in order to keep their little tongues titivating the orifices of the worst prejudices of their proprietors to keep in work. Oh no. Oborne is the sort of journalistic pressure cooker that will never under cook the vegetables and is always ready to explode when you least expect it.

So, let’s examine the latest rant. That Osborne is a Neo-Thatcherite, that his agenda is totally different to Cameron’s, that he’s been briefing the press against the PM and that there will be tears before bedtime.

But what is so insane about this is that there is not a shred of evidence for a word of it. If ever there are two men who are almost psychotically aware of what happens when a Chancellor and a Prime Minister seriously fall out, it is those Blair and Brown watchers Cameron and Osborne. So acutely were they aware of the importance of being at one, that they even shared an office in Opposition. And since the election they have the closest working relationship of any Prime Minister and Chancellor in living memory.

Cameron and Osborne are forged and tempered out of the furnace which was the hell of Blair and Brown. This is one mistake they are almost physically incapable of making.

So what has got Oborne’s goat? Difficult to tell really. Of course, the Right have always wanted to play one off of the the other. Remember all those pre election tales of disharmony? How the city hated Osborne and how Ken Clarke was going to take over? And remember the post election stories about how Cameron was going to overrule him over defence? Well, they came from all the usual suspects and didn’t count for a row of beans.

Maybe Oborne was just fed up with the way the cuts were implemented. He felt “ashamed” to be a Conservative when backbenchers cheered Osborne announcing four hundred and Ninety public sector job losses. But they didn’t. They just cheered their Chancellor for putting the grim reality lucidly and fairly.

So maybe it is some personal slight that we are blissfully unaware of. An unintentional snub at a reception? Someone pouring poison into his ear about the Chancellor slagging him off in private? God knows. The trouble is Oborne is so easily wound up. All a mischievous soul has to do is light the blue touchpaper and whooosh, off he goes into the stratosphere. All this is rather a shame. Irritating as he can be, usually he is on the side of the angels. I would hate for him to be frozen out of heaven.

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