Friday, September 05, 2008


Why George Osborne Shouldn’t Be Chancellor, No 3,981

With the thrill-a-minute entertainment of the US Presidential Conventions finished, what is there to do with your nights? Fortunately, if you’ve got into the insomniac habit, tonight’s episode of The Avengers at 12.20 on BBC4 is particularly fine. Dial a Deadly Number is a tale of rich people and murder, with stand-out scenes including Steed trying to blow Mrs Peel’s cover just for the sheer hell of it and two terribly memorable duels, both involving wine.

Alternatively, if you’re tired of wit and charm but not of rich, unpleasant people, at 11pm there’s George Osborne on Radio 4’s Great Lives. No, don’t worry; he’s not nominating himself, nor his mate Dave. In fact, he’s gone to great lengths to pick a choice – typically for the current Tory leadership – that can’t possibly offend any focus groups, lying as it does over five hundred years in the past. Imagine my satisfaction, then, when not only does his choice of a ‘Great Life’ give me yet another reason to dislike Mr Osborne but it cleverly makes him sound even less palatable as Chancellor of the Exchequer than you’d previously thought.

A Complete Forkwit

George Osborne’s historical hero is King Henry VII, the 211th-in-line usurper with one of the bloodiest records of slaughtering the (many) heirs with better claims to the throne of any English (and Welsh) king. I’ve registered my dislike of him before. However, Mr Osborne and Great Lives host Matthew Parris are both unaccountably big fans, though that doesn’t stop Mr Parris from occasionally leaning in and asking embarrassing questions. Laugh as Mr Osborne praises Morton’s Fork, then gets asked if that’s how he’d behave as Chancellor and suddenly becomes very prissily defensive, because he’s too dim to have thought anyone would make the connection. Goggle as he claims that Henry VII tripled the national tax take purely through expanding the economy, and that ruthless enforcement and the Morton’s Fork he’d already brought up to salivate over had nothing to do with it. Tory Shadowy Chancellor in favour of tripling taxes: you heard it here first. Putting together the words ‘tax’ and ‘cuts’ in Tudor times usually meant beheading; Henry was very much in favour of what you might call ‘raking in the proceeds of growth’.

Still, unusually brave of him. Even The Tudors didn’t think they could get away with making that murderous, rapacious git a hero. Time to switch on the telly for some more unlikely historical shagging…

Apologies for recent lack of blogging; have knackered my arm again. Ho hum.

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One of the things I do remember from my A Level History was that Henry VII was very good at book keeping. I suppose there is some point to be made about the bloodiest of dictators usually being a dab hand at administration.

I will however be storing up that second definition of Morton's Fork on your Wikipedia link for future use!
Morton's Fork - Not a problem for New Labour it would seem. Taxing the wealthy is not their taxation of choice.
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