George Osborne's autumn statement brought with it lashings of pain sweetened by some business-friendly platitudes and the odd bit of Thatcherite rhetoric for the Tory old boys.
His stirring defence of the right-to-buy scheme as "one of the greatest social policies of our time" and the announcement of its revival were delivered with particular glee (though exactly how social housing stocks are to be maintained remains something of a mystery).
Indeed, had the whole thing not been tainted by Mr Osborne's seemingly interminable cough, his fighting spirit might even have raised a smile from the Iron Lady. The difference on this occasion being that Mr Osborne was arguing to keep mines and steel mills open rather than close them down.
This statement was a difficult sell for the Chancellor. The hardliners of his own party want to see more stringent cuts, particularly when most benefits are set to rise to match inflation, while the opposition are ready to bash any tighter squeeze on the public sector. Whichever side of the political spectrum you lie on, it is difficult to deny that Mr Osborne has little chance of appeasing left or right, let alone both.
Yet it was a measured performance. He faced down the humiliation of his volte-face on borrowing with reasonable style, despite near-constant heckling that caused Speaker John Bercow to call for order on a number of occasions. These theatrics were undoubtedly entertaining, though as with Prime Minister's Questions there was always a danger of the affair treading into the territory of farce.
When Ed Balls took the floor, Speaker Bercow was forced to remind the house that he'd asked them not to "shout and yell" at the chancellor and that they should afford the shadow chancellor the same courtesy. It was like a headmaster entering the classroom to tell unruly children that they should jolly well treat the supply teacher with the same respect as any other one. Mother of parliaments? Sometimes it seems more like a crèche.
Yet it's important here to remember that, beyond the usual pantomime of Punch and Judy politics, in the markets Osborne faces far more frightening opposition than the political one on the other side of the house. Ratings agencies are substantially more threatening than the inconsequential ranting of Ed Balls' rebuttal.
Today's performance was about confidence and for his efforts the chancellor gets a pass, but it is his subsequent actions' impact on the economy that will dictate his party's long-term future. As borrowing targets slip and cuts get deeper, a supine opposition will soon rally itself to capitalise on the swing in the public mood. When that begins to happen, style will not be enough.
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