Osbo needs an Asbo

I am in Mansion House, wearing black tie, eating stodgy food and listening to a yet stodgier speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer . . . (And now, I'm in Deauville in the 1970s. My aunt Agatha has taken me to the casino to be her lucky charm. She is losing steadily. There is a commotion in the middle of the room. I sneak over. A huge pile of chips is stacked on the table. Lots of French people are buzzing around and remonstrating with a man who sits at the table with his back to me. He waves them away. There is silence as the wheel is spun.

It comes to a halt. Everyone gasps except the man, who whispers the softest of au revoirs to the croupier and walks, empty-handed, out of the casino . . .) I can only have dropped off for three-quarters of an hour, maximum, and the Chancellor is still droning on. If only there were a word that one could say to make him stop.

“We need to talk about George" has been a constant imperative, ever since the pasty day boy wheedled and oiled his way into the Bullingdon Club. The uncomfortable truth is that, man and boy, there has always been something distinctly unsettling about him.

This was noticeable even at the Buller, where the phrase “You know when you've been Osbo-ed" was used to describe the predicament of the club member unfortunate enough to be placed next to him at dinner.

Not only was he dull company, he was also odd. Forever harping on about some (perhaps imaginary) "Louise" to such an extent and in such depth that one couldn't help thinking, "But we've only just met. Haven't you got a friend you should be telling all this to?"

Of course, he didn't. We were his closest friends and we hardly knew him - a situation that has remained unchanged. The Chancellor has long been reliant on the affability of others, principally Dave, to give the appearance of popularity.

In reality, he has no friends, just enemies' enemies: chief among them being Andy Coulson, with whom he was joined at the hip in hatred of little Steve "Guru" Hilton.

Now, Coulson has flown, and there is no one to protect the Chancellor when the Shoeless Guru (a distant cousin of the Barefoot Doctor, perhaps?) prevails upon him to "lighten up, big time" and “be the life and soul of the big global economic party". ("Don't be stupid, be a smarty - come
and join the Tory party" will be Hilton's epitaph.)

Osborne recoils from the Guru, not least, I sense, because he is fully aware that his soul is a dark and tortured place.

The Guru's infernal bounciness acts as a drip-drip water torture on him. And the Chancellor retreats yet deeper into his den, where he weaves his plans and plots his revenges - to such an extent that he is now convinced that he is right and everyone else is wrong. And he is prepared to bet
the banks on it. Just like the man in Deauville.

Which is why we need to talk about George . . . PDQ.

This article first appeared in Meet the next Prime Minister

2011-09-19