Chloe Smith, who on her last appearance on Newsnight didn’t know the difference between deficit and debt, was humiliated again last night over the fuel duty u-turn, hung out to dry by George Osborne, Danny Alexander, Mark Hoban and David Gauke.
As the Telegraph’s Daniel Knowles blogged this morning, it was pure Thick of It stuff, the government omnishambling along from one u-turn to another:
Ms Smith doesn’t have an easy job – like David Guake, the other junior Treasury minister, she is usually wheeled out when the government has done something indefensible.
It cannot be fun to go on a TV programme expected to stick to a script that appears not to have even been written. But when she couldn’t answer a single question, from “when were you told” to “how are you paying for this”, her inexperience really did show.
And I couldn’t help but be reminded of this, from The Thick of It – junior minister “Ben Swaine” is interviewed by Paxman. Watch from 45 seconds in. “I’d like to answer that question Jeremy, and I’m sure you’d like to rush me into an answer”, says Swaine, while blinking weirdly.
Smith had earlier been subjected to a grilling on Channel Four News – yet it seems all the preparation in the world isn’t enough when thrown to the wolves by that brave, chivalrous Mr Osborne and his pals.