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Autumn Statement 2014: Fair amount of banter this year

3 min read

04 December 2014

Although the Autumn Statement is normally a serious affair, this year's speech was peppered with humour. More specifically, since Ed Milliband and Ed Balls were silenced by the Speaker of the House earlier for being too loud, George Osborne and David Cameron managed to land a few well-timed puns before the end of the session.

Of course, Cameron’s joke, which “left MPs baffled by torturing the English language” according to the Telegraph’s Rosa Prince, is worth mentioning first.

After Labour MP Mary Glindon asked why the government planned to borrow £4bn more than last year, Cameron said: “I would like to highlight something the shadow chancellor said this week. He said he would be tough on the deficit and tough on the causes of the deficit. As he is one of the causes of the deficit, I think we’ve just found the first ever example of political maso-sadism.”

He later corrected his statement: “Let me be clear, I meant to say masochism. I say he likes to dish it out but he can’t take it. But now we know he obviously quite likes taking it as well.”

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And he couldn’t resist making a dig at Miliband regarding the infamous bacon sandwich image that has undoubtedly spread across the web. “In a moment or two he will be looking as awkward as when he ate that bacon sandwich,” he said, talking about when Miliband hears the state of the government’s finances.

But the real banter first began when Osborne, who was explaining the details of the tax credit for children’s television and animation production, stated that “it is the determined policy of this government to keep Wallace and Gromit exactly where they are.

“The man behind Wallace’s voice has retired,” he said. “But after next May I am sure the whole House will unite behind a suitable and, by then, available candidate.”

It probably didn’t help any when the Torries started shouting “more cheese”.

Miliband took it with good grace and even laughed at the joke. After all, it’s not the first time that Osborne has made this joke, with Miliband himself even admitting that he does, in fact, look a little like Wallace.

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Of course, his next joke was equally as topical. As he introduced the latest tax-breaks and funding for Science, he made a reference to Britain’s lead on searching for life on Mars, saying: “We on this side have often gazed on the barren waste of the Red Planet. We have given up hope of finding intelligent life there. But signs of any life at all would be an advance.”

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