It seems this was not what George Osborne had in mind when he hosted a boozy awayday in the Cotswolds to boost Tory spirits ahead of the Rochester by-election and the general election.
The Guardian has reported that he was “straight-faced” when former Tory minister Sir Alan Duncan whipped out a naked portrait of him, representing Osborne’s empty policies and failed promises, during a speech at a dinner in a four-star hotel near Chipping Norton.
Apparently this is Osborne’s ‘just desserts’ for offering unfunded tax cuts to the electorate in advance of the election next year.
It seems the event – ostensibly held to strategise against the threat of UKIP – subsequently deteriorated into the usual chaos of any event attended by the Bullingdon hooligans.
The painting is by Kaya Mar, whose images of politicians in the raw can be viewed on his website.
The artist’s website had this to say: “It was reported that a stone-faced George Osborne was furious about being humiliated by Duncan, who went on to make comparisons between Kaya’s typically fat-bottomed naked politicians in his satirical paintings and the Chancellor’s own increasing waistline – a consequence, perhaps, of all those lavish breakfasts, luncheons and dinners paid for by grateful, un-prosecuted bankers and lobbyists working for corporate privateers and plunderers since he wafted into 11 Downing Street all those hundreds of billions of borrowed pounds ago.
“There is, of course, a glaringly obvious subtext to that weekend’s bad-tempered exchanges and barbs; namely the bitter acrimony felt towards David Cameron and George Osborne by a significantly large cadre of back-bench MPs, who have always disliked Cameron’s slick PR style of policy-lite governance which many feel has done the party a great deal of reputational damage.
“The internal blood-letting and back-stabbing … signifies that fiercely partiisan rival camps for the inevitable forthcoming leadership challenge are finally emerging from the shadows, and have now spilled out into the public view.”
The site went on to suggest that the greatest threats to Cameron do not come from Osborne, but from the “polar opposites” represented by London Mayor Boris Johnson and former Education Secretary (recently demoted to Chief Whip) Michael Gove.
“Johnson is hugely popular for his well-honed theatrical ‘bumbling’, which he uses as an effective smokescreen to disguise his enormous ambition to be Prime Minister,” the site claims. “Michael Gove, with his patently ‘British Empire’ beliefs around education, crime and punishment, is well-liked by the reactionary wing of the party, for whom he represents the best chance of putting the UK’s cultural clock back 90 years.”
It may be too much to hope that this resentment will bubble up beyond symbolic gestures like this – at least, before the election – but it seems that the writing, or at least the painting, is on the wall for both George Osborne and David Cameron.
Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike
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