Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander decided he wanted to have his own share of the limelight after watching George Osborne deliver the Budget yesterday.
His answer? To deliver a Lib Dem alternative with a big, shiny yellow briefcase with 'Liberal Democrat Budget' written on it. Suffice to say, things went downhill very quickly.
It started with a warning from Speaker John Bercow that while such statements in the Commons do not need his permission, they must be “ministerial” – in the sense that they represent the government – rather than in a “personal or party” capacity.
Mr Alexander, calling this a "fiscal responsibility and fairness statement", began by saying that while the Budget was agreed by both the Conservatives and Lib Dems, he really wanted to answer the question of "isn't there a better way of doing this?".
But not many people turned up:Osborne's Budget yesterday (l), Alexander's today (r)
One Lib Dem MP was far more interested in her phone
Vince Cable struggled to stay awake
He was ripped into by his Labour counterpart Chris Leslie
"Mr Speaker what a farce, why has the right honourable member for Inverness and Nairn been allowed to use the government dispatch box for his party political pleading this morning?
"Is this a statement of the Treasury’s policy or not? He said he was publishing fiscal plans today, where is that document? I thought statements in the House of Commons were supposed to be from ministers speaking collectively on behalf of the government, but he has totally abused that privilege, assembling MPs this morning on a false pretence. I know it is usual to have several days of Budget debates in the Commons, but not several Budgets."
Nick Clegg walked out halfway through
And then everyone mocked his big yellow briefcase
By the way, here are the main takeaways from the 'yellow Budget':
- A plan that borrows less than Labour, cuts less than the Conservatives
- Increase public expenditure from 2017-18
- To ensure that the education budget can be protected – in real terms – from cradle to college
- To cut the national debt as a share of the economy
- A tougher tax evasion-deterring package with increased powers for HMRC