Chloe Smith had it rough but Osborne is the real casualty

The Rev Canon Bob White with representatives of the groups involved in our Christmas campaignh run with churches in Portsmouth - Comfort and Joy

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Anyone with a scintilla of compassion will have watched Jeremy Paxman’s mauling of junior treasury minister, Chloe Smith, from behind the settee.

The government’s youngest minister was sent defenceless into the Newsnight bear-pit to explain its latest U-turn (this time on the deferral of the fuel duty price rise) and the resident bully-boy cuffed her around like a tom-cat playing with a baby mouse.

She literally coughed and spluttered her way through the ordeal and was unable to muster one credible explanation for why (or even when) the decision had been taken.

The reason was simple. She had been tasked with defending the indefensible.

Ms Smith may have been battered and bruised – but her boss, George Osborne, has been terminally wounded.