Last Wednesday, watching the Chancellor of the Exchequer deliver the results of his spending review for 2015-16, it was impossible not be struck by the idea that here is a truly remarkable man.
Derided by those on the left of British politics as the part-time chancellor, he nevertheless has the ability to convince many opinion-formers that he’s a supreme politician.
That’s as may be.
What I find incomprehensible are his never-ending attempts to portray himself as some kind of Man Of The People and his constant mantra of: “We’re all in it together”.
The Man Of The People shtick was given full rein when he tweeted an image of himself tucking into a take-away hamburger on Tuesday evening as – he claimed – he put the finishing touches to his spending report.
But wait! What’s going on here?
Have his cuts already hit the Treasury and closed down the catering department? Can’t he spare just 20 minutes to eat a healthy meal brought to him on a tray?
Or does he think that, by sharing this image with the Twitteratii he’ll somehow engage with a nation seduced into – in some cases even reduced to – living on cheap burgers?
I doubt it, if only because he was reportedly enjoying a burger that probably cost £10. See how well that cuts it with those who can only afford a McDonald’s 99p bap!
During the presentation of his actual report, I couldn’t help noticing that smirky little grin that plays around his lips when he’s delivering what he so frequently calls “hard choices”.
It was there when he talked about Civil Service pay restrictions and again when he set out the Departmental budgets, which – unless Boadicea rises from the dead and there’s a massive sea-change in British politics – will see the state’s autonomy much reduced for many, many years to come.
It’s a grin that seems to say: “I can say all this because I’m the Chancellor and you’re not”.
At other times it seems to say: “I can do all this because I’m the Chancellor and it won’t affect me!”.
Well, he is the Chancellor of the Exchequer and much of what he proposes won’t affect him materially, but the grin doesn’t say much for us all “being in it together”.
Clearly, he has an election in mind – which is, of course, what makes him so politically astute.
Win it and he’ll be the darling of the right; the leading light in the Conservative party’s covert drive for a smaller state and – as a result – more work for their pals in the private sector.
Lose it and he will have left his successor with a country with thousands increasingly dependent on food banks and loan sharks, facing years more misery – little of which could ever be described as their fault.
But will he care?
Almost certainly not. As the remarkable man he is, he will simply skip off into the country where, surrounded by his admirers, he’ll probably spend the rest of his days enjoying the odd gourmet burger and frequent glasses of fine wine while the rest of us wonder how we got into this particular mess.
A truly remarkable feat for one man to pull off.