After inadvertently wearing a live microphone in a BBC toilet, Chancellor George Osborne found himself at the centre of another embarrassing gaffe when his private phone conversation was leaked to the press.
In the conversation, extracts of which are reproduced below, Mr Osborne appears to make a series of extremely disparaging scatological remarks about certain sections of society, casting grave doubts as to the sincerity of the government's oft repeated 'we are all in it' assertion; that drastic economic cutbacks would be applied fairly across the classes, with the rich bearing the heaviest burden of responsibility.
The Chancellor had just finished a TV interview with Andrew Marr at Television Centre when he dashed off for the toilet break. Floor staff and aides had forgotten to relieve him of the live mini microphone before he went. It recorded the discussion between the Chancellor and a friend, referred to as 'Biffo'.
Staff in the TV control room were only alerted when odd noises, followed by a ringing phone and then Mr Osborne's voice came through their earphones.
Privy councillor: 'In it' up to his neck…
Here are some highlights from Mr Osborne's three minute conversation:
'Yo Biffo. No, it's ok, I'm just on a bombing run at Pravda Central…. yah, relieving myself of the lumpen proletariat' (laughter) … slopping gruel in Oliver's bowl.' (laughter)… 'squeezing out the middle (inaudible) now… and those aren't pips you hear squeaking.' (laughter)
He then appears to refer to recent events concerning the resignation of the government's Chief Whip and his interview with Marr:
'Just had to dodge a bunker blast from Wingnut about old cycle-clips. Mitchell's been a complete arse blumpkin over this plod biz. Dave should have dropped him faster than a ticking camel-jockey and fed him to the hungry hippos. Instead, he let him dangle like a Klingon crapple for yonks while Brutus made the most of it, floating an almighty air biscuit at Party Conf, the red-arsed blonde baboon.'
Alluding to last Friday's incident on a Virgin train, when travelling in a First Class carriage on a Second Class ticket, Mr Osborne is heard to say:
'...Beardy's bolshie fat controller… the little s**t. As if I'd want suppurating oiks and proles breathing all over me.'
The conversation then descends into further ribald public-schoolboy toilet humour:
'Just stocking the lake with another brown trout… (laughter)… Christ on a bike, I don't remember eating that.' (laughter) (Toilet flush).
The conversation ends abruptly as frantic banging on the cubicle door and agitated muffled voices are heard.
After reading the complete leaked transcript, a senior Labour spokesman commented, 'In an unguarded moment we see the true face of this government. Both cheeks. For once the Chancellor is right. He really is 'in it' now.'
Aides for Mr Osborne last night said he was both 'mortified' and 'constipated'.