George Osborne is a thief

...of jokes

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has been caught stealing… a joke.

The wealthy Tory made the faux pas when he was invited to contribute to a new charity joke book raising money for Britain’s Army veterans.

He submitted the line: ‘Hedgehogs – why can’t they just share the hedge?’

But the gag was actually written by stand-up Dan Antopolski, and attracted widespread media attention last year when it was named best joke of the Edinburgh Fringe by the Dave TV channel.

The joke went viral, and even wound up on T-shirts, forcing Antopolski to drop it from his set as most the audience would have heard it, and some might even think that he had plagiarised the gag himself.

When Antopolski learnt that Osborne had purloined it for The Laughing Soldier: The British Army Joke Book, he said: ‘My god, is there nothing that man won't do?’

But he also praised the book, in aid of veterans’ charity Project 65, saying: ‘Seriously though, anyone who has given their professional life to caring for animals deserves the best care and if this book helps our veterans then that's more important than whether a namecheck increases my DVD sales either online from or in person on my national tour. We've got to be bigger than this.’

As well as raising money, the book also aims to raise morale, as hundreds of of free copies are also being sent to troops serving in Afghanistan.

The book is being supported by Al Murray, who wrote the foreword in praise of the proud history of military humour.

He said: ‘I hope that this book with all its jokes will put a smile on the face of the people doing what they’re doing so we that don’t have to do what they’re doing,.’

The 208-page book contains jokes submitted from serving personnel, veterans, comedians, MPs and celebrities – split up into ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ categories, accompanied with words of support for the Armed Forces.

The book is released next week. Click here to pre-order from Amazon.

Published: 17 Nov 2010

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