Peter Hoskin

A humble rift

A humble rift
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So, it seems that Alistair Darling wasn't speaking on message when he called for some "humility" from government yesterday.  The Mail reports that Brown was left "fuming" by Darling's intervention, and there's much talk of a rift between the PM and his Chancellor.  Brown's since tried to paper over the cracks, telling Nick Robinson that there's "always a need for humility", but he then tore the paper down with this follow-up:

"And the idea ... that somehow this is a British problem that was a British government mistake, actually what happened is that round the world, as everybody understands, the whole global financial system seized up."

To top it all off, the Times picks up on the "deteriorating" relationship between Darling and Peter Mandelson - a claim made by a "senior minister", but naturally denied by the two men's offices.

Either way, I do find it striking how much Darling seems to have been frozen out of Government.  As Rachel Sylvester revealed yesterday, Brown's top team for dealing with the downturn consists of Mandy and Ed Balls.  And, beyond the occasional interview, Darling is more often absent from the public eye.

Thing is, when Darling does appear, he generally talks more sense than his colleagues.  If you remember, his "worst in 60 years" claim was initially lambasted by Downing Street - until, that is, it seemed prescient.  And he's right, now, that, in effect, Brown needs to do something different if Labour are to have anything like a chance come the next election.  No.10 would do well to listen to No.11 - but, as it is, Darling may be better-off separating himself from Brown's stubborn approach.