Peter Hoskin

Clean slate politics

Clean slate politics
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Hm. There's some speculation 'round Westminster that Darling may be gearing up to apologise during his Budget statement tomorrow.  Indeed, as Jonathan Isaby pointed out earlier, the bookies are even offering odds on us hearing the S-word - and those odds are getting shorter by the hour.  At first, I wasn't convinced.  After all, Brown seems to have an allergy to apologising - his "mea culpa" over the McBride affair was distinctly equivocal, and remember his mid-air tantrum about taking some responsibility for the financial crisis? – and I just couldn't see Darling boldly going where his boss hadn't gone before.

But, having thought about it a bit, I'm not so sure.  Brown's terrifying video earlier seems like a concerted attempt to wipe the slate clean; to shamelessly hide Labour misdemeanours behind that unnerving smile.  And an apology from Darling tomorrow could be the second stage in that process.  Not only would it be the change in tone that many Labour insiders have been calling for over the past few months, but - crucially - it could also capture some headlines, and deflect attention away from the grim public finances.  Sure, voters are unlikely to forgive and forget.  But an increasingly desperate Government might think it's worth a shot, so watch this space.