Peter Hoskin

Desperate times call for desperate measures?

Desperate times call for desperate measures?
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Could Alistair Darling be replaced after all?  I tend to think he won't be.  The way the downturn has played out seems to have strengthened his hand, and it won't do much for the Government's economic message to start swapping Chancellors at this stage in the game.  But a snippet in Rachel Sylvester's column this morning reveals that the "Balls for Chancellor" talk is reappearing nonetheless:  

"Downing Street insiders have again started to speculate that Mr Darling might be replaced by Ed Balls in a reshuffle this year. 'Gordon wants someone in there who thinks the way he does,' one Brown aide told me. How can the Prime Minister hope to get the Chileans and the Czechs to agree if he has differences with his own Chancellor?"

Let's not forget that Balls would "love" the job.  But there's a long list of people that would equally love for him not to be Chancellor.  Given the ominous line that "Gordon wants someone in there who thinks the way he does" (i.e. "Borrow! Borrow! Borrow! Spend! Spend! Spend!"), you'd imagine Mervyn King is somewhere near the top of that list.  And Brown would have to be really desperate to start exacerbating his already tense relationship with the Governor of the Bank of England.  But perhaps that's the point.  With the election looming ever closer, perhaps Brown really is that desperate.