I have a suspicion that George Osborne will come out of this debate rather well. He doesn’t have an expectations problem, unlike Cable, and is quick on his feet. Most importantly, the facts are on his side. It is also worth remembering, as one Tory MP reminded me earlier this week, that since becoming shadow Chancellor Osborne has never failed on a set-piece occasion.
One thing that Osborne must do in the debates is make sure he takes on Cable as well as Darling. Cable’s reputation is over-inflated and Osborne has an opportunity to score some points by highlighting the contradictions in Cable’s record.
One similarity between Osborne and Gordon Brown is that their reputations are quite volatile. Since 2005, Osborne has been hailed as the campaign manager who masterminded Cameron’s leadership win and as the man who forced Brown to call off the election in 2007. But he has also faced a lot of incoming; an uncomfortably large amount of which has been from his own side. There is, though, little doubt that Osborne’s stock is currently undervalued. The Budget and this debate provide an opportunity for a political market correction.