Osbrone might be the man with the most to lose but he is also the man with the most to gain. Osborne’s stock is undervalued at the moment, people are ignoring that he has won the argument on debt and that he was the man who forced Brown to call off the election that never was. By contrast, Cable’s is overvalued—as that Andrew Neil interview showed, he is nowhere near as good as his press suggests he is. Darling has had an easy ride over the past few years because the political class sees that he is the man trying to restrain Balls and Brown’s worst instincts. Darling’s knowledge of economics and policy agenda have not been subject to forensic scrutiny.
As one Tory MP who supported David Davis in 2005 pointed out to me the other day, Osborne has never failed on a set piece occasion. If he can win tomorrow’s debate, he’ll be in a position to stymie Labour efforts to target him.