James Forsyth

The Chancellor’s lucky break

The Chancellor's lucky break
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Alistair Darling really should send Mohamed al-Fayed a thank you note. Fayed’s testimony is bound to bump Northern Rock off at least the front pages of the tabloids tomorrow. Perhaps this knowledge explains why Darling produced a calmer and more confident performance in the Commons today than many of us expected he would.

The most effective speeches came from Vince Cable and Ken Clarke. Cable took a well deserved victory lap and landed as many hits on George Osborne as Darling; Cable is clearly keen to keep ownership of this issue. While Clarke pointed out in his typical saloon bar style just what a distorting effect on the market the presence of a government owned bank would have on the financial marketplace.

George Osborne got all of his sound bites off and I expect that his performance will look better on the evening news than it did live on television. Tactically, the Tories are doing the right thing by voting against the bill tomorrow as this will give them more room to criticise when things go wrong, as they inevitably will

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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