James Forsyth

Will Darling bite?

Will Darling bite?
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There’s a great scene in the BBC’s Margaret when Willie Whitelaw says after Margaret Thatcher has humiliated Geoffrey Howe, ‘Beware the fury of a patient man’. One feels much the same way about Alistair Darling. Darling might, according to Treasury civil servants, be rather out of his depth in the job but he has tried to do his best and has never been less than loyal to the Prime Minister. His reward for this is a constant whispering campaign against him from Number 10, which put him in the job in the first place, and rumours—which flared up again towards the end of last week—that he’ll be replaced by Ed Balls.

The constant touting of Balls must be particularly infuriating to Darling given Balls’s role in drawing up the tripartite regulatory system that has failed so badly and his general role in the economic policy errors of the last decade. I suspect that if Brown does replace Darling with Balls, Darling’s patience might finally snap and we might be treated to a resignation speech to rival Howe’s in it political impact.

In her column today, Jackie Ashley asks why Brown is letting his henchmen savage two of his friends, Darling and Harriet Harman. She, and all the more dammingly given her support for Brown, comes up with a condemnation of Brown’s whole approach to politics:

“The root problem seems to be that Brown sees politics as being about defining your enemies, then defining yourself against them, and then attacking. It's constant positioning.”

One wonders what a liberated Darling would say about Brown’s approach to politics and his record as Chancellor.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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