Friday, February 26, 2010


Abused but Loyal Darling Has Been the Star of Brown's Original Cabinet

David Cameron had a blisteringly good time at Gordon's expense on Wednesday at PMQs. It arose, of course, because Rawnsley's book had revealed Alistair Darling had been furious that Brown had set his dogs on him in August 2008 when he had judged the economic crisis likely to be 'the worst for 60 years', when Gordon was insisting it would be over in six months.

Damien McBride and Charley Whelan were the two Gordon myrmidons allegedly entrusted with this monstering task and Rawnsley reckons they did a sufficiently good job to enrage the Chancellor. But in addition to this injury Brown had tried to replace his fellow Scot with his number one myrmidon, the widely despised Ed Balls, as recently as last June. So when Jeff Randal interviewed him for Sky News on Tuesday the hurt was sufficiently close to the surface for him to- indiscreetly for such a discreet man- to accuse his prime minister of unleasing the 'forces of hell' upon him.

Inevitably both practitioners of the blackest of arts, denied the charge with the straightest of faces and Brown, unconvincingly, tried to do the same at PMQs. But he had to accept the roasting duly delivered by Cameron while his Chancellor sat grimly by his side. At the very top-most reaches of government, true friendship is a fragile, diaphonous idea rather than a reality.

I have not the slightest doubt that most of the things Rawnsley has recorded and much else besides in the same vein, did indeed occur and that this calling to account was wholly deserved by a Brown who has always been happy to have others do his dirty work for him. I would also say that Darling, someone who is often pilloried for being even more boring than Geoff Hoon, has really proved himself the real star of Brown's original Cabinet. He has loyally taken the browbeatings but remained astonishingly calm while the hurricane winds of international crisis blew. What is more, he has had the quiet courage to stand up to his bullying boss on a number of occasions and emerge with dignity intact.

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