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Could Darling be after caretaker leader role?

ADMIN USE ONLY | 17:49 UK time, Friday, 26 February 2010

I'm still pondering the significance of Alistair Darling's famous interview with Jeff Randall on Tuesday night in which he talked of the "forces of hell" briefing against him.

In my blog on Wednesday, I suggested there seemed to be an air of Mr Darling being "demob happy" in the way he spoke on Tuesday. He knows he won't be chancellor after 6 May, whatever happens.

That set me thinking. With so many Labour MPs standing down, is it possible that Mr Darling, too, plans to step down as an MP, to take his place in the Lords, and some lucrative financial jobs in London or Edinburgh?

If so, the news would be a big blow to Labour's election campaign.

But there's an alternative, almost contradictory, scenario. Might Mr Darling be positioning himself to take over from Gordon Brown in the event of an election defeat? Not as a long term Labour leader, but in a caretaker role while the party sorts itself out, and waits for a young, strong, long-term prospect to emerge.

Mr Darling's reputation has certainly been enhanced during his three years as chancellor, and now, with just three words, he's managed to distance himself very effectively from the more unpleasant aspects of the Brown regime.

Unlikely? Yes. But I can tell you that the idea of Mr Darling as caretaker is certainly being contemplated by some of his friends.


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