The paradox of Alistair Darling's position
The events of the last 24 hours have illustrated the paradox of Alistair Darling's position.
For the next ten weeks, until polling day, Darling is "unassailable", to use the word which Margaret Thatcher notoriously used about Nigel Lawson more than 20 years ago.
After the events of last summer, when Gordon Brown was forced to ditch his plans to install Ed Balls as chancellor, Darling has been in a very strong position, and will no doubt exert that strength to get his way in the pre-election budget, due in late March.
But Darling knows he will only be chancellor until polling day, and indeed that may give him a slight "demob" spirit, enabling him to be a little more loose in what he says.
Yet, in the unlikely event that Labour, against all odds, was to win the election, then Gordon Brown would be even more unassailable than his chancellor. Darling would surely be out, and Balls would almost certainly get the Treasury.
Indeed, if I were a Conservative campaign planner I'd be designing posters along the lines of "Vote for five more years of Brown, and get Balls too".
And whilst I'm giving the Tories free advice, I've never understood why they never link Gordon Brown's famous "moral compass" with the activity of "spinning". You know, something along the lines of: "We know where your moral compass is, Mr Brown. It's spinning."