BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: Michael Crick
« Previous | Main | Next »

The paradox of Alistair Darling's position

Michael Crick | 18:04 UK time, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

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."


  • Comment number 1.

    shhhh you mustn't show up the Cameroon attack dogs on here who haven't the imagination to even make up poor jokes let alone good ones.

  • Comment number 2.

    What is the purpose of your job when you only compare 'Free-market anarchist party red' with 'Free-market anarchist party blue'.

    You can surely do better than this to earn all that money!

    You came from a working class background, being bright enough to get to university through your own intelligence and endeavour (like myself), and then you come out with this rubbish story!

    Come one can do better than this!

    With whom do you hold your allegience to?

    You can surely do your mother a better service than this? do you sleep at night?....I just don't know!

    Please grow some real cajones!

  • Comment number 3.

    Had a quick gander back a few threads, and other than one post it seems Newsnight is keeping its powder dry on the massive scandal that goes to the core of real issues affecting the public - such as health and elder care - as opposed to the trivial tribal point scoring that obsesses the tribal Westminster Usual Village Idiots.

    A Government of All The Talents?

    Indy -'The Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, yesterday described the appalling treatment of patients at Stafford hospital as "ultimately a local failure".'

    The only talent being, apparently, defending the indefensible and insulting the electorate's intelligence with brain-dead, rote-intoned weasel words. Lessons learned, no change ever made.

    If there is any justice, all those complicit, from Messrs Burnham to the well rewarded for failure CEO acolyte of Government target and bonus over care and delivery culture, will one day 'enjoy' equal levels of care if they get sick and when they age.

    Nothing will change unless ACCOUNTABILITY is returned, made real and relentlessly applied.

    Any party - other than Labour, who I wouldn't trust on anything, ever, again - who convinces me that they can and will do that will certainly get my attention at least.

  • Comment number 4.

    Alastair Darling always reminds me of the good man who fell amongst thieves. He is clearly a residual element of an older, far better Labour Party in which a concern for integrity and truth was far more important than just being in power.

    I always hope that the days of integrity will return. Possibly when the electorate kick the the current mob of dissimulators into touch, someone somewhere will seek to recover a moral standard in our public life.

    What is quite apparent is that it is impossible to rebuild the integrity of Parliament for as long as the Westminster village is stuffed full of opportunists, cycnics, tittle-tattle merchants, manipulators, bare-faced liars and political leaders who are happy to feed off them all.

    Politics should be a noble profession rather than this sordid business.

  • Comment number 5.

    Not sure I would agree with you that if, by some remote chance, Labour win the election Brown will be unassailable.

    The reality of his mismanagement of the economy would then hit home with a vengence with the markets downgrading our credit rating and the obvious consequences of that in terms of increased interest rates, savage cuts in public spending and the rest of it.

    How long then before the next challenge to his leadership?

  • Comment number 6.

    imaginbe getting ill in Stafford...don't go there...I wonder how long the joviality between Messrs Brown and Darling lasted.....two seconds...three? Am I just being cynical? The last scene in 'Expenses' BBC4 where the speaker Martin cannot find a friendly face as he walks down the corridors of Westminster must be how Alistair Darling feels and all he said was how it is, he told the truth, that is one thing you cannot do under this authoritarian, negative and suspicious administration. Oh for a breath of fresh air government, a different approach instead of the same old clapped out non choice shower of b........s that we have now. The studio discussion on NN the other night captured it brilliantly when Jeremy asked if there was any difference in the three main parties attitude to the war in Afghanistan....not a jot of difference and we call this a democracy when in the same discussion 63 per cent of the British public said, 'Lets get out' no wonder they all got together over the expenses issue...they are all the same.....

  • Comment number 7.

    I am sure the Tories will appreciate "free advice" from the great Michael Crick.

  • Comment number 8.

    Advice from anywhere, and anytime would be taken by the tories at the moment.

    Will the country just go for broke and have a hung parliament or even Lib Dems? After all it is a free vote


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.