Alistair Darling is Chancellor of the Exchequer, at least in name. The question is this: how many of the economic policies, seemingly made on the hoof, are his and how many are originating from his neighbour, one G Brown. The relationship between Prime Minister and Chancellor can become quite fraught as ultimately happened with Thatcher and Lawson. Remember that Brown was Chancellor for ten years and that he is obsessed with micro managing everything. I just can't see him agreeing to Darling being the sole person in charge of the economy and I do wonder just how many initiatives in the current financial crisis are originating in 10 Downing Street rather than number 11.
Darling made a very frank comment at the end of last summer stating that our economy was in the worst position it had been in for 60 years and that the downturn would be longer lasting than expected. Contrast that with Brown who has spoken about the UK being best placed to weather the downturn. Now I can understand a PM trying to avoid talking down the economy but Brown's denial of reality is in his DNA. One of Darling's attributes is his loyalty to the cause and to other people but come the next budget he will be the recipient of a huge amount of flak as he dramatically has to turn the treasury forecasts on their head. Will he be willing to continue absorbing the criticism that will come if in fact it is Brown who is primarily responsible for driving the ill thought out policies of the moment. Darling is normally calm and polite but will there come a moment when he cries "Enough is enough" if in fact it is Brown who is continuing to invent the present muddled economic policies. Are Darling and Brown totally in accord then over these policies or is it the case that the sombre faced Chancellor is really thinking " some of the things we are doing are rubbish but I must be loyal to Gordon".