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Friday, 20 March 2009

Gideon and the Wrong Bible

Ultimate embarrassment for Gordon Brown and all around him: he brings back Peter Mandelson into the cabinet, and out comes the story of how Mandy was allegedly slagging off the stalwart defender of the colour Broon across the blue and white tablecloth of a Corfu taverna.

And to whom was the slagging off being told? Step forward the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, and Shadow Chancellor.

In the course of my business I encounter few politicians, but have seen Osborne in the flesh. And he is an instantly dislikeable fellow. Fortunately, in the constituency of Tatton, he has found an electorate who will vote Tory, despite the candidate. This was, after all, for many years the seat of one Mostyn Neil Hamilton.

So it was with some pleasure that I – and no doubt many others – saw Osborne getting both barrels from Nat Rothschild over an abuse of hospitality. Rothschild was most forthright about Osborne’s alleged soliciting of a donation from “king of aluminium” Oleg Deripaska. Osborne angrily denied the mere suggestion; Rothschild stood firm.

But Osborne wouldn’t have dumped on Mandelson if he thought that the process would end with his suitability for high office being questioned. What made him think that young Nat would keep schtum?

Ah well. Rothschild and Osborne were at Oxford together. Moreover, they were both in the Bullingdon Club. And a Buller Man, well, it’s just not done – a Buller Man would never rat on another Buller Man, would he?

Here, if you ever needed to know, is why David Cameron is leader of H M Opposition, and Osborne is merely Shadow Chancellor. Osborne isn’t daft: I reckon he’s the sharper of the two – but it was Cameron that took the First and Osborne the Upper Second. Cameron is the one who thinks it all through, prepares better, acts more convincingly (something to which I will return).

Also, Cameron may be easily as ruthless an operator as Osborne, but the electorate first see at least an attempt to be likeable. They wouldn’t see that in Osborne, and thereby lies the problem for the Tories: Cameron could get them elected. Osborne couldn’t. The heir to Blair doesn’t have a spare.

So they’ve got an awful lot riding on young Dave.

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