I TOOK part in a panel discussion with Steve Richards of The Independent and Jonathan Isaby of Conservative Home on Friday at the Commonwealth Club near Embankment.
A question from the audience about George Osborne elicited a surprisingly generous response from Richards, whose political analysis I’ve always been impressed by. But I was nevertheless taken aback by his enthusiasm for Osborne, who he described in glowing terms as the pre-eminent political talent of his generation. A future leader of his party? I asked him. Yes. he replied, unequivocally.
Afterwards I reflected on the reality that if talent and ability automatically led to political success, we would have seen Denis Healey and Michael Heseltine become prime minister. Luck and judgment play as big a part as ability in any political career.
Which brings me back to Osborne.
Iain Dale did a very good job last night in exposing the vacuity of The Sunday Times’ latest attempted demolition of Osborne. Nevertheless, at a time when GO, justifiably or not, is under some pressure, he has decided to launch a very controversial attack on the government’s economic policy by predicting a run on the pound.
Ken Clarke says there’s no convention that says the Shadow Chancellor cannot speculate about the strength of the currency. And Iain pointed out that the threads on Conservative Home which The Sunday Times prayed in aid of its case against Osborne actually featured no substantive criticism. Yet as I’ve pointed out before, at the very least, Tory activists are less impressed with his performance now than they were a month ago.
So is now the right time for GO to making himself vulnerable to the inevitable accusation that he’s talking Sterling down?
Ability, skill, luck, judgment: GO may well have the first two in sufficient quantity, but without the last two, he’s a goner.