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There he is!

Screen shot 2011-04-13 at 09.32.55
by Paul Goodman


There he is!

Tim recently summarised an FT profile of George Osborne and referred to mine earlier on this site.  He wrote" "Conservative observers say [Osborne] is 'like a submarine, surfacing only to make strategic interventions when he has something important to say, then disappearing for weeks on end."

And this morning, the Chancellor broke cover - before diving back to the depths of the Treasury ocean once again.

His locations were carefully chosen - the Sun and apparently the Daily Mail.  So was his subject - AV, and the financing of the Yes campaign, which "stinks".  Osborne was assailing the Electoral Reform Society for having a conflict of interest, and he found time for a sideswipe at Nick Clegg.

There was nothing in either interview about the Treasury, the economy, deficit reduction or any of his main responsibilities - though the Mail contained a brief item carrying a quote from the Chancellor insisting that he hadn't agreed to Alistair Darling's European bail-out deal.

As the submarine image illustrates, Osborne rarely gives interviews - even on his brief, let alone off it.  And when he does surface to do so, it's for a reason.  So what was his today?  I'd say: to remind Conservative MPs and members that his heart's in the right place, that he can attack opponents effectively, and that he's got little time for the Liberal Democrats - unlike, some will add, David Cameron.

So is Osborne on manoevres?  My verdict is: not exactly.  He certainly isn't plotting to bring down the Prime Minister.  He remains one of twin pillars which holds up the Cameron project.  And he's learnt from Brown's mistakes.  If his tactics are sometimes similar to his predecessor's - after all, it was Brown who crafted the "submarine strategy" as Chancellor - his strategy has always been different.  Osborne saw how open warfare between a Prime Minister and Chancellor helped to paralyse and destroy a government, and he's determined not to repeat the error.

But, one day, in some way, Cameron will leave the Party leadership.  Osborne wants to be ready for that moment, to remind MPs and members of his views and abilities.  Hence his breaking of the ocean waves this morning.


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