Nick Robinson is so often spot on. From his Newslog about the reactions of the Chancellor and two would-be Chancellors to Ken Clarke’s comments about a hung Parliament,
So, on a day when unemployment rose to the highest level seen since 1994 and at a time when all parties agree we are facing the worst budgetary crisis and the biggest spending cuts in decades, these three [Darling, Osborne and Cable] argued about the only fact that has electrified this election – opinion polls which suggest the likelihood of a hung Parliament – and which, whisper who dares, might turn out to be wrong.
Let’s hope so.
And as for the unemployment figures (8 per cent of the workforce, taking it to the highest since 1996), Yvette Cooper, Work and Pensions Minister, was quoted as saying “we are not out of the woods yet.”
After the rumours, final confirmation this afternoon that even though Alistair Darling was unable to bring himself to use the N-word, Northern Rock has been taken into public ownership. The Chancellor was at pains to stress that the Government’s intention is that this should be temporary ownership only, and that deposits and savings will “remain safe and secure”. In his post The nationalisation of Northern Rock on Coffee House, Peter Hoskin asks whether we can really trust the Government to run a bank. George Osborne certainly does not think so. According to the FT he told Sky News:
“We have had months of dithering and delays and ended up in the catastrophic position, on a Sunday afternoon, of the chancellor announcing this decision to nationalise Northern Rock. They have dithered for months and months trying to create a private sale that was never really there.’’
Meanwhile, Yvette Cooper on the Channel 4 News was far from convincing in her support of the embattled Chancellor. This story has legs. If you were thinking that Alistair Darling’s reputation for competence was damaged by the non-dom ‘crisis’ then the Northern Rock debacle will bury it.