Would he be a better face for the coming spending cuts?
This afternoon I reinvested a small part of my budget winnings with two bets on the post of chancellor. The wagers are linked and both offer, I believe, good value for money.
My first was to take the 9/2 from William Hill Politics that Alastair Darling will be replaced as chancellor during 2009. These seem great odds and, effectively, also give you coverage should there, indeed, be a 2009 general election. Whatever the outcome of that it’s hard to see Darling still in his job.
The second bet has been at a tasty 33/1 that the Tory treasury number 2, Philip Hammond, will be the next chancellor. Surely that’s going to be George Osborne I can see you thinking. Yep – possibly but just think for a minute of the role for the chancellor in the likely incoming Tory government.
For the Tories will inherit the need for public expenditure cuts on a scale that has not been seen for decades. The chancellor will be the public face of the inevitable squeeze and the state school educated Hammond who had a considerable career in private industry before entering politics might be better positioned than Osborne
Have you noticed how in the past few days it’s been Hammond who has been presenting the Tory case on many of the key TV programmes. I thought he did really well on Question Time last night. He has a nice manner and comes over as someone who is reasonable and caring in a way that Osborne does not. His age, he’s 52, gives him the maturity that eludes the 37 year old George.
Cameron will, I’m sure, find a key role for Osborne but chancellor might not be the best position for him in the current climate.
So the Darling bet more than covers the Hammond bet in the event of Brown replacing him this year. Hammond becomes my choice for the Tories.
The Ladbrokes 33/1 is not going to last long.