Is his position now more flaky than Brown’s?
After yesterday’s splash in the Sunday Times suggesting that Brown is planning to install his long-time former close aide, Ed Balls, as Chancellor there’s more gloomy news for the current incumbent, Alistair Darling, today.
He’s the big focus of today’s MP expenses disclosures. The paper’s account doesn’t look good for the man in charge of the nation’s money.
“..In July 2007, Mr Darling submitted a Â£1,004 claim for a service charge on his south London flat 10 days after he became Chancellor. It covered the six-month period to the end of December 2007..At the time, Mr Darling moved into Downing Street and began to claim second home allowances for his grace-and-favour apartments, meaning that costs relating to two of the Chancellor’s homes were being met by the taxpayer. That would appear to contravene parliamentary rules that allow MPs to claim on only one property at a time. He was also receiving rent for his flat from at least September 2007.”
As has already been disclosed Darling has been dubbed what is now termed a “serial flipper” designating four homes as his second home in four years. Also Nick Clegg has made a direct call for the Chancellor to be sacked.
It’s becoming hard to to see how Darling can carry on. All the pointers are that Brown will try to seize the news initiative in the immediate aftermath of the June 4th elections through cabinet changes and if that happens then Darling could be the highest profile casualty.
Meanwhile the other big focus is on whether Brown himself can survive which is the main lead in the Mail and the Guardian. The former’s splash headline is “The vultures circle Brown” and there don’t seem to be many Labour figures ready to defend the PM.
Many of the unnamed plotters in the reports will have been amongst the 313 Labour MPs who signed Brown’s nomination papers just two years ago giving him the job without a contest. They must be feeling pretty sick – more fool them.
We are indeed living through extraordinary times. What’s happening at the moment is now even bigger than the fall of Margaret Thatcher in November 1990. Unlike Brown, however, she at least she had a hard fought leadership battle and three general election successes to look back on.