What surrounds the talk of reshuffle is a feeling that Brown is not only bringing to the fore fresh talent, but that he is shedding dead weight.
There was despair when he criticised Blears but not Purnell and Hoon.
Now Darling is clinging on. Just.
But do the rumours that Brown is tactically losing Darling hold?
On the side of YES it is a tactic, is the looming prospect of Ed Balls becoming introduced to the treasury, which Brown made no secret of condoning over the weekend.
“Some aides say they have been urging Brown to put schools minister and close ally Ed Balls into the Treasury for a while, arguing it would bring more discipline to the ministry and give Labour a better chance of winning a national election due by next year.”
Balls would be a fresh face to the party’s top team, and is already a recognisable face to the city, not only being a former FT journalist, but as Brown’s right-hand man when he was finance minister.
While Darling is in the media for his expense claims, Martin Kettle in his article today suggests that the Telegraph‘s reporting of Darling was scandalous itself, and that Darling, and his team, are all pretty straight guys. It is all hype, Darling’s claims were not as bad as the ‘graph made it seem, and its all a plot.
On the side of NO it is not a tactic, Brown doesn’t want to stand down, so reports the Guardian, because he wants to deal with the issues at hand, namely the economy. And as the Balls move would look too much like the Brown/Darling duo haven’t had hold of the economy the whole time (bearing in mind the promise that the economy will stop sliding sometime early next year, as opposed to other predictions that it could be at least 3 years) surely only a massive cock-up like “Darling billed us for two homes at the same time” could spur on such a dubious reshuffling.
There is, of course, a viable third option suggesting that it is a little of YES and a little of NO.
But in any case a leftwards shift in finance – spearheaded by Balls – would be an encouraging prospect, despite the view that Balls will have little opportunity for manoeuvre in the present economic climate.
As the Reuters report finishes;
“Darling, 55, is also less likely to take risks than Balls, 42, part of a younger generation of ministers who will probably fight to replace Brown at some stage”.