Village People: Be gracious in victory

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Indy Politics

The low attack that David Cameron launched on Gordon Brown, with a view to stopping the former PM from obtaining the top job at the IMF, was both self-aggrandising and short-sighted.

Short-sighted because Cameron will one day be an ex-PM looking for a new job, and he certainly will not like it if his successor gets in his way and calls him "washed up". And self-aggrandising because it appears that Cameron thinks he has the power to veto Brown's appointment. That is not so. The successful candidate does not have to be nominated by his country of origin. The governments of countries such as Brazil and India, who have more respect for Brown than Cameron has, could in theory secure the post for him without British support. Unlikely, but if it were to happen, how silly Cameron would look.

Cabinet contender

If the tradition of appointing a European to head the IMF is to be maintained, there is another candidate with much experience of finance whose name is being quietly touted in the corridors of Whitehall. The Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell is nearing retirement.

Making cheap shots?

Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet Office minister and former philosophy lecturer at Cambridge and Princeton Universities, uses words with great care and precision. So when the Rotherham MP Denis MacShane wrote suggesting that he apologise for having told Boris Johnson that he did not want to see more families from Sheffield taking cheap flights, he replied: "I can assure you that I would never knowingly say something offensive to the people of Sheffield." Is he implying that he would knowingly say offensive things about the people provided they were not listening? Surely not.

AVs and AV-nots

"Founder of Lib Dems, David Owen, says: 'Electoral reformers should have held out for real reform'" screamed the headline on a press release from the No-to-AV campaign yesterday – which would be quite interesting, if true. But Lord Owen was not a founder of the Lib Dems. He was the man who did his utmost to strangle the Lib Dems at birth by running the Social Democratic Party in competition with them.

What makes Lord Owen's stand odd, though, is that his party could have won a Commons' seat in a Yorkshire by-election in 1989 had it been fought using AV. Instead, the young Tory candidate squeaked in. His name was William Hague.

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