George Osborne is an avid reader of his press cuttings, but his advisers may well be tempted to get him away to a newspaper free zone this weekend.
The Chancellor still has plenty of admirers in the media – not least those at The Spectator who helped him prime his grenade attack on Ed Balls, only to play it all down when it blew up in their pal’s face. But the general judgement is that his star is perhaps fatally on the wane.
The credibility of a Chancellor is all important and when a paper as respected in economic and global political circles as the Financial Times joins others in saying he has demeaned his office, that has impact that goes beyond the Westminster village. And so do the murmurings and mutterings of his colleagues on the government benches.
The remaining admirers continue to peddle the line that he is a master strategist, despite the fact that he was the political strategist of the election campaign which failed to deliver a majority when the goal was fairly wide, and the economic strategist masterminding a deficit reduction plan that isn’t working, instead becoming the author of a double dip recession he said would never happen.
Tory MP Nadine Dorries, as I shall never tire of reminding people, said the government’s problem was that it was run by two arrogant posh boys who don’t know the price of milk.
The arrogance and the poshness, though they may grate with many members of the public, tend to be forgiven by Tory MPs provided competence is clear.
But Arrogant Posh Boy 1 is continuing to show himself as a very good technical communicator on a day by day basis, setting out one urgent priority after another, but a very bad leader in the sense that there is no clear or coherent plan for what he wants to do with power.
And Arrogant Posh Boy 2 has now added to the sense of ineptitude in his handling of the Budget – pensioners cock-up, pasty cock-up, charities cock-up, figures cock-up – confirmation of what was troubling MPs about him; that he is all political tactics when his job should be economic strategy.
I cannot think of any occasion in the past when a senior minister, of either side, has stood up in the Commons and made accusations against an opponent without any evidence at all. I can think of plenty of times when accusations have been over ventilated, exaggerated, but literally none when the claim is based on nothing at all.
As he chillaxes at whatever country retreat he has chosen for the weekend, he should try to learn a few lessons from recent days. But I wonder if he is temperamentally suited so to do.
On the day of the Osborne-Balls slanging match, it led the news bulletin I saw. Followed by the news that the Bank of England was printing another £35bn in the latest ‘Quantitive easing’, once described by Osborne as a sure sign of failure.
The economic failure is becoming clearer by every day of the DDR (used to be East Germany, now the double dip recession). The political failure is clearer too. All because Osborne is a failure at strategy, which was meant to be his strong point.