Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Gordon Brown may get top IMF job"

I didn't have to buy the issue of the Guardian that "revealed" Gordon Brown "may" get the IMF job. I'd been rung by dozens of hacks the night before it hit the streets. First, I couldn't believe that the Guardian splashed the story and, second, that anyone could take it seriously.

My mind went back to the time the Guardian ran a front-page story on how the Chancellor was off to a new job at the World Bank. The official who leaked the story thought it would make a small diary item but was pleasantly surprised when the paper took it seriously. The official couldn't believe how frightened Tony Blair was that he might lose his Chancellor.

This time, though, Brown was off to the IMF. The Treasury's non-denial of the IMF story was a classic and had the desired effect. How would Blair survive without his "brilliant" Chancellor?

What about this from the Daily Mail? "None can obscure the brilliance of his overall economic management . . . he has repaid much of the national debt, kept inflation down, cut unemployment and met all his forecasts . . . his mastery of the Treasury has been a resounding success. He is, without doubt, the major British politician of his age." Next door in No 10, they must have been spitting blood.

For me, the highlight of the speculation about a job everyone knows Brown wouldn't take in a million years was the Guardian's political editor, Michael White, appearing on BBC1's Breakfast, knocking his own paper's "exclusive". These political hacks can't stand it when a mere economics editor comes up with a story.

Surely heading for a new job, as an MP, is Ed Balls, Brown's economic adviser. He will be missed, and not just for his economic advice!

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