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  1. Politics
24 October 2008

Sailing close to the wind

Osborne splits the bloggers while Byron gets the recognition he deserves, this week in the politics

By Paul Evans

The Osborne Identity

Shadow Chancellor and marionette impersonator George Osborne is at the centre of an almighty stink, amid suggestions, which he denies, that he sought to illicit filthy great wads of cash from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in order to pad out the Tory coffers. Bright’s Blog carries more detail on the questions that will plague the Conservatives.

When a man is under fire, he needs his friends around him. Close enough, was Conservative Home, which described Osborne as “indispensable” and gave us a list of ten things he’d done right. Meanwhile, Iain Dale was quick to move onto the “lessons” that should be taken from this unhappy episode.

“1. Politicians are never ‘off duty’.
2. Choose your holiday companions more carefully.
3. What happens on tour rarely stays on tour.”

I can’t help but feel that there are a few more that Iain has missed. And while The Times was accused by some of push polling to force Osborne out, its Comment Central blogger Danny Finkelstein was steadfast in his belief that the Cameron’s right hand is a man of integrity, and the victim of others who find that: “exploiting these non scandals is tempting”.

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THANK YOU

Over at Quaequam, there were fewer kind words for Osborne, a man who:

“Pretty much every time he opens his mouth he attempts to lower political debate to the level of the school playground”.

James Graham wondered whether Osborne is to Cameron as Mandelson was to Blair. But he notes a key difference: while Blair always showed the necessary guts to sack Mandy, Cameron is so far displaying little similar intestinal fortitude.

Labour attack blogger Chris Paul took the opportunity to shamelessly re-print a picture which first appeared in the Sunday Mirror.

Yet even some of Osborne’s keen detractors felt that there were more important issues to discuss. Over at the Fabian Society’s blog, Sunder Katwala thought that shadow chancellor had a bigger question: “And that is why the tax plans of the new Tory progressives would do so much more for the have yachts than the have nots.”

What have we learned this week?

News reaches us via The Daily (Maybe) that the nation’s favourite club-footed scribbler is to be further honoured in Greece, in order to:

“Keep alive the memory of Lord Byron in tribute to a great man who deeply believed in fundamental democratic values”.

These days, of course, Byron would be a Student Union Liberations Office, campaigning for his university to divest its shares in Turkish delight.

Across the Pond

Madeleine M. Kunin, blogging at the Huffington Post, fears that voter mood swings leave the presidential race still hanging in the balance. Elsewhere, the Get Religion blog takes an interesting look at the voting intention of Hispanic protestants.

And this week newstatesman.com launches the America Decides Blog, which over the final weeks of the presidential campaign will track roving blogger Jonn Elledge across red and blue states, as well as carrying contributions from voters right across America. Stay tuned!

Video of the Week

Dennis Skinner’s visceral distaste for George Osborne has previously seen him ejected from the Commons chamber, when he suggested that “boy George” had been a juvenile coke fiend. This week he again took the opportunity to go on the offensive, squeezing in the final question at PMQs.

Quote of the Week

“Russian money is involved in British politics for sinister ends. Those who choose to accept it are guilty of a lot more than a simple error of judgement.”

James at Cicero’s Songs highlights the wider issues about the relationships between politicians and Russian big money.

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