The strength of George Osborne, we are told, lies in his political skills. Tactically one can only approve of the way he has promptly seized on news of Darling's triumph over Brown in the matter of being honest on the need for budget cuts, to ratchet up his own rhetoric behind this convenient cover. Clegg having already spoken of the need for swingeing cuts, the Tories can thus portray themselves as being no more than part of the establishment consensus, with the prospect of defusing an otherwise uncomfortable election issue.
Unfortunately ... while Gordon Brown’s inappropriate smiling is legendary, the Boy Osborne is, if possible, even worse. Here he is on Thursday’s Newsnight (starts around 4:20 - screen-grab below), as part of his canny post-Darling plan. He is telling us that the awful lesson of the Swedish banking crisis is, we must cut early and cut deep.
OK, we all know it is true, but we don’t want to hear it from someone giving the impression he’s really pleased to break this piece of news, and generally enjoying every minute. These things matter.
It may of course be the case that he was born with this infuriating grin, but we don’t need it playing on his chops as he jauntily announces gloom and doom: the effect is shocking.
By all means deploy Osborne for his student-union low political cunning: but for pity’s sake bring on Phil Hammond if there are interviews like this to be conducted in future.
Memo to Cameron: if you'd like, I can fix that grin for him ...