Heaven knows, I have no time for Chris Huhne. And it certainly isn't unwelcome that he's been worsted on energy policy by George Osborne increasingly of late: we've been predicting this from the start, and following it blow-by-blow since the beginning of this year.
But Osborne just can't restrain his childish, student-politician ways. We've all read how, on becoming Shadow Chancellor, he sent nasty little notes to Tory backbenchers of the David Davis camp, assuring them their careers were over. This side of his character is written all over his smirk, and it needed to be reformed permanently no later than the day he took over the Treasury.
There is nothing clever about baiting Huhne publicly when you are Chancellor of the Exchequer (- leave that to C@W). Quite the reverse: knowing full-well that the greening of the Tory party was a significant part of the absolutely necessary de-toxification programme (ask Hague, IDS, Howard), the trick is to unpick the green nonsenses with as much finesse as possible. That shouldn't be difficult in the current economic climate - for a politician of Osborne's supposedly masterful strategic and tactical skills.
But no: he wants to do it with a flourish - in the same week that Cameron is putting his name to the latest (daft) Carbon Plan. Is it supposed to win him the support of Tory backbenchers for the great leadership showdown against BoJo in, err, many years from now ? Or can he just not help himself ? There's a reason rugby players are warned not to swallow-dive as they cross the line.
The Huhnite agenda can be neutralised quietly and with finesse. The risks of doing this noisily and with blunt instruments are manifold: (a) it is a massive distraction, and a source of governmental inefficiency - what is the point of allowing Huhne's plans to go ahead and then subsidising heavy industry to compensate ? (b) it forces Cameron to address an obvious rhetorical contradiction instead of quietly getting on with re-directing the green-policy supertanker, as he had in fact been doing: who knows which way he will jump if Clegg forces him to choose explicitly ? (c) it gives Huhne eventually the opportunity to stomp off, on his own terms, to lead a green-Lib faction to highly disruptive effect, just when the early Lib malcontents (Kennedy, Ashdown, Hughes) have been brought onside; (d) it provides a focus for some heartfelt, cohesive (if incoherent), wide-spectrum opposition that could be a lot more telling than anything the self-serving public sector unions or unwashed occupationists could ever achieve.
Osborne, there is too much at stake for this: you arrogant, juvenile idiot.