I told you so (mark two) about Darling

I can’t resist another quick ‘I told you so’. Alistair Darling was a terrible Transport Secretary and I always thought that he did not have the brains or the nous to be Chancellor, a job for which he was always earmarked by Gordon Brown.
Sure, he kept the Department for Transport out of the headlines during his four year tenure in the job, having been put there for precisely that purposes after the fireworks caused by Stephen Byers. However, he didn’t actually do anything or even want to do anything. When he was appointed, a friend of mine told me that Darling was a man no politics but plenty of ambition. And so it proved. He did not tackle the inherent problems in the rail industry, failed to push forward road charging and ensured that no progress was made on schemes like Crossrail. Since he was blessed with the luck of having no train accidents on his watch or any other similar disasters, transport simply slipped down the agenda and nothing much was heard from Darling who was only waiting for his elevation to No 11 as proved by a chance meeting I had with him.
It was early one morning at Edinburgh station soon after he moved to the Department for Trade & Industry, and I bearded him, even though he was very reluctant to acknowledge me. He asked me what I was doing in Scotland and I said that I was chairing a conference on developing the country’s infrastructure: ‘At least they are doing a lot of things up here’ I said. ‘Yes, with our money’ he harrumphed and sped off on his way.
Now his lack of action and his intellectual weakenss have been shown up. He failed to intervene quickly enough in the Northern Rock crisis and now he admits that his job is on the line. I will not shed any tears should he lose it. It will be the downfall of a man for whom inaction was a watchword and he will deserve his fate.

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