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What do we make of the Cameron/Osborne joint office reports?

June 28th, 2009

Could my 33/1 Hammond for Chancellor bet be a winner?

Back in April I suggested backing Philip Hammond for next chancellor at the then attractive odds of 33/1.

My reasoning then, which is even more so now, has been the very high profile that Hammond seems to get when it comes to arguing the Tory case on the economy/tax/public spending etc. For generally when a party spokesman is put up it is Hammond who gets the call and not the person you would expect, the shadow chancellor, George Osborne.

So what are we to make of the fascinating post on ConHome by Tim Montgomerie suggesting that there’s a plan for a joint office in Downing Street for the two should the election go as the polls suggest and Cameron is PM.

This is being interpreted as a plan to put the offices of the Chancellor and PM next to each other? That’s fine but could it be that what’s being planned is that Osborne, who is the key strategist in the Cameron project, has a different role altogether and that Hammond is the chancellor?

One element that could help Hammond’s prospects is his background. The chancellor will be the public face of the inevitable spending squeeze and the state school educated Hammond who had a considerable career in private industry before entering politics might be better positioned to be the public face than Osborne.

Could Osborne be destined for a hugely powerful chief of staff role with a title that we have not seen before?

I’m beginning to think that my 33/1 long-shot could be a tasty winner.

Mike Smithson