Most interesting read of the weekend was the Guardian's profile of George Osborne by Decca Aitkenhead.
The overwhelming impression is of a kind of dilettante who is serious about his career but with no real understanding of why he is the number 2 politician in the Tory Party, or what he wants to do if, God forbid, they win the election, other than that being Shadow Chancellor is a jolly good thing to have on your CV if you are the kind of chap who went to a good school.
"Was he worried by the prospect of Brown succeeding Blair as prime minister? Quite the contrary. Choosing Brown, he smiled gleefully, would be the biggest mistake the Labour party could make."
"not once, in all our conversations, does Osborne attribute his career in Tory politics to a passion for ideological action."
"What about the miners' strike? He narrows his eyes - "Hmm, the miners' strike..." - and searches his memory. "I'm trying to see if I can honestly remember.""
"He seems to use the words "current affairs" and "politics" interchangeably, and time and again the word interested recurs, as if politics were an absorbing diversion that his family found enjoyable to follow, perhaps like horse racing."
"Osborne claims that, after a brief Brown bounce, the polls showed that the parties were on level pegging again: "And that is the shortest political honeymoon any British prime minister has ever had." Ten days later, a new poll puts Brown nearly 10 points ahead."
"For all the Tories' efforts to appear modern and egalitarian, the old question of class unavoidably inserts itself - because, time and again, little telling remarks reveal the chasm that still divides Osborne's perspective on normality from most of the population's."
"Osborne thinks his fee-paying, selective boys' school, St Paul's, was "incredibly liberal. It didn't matter who your parents were. Your mother could be the head of a giant corporation - or a solicitor in Kew" as if this encompassed the full imaginable spectrum of socioeconomic status. At the party conference last year, someone pointed out that he had no working experience of the real world outside Westminster. "Well, it depends what you mean by the real world," he retorted - and, to demonstrate his intimacy with it, offered: "I have plenty of friends who work in law, in the City, in government agencies.""
"People who know him often mention his utter lack of snobbery. But ultimately the concepts of social inclusion and exclusion have had to be learned - like French or Latin. He's impressively fluent, but every now and then his command of their language fails, exposing him. In Manchester, at the agency for the long-term unemployed, he listens respectfully to the director and makes all the appropriate noises. But his questions are "When incapacity benefit clients show up, how many have a genuine disability?" and, "How many of your clients come here because it's a condition of them continuing to get their benefits?" As we are walking across the city centre afterwards, we pass a group of youngsters styled in the classic Mancunian fashion for artful scruff. "Don't people in Manchester look good!" I exclaim. He glances at me as if I have lost my mind."