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The merits of current French finance minister Christine Lagarde for the position of head of the International Monetary Fund have been discussed elsewhere by others more au fait with macroeconomic matters than I. But what is politically significant is Alistair Darling's support for Lagarde over a candidate from this country. Darling said of Lagarde:
"She has an easygoing manner and she gets on with people exceptionally well. I remember a meeting of Ecofin [EU finance ministers] dealing with the Greek crisis last May and it was her determination that the meeting would not end before there was an agreement, which meant there was an agreement."
Gordon Brown has so far failed to attract the support of many people in Britain. Since David Cameron ruled out backing Brown for the job, there has been a low-key Labour response of "the Tories are putting party before country". Ed Miliband said Brown is "eminently qualified" – but what else could he say? He is the leader of a party that firmly believes Brown's policies were correct.
Brown's own Chancellor, Darling, who no longer has to obey the Brownite line since stepping down from Cabinet after the election, has been free to support who he wishes. By supporting Brown's European rival Lagarde, and praising her as having qualities no-one would assign to Brown, Darling has managed to dismantle any credibility Brown's bid might have had.