It was obvious long before his issues with Oleg Deripaska and his habit of putting foot in economic mouth that George Osborne is an incredibly weak link at the top of the Cameron shadow team. At every single point of the current economic travails Osborne has been behind the curve. He has made no intervention of any significance and has shown a chronic absence of intellectual ballast.
The real problem for David Cameron now is that Osborne is trapped in a net, unable to move in any direction without losing his feet. The pound has fallen considerably but Osborne was utterly incapable of credibly providing a narrative about that without tripping himself up.
Just as every move of John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, ended up in a PR disaster other than in the eyes of the Republican ultras, George Osborne has become a severe liability for the Conservative Party. The question now is what David Cameron can do about it. John McCain, having made the error of selecting Sarah Palin, was completely caught. Is David Cameron in the same boat?
It is screamingly obvious that George Osborne is not capable of being Chancellor of the Exchequer. It has been revealed since the US election that McCain's campaign team knew that Sarah Palin was in no way ready to assume high office. It is to John McCain's discredit that despite his 'country first' message he was willing to jeopardise American well-being and national security by potentially allowing Sarah Palin to be elected Vice President. The situation with Osborne is not as severe as the Palin case but it's a similar issue.
Britain will still face significant economic challenges come the next election whether it is next year or 2010. Can David Cameron seriously think that based on his performance over the last twelve months that George Osborne is in any way capable of responding appropriately to those challenges? Of course not.
So whether he opts for Kenneth Clarke, which lets face it has a certain strategic intrigue, or someone else, David Cameron has a tough choice to make. He has to ditch his friend and co-conspirator, or foist him on the nation despite his obvious deficiencies.
It can't be 'country first' and Osborne in No.11. Osborne has not passed the threshold, David Cameron now has to show some degree of leadership. If he does not, then it is only a matter of time before people start to ask whether David Cameron is capable of making the tough calls that a leader has to.