Michael White's takedown of Fox is worth a read. Fox is almost certainly arrogant enough to think he has a chance of replacing Cameron as Tory leader, despite being absolutely discredited to everyone except for a few desperate hard-right headbangers on the backbenches.http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012 ... hael-white
What makes Fox's intervention interesting – it's enough to stimulate an FT frontpage on a slow news day in Fleet St – is two-fold.
Firstly, it signals a return to active politics after his undignified resignation as defence secretary, which means David Cameron has another problem to worry about on his right flank: a vain former rival who clearly thinks he has the makings of the post-Cameron party leader.
I rate his chances only slightly higher than my own. Fox has always had a high opinion of his own intelligence and political capacity than would appear justified by the "contextual data" (I have adopted Professor Les Ebdon's phrase for my own purposes). In his defence cuts he left us with no aircraft carrier (which puts today's loose talk about bombing Somali pirates in its place) and no suitable planes to fly from them when/if we do get a new one.
As shadow health secretary, Dr Fox's "passport" scheme for patients to carry NHS cash into the private sector so frightened Cameroon Tories who wanted to win the coming election that Andrew Lansley was installed in the job as a "safe pair of hands". It's as scary as that.
So, secondly, there is the substance of his attack. What's Fox up to? It isn't all daft, the timing isn't great but he isn't all wrong either. He's right to highlight Britain's poor export-orientated performance despite a 25% devaluation of sterling against the euro, far feebler in Asia than countries Fox says "we deride" (speak for yourself, matey) such as Ireland, Spain or even Greece. He's also entitled to fret about UK inflation – it's almost a sexual fetish on the Tory right, you catch it when he writes of "the debauchery of our currency". Oooh, get him! Deflation also lurks: we're none of us sure quite what's going on.
I don't see much holding back exporters except, well, exporters who get less appreciation than they deserve from the rest of us.
But, as with my sore throat and headache, it's Fox's remedies that are scary. Britain's AAA rating (touch wood) has brought us time, he argues; time that should be used to further cut back state activity which has grown (mainly thanks to the banking bust Liam) and to use the proceeds of further cuts (he bravely does not specify where) to reduce employers national insurance contributions (Nics), hopefully to boost employment, especially among the young.
That's OK, too, though worse than useless as advice since it doesn't provide Osborne with a roadmap, only a "Hey, look at me" wave.