Mr Howard switched his support to Mr Osborne after becoming irritated by Mr Cameron's "squeamishness" during the 2005 election campaign. The former leader was also annoyed that Mr Cameron didn't want the job of Shadow Chancellor, preferring the easier option of Education spokesman.The Mail on Sunday (not online) fleshed it out a bit more. Gideon was apparently all in favour of the Tories' play of immigration, believing it to be one of the strongest cards in their (limited) pack, while Ravey Davey C was a little concerned about it - to his credit.
However, Cameron apparently turned down the post of Shadow Chancellor as he was too scared of coming up against Gordon at the dispatch box. Bad luck, David.
I'll admit that I've had my doubts about Gordon. Not that he hasn't got the political depth, the intellect or the core skills to do the job. I'm sure that we'll find a flood of new initiatives in his first 100 days. Where I've had my doubts is about whether Gordon can deliver in selling those policies - he lacks the gloss of Blair's polished political performance. Perhaps that might even work to his advantage, as that lack of polish allows the passion to come through, especially on subjects like poverty - an issue that has run through Brown's political life like a continuous thread. Cameron can't compete, as he offers nothing but gloss and spin as we search in vain for definite policies.
He has been under such sustained attack because the Tories know how effective he could be against them. If he scares them that much, then we need him.