Watching Gordon Brown in action today at PM’s questions, I couldn’t help thinking he was actually enjoying himself for the first time. The body language was more relaxed, the smile a little less robotic.
He seems to think this clever Goldman’s wheeze on saving the Northern Rock with a government-backed bond issue offers the government an escape route from the whole fiasco and could even end up with the taxpayer making a profit.
Better still, he is able to highlight the extraordinarily uncertain Tory response to Northern Rock. Of all the options available, Mr Brown is probably right to say that administration – the current option favoured by the Tories – is probably the worst.
But I think what really got those whitened teeth flashing was a good old fashioned row over the economy. When Ken Clarke, the former chancellor, laid into him, it was just like the good old days. Mr Brown was able to reel off the stats about the Tories presiding over 15 per cent interest rates, 3m unemployed etc etc.
This is home turf for Mr Brown. It is his comfort zone. David Laws, the Lib Dem MP and former Treasury watcher, summed it up when I bumped into him outside the chamber.
"It’s almost as if the economic downturn and stock market turmoil is what he wants," he said. "It’s where he seems to want the debate to be."
Whether the public will "cling to nurse" (alias the former Iron Chancellor) or blame him for their economic plight is perhaps the big unknowables of British politics in 2008.