Sky have published a clip from this morning of Alan Johnson appearing not to know the figure for the employer rate of National Insurance. It’s another moment that threatens to erode his public reputation after several weeks of low-level errors and stumbles.
In all honesty I wasn’t aware that employers pay 12.8 per cent NI while workers pay 11 per cent. But it seems the sort of fact that a shadow chancellor should know.
On balance though I still have an inkling that Johnson could yet emerge as a strong figure in the job, given his obvious communication skills and likeable persona. Bear in mind that George Osborne was not taken incredibly seriously at this stage in the post.
Johnson has done enough complicated jobs in the past to show that he can master a complicated brief (including business, pensions, skills and the Home Office); it’s just that Labour colleagues wish he would do so more swiftly this time.