Darling's only been at the front for a few months, but the constant shellfire has already driven him crackers.
He now reckons the reason he had to rip off George's Inheritance Tax wheeze was because he's got a mole lodged up one of his orifices. And this rodent (qv are moles rodents?) has been sending semaphore signals across the lines to the Hun.
"Element of surprise completely gone, dontcha see? No wonder they were waiting with the Maxims. Damned mole... he's laughing at us. D'you see?"
Back in the old days, when Tyler was working at HM Treasury, the Field Marshals used to get similarly discombobulated about moles. In fact, on one occasion Tyler himself was caught up in a formal Leak Enquiry, over hush-hush budget measures appearing in a national newspaper.
It was the full deal, including the classic on-the-record interview with a George Smiley wannabe. Obviously T can't disclose the details, or he'd have to kill you. But the devastatingly incisive interrogation went something like this:
Smiler: Have you signed the Official Secrets Act?
Smiler: Did you leak this?
Smiler: Do you know who did?
Tyler: I presume it was the No 10 Press Office
Smiler (very concerned): Do you have any evidence to support such a serious allegation?
Tyler: What, you mean apart from the fact they're always the ones that do it?
Smiler (after writing something in Tyler's file): A piece of advice Mr Tyler- keep your unsubstantiated opinions to yourself in future.
And as for Bottler/Darling's line that possible IHT changes were being considered in internal HMT documents as far back as last March, so they couldn't have copied the idea from George, so there.... well, wow! The Treasury always has stacks of documents looking at every tax change you ever thought of- and a whole lot more you'd never even imagine.
So there are always going to be docs of that kind floating around, just as Chancellors are always "considering" possible changes for inclusion in forthcoming budgets. Indeed, it would be shocking if they hadn't "considered" IHT.
But we all know precisely why that specific IHT cut was rushed into the Pre-Budget Statement. And it was nothing to do with all those internal Treasury notes.
If Darling thinks we'll believe otherwise, he must be crackers.
Oh, he is.