What on earth is Gordon Brown up to?
Well, to make sure that he becomes Prime Minister with minimal fuss at the earliest opportunity. That's the easy answer .
But it comes with two less easy sub-texts. The first is to keep the economy in what passes as good order until the blessed moment arrives.
The other is less easy still - to get through the referendum on the Euro constitution without destroying his own credibility. Arguably Mr Brown's great historic achievement (besides making the Bank of England independent) was to wreck Tony Blair's great scheme to take Britain into the Euro currency.
It is inconceivable that he is personally dazzled by the wonders of the Euro constitution. If he was a private citizen he would be against it. As a member of a Government, or its leader, that has to persuade the exceedingly reluctant British people to vote the thing through, that is beside the point.
The best scenario for him is that the French deliver such a resounding "No" that project collapses and we don't have a referendum at all.
Failing that, the least bad outcome for Mr Brown may be for Mr Blair to cling on as Prime Minister, lead "Yes" campaign and lose. If Mr Blair steps down before the campaign and leaves it to his successor, Mr Brown risks being branded a loser at the very outset of his Premiership.
Meantime, he has to keep the British economy on course in increasingly testing circumstances. So first, he went off to the CBI on Tuesday night and said all the right things. What it cost this proud Scot to utter the word " humble" and to admit to "false starts" in drives to cut red tape, we can only imagine.
He may seriously intend to do something about it. Short of promising no new taxes --what Chancellor could in the present circumstances?- he could hardly have said more to get the CBI's members on his side.
Then yesterday he moved on to the trade union Amicus and said the right things over again. This time there was nothing much about getting the members on side, nothing at all about the "Labour values" he proclaimed with such verve at a Labour conference a couple of years back.
On the bright side, he did make a resounding case for British manufacturing, where many of them work, though without saying what he can do to reverse the decline over which he has presided.
For the rest, it was all about not letting public sector pay rip and not letting the Euro Parliament get away with lumbering Britain with the 48-hour limit on our working week. Mr Brown thinks he can make himself Prime Minister without a helping hand from Amicus. He knows that a pay explosion following on the oil price explosion would rattle the Bank of England like nothing else. Interest rates would go straight up regardless of the short- term consequences.
The Bank would do the deed, but the Chancellor would not escape his share of the blame. His reign at the Treasury would end like those of many Chancellors before him - with a crisis.
That is not in any of his scenarios.