The whole reason the Government has spent the last six months exploring every other conceivable option for the future of the stricken bank was precisely because they were desperate not to have to nationalise it. For this reason, I am inclined to believe Alistair Darling when he says that the deal represents the best value for the taxpayer. Because if it didn't, they sure as hell wouldn't have done it for any other reason.
Let's also dispose of the idea - championed by Guido Fawkes here and here - that this is primarily about saving North-East jobs. If that was the case, the government would presumably have nationalised Siemens and Fujitsu when they crashed with significant impact on the regional labour market in the late 1990s.
The reason they didn't, of course, was because Siemens and Fujitsu, although large regional employers, were not banks, and there was no risk that their collapse would cause instability to spread throughout the country's entire financial system, which is the reason Messrs Brown and Darling have acted as they have done in relation to Northern Rock.
In fact, after ploughing through half a dozen Tory blogs claiming this is a worse political catastrophe than Black Wednesday, the death of Dr Kelly, and cash-for-honours rolled into one, I was somewhat relieved this afternoon to come across a "counter-intuitive" post from Hopi Sen in which he makes the following prediciton:
Northern Rock will end up making the Government money and be sold off at a significant profit (or have made a net contribution to public sector finances) before the next election.
The point is, there is actually just as much chance of this being right as the Tories' prophecies of doom. The answer is, we don't know, and we probably won't know for several years yet.
The Tories will doubtless go on claiming that this shows Labour has lost its reputation for economic competence, that Brown is a dud, that Darling should be sacked and so on. It may mean all of that, but it could also turn out to be the most brilliant piece of financial management in recent political history.