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Waiting with interest

Nick Robinson | 10:35 UK time, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

"This novice is waiting with interest to see how that novice performs". So said David Cameron at last night's launch of americaintheworld.com (a new anti anti-American campaign).

John McCain and Barack ObamaThus the Tory leader made his claim to be the first British politician to seek to turn the expected result of today's US election to his own advantage.

Standby for Gordon Brown to cite an Obama victory (if it comes*) as evidence of a resurgence of the centre-left and a victory for belief in the role of the state, internationalism and global co-operation.

No matter that the Labour leadership originally threw their weight behind Hillary Clinton and the argument that it was experience that counts. No matter that the Conservative leadership hailed John McCain when he came to speak at their party conference or that both parties embraced the Bush foreign policy that Obama has run so hard against.

Everyone will want to be seen to be the new guy's best friend. This election will have profound implications for Britain not just in terms of policy but in shaping the national mood.

* With memories of Neil Kinnock being proclaimed our next prime minister in 1992 and with due reverence to the act of voting you'll note that I'm staying cautious about proclaiming the result before it's actually known.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I always find it funny when people refer to left wing politics in the
    USA. Both parties are substantially to the right of the UK mainstream
    parties over hear ("right wing and even more right wing" as one of my
    friends living overseas told me). With that in mind I don't understand
    why there is this automatic assumption that Tory's support the GOP and
    Labour the Democrats.

    I've been surprised at the number of politicians that have made their
    preference known this time round. As a lowly pleb I can safely hold a
    view but politicians have to work with whoever wins in the end.
    Backing the wrong horse early on could damage that relationship.

  • Comment number 2.

    I don'tknow what Gordon Brown is up to, so can hardly say what his behaviour will do to take friends in Washington. His journey to Saudi Arabia to find money to prop up British banks, involved shaking hands with Al Quieda 'sympathisers' who were locked up for six years. I wonder what Obama and McCann think of this behaviour?

  • Comment number 3.

    mr cameron should look more closely at the american system there the people vote a leader and by default a party, it has happened here in recent years with presidential blair and look at the cost to this country we here seem to vote party and the party chooses the leader so joe public has no real say as to who is incharge.
    if this countries politics is headed down the same road as the us where are the funds going to come from to fight these elections.
    our system is flawed but to americanise it would be disaster.
    i cannot see mr cameron in government unless the party changes some of there policies, and can this country survive another term of neu labour? i think not so its left to one organisation to step up to the plate and govern us wisely.
    the official monster raving loony party.

  • Comment number 4.

    Dear Nick

    Whatever the outcome tonight there will be a novice in the White House. And whoever it is their global economic policy will be modelled by that, err ...prudent voice of experience in No.10 Downing Street. Dream on Mr Cameron.

    Peter Kenyon
    http://petergkenyon.typepad.com/

  • Comment number 5.

    OK, time for a pedantic niggle. Has anyone noticed a recent tendency (maybe just an online thing) for words to be run together?
    "Standby for Gordon Brown..." should of course read "Stand by for Gordon Brown..."

  • Comment number 6.

    Our politicians will suck up to whoever it takes in the US elections. I'm sure that Mr Brown will want to be the first to be jump on the bandwagon with America's new President.

  • Comment number 7.

    We are all fascinated watching the people of another country choose its leader - mainly because this process is something that the people of this country have not been able to take part in themselves to choose the leader of our countries.

  • Comment number 8.

    Good points by Nick pointing out the usual blatant hypocracy from both Labour and the Tories.

    'Dave' might well be trying to catch a bit of the Obama stardust by positioning himself as a 'novice'.

    However, I suspect most English voters will see 'Dave' for what he really represents ... a continuation of hundreds of years of a born-to-rule elite.

  • Comment number 9.

    Nick, looking forward to your analysis tonight. Are you responsible as political editor for the political output on the BBC?

    It's a shame that other BBC reporters aren't as balanced as you are. Kim Ghattas on News24 this morning seems to betray a bias.

    Kim Ghattas, Washington Correspondent
    11.16am News24

    "He [John McCain] still believes that the race is tighter then it actually really is."

    "It is about the possibilities that it has opened up, not so much necesscarily about who is going to win, though of course everybody is looking forward to the first [oops Kim betrays her bias and corrects herself] or a lot of people are looking forward to the first African-Amercian president."

  • Comment number 10.

    Obviously both Cameron and Brown will try to spin a (probable) Obama victory in their favour, that is natural behaviour from the two... Yet what happens if Obama wins? Is now the best time for a man to change the world?

    Don't get me wrong, the ideology that Obama preaches, to 'change' the world, reform America and the world's view of the US is certainly noble- (echoes of JFK in 1960 and the New Society?) yet is America in the shape were suitable progress can be made on what Obama's rhetoric promises to deliver?

    With America's economy in a massive hole and the situation in Afghanistan deteriorating, with relations with Russia sinking and the seemingly ever present instability in the Middle East as a whole- is the year 2009 really the best opportunity for an inexperienced individual to change America and the world? Is it even possible?

    I do hope it does, yet the lingering doubt is that ultimately, much like Kennedy's New Frontier (carried on by LBJ after his death under the guise of the Great Society programme and destroyed by the War in Vietnam) Obama's rhetorical promises could well be doomed to failure.

    Perhaps it would be best for Obama not to win this election, to come back in 2012 or 2016, when he is more experienced, when the situation could be more conducive for change to occur, then we would trully, given the proper circumstances whether Obama can 'change' the World.

    McCain has shown, despite the Shadow of Bush towering over him that he can still operate, he is a fighter, experienced and let's be honest, neither Obama nor Mcain have a clue about the economy- leave that job simply to the economic advisors who have the proper knowledge about the situation. (McCain was just foolhardy enough to admit it! Obama is trying to raise Capital Gains Tax in a time of recession and increase taxes on certain sections of society- not especially bright!)

    So I almost believe, despite the heart saying Obama, that the rhetoric is merely too empty and that in the end, the head says McCain because of the circumstances. Obviously this will probably be lost on the hysteria that is the Obama support machine in America!

    It will be important because if it turns out that Obama does fail on his promises, Cameron will inevitably be accussed of doing the same thing and a big difference is that Brown is far more clued up on the economy in comparison to McCain (using the Cameron is similar to Obama comparison) so it could be Cameron negative if Obama is too inexperienced.

    Just my thoughts

  • Comment number 11.

    PS. Not that that won't stop many people voting for 'Dave' and his motley crew when the time comes.

    If you want to live in a truly democratic society, then first you must be free inside your head.

    A surprising number of English people still behave like ... well ... employees.

    Think about it.

  • Comment number 12.

    In fact Obama and McCain are both novices, as neither have held a government post. McCain's army record doesn't really equip him for government, as it was all so long ago. The fact that 62% of Americans say they are happy with Obama says a great deal about his personality and charisma. He has star quality, like JFK, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair; they draw people in because the electorate want to believe in the change they offer. Obama has everything he needs to become a great president, even though, if he wins, he comes in at a turgid time for America. Not all Americans are convinced about 'big government' but, for the time being, that is what they will get. I wish whoever wins well. As for David Cameron, he doesn't have any of Obama's gifts. He flip-flops betweeen policies and hitches a ride on every passing bandwagon. I think he blew it when he came out strongly for McCain and the Republicans at the Tory conference. True to form, he has flip-flopped again. Now he identifies with the Democrats. Perhaps he thinks some of Obama's stardust will fall on him - no chance.

  • Comment number 13.

    My original position was pro-Clinton. I had my reservations about Obama and still have them. Out of Obama and McCain, I'd tipped McCain to win but the financial crisis and his own poor campaigning got in the way of that, and the Republicans threw their edge away. It's not a strict like for like comparison but the picture in Britain is pretty similar.

    A cursory scan of the media suggests that people in the Middle-east are viewing Gordon Brown as the man to lead us out of crisis, and Obama has hijacked a similar plan. I maintain this recession is just a blip and opportunities for industry and cooperation are plentiful enough to get things back on track sooner rather than later.

    The early part of the year had a media focus on personality. Now, it's moving on and looking at the bigger picture and context. There's a bunch of comment in the media on social mobility, educational environment, Keynesian economics, and calming down, obsession, and immaturity that are worth reading. It can speak to where we've been, who we are, and where we're going.

    Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
    Watch your words, for they become actions.
    Watch your actions, for they become habits.
    Watch your habits, for they become character.
    Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

  • Comment number 14.

    #2,

    Never mind what Obama/McCain think about it (shaking hands with Al Qaeda); I thought it was extremely distasteful - especially as a few hours later he was shaking hands with British Military serving in Iraq.

  • Comment number 15.

    Ah, a fine smokescreen to put up when the RBS is having a hard time, and Scots might be warmed up about it.

    However, I noticed something more insidious.

    Unions are attempting to kick out members of the BNP with no compensation and no redress. Now I have no sympathy for the BNP itself, and none for the unions in general terms. However for some jobs union membership is a pre-requisite for having the job, and it seems to me, on the surface at least, spiteful, mean spirited and, possibly a denial of human rights. At the very least it runs against any freedom of speech rules that we live by in this country.

    I hope this idea gest squashed immediately with no further discussion, but I'm distrubed that it has even been raised.

  • Comment number 16.

    Yes the next bout of schmoozing will make the Lewis Hamilton tributes look like small beer.




  • Comment number 17.

    Well Nick what do you expect them to do? I don't think many of our political elite'll worry too much about which man they supported in the run-up to the US election. All that matters to them is buddying-up to their new master.

  • Comment number 18.

    AMERICA – is a vast continent separated by an ocean which some of us refer to as "a pond". We are a group of small islands much closer to Europe than the Americas, both in culture and in size.
    The only thing we share with America is a partial language. I say partial, because, for some of us, certain American dialects and expressions are incomprehensible.
    We only have to nip across the channel, Irish Sea or North Sea to find people are pretty much the same as us, with the same aspirations, aims and many of them with the same language, at least as a second language, if not a first.
    Can the same be said of America? Apparently, according to a recent poll, 47% per cent of British don't care who becomes the next American President and are not even aware of the candidates' names.
    The world may well have a different and, dare we hope, better perspective if Obama becomes the next American President. But I fail to see how the result could affect the next British general election in any way. I am not likely to forget the congressman's comment about America in "danger of going down the slippery slope towards socialism".
    I have always thought socialism, the welfare state and full employment to have been the great building blocks of creating a confident post-war Britain.
    Has not American-style free-enterprise and capitalism has caused the current world financial problems? Would the great American continent be a greater place if the "slippery slope" were indeed embarked on?

  • Comment number 19.

    Er, let's have a think about it..

    Obama stands for 'change'

    Gordon Brown stands for more of the same.

    Doh!

  • Comment number 20.

    "Waiting with interest"

    Great title - wrong subject.

    We're all waiting with interest to see if "Duff" Gordon can save his skin in Glenrothes while the BBC is following NuLab's agenda of setting the by-election this week to try to minimise the effect of bad news.

    Who wins in the US will have to be worked with by NuLab and will change nothing in the UK.

    Who wins in Glenrothes may have a profound impact on the timing of the general election and the UK constitution or even its existence afterwards.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hey Nick, what's going on? Is the BBC latching on to the fact that the government isn't as good as it leads us to believe? Is the BBC starting to exert some indepenedent thought?

    I refer to something called pledgewatch, which is to be applauded.

    It's reviewing what has happened to some pledges given by the government in the past, frequently by El Gordo, and noting the outcome.

    I suspect that posters on this blog could come up with a list of "pledges" to investigate, and this will form an interesting list before Allie and Petie spot what's going on, and crush this initiative.

  • Comment number 22.

    JohnConstable wrote:
    However, I suspect most English voters will see 'Dave' for what he really represents ... a continuation of hundreds of years of a born-to-rule elite.


    So what are you suggesting? That just because Cameron happens to come from a certain background that we should vote for Brown?

    Personally I don't mind what background the leader of the party I vote for comes from, I vote on policies and not on some stupid concept of class which means nothing to me on a personal day to day level.

    If your only reason for not voting for Cameron is because you consider him "elite" then please don't vote in the next election.

    Voting is very important (people have died for our right to vote) if you aren't willing to take it seriously then you disrespect their acts.

    Ironically, I would consider someone who voted for the Loonys for the reason that they didn't really see anything of merit in the other parties to be a serious vote - as it shows that some thought as gone into the process.

    Someone who blindly votes Labour because the Tories are toffs are just slaves to the process, they are little more then mindless drones and our political process would be better off without them.

    People should vote on a parties policies and not the background of their leader.

    In the last election I voted against Tony Blair (ok the last but one election - some how my name had been removed from the electoral roll for the last election) not because he went to private school but because I didn't agree with his policies.

    I voted for the party that I thought would be best for the country (and also myself to be fair).

  • Comment number 23.

    Nobody says it is easy being a politician.

    Although part of the job seems to be pretending to know the answers to anything and everything, in reality, they must know their own limitations.

    Crucially, they must privately recognise when they made bad mistakes and ensure that it does not happen again.

    For example, Senator Obama was completely wrong when he refused to support the 'surge' in Iraq, although the American military knew that was what was required to turn the situation around.

    So, hopefully a President Obama will NOT 'do a Rumsfeld' and impose his will over the experience of people in his adminstration who simply are better qualified .. be it in economic or military matters.

    We have suffered similar here in England, our military forces have been humiliated in Iraq in recent times, mainly due to meddling by politicians.

    Politicans really do need to know when to 'butt out'.

  • Comment number 24.

    Nick,

    I'm supporting Obama.

    I'll be very surprised if Obama doesn't get in. Both Labour and Conservatives will try and milk Obama for their own benefit.

    Sometime today - could you please 'resist pressure' and report on the latest developments as Glenrothes? (Labour timed the Glenrothes by-election story to be 'buried' by the US election)





  • Comment number 25.

    #21 herb

    Spot on!

    The past week or so's headlines have been taken up with the Ross/Brand story and coverage of the US elections. There has been very little reported about what's been going on in the UK and what the government is doing before the Glenrothes By-election.

    If the government has used the past week to bury bad news, get digging Nick. We (and the people of Genrothes) need to know if anything untoward has happened before next Thursday!

  • Comment number 26.

    'Dave' might well be trying to catch a bit of the Obama stardust by positioning himself as a 'novice'. [...] If you want to live in a truly democratic society, then first you must be free inside your head.


    These are two very perceptive comments.

    As you suggest, being a mere 'novice' is just another label that 'Dave' will try to cosy up to. But, claims of a novice's potential and embracing the potential like a novice aren't the same thing. 'Dave' doesn't get this.

    "Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise."

    The British are especially bad at leadership and sociability, and by repeating the failed model of the past people can become the bosses and neighbours they hate. This is why feeling okay about yourself and being kind can help.

    "Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle,
    and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
    Happiness never decreases by being shared."


    Never mind what Obama/McCain think about it (shaking hands with Al Qaeda); I thought it was extremely distasteful - especially as a few hours later he was shaking hands with British Military serving in Iraq.


    The Prime Minister was correct to acknowledge the achievements of the British military, and show compassion for people who were getting over taking a wrong turn in life. Perhaps, if you were more humble and generous you'd see this and be less miserable.

    "If I do not actually exchange my happiness
    For the sufferings of others,
    I shall not attain the state of Buddhahood
    And even in cyclic existence I shall have no joy."


    -- Shantideva
  • Comment number 27.

    Cue over the top media frenzy to the detriment of ALL other news over the next few days...

  • Comment number 28.

    Cameron is more likely to be elected (or not) on what he does at home rather than whether a "novice" inherited the White House.

    Obama is a Democrat, and while I think he will win, Cameron sided with the Republicans at conferences and is now ingratiating himself with the Democrats. He is going to need a lot more backbone if he ever gets into office in the UK. I doubt he will, if only because he is doing nothing but this preening and prancing and has nothing of his own to put up at a general election.

    I am no fan of Brown but sympathise with his issue about DC as a novice. I also think that if Obama turns out to be a slightly younger Jimmy Carter, as some people suppose, Dave will be tarnished rather than gilded by association. And likewise Brown still has more of an idea - unfortunately - what he wants to do with a next term than does Dave, who backtracks every time he thinks he might have a sensible policy and changes his mind as much as he changes his socks.

  • Comment number 29.

    Nick,

    others have now picked up on the issue of race insomuch that I regard Obama, not as being black but of being mixed race. If he has been successful then which part of him will be claimed, will the whites say that actually he is half white as against being black.

    There is also the issue that if I was American, and white then I too would vote for Obama. Why? Because if he is seen to have been elected primarily by the black community then he will be seen to represent balck America rather than America. That is why I made reference to the age old problem of the carptebaggers in the South after the Civil War.

    If Obama brings about change, then we seriously have to ask what that change will be. Will the voters want instant cahnge, or will the voters now be told that the situation is worse than we thought so, we will have to attack pakistan, we will not be able to withdraw from Iraq, and the war against Afghanitan is going to bankrupt the country.

    Obama does lack experience and it will be interesting to say the least when we see his cabinet, who will be in the White House with him. It will be payback time, only who will want to be on payroll, all the ones who contributed to his funding, this is going to be so cool.

  • Comment number 30.

    The claim that Obama is a socialist bordering on a communists is Republican scare-mongery at its worst. A dose of some left wing thinking in American politics will do them good.
    For the Obama philosophy to work though he will need to select and give responsibility to politically like minded individuals in his cabinet and ensure that the lobbyist in Washington,who have ruled the roost for far too long, no longer control the American agenda
    If he can do these things , my feeling is that he will make a really good and sincere president who will be able to work along side whoever runs the UK in a few years time.

  • Comment number 31.

    For example, Senator Obama was completely wrong when he refused to support the 'surge' in Iraq, although the American military knew that was what was required to turn the situation around.


    Some people were too locked into protest that it became protest for the sake of protest. They couldn't see that the game had changed but stuck with their old position out of habit. This is the tail wagging the dog.

    I note that Obama's personality type is similar to George W. Bush, so don't buy him as a great visionary or intellectual, but he has bought into the "Brown Plan". That should make for a cosy arrangement. This is, also, the tail wagging the dog.

    Who said the universe doesn't have a sense of humour?
  • Comment number 32.

    I'm waiting with interest to see the results tonight/tomorrow. Both will bring a change to our lives, though the way NuLab have behaved with McCain I really am hoping Obama wins for all our sakes.
    I'm also waiting with interest to see if Gordon gets the Saudis to bail out the IMF. How much has he sold out? Can you imagine the mess the IMF would have been in had it sold its gold when Gordon advised it to? I'm waiting with interest to see how embarrassed Gordon is for staying in a £9000 a night suite. Surely this goes against every moral compass he possesses.
    Blair Force One will be ordered next!
    Finally I'm also waiting with interest to see what happens in Glenrothes, and to see if this will herald an election here - either way it should do.

  • Comment number 33.

    John Constable- It was Gordon Brown who dubbed Cameron a novice , conveneinetly ignoring the fact that Blair was also a novice when he won power.
    Blair comes from the same background as Cameron , should the English not have voted for him ?
    Should only worthy proles be considered as Prime Minister ?

  • Comment number 34.

    "...you'll note that I'm staying cautious about proclaiming the result before it's actually known."

    Very wise. Opinion polls are one thing, but rigged voting machines are quite another.

  • Comment number 35.

    "My original position was pro-Clinton. I had my reservations about Obama and still have them. Out of Obama and McCain, I'd tipped McCain to win but the financial crisis and his own poor campaigning got in the way of that, and the Republicans threw their edge away."

    So,Chuckie....you were pro Clinton,but tipped McCain to win...smells of hedging ones bets,doesn't it? What will you come up with after the result is declared,I wonder? I am waiting,along with many others here, for you to claim the gift of prophesy.



    "The British are especially bad at leadership and sociability, and by repeating the failed model of the past people can become the bosses and neighbours they hate."

    So where did you get this little gem from?...
    Chuckies little Red Book of nonsensical sayings?

  • Comment number 36.

    ~18 newtactic sounds like one of those typical American haters whose opinion is visceral. Justin Webb in his new book "Have a Nice Day" opines that "along the way...American industry and inventiveness created much of the prosperity of the rest of the world through an adherence to free trade, to the commercial imperative and a willingness to shed blood and invest resources in keeping the planet's trading arteries unclogged". Credit where it is due; Europe and much of Asia are free and prosperous because of the unstinting spillage and expenditure of American blood and treasure. The great socialistic experiments of the 20th century were bloody and terrifying disasters, fatally so many millions of their people. I don't see too many people trying to get into Russia, the Middle East and China on dangerous, improvised craft.

    Meanwhile, I've just spoken to a friend and colleague in Manhattan. He says the queue for the polling station in his district at 6.30 a.m. stretched for 4 blocks and was estimated to take 2 hours to clear. This bodes well for Obama who is more likely to benefit from a high turnout. It is a wonderful example of democracy in action.Let's hope that we turn out in droves when the pusillanimous Gordon Brown finally presents himself to the country. Oh, and finally, to define US politics in European left and right terms is absurd and reflects a deep and most likely deliberately misunderstanding of US politics.


  • Comment number 37.

    I'm going to risk the lot here. I'm going to say that Obama will win this election by a landslide - the margin is going to bigger than most people think.

    John McCain is going to struggle to get 160 EC votes. If he gets more than 200, I will not only eat my hat I will never post on this forum again.

    Can't say fairer than that, can I?

  • Comment number 38.

    Where is the confident post war Britain that socialism has built?
    It wasn't American - style free enterprise that caused the financial crisis , it was left wing social democratic meddling in the markets that brought it about.

  • Comment number 39.

    JohnConstable #8:

    "However, I suspect most English voters will see 'Dave' for what he really represents ... a continuation of hundreds of years of a born-to-rule elite."

    Which has the considerable advantage that he has had a good, old fashioned education. Having endured a deputy PM who was barely comprehensible, and a string of back benchers who are little better, I for one am tired of the experiment in reverse snobbery. I also despise the sight of social climbers using their political positions to fawn over dubious foreign oligarchs. Frankly, "Old Money" doesn't have to do that!

  • Comment number 40.

    BANG .....

    Oooops

    Welcome President Biden.

  • Comment number 41.

    Charles

    Your comments regarding us Brits are never very positive. I do wonder why you live here.

    If I lived in the US and was as outspoken about the americans as you are about us, I very much doubt they'd be as humble and generous as we are.

    As for our attitudes to those who have taken a wrong turn in life, I think we are an extremely tolerant and generous race. Is there another country in the world to where one can just go, and get full support (and by that I mean housing, food, medical care, education, etc) from that country without having financially contributed to it, or being able to financially support oneself upon entry.

  • Comment number 42.

    swami @ 33

    I know that Mr. Blair came from a similar educational background (Fettes) to Mr. Cameron.

    And I was horrified that the people of Sedgefield chose him over an honest and honourable man - Reg Keys - at the last General Election.

    So, yes, I think that we do need a few hundred years of the worthy 'proles' being in charge to redress the balance a bit.

  • Comment number 43.

    saga #37

    With you on this one myself. A lot has been said about the numbers of Americans who will say Obama but vote McCain. I wonder if the opposite might not actually be true.


    We will soon find out.

  • Comment number 44.

    MalcolmW2 @ 39

    I would agree that reverse snobbery is as bad as the straightforward sort.

    You mentioned a former deputy PM and for me, the sight of this person playing croquet on the lawn at Chequers seemed to represent some grotesque sort of ultimate as in "The working class can kiss my ar*se, I've got the foremans job at last".

    That is, a complete betrayal of decent working people.

    You can only conclude that it is the system itself that perverts these politicians, who often start out in politics with the noblest of ideals but all-too-soon sometimes let themselves become corrupted.

  • Comment number 45.

    "Standby for Gordon Brown to cite an Obama victory (if it comes*) as evidence of a resurgence of the centre-left and a victory for belief in the role of the state, internationalism and global co-operation."

    A victory for belief in the role of the state? That *would* be something for Brown to come out and say. Almost on par as the self-righteous, fraudulant trumpeting he did in Manchester in September.



    #8

    "However, I suspect most English voters will see 'Dave' for what he really represents ... a continuation of hundreds of years of a born-to-rule elite."

    He needs to be careful who he affiliates himself with sure, because in two years time its bound to bite him in the butt.

    Anyway our current Prime Minister got it into his head that the premiership was nothing more than his rightful inheritance after he bullied out Blair. So please tell me who has more disdain for democracy?

  • Comment number 46.

    Talking of interest, I couldn't resist mentioning this gem, taken directly from the bbc:

    When Gordon Brown was asked what he thought of the issue, he replied: "We have had two interest rate cuts in the last period of time, and some of that has been passed on. Let us see what the Bank of England does this Thursday."

    If anyone thinks that america is listening to what Brown has to say, they're living on a different planet. "last period of time", "some", "let's just seem what happens". How vague, indecisive, and totally out of control does he think that sounds?

    I wish I was an american at the moment, at least both of their potential leaders understand they've got economic problems; our leader is still in total denial and has got no idea what he's going.

  • Comment number 47.

    One only has to hope the PM's congrats for the new US president is less cringe-making than his over-spun and posed congrats for Lewis Hamilton, sitting bolt upright, sweetly smiling with hands at prayer along side the union flag. Pass me the sick bag, Mandy.

  • Comment number 48.

    #36 "American industry and inventiveness created much of the prosperity of the rest of the world through an adherence to free trade, to the commercial imperative and a willingness to shed blood and invest resources in keeping the planet's trading arteries unclogged"

    To be fair, the United States has only been around for just over 200 years. The British Empire should be given the (perhaps dubious) credit of using military might to spread free-trade around the globe for the past 500 years. In particular, the Royal Navy and commercial entities like the British East India Company were instrumental in pacifying entire continents ready for commercial exploitation.

  • Comment number 49.

    # 23 JohnConstable

    Why don't you get out of your Little Englander personna and start thinking about the rest of the peoples who make up the this Unitied Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland who have soldiers serving and dying in the trouble spots around the globe and are suffering the same indignities as you espouse.

    Whilst I agree with your sentements about politicans, if they had to fight in the police actions I don't think they would venture far from the Palace of Westminister

  • Comment number 50.

    mark @ 22

    Someone who blindly votes Labour because the Tories are toffs are just slaves to the process, they are little more then mindless drones and our political process would be better off without them.

    I feel you're being a little harsh on us lefties, Mark. If the leadership of a party is drawn principally from a narrow and privileged elite, why on earth do you think that that is not a valid concern?

  • Comment number 51.

    swan @ 38

    it was left wing social democratic meddling in the markets that brought it about.

    That's the crazy, left wing bonus culture you'll be meaning there, am I right? ...

  • Comment number 52.

    Glenholme @ 49

    I readily update that comment @ 23 to :

    "We have suffered similar here in the Untied Kingdom, our military forces have been humiliated in Iraq in recent times, mainly due to meddling by politicians".

    The 'Little England' epithet is often cast about.

    But we never hear anybody say 'Little Scotland' or 'Little Wales', do we?

    And we should not.

    Why belittle individual countries or those who support those countries and their peoples?

  • Comment number 53.

    Glenholme @ 49

    I readily update that comment @ 23 to :

    "We have suffered similar here in the United Kingdom, our military forces have been humiliated in Iraq in recent times, mainly due to meddling by politicians".

    The 'Little England' epithet is often cast about.

    But we never hear anybody say 'Little Scotland' or 'Little Wales', do we?

    And we should not.

    Why belittle individual countries or those who support those countries and their peoples?

  • Comment number 54.

    14. , Kathmanduwallah

    #2,

    Never mind what Obama/McCain think about it (shaking hands with Al Qaeda); I thought it was extremely distasteful - especially as a few hours later he was shaking hands with British Military serving in Iraq.

    Thank you, Kathmanduwallah,

    You give me back some faith in humanity. My scorn for Brown goes beyond politics. There is an old-fashioned word for him, cad.

  • Comment number 55.

    Sagamix - in answer to your question - because background is unimportant - policies and competence are what 's important.
    I would have thought that you lefties would be the first to believe such a thing , has it not been your mantra since time immemorial ?
    You seem to be blinded by class envy that has dogged this country for decades.

  • Comment number 56.

    Your comments regarding us Brits are never very positive. I do wonder why you live here.

    ...

    As for our attitudes to those who have taken a wrong turn in life, I think we are an extremely tolerant and generous race.


    You're misunderstanding what's being said and listening to rumour. I never said there weren't any pluses, nor have I ever said I'm American. So, you might want to back down and let that one go.
  • Comment number 57.

  • Comment number 58.

    I believe, and hope, that Obama will win, for the simple reason that he more closely represents Lincoln's view of government "of the people, by the people, for the people" than any prospective presidential candidate since Independence. People simply believe that he is in it for them, and not himself or the backers that put him in the Whitehouse.

    UK politics has lacked a party, or a party leader, that has inspired anything like the same belief that Obama has. Bliar thought he was the Messiah and had he not lied his way into Iraq, he might have pulled it off, but the truth is, Michael Foot would have beaten the Tories in 1997.

    If either Brown or Cameron want to take anything from the US election, other than some lessons in how to spend a couple of billion dollars campaigning, they should be looking at who is voting, and not who they are voting for. This election is a triumph for democracy because Obama in particular has encouraged the disenfranchised to take back their ownership of the political process.

    President Obama will have plenty to keep him busy without entertaining hasbeens and wannabes from UK politics. I'd be a lot happier if our political class spent the next few months running up to our election next May, emphasising that the most important thing you can do in a democracy is to participate, and not trying to score political points and basking in reflected glory from the other side of the Atlantic.

  • Comment number 59.

    jc @ 57

    you need to get out more

    why's that then?

  • Comment number 60.

    Sagamix - No sir !left wing meddling - The whole sub prime fiasco was caused by the Clinton administration meddling in the American mortgage market compelling mortgage lenders to extend credit in the shape of sub prime mortgages to the poor despite the fact that there was a very good chance they would default.
    But let's ignore that fact and hang a banker , they deserve it , after all they probabaly belong to the same priviledged elite as David Cameron.
    Vive le revolution !

  • Comment number 61.

    #56 CEH

    OK Charles - you're not american - and I'm a millionaire.

  • Comment number 62.

    swan @ 55

    You seem to be blinded by class envy

    No way.

    I'm surprised, and a little disappointed, by people who have no worries about the leadership of a major political party being drawn from a narrow and unrepresentative base. Seems a bit complacent to say the least.

    I'd make exactly the same point if, say, half the Labour front bench had gone to Holland Park Comprehensive.

    Why is it not a valid concern?

  • Comment number 63.

    JC #44

    "That is, a complete betrayal of decent working people"

    That is just a silly thing to say which reveals the chip on your shoulder.

    Croquet is an excellent game; allowing your devious frustrations to be excised on the sporting field.

    It is the "desire" to keep the class war going that.....keeps the class war going.

  • Comment number 64.

    59 Sagamix

    You are normally relatively balanced individual. Throwing toff jibes around the place is a little silly.

    Plus it tends to backfire politically


    See?

  • Comment number 65.

    Both Brown and Cameron will be waiting to see how the nexr president tackles America's problems.
    After all the same problems are about to hit here if not here already. We're about six months behind them.
    There are so many who have such high expectations of Obama. They have put him on a pedastal.
    What happens after the elections if he cannot live up to these will be of more interest.
    He will certainly have his work cut out on social and domestic problems in the years ahead
    Not the best time to take over but it could be interesting.

  • Comment number 66.

    swan @ 60

    The whole sub prime fiasco was caused by the Clinton administration meddling in the American mortgage market compelling mortgage lenders to extend credit in the shape of sub prime mortgages to the poor despite the fact that there was a very good chance they would default.

    Nope.

    Nothing wrong with the principle of extending home ownership.

    Problem caused by rabid hard selling of inappropriate home loans (with not a little fraud involved too) and smoke and mirrors structuring of said loans into tradeable securities. Oh and some help from conflicted (of interest) Ratings Agencies.

    Yeah, that's about it.

    You blame Bill Clinton, if you like, but that's just right wing political prejudice talking, I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 67.

    Regardless of who wins in the USA elections, either candidate is infinitely better than Bush who is the worst president in US history. And whoever wins, the governments of the EU will simply have to "do business" with him!

  • Comment number 68.

    Sagamix - It is not a valid concern because a person's competence or ability to govern in not defined by where they went to school .
    Is that not a belief that you lefties hold dear ?

  • Comment number 69.

    In some ways being an American must be just a little less comfortable then it used to be before.

    Next January they are getting a new guy to be their front man. Yet the same old problems remain. They are bankrupt, both financially and philosophically.

    Yet again they have tried to bring democracy through the barrel of a gun and yet again they have failed. Yet somehow they forget and forget very quickly. They forget the fundamental rule that is, in the end, you have to make peace with your enemies.

    Is this their last catastrophic military error? No, not quite yet, but it looks like the point is getter nearer when the USA can no longer afford to have such a large military expenditure. That is, the end of the super power has been brought about by Wall Street. It looks likely that they will be forced through budget cuts to rein in their more insane military adventures.

    They will admit that they are no longer a 'super-power' with a World wide reach and this realisation will be good for Americans and the rest of the World.

    Perhaps they will also start to buy and drive smaller cars too (however not before the major parts of the rust-belt have gone bust!)

    Let us hope they find some way to have an all inclusive health service of a reasonable standard that is free at the time of need, if they do not, then they are putting themselves outside the Developed World and firmly into the Third World (and perhaps that is where they belong.) How are the mighty fallen!

    Two cheers for ObamaCain! (No cheers for GWB.)

  • Comment number 70.

    this just in: uk government tells pet owners they should let their pets go to the toilet, and should provide "entertainment" and "mental stimulation"

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7708411.stm

    Is this really what our government is supposed to be for? Telling us how to look after a cat?

    Oh, how lucky those americans are that they can just tell their government to get lost and mind their own business.

  • Comment number 71.

    jc @ 64

    Throwing toff jibes around the place is a little silly.

    Well excuse me! So, a concern that the leadership of a major political party is drawn from a narrow and unrepresentative base is silly is it?

    I say to NOT be concerned is complacent - sorry.

    If it's the photo that's annoying you (maybe because you're in it or something) you can just look the other way, no?

    Listen, I honestly think this is a serious issue for the BTP. Bringing it up is doing them a favour, actually.

  • Comment number 72.

    66 Sagamix

    Here is a little on Gordon Brown's contribution to the economic crash:

    How Brown crashed the economy


    Brown's ruinous contribution


  • Comment number 73.

    re: 71 sagamix

    Gordon Brown came from a "representative base" I guess, but he didn't realise that doubling the lowest tax rate would adversely effect people on low pay.

    Where you come from is irrelevant; despite what labour/bbc tell you, rich people do sometimes have the capacity to understand things outside their own personal life experience; that capacity is sadly lacking in labour, but it's one which all politicians of all parties should have; if they don't have it then they don't deserve to be elected regardless of party.

    I'm assuming you'd like to have positive discrimination (or, more simply, discrimination) in place; I think that approach is poisonous to democracy and fairness and goes against everything that a fair society should be striving for.

    Equality of opportunity is the key, as the yanks say, not forced equality of income/jobs through unfair redistribution and discrimination.

  • Comment number 74.

    37 Saga

    For my part right or wrong I don't want you to go, you make me smile too much.

    However, I don't trust the exit polls, there's a syndrome (Know doubt you'll know what it's called). When being Canvassed, you'll get a every day Joe, saying "Absoultely Obama is my man). Reach the booth where no one can see and put a cross in the McCain Box.

    I'm still unsure about the Yanks, have been there and worked with them abroad (A very small percentage). They are so insular and probably only slightly less paranoid than the Chinese.

    Are they mature enough as a collective nation to embrace a black President. Over here I believe anyone of any race, colour, religion or gender could be PM (scrapping a bit at the moment admittedly). But america for every Lincoln you have 100 Cleatus'

    We'll see I guess. Anyway if old McCain gets in stick around.

    Y'all be careful now.

  • Comment number 75.

    71 Sagamix


    Who cares where these people come from if they are the best people for the job?




    If the country was being run well - people wouldn't give a stuff where they come from.

  • Comment number 76.

    #70 getridofgordonnow

    this just in: uk government tells pet owners they should let their pets go to the toilet, and should provide "entertainment" and "mental stimulation"

    Give me strength! Another half-baked attempt at diverting our attention away from the more pressing things. Hilary Benn obviously hasn't got enough real work to keep him busy.

  • Comment number 77.

    Kathmanduwallah @ 63

    I have plenty of chips, thank you but they are not on my shoulders.

    Prescott was supposed to be working for us when he was playing croquet but I suppose we have to be grateful that he was'nt sliding a hand up womens skirts (something blokes routinely did in the 1950's) or worse.

    To me, that type of thing grated very much when I thought of really decent Union blokes I'd met who'd fought very hard for their people.

    I am pleased to see that social mobility is 'improving', if that is indeed the case given that the politicians have severely impeded it for decades via their education system 'experiments'.

    I am the last person who wants to see a class or any other sort of war perpetuated.

  • Comment number 78.

    There is plenty wrong with extending home ownership if it is extended to those who cannot afford it and whose defaults threaten to bring down the entire financial system !
    The rabid hard selling of mortagages packaged as securities .
    Hmmm ? whose policy was that ? er the Clinton administration . The first bank to be co erced into this plan , er Bear Sterns , the first bank in America requiring rescuing .
    But let not facts interrupt the feeding frenzy on capitalism ,

  • Comment number 79.

    swan @ 68

    It is not a valid concern because a person's competence or ability to govern in not defined by where they went to school .
    Is that not a belief that you lefties hold dear?


    Yes, for sure.

    But you're missing the point - which is that it's a valid concern if too many of the people running the show went to the same school.

    Doesn't matter who those people are or what that school is.

    Hey, I'm just saying it's a valid concern, that's all - surprised it's touched such a nerve - wasn't particularly trying to.

    So, now we've got things a bit clearer ... it's a valid concern, yes?

  • Comment number 80.

    Sagamix

    The problem is that "the leadership of a major political party is drawn from a narrow and unrepresentative base" can be applied pretty much across the board. It is built right in to party politics.

    The whole point of it was that (Old) Labour and (Old) Tory each represented differing, narrow, groups, and it was down to which party persuaded the vast swathe of people in between that they would be better off with them.

    The bigger problem now is that you could quite easily say the the leadership of the two main parties is drawn from the same narrow and unrepresentative base, so where does that leave you?

    You have to judge by more than the cover. Two different people can go through exactly the same experience and will come out of it in completely different ways.

  • Comment number 81.

    sagamix.

    I doubt you'll find many MPs who can properly represent any of us once they get on the gravy train, stop paying their Sky bill and get their mitts on the John Lewis catalogue, so don't sweat the background so much.

  • Comment number 82.

    Sagamix - No it is not a valid concern, for the reasons i gave some moments ago !!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 83.

    #72 jonathan_cook

    Pretty damning articles - and you can always rely on the Times to get it's facts right. I'm sure there are many people out there who think that Gordon is the saviour of the world. Unfortunately, none of them read The Times.

  • Comment number 84.

    #81 magic_2010

    I doubt you'll find many MPs who can properly represent any of us once they get on the gravy train, stop paying their Sky bill and get their mitts on the John Lewis catalogue, so don't sweat the background so much.

    sagamix.....

    The free Sky, John Lewis catalogue, paid mortgages and the vast expenses account is a huge draw for those wanting a better life at the expense of the british taxpayer. I haven't heard of any MP who has said they would give all the perks up because they really wanted to do the job....have you?

  • Comment number 85.

    Saga #79

    notwithstanding the very hard work and sacrifices some parents undertake to give their children the best education (over those with flipping great wadges of cash) - surely it is a good thing to have our leaders educated at the highest possible standards, if possible.

    Eton, Oundle, Fettes and other private schools have, for obvious reasons, most of the very best teachers. So again, notwithstanding the "priviledged" argument - it should be reasonable to expect a better than average end product.

    Now I know that holds hugely difficult connotations, politically, but it's probably true. Does this make it a ruling elite? Not really, but at least they will know how to tie a half-windsor properly, and never EVER wear brown shoes in town or after 7 O'Clock pm.

  • Comment number 86.

    swan @ 82

    No it is not a valid concern, for the reasons i gave some moments ago

    So you'd be relaxed if the whole of the UK Cabinet went to Fettes, would you?

    magic @ 81

    don't sweat the background so much.

    I'm not sweating it (well I am now, because of you lot!) ... I'm just pointing up an issue for Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.

    grawth @ 80

    You have to judge by more than the cover. Two different people can go through exactly the same experience and will come out of it in completely different ways.

    Of course that is true. But let me draw something to your attention ... only 7 pc of people in this country go to private schools, whereas 60 pc of Conservative MPs did. Now that's not reason in itself not to vote for them (their policies and track record are more important and supply sufficient reason in themselves) but it is a concern, no?

    gordon @ 73

    Where you come from is irrelevant

    It should be but I'm sorry to say that it isn't - that's pretty much my point, in matter of fact ...

  • Comment number 87.

    Pretty damning articles - and you can always rely on the Times to get it's facts right. I'm sure there are many people out there who think that Gordon is the saviour of the world. Unfortunately, none of them read The Times.


    I've gave two links to articles published in The Times in my first post. Both were generally favourable to Labour. One was from the Guardian, and the other three were from the Independent.

    Just the facts.
  • Comment number 88.

    kath @ 85

    at least they will know how to tie a half-windsor properly, and never EVER wear brown shoes in town or after 7 O'Clock pm.

    Okay, that's a fair (and powerful) point - although (IMO) it's not Gordon's lack of a half windsor that drags him down, tiewise, it's his lack of any colour bar purple! Not doing him any favours, that, as he attempts to save us all from ruin ...

  • Comment number 89.

    Sagamix - I don't care where the cabinet went to school!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I care about their policies ,their competence and their ability to run the country .
    All sadly lacking in the current Cabinet .

  • Comment number 90.

    #87 CEH

    As I said, none of them read The Times.

  • Comment number 91.

    shelling @ 83

    you can always rely on the Times to get its facts right.

    Think a translation is needed here, shelling ... you know, for those who don't yet speak the lingo.

    So,

    "get its facts right" = "write leaders sympathetic to the tory party"

    S'okay, don't feel guilty ... I don't mind doing it!

  • Comment number 92.

    Saga #88

    Quite!

    And we must always ensure that our Foreign Secretary is not ugly - he must have a discernable gravitas as our "front-of-house"

  • Comment number 93.

    swan @ 89

    I don't care where the cabinet went to school !!!

    No, neither do I !!!!! ... but I'd be a bit concerned if they'd all been to the same school ... you've seen the motion picture "Deliverance" I bet, haven't you?

    Well then.

  • Comment number 94.

    Re - reverse snobbery:

    If you want to see a good example of 'inverted snobbery' check out John Prescott's programme on Class. Even the kids from less well off backgrounds are not as hung up on the concept as he appears to be. Good old fashioned hard work, motivation and a confidence to succeed count for a lot as the entrepreneurs who started with nothing are testament to.

  • Comment number 95.

    #91 sagamix

    ...I don't feel guilty at all.

  • Comment number 96.

    dON'T remember any ex Etonians in Deliverance !

  • Comment number 97.

    86 Sagamix

    7% of the country has been to private school - so?

    Labour ministers are far more likely to have had a private education than Labour backbenchers (25 per cent as opposed to 16 per cent). Also the total number of privately educated Labour MP's is on the rise as a general trend.


    I haven't been to private school. As far as I am concerned so long as the best people, with the best skills are leading the country I don't care.


    However - maybe you've got a point:

    ......Maybe we should purge the current Cabinet? Afterall there are too many Miliband's in it - until recently there was even an ex-girlfriend of the banana toting Miliband in Cabinet as well! Never mind politicians all coming from one school - this lot are all from one clan...!!!!! Shock. Horror. ;-)

  • Comment number 98.

    2. At 11:03am on 04 Nov 2008, phoenixarisenq wrote:
    I don'tknow what Gordon Brown is up to, so can hardly say what his behaviour will do to take friends in Washington. His journey to Saudi Arabia to find money to prop up British banks, involved shaking hands with Al Quieda 'sympathisers' who were locked up for six years.
    I wonder what Obama and McCann think of this behaviour?

    This is the easiest question of the day...

    ..... they will think what their advisers tell them to think, which has been the same since 1990 ...

    ..... only the British prime minister, he'll do what you tell him to!

  • Comment number 99.

    #94 sicilian

    I saw a bit of John Prescott's programme. I tuned in just as he was asking two girls which class they thought they came from.

    Both said middle class. Prescott said he thought they would have said working class to which one girl replied "Oh, I don't work". Priceless!

  • Comment number 100.

    15:


    Unions are attempting to kick out members of the BNP with no compensation and no redress. Now I have no sympathy for the BNP itself, and none for the unions in general terms. However for some jobs union membership is a pre-requisite for having the job, and it seems to me, on the surface at least, spiteful, mean spirited and, possibly a denial of human rights. At the very least it runs against any freedom of speech rules that we live by in this country.

    .................

    The trades union movement has a responsibilty to represent all its members, black, white, gay, straight, muslim or atheist. They have every right to deny membership to those whose party wish to deny civil rights to all but 2 of those groups.

    The BNP have their own trade union called (laughably) Solidarity, let them stick to that.

 

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