BBC BLOGS - Nick Robinson's Newslog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Brown's message to the United States

Nick Robinson | 16:17 UK time, Wednesday, 4 March 2009

"We should seize the moment." That is Gordon Brown's message to the United States of America, delivered in his speech to both houses of Congress today.

He is telling Americans that "never before have the benefits of co-operation been so far-reaching," and telling them that they can now work with the most popular American leadership in Europe in living memory.

Gordon Brown He urges the United States to "protect and preserve planet Earth". In other words to tackle climate change, to end the dependence on oil and to create millions of jobs.

He also urges them to resist protectionism that, he says, history has told us that in the end protects no-one.

Gordon Brown adopts the tone of Franklin D Roosevelt in the depression of the 1930s, not repeating his pledge that "we have nothing to fear but fear itself", but saying that we can conquer our fear of the future through our faith in the future.

As for the economy, not surprisingly the prime minister does not come to Congress and tell them that the global recession is all their fault. Neither of course does he come and say that it is partly his fault - despite the argument that is going on behind the scenes between him, his advisors and members of the cabinet about how much responsibility he needs to accept if the public are to listen to his proposals for the future.

This was a speech which began with flattery and gratitude but ended with a challenge. It was delivered with passion and received with warmth. There were no fewer than 19 standing ovations.

What the prime minister will have noticed is the contrast between the reception for his tribute to America and for her sacrifices both sides leapt to their feet and that for his calls for action on climate change and for the government to act as people's last line of defence - it was the Democrats who led the applause then, with the Republicans rising to their feet openly reluctantly. As for his subtle warnings against protectionism, no-one rose to applaud.

Gordon Brown's hope is that what he calls an America renewed, under a new president will at last see the benefits of global co-operation. His fear, is that in troubled times, this nation may turn inward, not out, may demand that America comes first and may see saving the planet as an uncomfortable luxury to be postponed until better times.

Gordon Brown's first trip to the United States as prime minister was memorable for his awkward attempts to distance himself from George Bush and for the contrast he struck from Tony Blair, who remains hugely popular here and was, coincidentally, also in Washington this week.

However, on this trip, the prime minister looked much more comfortable, confident that in Barack Obama he's found an ally and that in these times his politics will get a hearing here. He must wait, however, to see if this country responds as he hopes or whether it was merely being polite to the leader of a nation regarded with respect and affection.


Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Preachy. The Septics'll lap it up!

  • Comment number 2.

    I have never been so embarrassed as listening to this speech. It was bad enough watching Tony Blair being George W's lap dog, but this display of obsequiousness takes the biscuit.

  • Comment number 3.

    How did you post this already? The speech is still going on!!

  • Comment number 4.

    'We should seize the moment'

    Sorry, worst most meaningless political twaddle of the highest order. As if anyones going around saying 'don't seize the moment'.

  • Comment number 5.

    Interesting that your copy is out before the end of the speech. Must make it so much easier when you are handed it direct from the horses mouth rather than have to conduct your own analysis.

  • Comment number 6.

    It would be churlish to say that Gordon Brown didn't deliver a rousing, well written speech to Congress today. The same could be said of Tony Blair on many occasions. I happen to have a personal bond with The country and its people so what was said about America was encouraging and welcome. It doesn't however change the fact that back at home he is a spent force. One good speech doesn't make a Summer.

  • Comment number 7.

    Pity he didn't seize the moment and regulate the FSA when he had the chance.

  • Comment number 8.

    From your live text -

    1614 And, as expected, the UK PM announces that veteran senator Ted Kennedy will be awarded an honorary knighthood - Mr Brown singles out his work in the Northern Ireland peace process.

    You what?

    This would be the same Ted Kennedy that helped to fund the IRA then would it.

    I suspect that the next time Brown visits Afghanistan he will be giving one to Osama Bin Laden and popping over to Libya to bestow one on Gadaffi as well whilst he is at it.

    See below link -

    I don't know why I am surprised really at the depths this man and Labour will sink to.

  • Comment number 9.

    Usual platitudes, poorly delivered.

    I feel that if I have to listen to tales of the advice given to young Gordon by his father I will go mad. Obviously he was never taught humility, or to take responsibility for his mistakes.

  • Comment number 10.


    Any view about the number of Senators and Congressmen where in attendance and how many staffers were drafted in to bolster the number.

    It looks just like Blair's welcome to Downing Street in 1997.

  • Comment number 11.

    Did Obama bother to turn up like Bush did for Blair?

  • Comment number 12.

    Sycophantic or what! After you with bucket please!

    The, "hard working family got a mention at least." He missed out his usual line of blaming the recession originating in America, wonder why?

    Its ok to speak in very broad terms; but as always with Gordon it is always in the fine print. The Americans will come to learn that about him as time goes on.

    Gordon promises the earth as always; but like everything he has promised so far, in sorting out the recession (as highlighted in PMQs) has come to nought.

  • Comment number 13.

    Gordon Brown is the biggest liar and hypocrite. His speech was full of fancy phrases with no real policies. His speech was just to grab the headlines and boost his ratings.

    What a joke

    He will be remembered as the worst PM and politician we ever had

    Brown Out Now

  • Comment number 14.

    After Gordon's speech we had Alastair's musings. Why is Alastair Campbell used as a commentator by the BBC? Every word he ever says is dedicated to the re-election of a Labour Government. So who wants to listen to him?

  • Comment number 15.

    As for the economy, not surprisingly the prime minister does not come to Congress and tell them that the global recession is all their fault. Neither of course does he come and say that it is partly his fault.........

    Very nicely put and more like the Nick who used to challenge, in media isolation, the credentials of our last elected PM.

  • Comment number 16.

    Gordon's global vision?

    Far sighted when it comes to the UK though, strangely unable to focus on learning from mistakes made.

    After all, we have grandstanding about what they are doing, but it was up to Harriet to say by omission that nothing yet had been implemented.

    This speech all really very well, but what we need to hear is what the Americans thought about it.

    With Brown, the devil is generally is in the detail and as Nick has pointed out the language that is used.

    I wonder what kind of speech Harriet would have delivered?

    What does the court of public opinion think?

  • Comment number 17.

    I've missed the speech!

    How many times did he say "started in America"? If it's not over twenty, the bookies are going to take me to the cleaners!

    Brown, damn you, don't you dare change your speech writer now!

  • Comment number 18.


    When do you think Gordon Brown will get invited to Camp David?

    Best wishes,


  • Comment number 19.

    The more I hear about ovation after ovation, the less I'm inclined to believe that anyone was actually impressed. They actually serve to devalue his speech in my opinion.

    It is a bit like someone laughing really hard at a joke that isn't funny.

  • Comment number 20.

    Oh, just out of interest, what is the actual purpose of this speech?

    I really haven't grasped what the point of this trip all was. Why is our PM in America? It has just seemed really bizarre and pointless.

  • Comment number 21.

    So just the usual cliches, then.

    I missed my favourite `the longest period of economic growth in two hundred years' but would that apply in the USA?

  • Comment number 22.

    Seize the moment ? I think he should be more worried about Harriet Harperson "seizing the moment".

    Her bizarre answer to Sir Fred Goodwins knighthood is intriguing. The answer should be a factual matter of record, not someones interpretation or opinion. Not only did she give the incorrect answer, but also denied that it was for the real reason it was given. So where did she get that information ? Is a Gordon Brown supporter making mischief here ?

    I suspect that she is not very pleased about this and this may force her hand out into the open on the leadership.

    Meanwhile in the US, Gordon Brown just looks sad, desperate and embarrassing.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm sorry, I felt so embarrassed watching Browns address to Congress. The crawling to America, was just stomach churning. He is such a poor orator that you feel yourself drifting off.

    His remarks about how wealth should be shared, when it is him who has over taxed all hard working people and has brought hardship to us all, is just disingenuous.

    How he believes he has the right to speak on behalf of the EU is another sign of his hubris.

    I think the whole exercise has been a complete waste of tax payers money designed to make us believe this man is a statesman, which he patently is not.

  • Comment number 24.

    Nancy Pelosi look board stiff, sitting behind Brown during his speech, did anyone else notice?...

  • Comment number 25.

    ... i think i've just been sick...

    It is painfuly obvious where all this is heading now - global regulation, global currency (look in to the IMF and the increased use of SDRs (the IMF currency) - never heard of them, start doing your homework) and global government...

    ... this long term goal of the elites is now full steam ahead - our freedoms are about to be trampled if we're not careful. Wake up.

  • Comment number 26.

    As always the Americans were very polite.

    Someone must have counted the number of times Gordon Brown told them how great America is and the standing ovations he received in return. Seventeen in all seemingly.

    The rest of his speech consisted of a boring history lesson on America his religious background and the same old no substance cliches we have heard so many times before.

    They did like it when he attacked tax havens. Seeing as a lot of them are under the British flag it will be interesting to see how he's going to tackle that one.

    Nastier underlying theme I thought was this emphasis on global order. Is it purely financial he means or global domination of the people. Sounds weirdo sci-fi to me.

  • Comment number 27.

    More patronising, platitudinous dross from our glorious leader.

  • Comment number 28.

    Watching Brown make his cringing, a**e-licking speech made me feel ashamed to be British. Full of meaningless platitudes, empty rhetoric and grandstanding waffle.

    Simply awful.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Seize the moment"? Big Gordy had better get back, quick, and seize the Harman.

    On Sunday, the Harperson attempted to jump onto a populist bandwagon by declaring that she was going to stop Fred the Shred's pension. She had to be informed that she (a lawyer) was talking legal nonsense.

    Today, she changed the pitch deciding to make noises in the House of Commons about Goodwin's knighthood, awarded because of his "charitable work". She had to be informed that the said knighthood was for "services to banking" (raw material for gags amongst bloggers for at least a fortnight).

    Big Gordy is in the States, desperate to avoid any connection being made to link him to his initial scapegoat, the USA.

    Back home, the Harperson is appearing even more silly than usual by constantly referring to scapegoat number 2, only making pathetically amateurish errors in the process.

    Sad stuff.

  • Comment number 31.

    Nick.. 'This' is a memo sent to Congressional staff by email this morning by the Congressional and Senatorial authorities, what truth is there in, that, the majority of those listening to Gordon Brown were staff not senators?
    On Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 11:00 a.m., The Right Honorable Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, will address a Joint Meeting of Congress. Permanent Congressional staff who are appropriately attired and displaying a Congressional ID will be permitted to attend the speech as space allows.

    Permanent Congressional staff may begin assembling in the Hall of Columns (first floor of The Capitol near the South Door) at 10:00 a.m. Chamber security staff will seat Congressional staff on the House floor as space allows. Chiefs of Staff should proceed to the front of the staff line in the Hall of Columns and identify themselves as such so they may be seated first.

    Should you have questions or need additional information, please contact the Office of the Sergeant at Arms office at 224-2341.
    very telling eh?
    this along with Obama's dig, Brown acting acertainway to his face?
    Not a great success?

  • Comment number 32.

    Brown should keep his nose out. Who on earth is going to trust someone who has presided over the biggest mess the UK has ever seen.
    Brown is in denial.

  • Comment number 33.

    His message on climate change might have been a tad more convincing if he'd delivered it from London via video link.

    Yet another case of "do as I say, not as I do".

  • Comment number 34.

    Stalin used to get "ovations" as well in fact they usually went on for hours. Good indicator of what people really think obviously !

    PS Is it true the audience where bolstered by white house Interns and Staffers ?

  • Comment number 35.

    Re: #8
    I thought when GB mentioned a Senator who has brought peace to Northern Ireland, he was going to announce a knighthood for Senator George Mitchell ... but, hasn't he got one ? ... I cant recall Teddy Kennedy ever bringing peace to Northern Ireland... if they'd given him a gong for being the last surviving Kennedy brother or for being the only guy on either side of the Atlantic who has no trouble spelling the word Chappaquidick, then fair enough ... but peace making ? Afraid that one is lost on me.

  • Comment number 36.

    Anyone got any links to comments from America?

    It's always nice to get a second opinion on the speech

    Nick, I hear that MP's renewed the widely disputed "control orders" whilst you were away

    Is this another part of Harriet's plan to seize the moment? I did find it amusing that Haig suggested it to her at PMQ's. Was he actually encouraging her to overthrow the incumbent?

  • Comment number 37.

    Brown's call for co-operation between the UK, Europe and America is certainly a necessity if the current economic crisis is to be corrected. However, the UK's voice will not be heeded by the current Obama Administration due to Brown's political weakness in his home country. President Obama will not entertain ideas from political leaders or political constituencies that he deems to be politically impotent. The British public will soon see this in the coming months. Like Bush, Obama will treat the American/British "relationship", excuse me, "partnership" as an inconvenient necessity. The speech today by Brown will have zero influence on the Obama Administration's global policies. Change? No. Just more of the same. Citizens of the UK and Europe, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  • Comment number 38.

    Mr Brown said, "We should seize the moment." Perhaps he should do just that and call an immediate general election. One can but hope. Mr Brown is not part of the solution, he is a large part of the problem.

  • Comment number 39.

    Nick Robinson:

    I have to agreed with Mr. Gordon Brown (Prime Minister) of Great Britain [United Kingdom] remarks on Wednesday morning in the Joint Session of the Congress....

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 40.

    He was right......'risk shouldn't be separated from responsibilities'.
    Will he now apologise for the risks he took over the last 10 years that got us into this mess.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    I must have heard the wrong speech. It sounded to me like a quarter had got stuck in the speak your weight machine - monotone and boringly repetitive.

  • Comment number 43.

    Have to say Americans are terribly false!

    Plastic smiles, squeaky clean, clapping like monkeys to cue.

    We may speak the same language (debatable) but I think there is a lot we DON't have in common with them.

    Can you imagine Brown signing autographs after PMQ's for example?

    Now, what should have happened is that they played out this on a big screen behind him whilst he addressed congress:

    Naughty, aren't I?

  • Comment number 44.

    Oh yes, and I forgot the honorary knighthood of Edward Kennedy.

    Much deserved I am sure but strategically arranged for maximum impact and admiration from the American congress.

    Cringe making.

  • Comment number 45.


    The Harriet "deliberate error" may be just that

    After all it is much more embarrassing for Crash if it comes out separately, in another statement after PMQ's, when people round on Harriet for the error...and it is Crash that is revealed to have put forward Fred for his knighthood

    Harriet is definitely after the top job

    Far from being "sad" she is showing keen political sense, and seems to be "seizing the moment"

    Wonder if Crash feel the knife blade impacts yet?

    When Crash returns will we have the briefings against her or is the damage starting to rack up and support for Crash is vanishing amongst his close colleagues?

    Is Harriet aiming for deposing him and a general election in May tagged onto the Europeans?

    So well done on the US visit Crash, but whilst you were away Harriet has managed to get a locksmith in.

  • Comment number 46.

    No doubt the Crashmeister will be wholly self-satisfied with his 'performance' over the last two days. A nice photo of himself standing next to that lovely Mr Obama for the mantelpiece and a well-massaged ego care of the joint Houses of Congress. What more could a delusional, Saviour of the World ask for?

    Problem is, of course, the whole escapade is thoroughly irrelevant. President Obama was coming to London in April to promise nothing before he met Brown this week, and he's still not going to be promising anything after Brown's disappeared back over the horizon.

    Obama is President because he is a consumate politician, and the one thing he knows, if he wants a second term, is he can't watch investment and jobs disappear overseas while ten million Americans are on the dole. So despite the rhetoric, it is clear from the, let's say, lukewarm response to the anti-protectionism preaching of Crash today, the good ol' US of A will do what it has always done - look after number one.

    The problem for the UK, and more especially for the Labour Party, is Crash will believe his own hype. If he wasn't inclined to acknowledge his fallibility before he went to America, he sure ain't about to do so now.

    "Did you not see how many standing ovations I got?" he'll ask. "I'm just as popular as that (expletive deleted) Blair, and he never apologised, so why should I?"

    In his world, his new best pal and tennis buddy, Barack, thinks he's great so that ought to be good enough for the UK electorate.

    Oh dear. This can't end well.

  • Comment number 47.

    The BBC said Brown got 17 standing ovations.

    Jeff Randall said he got 6 mediochre applause.

    Are you spinning again, Nick?

  • Comment number 48.


    "Nick.. 'This' is a memo sent to Congressional staff by email this morning by the Congressional and Senatorial authorities, what truth is there in, that, the majority of those listening to Gordon Brown were staff not senators?
    On Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 11:00 a.m., The Right Honorable Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, will address a Joint Meeting of Congress. Permanent Congressional staff who are appropriately attired and displaying a Congressional ID will be permitted to attend the speech as space allows."

    Sounds a perfectly normal occurrence, the operative wording is "as space allows", had there been a problem with not enough people attending the email would have been more to the tune of 'we need some more b*ms on seats!'...

  • Comment number 49.

    Well... I turned off after the first ovasion (about 10 seconds in)

    Sounds as if it didn't improve!

    Hope they don't interupt this evenings news for this drivel

  • Comment number 50.

    Not the best of speeches .....

    And by what criteria could the performance of a polite but bored looking audience unwillingly dragged to their feet by protocol with Brown's lengthy pauses be termed 'standing ovations'?

  • Comment number 51.

    So that's it then?

    Gordy feels vindicated as a lot of people have clapped him as a result of him moving his face and letting some noises come out of it.

    I suspect lots of others back here in the feifdom of his that is the UK will be moving their face too - to throw up.

    No doubt there will now be talk of Brown Bounce II. Which, just like Brown Bounce I, will turn to dust very rapidly.

    To be honest, any UK PM could do the same as Brown has just done in Congress. Re-affirm lots of American bravery and struggles and wait for the whooping to begin. Lots of general references to shared values / history and so on.

    Sounds magnificent, but in reality is nowt more than grandstanding. Just like his plethora of announcements and initiatives to supposedly pull us through this savage recession (that he was part responsible for causing) that have come to nothing. I think Hague pretty well hit that nail on the head today in (stand-in) PMQs.

    (In)capability Gordon "humility" Brown - all headlines and no fine print.

    I work in the heart of an organisation that day in and day out has to provide advice to people who have lost their jobs, their houses and in some cases, their will to carry on. I think of them. And then I think about the slightly smug look that adorned Brown's face at the end of his US love-in. And then I feel very sad and very, very angry.

    So now what for us wretched underlings back home? More of the same on April 2nd with the G20 meeting in London. More grandstanding, more grand statements and more slightly smug looks from our wrecker-in-denial-in-chief. And no doubt more ex-Labour spin meisters and communication gurus will be wheeled out to say how great all this is all going to be (as the BBC has depressingly done a few times today at least) and we can all look on in supposed enchanted awe of Brown being a "world-player."

    Yet the common stock of our misery will be bigger still by then - and that's just by early April.

    However, June 4th ain't that far off Mr. Brown. I, and millions of others, armed with our little pencils, will be showing you exactly what we think of you and your freaky government of all the talentless.

    Best hang on to today's memory Gordy - your British electorate awaits you.

    NB: anyone know of the whereabouts of Derek Barker these days? Weren't we supposed to be "treated" to an opinion poll a few days ago showing Labour having established a "five percentage pont lead"?

    Any idea where we can find that Derek?

  • Comment number 52.

    I suppose in Brown's tiny mind he is making history... savouring his moment. Sadly in the minds of the rest of us he is a hopeless embarrassment, one we don't really want back... USA keep him... free of charge, this liar and double-faced spin doctor is all yours.

    Britain would like to move on...

  • Comment number 53.

    Ref 22 StrictlyPickled
    Ref 30 Zootmac


    I was going to suggest playing "Happy Families" now, but the Harperson would probably accuse us of being judgemental by implying that only the traditional family unit can be happy.

    What about multi-cultural Cluedo?

  • Comment number 54.

    Harry's..... they probably took all the old charidee stuff into account as well... was a laugh.....

    Who can imagine honours being dished out for anything other than the listed reason???

    It would never happen....surely?????

  • Comment number 55.

    Its a great shame someone didn't "seize the moment" to depose Broon

  • Comment number 56.

    I thought that it was very telling that you forgot to give us details yesterday about the so called press conference with the President. How many journalists were present at this gathering and how long did it last? Nor did you tell us much about the so called working lunch with the President which followed the conference. Who was present and how long did it last? The absence of the President while our dear leader spoke today is a further sign that the administration has been reading the tea leaves on this side of the Pond. Telling people what they want to hear is an old tactic and so is flattery. Fortunately the President has kept his distance and the re-launch of our dear leader has failed. Standing ovations in foreign climes are quickly forgotten. This expensive exercise has only served to highlight the desperation of a politician whose time has past.

  • Comment number 57.

    " much responsibility he needs to accept if the public are to listen to his proposals for the future. "

    Do they think we're going to forget how long he spent denying any responsibility? It doesn't matter what he puts his hands up to, we know he doesn't actually think it's any of his fault.

  • Comment number 58.

    Nothing odd really.

    I'm sure we are all used to good sounding words from politicians.

    The only, single, factor that makes a difference is delivery.

    Can anyone point to a truly justifiable element that has been delivered in the Uk over the last decade?

    Education is a mess. Kids are taught not to learn, but to pass exams. Check any student against what their parents (even worse grandparents) were expected to know...

    The NHS is good (always has tried to be) but screwed up by government targets.

    Defence is a mess.

    Policing is rather hidden. (I've only seen a real policeman on my high street three times in ten years. Forgetting a few cars that have sirens wailing, presumably because they are in a hurry to get a cuppa. Always aiming towards a station that closes down when it gets dark.)

    Global leader?


    Sort out a few little local problems, if you could, Brown, then we could afford to spend you off to target your new role as chairman of some sort of global financial regulator.

    God help us.

    Blair "Presiding" over Europe. And Brown as the manager of gloibal economics.

    What a prospect to encourage the creation of a new population in Antartica.

  • Comment number 59.

    I used to sit ( or sleep ) through sermons like this drivel when I was a kid, it didn't do any good then and it certainly isn't going to do any good now. Brown seems to think that his brand of meaningless rhetoric is what is expected of a statesman, but sadly that is something of a delusion. The great speeches he is trying to emulate, were in the main made by much greater statesmen ( and woman ) than he is destined to be. He deludes himself with his visions of the future, a future which by the middle of next year will see a new prime minister attempting to repair the damage he and his incompetent government have done to this nation.

  • Comment number 60.

    No standing ovation for the anti-protectionism bit - that's surely the only bit of worth in this whole episode, he got a few ovations for praising America - woopdedoo, Americans are always humble about their own country of course

    Come back and face us, Gordon, reality is waiting for you

  • Comment number 61.

    I decided to make an effort and listen to the whole speech, some thirty-two minutes.

    Something that clearly separates politicians from most other people is their public speaking abilities, which at the senior political level, have to be first class.

    In my opinion, this speech was extremely well constructed for its primary target audience of American politicians.

    The speech-writer must be very keyed into the politicians thinking, Brown in this case, and also the kind of thing that these American politicians will have a soft spot for ... particularly the religious cues and also the 'positive' messages, from America's past and into the future.

    Overall, a really excellent effort.

    Being English, I have to point out a downside, which is that so often with these types of speeches, the content and substance is hopeful, i.e. in this case ...

    ... a new economic frameworks, saving children from evil madrassas, green tech producing millions of jobs, doubling world GDP in two decades and so on ...

    ... but something is nearly always lost in the translation of those hopes into reality.

    You can create an 'ideal' model in your head but upon being transformed into a 'real-world' model, it is always corrupted to some extent.

    Nevertheless, we strive to try and stay as close to the ideal as possible, given the 'real world' constraints we have to operate within.

    Upon reflection, it is probably much tougher being a politician than I had previously thought.

  • Comment number 62.

    moderation is a bit slow tonight, are they having a party at the BBC? Or all on the plane coming home?

    Difficult to hold a conversation in the light of such technical difficulties

  • Comment number 63.

    The moderators didn't like my XXXXX so i'll try again... I wish we could "seize the moment" and vote out this imbecile

  • Comment number 64.


  • Comment number 65.

    Actually yawn is too strong and too long a word.


    Night night.

  • Comment number 66.

    The only thing to be said in favour of Edward Kennedy being awarded a knighthood is that, in the preposterous hierarchy of British nobs, it places him on a par with Fred Goodwin, and establishes him as being something less than Jeffrey Archer.

    That's about right.

    I won't attempt to stir up any more disgust about Brown, and before him Blair, playing to the American gallery, and pretending to be statesmen, on the back of the bravery of the British armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    But I would ask Mr Brown to re-check Senator Kennedy's full record on Ireland. He might also like to check up on Joe Kennedy, Edward's dad, in the years prior to the USA entering World War II.

    Good knight.

  • Comment number 67.

    6 Sicilian 29

    #It would be churlish to say that Gordon Brown didn't deliver a rousing, well written speech to Congress today. The same could be said of Tony Blair on many occasions. I happen to have a personal bond with The country and its people so what was said about America was encouraging and welcome. It doesn't however change the fact that back at home he is a spent force. One good speech doesn't make a Summer.

    I have to agree with all that you say in this post except for the last sentence but one,
    but up to this point there has been 38 posts printed only yours in favour of the speech and giving it due credit.
    You must see why I and other labour bloggers find it hard to believe that all these Tories and the rent a tory bloggers come out with such arrant nonsense, as you put it Sicilian rather churlish and pretty obvious also without credibility. Now be careful they dont turn on you old chap

  • Comment number 68.

    Whatever happened to his line about "the global recession is the fault of the subprime crisis in America"?

    Does he think the same people are not watching?

    Such revolting, assinine, ham-fisted disingenuity it actually gives me a dull thumping sound flapping around inside my head.

    How can our supposedly free democratic system end up giving us a sequence of such detestable leaders, of any colour?

    Something is wrong, very wrong, and I find myself agreeing with the idea that democracy is just an illusion that persuades people they are free.

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    I think his speech was excellent for the audience he was delivering it to. Had this been to the two Houses in the UK I think there would have been a few sick bags passed around the benches.

    Some of the comments on this page are ridiculous; this wasn't a moment for announcing policies as someone called for; neither was it a moment to tell America the problem started with them. It was an opportunity, delivered very well I thought, to flood the speech with rhetoric and leave the small print for the G20 meeting next month.

    I get nervous with the thought of David Cameron acting on behalf of the UK on the international stage. As President Obama said already, he's a lightweight.

  • Comment number 71.

    "After Gordon's speech we had Alastair's musings. Why is Alastair Campbell used as a commentator by the BBC? Every word he ever says is dedicated to the re-election of a Labour Government. So who wants to listen to him?"

    Do you really not know ???

  • Comment number 72.

    The New York Times take on the success of Brown's US visit:

    Julianne Smith, director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that Mr. Brown might not get all he wanted.
    “I don’t think he’s going to be able to go back home and say ‘Obama and I see completely eye-to-eye on some big global regulation scheme,’ ” she said.
    Part of that is a general American skepticism toward such internationalist approaches, Ms. Smith said. “Europeans, even the Brits, have a higher level of comfort with global machinery and bureaucratic machinery than Americans do,” she said.
    Commentators on both sides of the ocean have catalogued a number of signs that the reception accorded to Mr. Brown in Washington was not quite as warm as the ones British prime ministers enjoyed during the Bush years: No invitation to Camp David, no full-scale news conference, no state dinner — and while there was a meeting between the men’s wives, none was held between the two couples. Mr. Brown, whose own approval ratings in Britain are suffering, had hoped to profit from his visit to the popular American president.

  • Comment number 73.

    Dear Mr Barricades

    You might like to read the piece from Matt Frei - one of the BBCs reporters based in the US.

    Here is the link

    Matt was excellent on election night in the US. It was a bit embarassing to see the 'grandees' such as Dimblebey who were flown in for the occasion. Matt sees the US as a brit but from a US perspective



  • Comment number 74.

    Fair play to Gordon Brown for going to Congress and urging non-protectionism. He seems to me to be showing some more steel than his predecessor.

    As for Nick Robinson's claim that he cant' escape the story from home about admitting liablity for the recession - yes, he can't escape it because you keep bringing it up, Nick! No one is really bothered about this issue. They have a lot more to worry about.

  • Comment number 75.

    I have spent a lot of time in the US over the last five years.

    Few of my neighbors there could name Brown or anyone else for that matter apart from Bliar.

    They love England. They like the royal family. They very much like a nice proper accent. They love to ask about us. They want to know if the same is happening to the UK as the US. I can't tell you how many times I have been asked and by perfect strangers too.

    There is much more coverage of China and outsourcing. Mr Pestons coverage today is about 5 months behind US coverage, I'd say.

    If I am asked about our political classes, I am able to teach expressions such as plonker, waster, all mouth and no trousers, chocolate teapot, twaddle, claptrap, merchant banker etc.

    For the very most part, I'd say that those I meet and know are delighted to have a different group of politicians in charge.

  • Comment number 76.

    Don't be hard on Hattie. Remember she said on Sunday that Sir Fred would not get all of his £690000 pension. She did not say by how much.
    Now it looks like Lord Myners is going to get to him through fellow directors Sir Tom McK, Bob Scott et al over the indiscreet discretionary add-on. Are their pockets deep enough for their counsel? This time RBS wont step in to pick up the tab for crown counsel dont shy from charging top dollar. If only George Carmen was around to help?

  • Comment number 77.

    Interesting to see the American reaction to the visit.
    Both the Washington Post and the NY Times have the visit down in 3rd level font. The same size as an article on Starbuck's coffee.

    Don't get too excited Nick, nobody is America is going to take too much notice, other than the staffers in the audience filling the seats where the Congressmen should have been. Good TV in the UK but significance; alongside poor coffee.

  • Comment number 78.

    Did Brown at any time mention the good British companies who have been left stranded as the American corporations pull in their horns and transfer their interests back home?

    The longer he stays there the less damage he can do here - I am fed up of "being saved by him" - it hits my pocket every time he saves me and does not do much good for anyone else with the proceeds.

  • Comment number 79.

    #44 Flame Patricia

    Some of us are old enough to remember Kennedy in a different light - it was just cheap sensationalism I am afraid.

    Did Kennedy not support the people who were trying to bomb us out of N.I?

  • Comment number 80.

    I am with Jim Rogers.







  • Comment number 81.

    Kaybraes 59


    Dire rubbish to put anybody to sleep.

  • Comment number 82.

    Sickeningly sycophantic. An embarrassment.

    By the way, what happened to

    It all started in America ???

  • Comment number 83.

    Is Gordon bored with the British electorate? Is the UK too insignificant for Gordon's global ambitions?

    The evidence can all be found in his Congress speech. The continual emphasis on global problems, global solutions, etc.

    I've always believed that Gordon is a clever, manipulative, politician (and a weak economist). The emphasis on global solutions is just another attempt to hide his own responsibility for the current crisis.

    I too support international solutions, but only after the politicians who caused this mess have owned up to their failings.

  • Comment number 84.

    #70 davidurquhart wrote:
    I get nervous with the thought of David Cameron acting on behalf of the UK on the international stage. As President Obama said already, he's a lightweight.

    May I politely ask you to provide evidence that this is what Obama actually said? Have you considered the possibility that this media quote originated from the UK Government?

  • Comment number 85.

    Sorry, folks.

    Just came back on to check what had happened as a response to Brown's platitudes before the Senate/Congress audience.

    Not quite sure how a joint group would fit into a single building. Interesting to see that there were some empty seats. Could our Commons and Lords actually fit into a single chamber? Without some tax-payer incentive to make it worth their while?

    Does it really matter what people/politicians say?

    Isn't it what they DO that really matters?

    How does "British jobs for British workers" compare with global anti-protectionism?

    Or was that just another example of journalists picking up on a frankly stupid comments by an out-of-contact bloke, who could have been a really good second rate professor in a pretty low grade university?

    It was never a deliverable statement.

    Like so many over a decade. Just "stuff" that politicians who have never had to make an honest dollar/pound think would make any difference. (Remember Blair's stuff about marching offenders down to the nearest cash-point to pay for their crimes.(

    Brown loves the US? I do too. Been in and out for many years.

    Standing ovation? Easy. Say what they want to hear and folks get up and applaud . Been there. Done that.

    Effect? Limited if you don't deliver.

    Brown delivery? Since when? House prices rocketed. Why? Brown allowed huge loans to be offered. As Chancellor, he could haved imposed some realistic controls. Did he?

    No way. Just the same guy who kept applauding the City folki because he wanted them to generate profits and deliver bonuses he could tax.

    Any regret about the totally stupid, don't really care, stuff about the throwing away of a 10p tax-band? Why bother about little folk when they pay for your pensions?

    God help us all if any UK plc decides to hire GB as a non-executive director.

    It seems that Blair is a shoe-in as the next "President" of the EU.

    What next? A failed thespian (money grabbing) bloke as the Leader of the EU and a failed and rotten UK Chancellor heading a global financial institution?

    Hopefully not too much problem for me. Although they combined to screw up lots of stuff. Really concerned about my children.

    Brown's speech to the US congress/senate folk? Does it matter? Will it make my children's tax burden fall? Nah. Will they have a guaranteed pension scheme? Naah. That's just for people paid for by people who create money.

    Sad? Yes. Hopefull? Don't you have to be?

    Just makes you worry a bit when a guy with a decent script writer becomes a standing-ovation hero when he leaves his own people facing poverty.

  • Comment number 86.

    I know you all loath Brown more than the worst cerial killer, but must you constantly feel the need to denagrate my nation's legislative body as well?

    Did you ever stop to think that just perhaps some people gave him a "standing ovation" because (horror of horrors!!) they actually, truthfully, agreed with, and were flattered by what he said?

    And for the love of God will someone please explain to me how they know that Kennedy supported the IRA, thusly justly deserving all this ire from you?

  • Comment number 87.

    flamepatricia #43. . .

    "Have to say Americans are terribly false!

    Plastic smiles, squeaky clean, clapping like monkeys to cue."

    Its called being polite. And who knows! Perhaps "clapping like monkeys to cue" is how some congressmen express their true support for the prime minister's message?
    Still apparently we do a dredful job of acting polite. Any pointers on how to improve our performance?

    "We may speak the same language (debatable) but I think there is a lot we DON't have in common with them."

    Well seeing as how I understood with rellitave ease what you wrote, I'd say your "debate" on whether we speack the same language would fall flat fairly quickly after iniciation. That aside, yes there is a lot you don't have in common with us, but I think that this is largely down to slight cultural differences rather than complete night and day differences.

    "Can you imagine Brown signing autographs after PMQ's for example?"

    No because that's not how your system works. However, I can imagine fairly easily Obama signing autographs after addressing parlament (should he ever get the honor.)

  • Comment number 88.

    tarquin #60. . .

    "No standing ovation for the anti protectionism bit - that's surely the only bit of worth in this whole episode, he got a few ovations for praising America - woopdedoo, Americans are always humble about their own country of course"

    Admitedly we are probably the most bosteful people on earth; a process which must be stopped!!! But come on! You're almost just as bad as us! I mean its not as if when Sarkozy addressed parlament a few years ago and lavished praise on the UK, that your MPs sat their stoned faced and aukward praying for him to move on to asking you to take a more proactive role in Europe is it?

    Whether we like to admit it or not, everyone enjoys a bit of praise here and there, if for no other reason than to keep their spirits up.

  • Comment number 89.

    of course the Republicans forced themselves to clap when Brown mentions the need to combat climate change! Typical!! Only in America can one half of a major political party deny that global warming is man made, and the other half not want to do anything do stop it!!

    God bless America?

  • Comment number 90.

    davidurquhat 70

    I would like you to provide proof that Obama called D. Cameron a lightweight.

    I do not believe that Obama would make a foolish statement like this, when in future he may have to work with Cameron.

    Of course if Brown delivered this speech in this country there would be 'sick bags all round' as you put it, because everyone is aware that Brown is completely to blame for this crisis. I suspect many people watching from home would have felt slightly queasy watching him. He certainly affected me like that.

    Brown is no orator, I suspect the Americans were simply being polite, whilst possibly not liking a lot of what Brown had to say.

    If there are no rewards for failure as Brown is saying, then he himself should step down immediately. Let us have someone new who is not connected with this crisis as they have in America.

    Browns hubris will be the end of this country.

  • Comment number 91.

    Congress were polite to listen to Brown as he addressed them. They observed the minimum requirements of protocol and listened. They listened for substance, but found none.

    However, despite its fluffy rhetoric, it was unconvincing. It was delivered in a self-righteous manner with no hint of humility and no firm conclusions. Brown used this opportunity as a self-seeking exercise to enhance his own position.

    It should be remembered President Obama's previous meeting was distinctly cool and kept on a formal level.

    Brown carries much political baggage, much of it over weight. Congress are well aware of his eleven years of mismanaging our economy. They are well aware of his reckless borrowing and overspending and his dysfunctional Government's failures.

    Brown's speech was a hypocritical and vain glorious attempt to reposition himself in World politics. It was unconvincing and failed because of lack of credibility.

    Many agreed his sycophantic comments were nearly enough to induce nausea.

  • Comment number 92.

    Several people have mentioned this but I feel strongly that giving Kennedy a Knighthood is an insult to our nation. How short peoples memories are. I remember seeing films of Edward Kennedy, at fund raising garden parties in the USA in the company of Ira members. The Irish Americans, raising funds to BOMB us! When G W Bush said we will root out terrorism where ever it exists. Those who commit acts and those who support them. They missed Kennedy but when he appeared on television to condemn the 7/11 bombing in New York, they did cut him off! I wonder why? He helped the peace proccess in Ireland, did he. For years he supported the IRA in terrorizing Britain.

  • Comment number 93.

    Edward Kennedy of course was also involved in that dubious incident at Chappaquidick when he left his secretary to drown in suspicious circumstances. Does he really deserve to be called a Sir?

  • Comment number 94.

    Of course what we now have is a Prime Minister who now believes, thanks to ovations in the USA, that he is even more right than he was before. I suspect the chances of him listening to anyone [apart from his highly selected focus groups] is remote. He is simply not willing to listen to the poeple who are fearful of the spending that he has signed us up to as our leader. If it had been me I would have sought a mandate.

    Getting on with the job is just another Mandelson sound bite, dreamt up after yet more consultation with focus groups. If only we all understood just how these focus groups now decide and rule every statement eminating from New Labour. It is all so false and so disappointing, to promise so much and deliver so very little. If education, education, education was the mantra of all those years ago it has, by any measure, failed. I see the impact of this on the streets every day.

    I have to agree with RobinJD - call an election and please let the people decide, even if it does mean we have five more years of this Government. At least the poeple would have been given the chance. At the moment I fear we are all on a runaway train and the driver has not a clue where we are headed.

  • Comment number 95.

    The supposed 'lightweight' remark was published in The New Statesman and put down to diplomatic sources. Here is a comment on the story because that's all it is:
    "I’m sceptical. It just doesn’t sound very Obama-ish. Whatever he thinks, he doesn’t make a habit of deriding individuals in this manner, even fierce opponents (in fact I can’t think of a single example right now). The story’s author refers vaguely to “diplomatic sources”. Even if Obama was going to insult the Tory leader, it would be very out of character for him to do so in front of officials that weren’t people he knew and trusted. And as we know, Obama’s aides aren’t leakers. Well, we’ll see."

  • Comment number 96.

    I cannot see this trip of Brown's as anything other than opportunism - he wanted Obama's endorsement so that people would love him at home.

    Well, in my view, back at home this trip was not a success - not at all.

    He may well have got on OK with Obama and he may well have had a few standing ovations from the interns filling Congress but the US press seem united in giving him a luke-warm write up with some not even bothering. Nobody really knew why he was there.

    I'm just puzzled, does he think he is likely to win votes by simply being in the US??????


  • Comment number 97.

    What is the 'special relationship' anyway?

    If anyone can tell me what positives it's given us in the last 12 years I'd be really interested.

  • Comment number 98.

    Guess on the flight back Mr Robinson had some time to ask the following questions:

    * Has BARACK apologised for the fact that the US made UK banks sell 125% UK mortgages to UK customers, the US forced Brown to run a budget deficit when the ecnomy was growing above trend and the US forced HBoS to grant those healthy loans to UK and Irish property developers?

    * Prime minister, can you explain why as an experienced MP you sublet your office and will you on request of the court of public opinion pay the rent into the state's purse? Or perhaps even the rule of law requires the rent to be forwarded to the taxpayer?!

    * Prime minister, again you talked about global regulation, but was it you then who in the 2006 Mansion House speech said that the UK had such a leading light-touch regulatory framework and that you would resist a paneuropean financial regulator.

    * Prime minister, you seem to aim now for the tax havens, so can you tell us where that leaves the Channel Islands and the Isle of Mann?

    Can't be too hard to ask these questions, so awaiting the answers!

  • Comment number 99.

    Changing course slightly, it is my belief that, at PMQ yesterday, Harman deliberately said Fred was given his knighthood for services to the Prince's Trust charity.

    She was asked two simple, banana-skin type questions - who nominated Fred for a knighthood and why. Rather than give an accurate but probably embarrassing answer I suspect she deliberately decided to duck the first question completely and avoid the second by telling a deliberate lie.

    Whatever the truth of the matter, the entire situation reflects very badly on her and brings politicians into more disrepute. Either she is prepared to be deliberately dishonest to avoid probable embarrassment for New Labour or she is the only person in the country who does not know the knighthood was given for services to banking. Neither is complimentary.

    Secondly, why is it that journalists (with a few exceptions like Humphreys and Paxman) teend to be so soft? Is there a charade that is being played out through question sessions? We have seen this with the wide variety of questions for Crash Gordon offered on this blog which we know will never be asked. Last Sunday, when Harman made her ridiculous Court of Public Opinion comment, Andrew Marr should have had the intelligence, knowledge and quick thinking skills to retort immediately with a question about this court in the context of Iraq, Jacqui Smith's housing expenses and many other recent situations.

  • Comment number 100.

    #90 Susan-Croft

    It wouldn't surprise me if he did say something like that about David Cameron - American Presidents/politicians have always felt that we need them, and well, they can always find plenty of other special friends should we not want to bother being the subservient partner.

    Our relationship with the US has overlapped with a period of extreme jingoism, hegemony and arrogance, therefore, they can say what they like about us and invariably do.

    If he has referred to David Cameron as a lightweight, don't worry, it's not an exclusive club.

    The reason for my post is not to defend David Cameron political credentials in any way but to illustrate how ridiculous our 'special relationship' has become. We give far more than we get back.


Page 1 of 6

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.