Preparing to herd cats
VINA DEL MAR, CHILE: He's visited three continents in five days, he's met the leaders of three of the G20 countries and he's carried just one message - global problems need global solutions to be agreed at next week's global summit in London.
This week's trip has been a reminder of how different the countries and the outlooks are, that will be represented at that table. It's been a reminder that the G20 is not merely an extended G7.
It includes countries like Brazil - whose president this week attacked the "men with white skins and blue eyes" who created the crisis - alongside the old club of Western industrialised countries. It also includes Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, South Africa, Russia and China.
Chairing this summit will not, one wag suggested, be simply a matter of herding cats. It will be involve herding cats, dogs and mice.
Nevertheless the prime minister claims that he can see a new consensus developing - in favour of co-ordinated action to stimulate the global economy; in favour of free trade and not protectionism; and in favour of tougher financial regulation that covers not just banks but all financial institutions and which squeezes tax havens out of existence.
Certainly here at the Progressive Governance Conference of the world's centre-left leaders, such a consensus does appear to exist.
The question, of course, is even if those objectives can be agreed, what actions will follow?
Will Gordon Brown persuade the G20 to commit to another economic stimulus, and put a figure on it, in order to add pressure on countries with large surpluses like China to spend more?
Given there is no prospect of a world trade deal, will the G20 agree to Mr Brown's proposal for a $100bn fund to underwrite trade finance and for new powers for the World Trade Organisation to name and shame countries that say they oppose protectionism but implement protectionist measures?
A recent study showed that since the last G20 declaration, 17 out of the 20 countries had introduced a total of 47 protectionist measures.
Whilst there may be agreement on the principles of a tougher system of cross-border financial regulation, will a new system be forged?
The answer to all of the above would appear to be no - according to one leader who the Prime Minister did not meet this week.
Germany's Chancellor Merkl told the Finacial Times: "We are talking about building a new global financial market architecture and we will not be able to finish this in London.
"We will naturally not solve the economic crisis either, and we won't solve the issue of trade. We will definitely need to meet again."
No wonder the Prime Minister now says that the way to judge next week's summit is not the day after it is held, but in the year after. No wonder he claims that the very existence of the meeting in leaders' diaries has concentrated minds and produced results before anyone gets on a plane.
Will that, though, be enough to reassure those protesting on the streets of London today? I doubt it.
"Give us a chance" - that was Vice President Biden's plea to the protesters at the closing news conference. He and Gordon Brown said they understood the frustration of those who took to the streets.
By the way, there's an amusing photo of all the other leaders hanging around waiting for the PM who, how shall I put it, had to make another urgent call.