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The blame game

Nick Robinson | 12:04 UK time, Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The prime minister's always blamed America for this economic crisis. The French and the Germans have blamed Britain and America. "Who's right?" I asked at this morning's Brown/Obama news conference.

Nick Robinson asking question at press conference with Gordon Brown and Barack Obama

Their answers were instructive. Obama accepted that America had to take its share of the blame but then sought to share it with Britain and Europe:

"If you look at the sources of this crisis, the US certainly has some accounting to do with respect of a regulatory system that was inadequate to the massive changes that had taken place in the global financial system," he said.

"What is also true is that here in Great Britain, and continental Europe, around the world, we are seeing the same mismatch between the regulatory regimes that were in place and the highly integrated global capital markets that had emerged."

Gordon Brown retreated behind his new formula of "global problems require global solutions".

Aware of the threat from Paris to leave an empty chair if meaningful agreements aren't reached, he went on to joke that he was confident that President Sarkozy would be in his place for the last - as well as the first - course of tonight's pre-summit dinner.

Both men sought to play down talk of a rift, with Obama mocking journalists for being bored by pictures of heads of state and communiqués and wanting to inject some "controversy and drama".

So, now it's over to Merkel and Sarkozy to sound conciliatory or, well, inject some controversy and drama.

PS. Think back a few months ago. There were questions then about whether President Obama would come to the G20 at all, questions about who would visit the White House first, questions about which country he'd visit first.

The answer to every question was answered in the way Gordon Brown wanted. Today both men - dressed in blue suits, white shirts and blue ties - lavished praise on each other. Obama even offered him electoral advice to do the right thing. The prime minister could not have asked for more.


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  • Comment number 1.

    "The prime minister could not have asked for more."

    Well, that's money well spent then.

  • Comment number 2.

    I caught your question, and as I stated over on Andrew's blog it was very noticeable that the delivery styles were so divergent

    Obama's was much more honest, open and constructive than our dithering own PM

    Obama also has the comfort of a long mandate

  • Comment number 3.

    "Obama even offered him electoral advice to do the right thing"

    Obama told him to call an election???

  • Comment number 4.

    Their answers were instructive? I don't think so.

    The responses were exactly the kind of bland waffle that anybody on this blog could have come up with. The US was hardly likely to take the blame on Gordon's behalf was it?

  • Comment number 5.

    Nick, Gordon is Obama's patsy, he'll be out of office inside a year so won't be able to take any credit if their plan works. If it does'nt then Obama will just blame Gordon for coming up with the plan.

    Obama cant lose and Gordon, stupid, naive, feckless Gordon cant win.

  • Comment number 6.

    How ironic it is that without an elected leader of our own, we need President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel to speak up for Britain and common sense.

    Brown and his discredited policies have failed and it is time for him to call an election.

  • Comment number 7.

    Lavishing praise on each other? What for?

    Obama has not been in power for long enough to actually achieve anything yet. Yes its wonderful that he managed to get elected, but in the greater scheme, so what?

    As for Crash Gordon, he has single handedly abused the economy to such a disreputable state that everyone in the country is going to be payinng higher tax for at least the next 20 years. How has he not yet realised that you can not buy your way out of a recession. He can delay it, but at some point their will have to be an adjustment, and the longer you delay, the more painful the adjustment will be.

    Lavishing praise on each other? Please. I have not been able to listen to anything that has been said, but the very idea of it sickens me. And you just know that Crash will be seeing this as a personal triumph for him. Cosying up to the President and then wagging his tale smugly like a dog when he gets a treat from his master.

  • Comment number 8.

    So Obama thinks the UK's regulatory system wasn't up to the job??
    Did Brown agree with him? As far as I'm away, he hasn't so far admitted a problem with the system he created...

  • Comment number 9.

    'Obama praises Brown's 'integrity'

    Oh dear! Hasn't anybody told him?

  • Comment number 10.

    Nick I was drawn to the last few lines of your blog:

    Today both men - dressed in blue suits, white shirts and blue ties - lavished praise on each other. Obama even offered him electoral advice to do the right thing. The prime minister could not have asked for more.
    Obama even offered him electoral advice to do the right thing. Surely that's what many of the electorate have been telling Duff for months but he is stringing it out until June 2010.

    Roll On 2010 - Less than 15 months to go!

  • Comment number 11.

    The answer to every question was answered in the way Gordon Brown wanted. Today both men - dressed in blue suits, white shirts and blue ties - lavished praise on each other. Obama even offered him electoral advice to do the right thing. The prime minister could not have asked for more.

    Nick ask yourself who changed their clothes to match.
    10-1 it was Brown who was scrabbling around to find a Blue tie

  • Comment number 12.

    We seem to have swapped one labradoodle for another.

    I doubt that the people are impressed by our “never won an election and soon to be booted out” PM thinking he can save the world.

    He ran the economy badly when times were easy and saddling us all with a whole loada debt. Now times are tough tell us more debt is the way out.

    So the cause is the cure Eh??

  • Comment number 13.

    Some are to blame but all are responsible.

    Ebony and ivory, Brown and Obama in perfect harmony.

    Good stuff!

  • Comment number 14.

    And why have all the other blogs on Browns woes been shut then Eh???

  • Comment number 15.

    Nothing Obama can do or say can save Brown or Labour. The clock is ticking and soon yesterday's man will be history

  • Comment number 16.

    God loves a trier, and you are certainly that, any opportunity to spin it in favour of good old Gordie, G7, G8 ,G12 or Gee whatever, all we've ever had is empty promises on tackling global poverty, climate change, and new world co-operation blah blah blah, and there you are embarrassing yourself by being taken in with the lastest round of glib nonsense and sound bites...oh to be at the cutting edge of political journalism....

  • Comment number 17.

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

  • Comment number 18.

    ...and you were doing so well until the PS....!!!

    Obama couldn't *NOT* come to this summit and therefore visits this country "first" by default - given a real choice, he surely wouldn't have - certainly not yet.

    Plus Brown was only first to visit Obama because of the incessant "me, me, me, me, me" ever since he was elected, which was more than likely only agreed to in order to preserve our military alliance in Afghanistan. The fact they laid on no press conference and gave Brown the briefest of informal slots prior to Obama meeting the Boy Scouts speaks volumes.

    This is no great coup for Brown other than in his own mind (and if that's what you mean then fair enough) - it's all a sad & cynical attempt to divert attention from his gross mis-management of the economy over the past 12 years......and not much more.

  • Comment number 19.

    Obama sent a subtle message that he isnt really on Browns side.

    He said we shouldnt return to Bubbles(Booms) that go Bust.

    And yes I beleive he used the word Bust.

    Obama is clearly up on the subtleties of language and can talk rings around Brown without the duffer realising.

  • Comment number 20.

    Judging by the fact that Obama is bothering to chat to cameron, it would seem that he (and all the other world leaders) know that Gordo is on the way out.

    It is all a bit sad really. Unelected, unwanted but wanting it all so desperately... enough is enough... take Obama's advice and call an election.

    PS Can someone also hand Sarky his dummy... he seems to have chucked it out of his pram (the one he was handed down from Chirac!!)

  • Comment number 21.

    5 Thegrimcrim

    You know, I am usually one of the last people to call someone stupid. I never thought Bush was stupid (a bit slow, but at least he had the good sense to rely on others for advice).

    But I think you are right on this. Gordon is very, very stupid. And willfully stupid. He refuses to listen to advice, despite the fact that his knowledge of economics is slightly less than the average schoolboy (really saying something given the mess that has been made of the education system). If someone disagrees with him, it is because they do not know as much as him/ are not worthy to question him etc. etc.

    To borrow a phrase from a certain well known political drama:

    "He was in the trap and kicking from the moment he took office" (Ian Richardson, House of Cards)

    Let us hope someone puts him out of his misery.

  • Comment number 22.


    I am pleased that you are starting to take a more circumspect view of Brown and his government.

    I wonder if the 2 million plus views of Daniel Hannans speech to Brown on YouTube has finally convinced you that the BBCs position of unstinting support is untenable.

    You don't mention whether Browns 'new formula' as stilted and wooden as his old ones?

  • Comment number 23.

    The contempt displayed in the opening line rather set the tone.
    Whilst the President (later) merited a capital 'P' our leader became lower case.

    He could have stopped there!

  • Comment number 24.

    okay no more messing about from me, this is a global crisis and it requires global solutions - it also started in America and so it's right that Obama leads the way with THE FIX

    what is the fix? ... I don't know ... the only thing I do know (and I know this for certain) is that the days of us surfing on the back of cheap money, inflated assets, underpriced energy and commodities, and the hard work of exploited people in the developing world are over over OVER

    which is good because you can't live off the backs of others forever, can you? - it had to come to an end, didn't it? - well, now it has and we'll have to adjust to lower living standards - not a party political point, no point squealing about it, we just need to make sure that the blows fall heaviest on those more able to defend themselves

    so what about a co-ordinated fiscal stimuli? - worth a try, I'd say - this sure doesn't seem the right time to go into serious debt reduction mode - sometimes a stiff drink the morning after IS the way to go, funnily enough

    but no stimuli is going to cure the malaise in the finacial markets unless the bonus culture is radically reformed - by which I mean abolished - fair day's work for a fair day's pay, right? - what's wrong with that? - why should Wall St and the City be any different? - this is absolutely key because it's the collective behaviour of tens of thousands of highly driven individuals which caused the mess - and what were they driven by? - yeah, you've got it ... GET RICH QUICK! ... forget about your Regulation, that's a red herring

    so stimuli yes, but with an end to all those big boni please, otherwise I'm not interested

  • Comment number 25.

    "The prime minister could not have asked for more."


    Unless Obama had cancelled his scheduled hour long meeting with the next Prime Minister!

  • Comment number 26.

    I have to being a bit confused here so perhaps someone could explain it
    We need a fiscal stimulus to boost demand and encourage growth ..
    But taxes on business rates and and fuel have just been increased ..
    Which may inhibit business and the consumer ..
    Which restricts demand in the economy
    But if we cut government spending then unemployment may rise ..which restricts demand
    So he has to raise taxes to pay for government spending which he can't cut for fear of increasing the depth of the recession
    ..don't you just love it when a plan comes together?

  • Comment number 27.

    Did I get my comment in before you closed the thread down?

  • Comment number 28.

    Obama was not responsible for financial policy and the regulation parameters for the past decade.

    Brown was.

    Obama has been consistent in his messages and actions.

    Brown hasn't.

    Obama holds values that I like.

    Brown doesn't.

  • Comment number 29.

    NickRobinson was slapped down by President Obamaafter missing an opportunity to probe the president and prime minister about positive aspects to todays meetings and the g20 TOMORROW Nick continued his apparent career mission to be utterley negative about everything few if any of his political predictions prove themselves to be correct
    his desperationto screw the negative spin on everything possiblefrom anything Gordon Brown does, goes way beyond his responsibility to be an impartial reporter rathe than a negative whingeing commentator he pales into insignificants when compared to those in his position in the past.
    he and his like on other channels and in the press are nearly as responsible for the negativity and growing cynicism of our society
    far from just shhotoing the messenger there is danger in the smugness of those who report as if those inpositions of enormous responsibility are idiotsand that the reporters themselves could easily do betterthe carping and criticism which is their stock and trade a trade which seldom producesseldomanything worthwhile time Nick moved on to the Antiques Roadshow greater accuracy and less comment is required to avoid his reporting becoming just so muchoiut of date marmelade

  • Comment number 30.

    Nick, your comment "The answer to every question was answered in the way Gordon Brown wanted. Today both men - dressed in blue suits, white shirts and blue ties - lavished praise on each other. Obama even offered him electoral advice to do the right thing. The prime minister could not have asked for more".

    Are you for real?, the President rejected our Prime Ministers claim that the US was responsible for the economic depression the world is facing.

    Lavishing praise?, what tosh.

    Nick, I suggest that you read the French, German or Dutch newspapers, never I have I read such negative comments about our government and especially our leader.

    The country is in crisis, the PM's own position is untenable, yet you somehow intepret all of this as signs that Mr Brown is doing well????.

  • Comment number 31.

    I groaned when I heard that question.

    It was the first question bowled to Obama in his first major press conference on foreign soil, and it was a real googly. It was in the same league as the notorious "Blood on hands" question posed to Tony Blair.

    Not really what I wanted to be asked, as first question. I don't really care who is to blame. I want to see the problem fixed, and the sooner the better.

    But I thought Obama answered it well and having had time to think he came back for a second bite with "Some are to blame but all are responsible"

    I like Obama.
    The next four years are going to be fun to watch.

  • Comment number 32.

    I must compare your blog to that of the Business Editor of your organisation. The two of you reside on different planets, Planet Politics and Planet Economy. You can't both be right can you?

  • Comment number 33.

    I have always been suspicious of this "global" plan. It really does not mean anything. Each and every country can say that they have done something even if it is just a few tweaks here and there. On the flip side, any 1 country (or floundering leader) can say that other countries did not do the right thing which means their grand plan has flunked. It is just waffle.

    Labour and the PM appear consumed by celebrity. Witness the smirks and grins at PMQs when GB mentioned Obama and the G20. This G20 is just another grandstanding event. Good on France and Germany for spoiling the party.

    Rather than trying to save the world Gordon should be concentrating on the UK. I am not talking about protectionism but for him to do his job and stop lecturing to the rest of the world. Once again he dodged the issue of delivery of the loan-backed guarantee scheme at PMQs and on the final question told us the Tory policy was cutting the pension. GB your pants are on fire.

  • Comment number 34.

    As on so many previous occasions your INTERPRETATION of differences of opinion (a healthy thing to have)is motivated by some sort of NEED to create negativity towards Labour especially...........Do you ever sit down mr robinson and really consider if your reports have a pro tory slant 99% of the time?

  • Comment number 35.

    re: 8 Mister_E_Man

    "So Obama thinks the UK's regulatory system wasn't up to the job??
    Did Brown agree with him? As far as I'm away, he hasn't so far admitted a problem with the system he created..."

    Brown has admitted a problem with the system that he created, ie he has admitted that it wasn't up to the job, but he blames it on factors beyond his control (which is just a lie). Despite creating and being in charge of that system for 12 years he still hasn't admitted that the failure is in any way his fault.

    He's basically implicitly admitted being totally negligent for 12 years, but hasn't said it's his fault; he (and the rest of labour) think that negligence at your job doesn't mean you're at fault.

    Ignorance/negligence is an acceptable defence in labour's eyes, but not in the eyes of the electorate as labour will find out in 2010.

    Just look at the doubling of the 10pct tax rate and it's perfectly illustrated; not knowing (or pretending not to know) that doubling the tax rate for the lowest paid people won't adversely effect people on low pay is, in his view, perfectly fine; in any other walk of life such a thing would have got you sacked on the spot.

  • Comment number 36.

    Mr Clown listening, fawning, toadying, to a NOVICE - whatever next??????

    Clown is an idiot who has ruined our once Great Britain - someone else will have to repair it - and he STILL carries on spending OUR money.

    Also Obama will go same way - give him time.

  • Comment number 37.

    First the News: I saw a bee today...maybe it was it's fault.

    Second the News comment: It's a bit strange seeing all that people outside the Bank of England(now changed to the ''Bank of United Kingdom''), after all the bailouts e.t.c., surely we are already in.

    Third: An existential question. How does one explain ''absurdity'' without being absurd ??

    Fourth: Obviously... those in charge at the time are to blame for the ''unforeseen'' circumstances. However some action has been taking and this ''is a step in the right direction'' said idonotknowyourname.

    [Meanwhile at The Top Of The London Tower loyal,royal servants are said to be busy with a makeshift gangplank.''...and this way sir/madam to see our most recently voted ''Britain's Favourite View''.]

    Fifth: April Fools Day ... perfect timing for the foolocracy to meet.


    Royal Mail is planning to stop all deliverys on rainy days. Indeed, any days with pre-cipatation.

    Management say this will increase the quality of deliveries,protect the universal same-rates-for-all-price service, and recognise and extend Health & Safety issues. Also the public and parti-cipating businesses will be duly informed of the forthcoming change of Post Office terminology of ''French Letters'' to ''Bill Clintons'' as soon as possible.

    Lord Mandelson who has rubber-stamped the reforms hails the idea.''I came,I saw a sea of fog,and I said bonkers to this.
    Previous plans for the introduction of umbrellas to staff he said arrived to late.

    Unions are said to be ''pissed off'' with the developments. Some argue this is just ''front-door privatisation''.

    Customer Focus Groups have initially welcomed the progress.''Bills delayed seems fine,although what happens if set payment times are missed remains unclear''.

    A Dog was left barking.

    ......................................................enjoy your day !!

  • Comment number 38.

    "The prime minister could not have asked for more."

    Gosh Nick,

    Yet another balanced blog entry (not). Please could you explain how the quote you cited from President Obama (see below) squares with Gordon Brown's "it's not my fault - Washington is to blame" narrative...

    "You look at the sources of this crisis, the US certainly has some accounting to do with respect of a regulatory system that was inadequate to the massive changes that had taken place in the global financial system... [But] What is also true is that HERE IN GREAT BRITAIN, and continental Europe, around the world, we are seeing THE SAME mismatch between the regulatory regimes that were in place and the highly integrated global capital markets that had emerged" [Emphasis Added]

    So President Obama is clearly saying that Britain's reglatory system failed just like Washington's. Now who was the guy who created and supervised our reglatory system during the boom years? Answer - one Gordon Brown!

    One further point: Your performance/analysis on the Daily Politics was dreadful. How can you side with the PM over Parliamentary expenses? You know the public want this mess sorting out ASAP as evident by the responses to your Jacqui Smith post. Brown is trying to kick it into the long grass, while Clegg and Cameron are pushing for an immediate resolution.

  • Comment number 39.

    @13 derekbarker

    Is that irony, or a delusion?

    Can't be sure....

  • Comment number 40.

    Good Afternoon,

    One small observation: in this morning's Foreign Office press conference it was stated that, after the 1929 crash, it took 15-years for the world's leaders to meet together. What about the intervening and indecisive 1933 London Summit as recently covered in the media ?
    I guess the point was that the current Summit has been assembled in months, not years. It would seem, nevertheless, that that point could have been equally well made without re-writing history ?
    Full marks for Nick's opening question of the President.


  • Comment number 41.

    Without Brown, whose initials GB stand for Great Britain, we would by now be in a much worse case than we actually are. Those who sneer at him may never see a better leader.

  • Comment number 42.


    As someone who has attended lots of these press conferences it's odd that you find the mutual praise so surprising. When was the last time you went to one and they criticised each other. Will you next be posting how amazing it was that Labour MPs asked sycophantic questions at PMQs?

    You're job is to report the news not try and save Gordon by presenting the prosaic as surprising.

  • Comment number 43.

    Talking about the "blame game", maybe Nick would like to retort to the speaker's "anger" about the MP's receipts being touted to the highest bidder, perhaps along the lines of:

    "if you've got nothing to hide then you've got nothing to fear"

    see if they like a taste of their own medicine, perhaps they'll start to understand why the "nothing to fear" argument is so spurious/nasty once it gets thrown back in their faces.

    yes, blame the person selling the info, don't blame the fact that the receipts themselves show a very dodgy "moral compass" by labour MPs.

  • Comment number 44.

    haymaker @ 21

    I never thought Bush was stupid (a bit slow, but at least he had the good sense to rely on others for advice)

    yes he did ... Dick Cheney ... as you say, extremely sensible

  • Comment number 45.

    Nice picture. Interesting to see that when you stood up ready for the hard challenging questions, Gordon Brown clearly embarrassed your turn with a warm and welcoming smile. Perhaps Gordon's smile was one of comfort and security?

    ...Obama even offered him electoral advice to do the right thing. The prime minister could not have asked for more....

    This country will not be fooled Nick. Times up and you know it.

  • Comment number 46.

    Hi Nick,

    Most journos haven't really explored the reasons behind the rift (that is, the ever-widening gulf between Gordon Brown and the EU).

    It is because they all *know* that GB is using pure Newspeak. The threat of deflation, pushed by GB, is bogus. France and Germany *know* it is bogus. Oil futures are set to jump prices by 50% which, together with quantitative easing, will push inflation skyward. GB has pushed the deflation story in order to allow for printing money and to allow the currency to devalue by 30% over the year (without having to do it 'officially').

    Devaluation is, of course, a protectionist measure. So when GB decries protectionism, France and Germany *know* that he is saying this at the same time as pursuing protectionist policies himself.

    So that's why there is such a rift.

    Devaluation, by the way, 'imports' inflation. And a 30% devaluation imports it fairly dramatically. So expect a very, very steep rise in inflation and interest rates later in 2010. But, chronologically speaking, GB's 'scorched earth' policy cares not one jot about that.

    When are you and Little Bobby Peston going to start connecting the dots?

    See you in the pub.

  • Comment number 47.

    "The prime minister could not have asked for more."

    Nor you, nor you.

  • Comment number 48.

    Cracking first question Nick.

  • Comment number 49.

    #29 I think you're in a minority of 1 there mate !

  • Comment number 50.

    #24 Sagamix "so what about a co-ordinated fiscal stimuli? - worth a try, I'd say - this sure doesn't seem the right time to go into serious debt reduction mode"

    IF we could afford a financial stimulus, which is debatable where would you target it?

    The employed are pocketing their vat savings, interest rate cuts and saving for a rainy day and who can blame them - you could argue they are being fiscally responsible.

    Are we going to create more jobs in the public sector to further burden the taxpayer or can we create real jobs?

    I really cannot see how the stimulus will work - until people start to get some confidence back they are not going to spend and it is therefore pointless targeting consumers.

    If someone could explain how the financial stimulus is supposed to work I might be more convinced but at the moment it just seems an excuse to promote showy temporary fixes within the electoral time frame.

  • Comment number 51.


    Gordon Brown's sole tactic relies on hanging around Obama as much as possible. It's so pathetic and needy it makes me retch.

  • Comment number 52.

    The blaim game is hardly relevant by this point I'd venture. So lets all drop it.

    What is important: getting fiscal stimulus on a global stage; our global industries require it, major buisiness rate tax cuts coupled with direct tax cuts on families so as to great more disposable incomes. This all must be a priority alongside a new global regulatory structure.

  • Comment number 53.

    Really Nick once again you follow the blame game, I would have thought by now you should be following the way to solve the crisis. I thought the President, dealt with you in a kind but focused way and took you away from your constant attempt to lay the blame anywhere as long as it is on this government. The country has to look for solutions Nick not harp on about blame. You disappointed me with your emphasis

  • Comment number 54.


    So the answer to the current crisis is to pay for this generation's mistakes with the next two or three generations' tax receipts.

    Just as a matter of interest, in that case, how are the next generations supposed to pay for their health service, education, etc?

  • Comment number 55.

    It interesting how we all watch the same press conference and yet have a different feel for how it went. I know that the people who want a change of government will always see everything Brown does through a negative prism. However, taking personality aside its really important in terms of the UK's future wealth creation (to reduce debt and to keep us employed) that the finanical system is put back together with some sort of regulation. The 30year concensus of regulation is bad and the markets know what they are doing is dead. That's why these polticial relationships between countries matter. Only joint action will work because finance and business does not recognise political boundaries.

    I thought the presidents comments to Nick's question about how he doesn't play the blame game but wants to concentrate on the future was one of the most powerful comments.

    If you listen to all of The PMs comments to Nick's question he was making a political joke by quoting the president of Brazil and one that Obama laughed at -it wasn't just global problems global solutions etc. Although that came later as usual. In fact I think he turned the tables on Nick a little bit and made the question look a little foolish maybe that's why Nick hasn't commented on it here-I thought Tom from ITV asked the better question.

    However, I find myself in the unusual situation of defending Nick from the usual 'you are just New Labour jibes'. Its difficult to appear to be politically neutral here to a lot of the active bloggers when they want a change of government yesterday. However, given Nick's political history prior to taking up his current role he does a reasonable job (and for those of you who do not know he wasn't in the labour party!)

    I also thought Nick summed up well on the daily politics show today why MPs expenses are in such a mess. Cameron leading on expenses at PMQs today indicates to me that there are likely to be some nuggets of gold for the press on tory MP expenses waiting to be revealed when they are published in the summer.

    I also think Cameron is wrong if he thinks we are going to accept a solution cobbled together by the 3 party leaders! MPs are not the most objective of people when it comes to their own expenses.

  • Comment number 56.

    All this 'I like Obama' nonsense just grinds.

    He's smart, telegenic, has a good demeanour, pleasant smile and, when answering, looks thoughtful.

    Remind anyone of a previous UK Prime Minister? Other than havign a much better looking wife, that is!

    But, as with all politicians, it's not what they say, it's what they do. And Obama has simply followed Bush in his answers to this financial armageddon. Same Fed Chairman in Bernanke, same Treasury Secretary (ex-Goldman Sachs) in Geitner, same Treasury team including Larry Summers (ex-Clinton).

    These are the very same guys in post whilst the financial system hit the buffers. Tell me, anyone, how the hell can they be the answer to the problems THEY caused?

  • Comment number 57.


    Ebony & ivory?

    Chalk and cheese, more like.

  • Comment number 58.

    If Obama is having a chat with Cameron (doctorbreezy @ 20) then I guess he'll have full details of the Cameron Alternative.
    Maybe he'll share them with us. Dave has been a bit reticent so far.
    P.S. Nick - did we really need that monster wide-angle photo to prove that you were in the same room? We trust you.
    P.P.S. Were Dubya's less-than-charitable feelings towards you included in his handover notes or have you started off with a clean sheet??

  • Comment number 59.

    Surely, it's time we moved on from the petty irritating questions of blame and just believe that we can act globally to get out of this crisis. Can we see some more optimism from journalists instead of cynicism and negative questions.

  • Comment number 60.

    29. At 1:25pm on 01 Apr 2009, desabled wrote:


    This was an April Fools' Day spoof, right?

  • Comment number 61.


    Excellent use of English language and punctuation... something you might look into learning.

  • Comment number 62.


    Shurely shome mishtake.

    Blimey, if this is anti-Labour, then to what zenith of obsequiousness must an already mountaineering Nick Robinson climb?

  • Comment number 63.

    #24 sagamix

    "sometimes a stiff drink the morning after IS the way to go, funnily enough"

    I recognise the behaviour of the addict when I see it. It has conjured up in my mind the vision of Brown as a junkie ("Just one more stimulus Barack. Please.")

    He's so desperate and pathetic and needy.


  • Comment number 64.

    You may well be right Nick, but won't do Gordo a scrap of good with the voters - the guy is absolute toast.In fact the love -in today with all its implications of spin may even turn more voters off Brown.

  • Comment number 65.

    Interesting to see the Tory Party Central Office bloggers trying to play down the fact that Obama and Brown are actually in agreement, and displaying mutual respect.
    These tory diehards are, like their leader 'Dave' Cameron not interested in finding solutions and improving things - they want power for the sake of it and have no anwers to offer.

    'Dave' is a chancer, with nothing to offer other than PR.

  • Comment number 66.

    Gordon Brown repeatedly spoke out against "light touch regulation" during 2001 to 2008; didn't he??

    That was him, who said light regulation of the British financial system was a bad thing, wasn't it?

    It was he, wasn't it???

  • Comment number 67.


    It's called protocol. World leaders always meet main opposition leaders on major trips abroad. He will meet Merkel and Sarkozy's opposite numbers too, when he visits France and Germany.


    It was 20 minutes actually.

  • Comment number 68.

    The sight of the fawning, and overwhelmingly smug PM leaning into the rock star President today I felt was disgraceful. If you want to show someone you are more than interesed in them then you follow the advice of a body language expert by using the word SOFTEN. Smile, open posture, forward lean, touch, eye contact and nod. Gordon Brown tends to use these ploys to excess in his dealings with those whose admiration he is keen to cultivate. To those looking in from the outside it is much like an attractive girl admonishing a clingy boyfriend by telling him to stop following her around like a lapdog.

  • Comment number 69.

    I really don't think so!

  • Comment number 70.

    According to well-informed sources, President Obama (at the urging of China, the principal creditor of the United States, Japan and the Russian Federation) has accepted virtually all of the demands made by France and Germany at the G20 summit, in particular those concerning the control of financial risk, tax havens, limiting the revenues of 'traders' and those who control them. Furthermore, the US Congress will go along with all of this. If you believe any of that, you are living in a fool's paradise . . . an April Fool's paradise, to be precise. Happy April Fool's Day.

    In fact, two blocs appear to be going to emerge from this conference: an "Anglo-Saxon" one on the one hand and a European one (minus the UK, of course) on the other hand, the former wishing to make only minor peripheral changes to the global financial system and favouring insane levels of debt-fuelled expenditure to restart the engine of the global economy, the latter intent upon changing the rules of the system without creating a debt bubble. Which bloc would you prefer to belong to? The sane and sensible European bloc led by President Sarkozy or the "Anglo-Saxon" bloc led by the President of the United States?

    While making up your mind, you may care to note that neither bloc is led by the so-called saviour of the world, the Labour UK PM.

  • Comment number 71.

    #41 Linksworth

    Are you his mum?

  • Comment number 72.



    Gordon, haven't you got more important things to be doing this afternoon?

  • Comment number 73.

    Cardiffopinion 26

    I do not know how it can work either.

    Because over 12 years of growth in the economy, this Government decided to spend, instead of cut debt and at the same time increase the public sector to huge proportions, we have massive Government debt going into this crisis. Along with this Labour did not invest in manufacturing and private enterprise, prefaring instead to allow people to spend to support the economy. This produced a large credit bubble, in housing and personal debt. It also meant our economy was unbalanced.

    Therefore we have to deal with not only a bloated public sector, with its costly pensions, but a declining private sector which is the source of our taxes to pay for it all. At the same time Labour did not make any effort to get our people on benefits back to work, prefaring instead to let immigrants in to do what our people would not. Therefore we have an ever increasing benefits bill to pay as people come out of work. Because immigration has put pressure on our housing and services this is costing more money as there are more people who need these services.

    The next thing is the bail out of the banks which has added more debt onto the taxpayer. Even this Labour got wrong in my opinion by not dealing with the toxic debt within the banks before the bail out. Therefore the banks are left propping up toxic debt which will fail anyway in time, mortgages at low rates which will turn bad when the rates go up, businesses which may fail, and unable to attract the capital they need because of low interest rates. A recipe for disaster in my opinion for the banks and certainly for getting them to lend again.

    To add to all of this we have had to pay for and continue to pay for two wars.

    So what is Browns answer, it is to enter the eye of a recession next year by putting up taxes and massive Government debt and the interest on that debt. With people coming out of work, more tax, the chance of people losing their homes, does Brown seriously believe people are going to spend money to pull the economy round. Well yes he does, this is what his whole policy relies on. The only problem is that this will not work and it was this approach which caused the crisis in the first place. At this point you need people to save, for the banks to recover and for people to pay off personal debt, however as we produce very little as an economy anymore, where will recovery come from if people do not spend. Along with this investors will go to low tax countries to do business as our taxes go up.

    I do not see a way forward now, except to cut public sector spending, this Brown will not do because he will lose votes, (he is in fact increasing the public sector) however this would not be enough anyway, we will still be paying for Government debt now for years and years to come.

    My hope is that we will have to call in the IMF so that they will take over our economy before Brown destroys Britain altogether.

  • Comment number 74.

    #41 linksworth

    Are you for real?

  • Comment number 75.

    Lavished praise on each other? What do you expect? Obama is here for the media coverage back home and his poodle Brown is milking it for all it's worth.
    You still seem to be trying to make a hyped-up mountain out of an over-hyped mole hill, Nick and certainly not capturing a political mood among the people who have to suffer this charade.
    In the real world, Europe’s leaders are giving Obama the cold shoulder and voters here are preparing to give Brown the boot. 
    Brown has staked his political future on the G for Gordon summit. London's locked down as the Likely Lads polish their egos in a money wasting charade, amid unprecedented hype and security. 
    When the dust settles, Brown will be left alone with only his Downing Street photograph album and a boxed set of unplayable DVDs and taxpayers will be left with the bill.

  • Comment number 76.

    Today both men - dressed in blue suits, white shirts and blue ties.....


    Brown and Obama. Separated at birth.

  • Comment number 77.


    "Without Brown, whose initials GB stand for Great Britain, we would by now be in a much worse case than we actually are. Those who sneer at him may never see a better leader."

    Wow! Comforting to know that Gordon really *did* save the world, to the extent that this country used his initials eponymously.And I am certain that those suffering so badly right now will be further comforted by being told "You've never had it so good." Worked a treat for Big Mac, when he said it.

    Fact is that those of us who are involved in this sort of thing called it long, long ago. And included in that call was GB's ineptitude.

    Now put away your crayons.

  • Comment number 78.

    I find it interesting that no-one Ive yet heard on the BBC has really even mentioned Obama's meeting with Cameron. Don't you think it merits a bit of the usual interpretation and analysis that everything else gets? Doesn't it mean that he is conscious of the polls over here?
    As for the PM he looks so eagerly at the President that I think it must be repulsive.

  • Comment number 79.

    #41 linksworth

    So you think Brown is a good PM, do you? Just because his initials are GB? I've seen many better leaders, but not many worse. Sneering doesn't make any difference to him - he is totally oblivious to what the people really want, which is a General Election.

  • Comment number 80.

    #41 linksworth
    Without Brown, whose initials GB stand for Great Britain, we would by now be in a much worse case than we actually are. Those who sneer at him may never see a better leader.
    Phew and here's me thinking that GB stood for Going Bust.
    But there again his name is James Gordon Brown so it fits in with my analogy better than yours:
    Just Going Bust.

  • Comment number 81.

    Nick you say quote 'Obama even offered him electoral advice to do the right thing. The prime minister could not have asked for more.'
    Well Nick what do 'you' think Obama meant?
    I would like to think he meant 'CALL AN ELECTION' that would be the right thing to do, and The British Public couldn't ask for more.

    Nick dont you think its time you got off cloud cuckoo land, Gordon Brown is PM not through the choice of the British Public, not even through the choice of Labour Party Members, but because Labour MP's lack quality skill, experience, callibir, substance,etc along with their utter laziness to provide a choice.
    so it is because he is the PM of 'Great Britain' that other nation leaders as curtesy show respect, please dont think they respect him personally as a leader or individual. Had David Cameron, Nick Clegg, even Nick Grffin (whatever his name is BNP) been PM they would of got the same reception, although had any of these or even an unknown joe public been CE for 10yrs and then PM, our country may not be so far down on it's knees.

  • Comment number 82.

    Let down by both BBC and SKY.

    The most relevant news conference of the day and neither channels had their translators in place.

    An opportunity to listen to both Merkel and Sarkozy stressing the need for immediate action now to bring in new forceful financial regulation fit for the 21st century.

    Not just meaningless words as we are used to from Brown but the need for real action now. This G20 meeting is starting to get interesting

    Another first was the meeting of the US and Russian Presidents and their willingness to talk about the need to reduce nuclear weapons. Brilliant.

    Congratulations also to all the peaceful demonstrators who got off their backsides to go out on the streets to protest.

    The joker has to go to our PM who rolled over so many times to get his album pics he actually got a pet on the back from Obama.

  • Comment number 83.

    bango @ 54

    So the answer to the current crisis is to pay for this generation's mistakes with the next two or three generations' tax receipts

    not ideal, is it?

    but the alternative ... collapsing demand, deflationary spiral, mass unemployment ... might be worse

    maybe better to spend future tax receipts rather than have no tax receipts to spend, if you know what I mean

    dunno really

    we DO have to take a drop in living standards, though ... like I say, we can't just keep poncing off the developing world

    I'd like to congratulate you, btw, on the correct singular versus plural comma placement in generations ... that's a nice little touch and it doesn't go unnoticed

  • Comment number 84.

    #57 obangobang
    Ebony & ivory?
    Chalk and cheese, more like.
    Naw I think Mr 5% just spelt it wrong, he meant:
    Ebony and Irony

  • Comment number 85.

    Do the trolls on your blog pretend to take umbrage and pretend there is a Tory bias to attempt the impossible balancing act on behalf of the BBC?
    or are they all that chap Derek Drapers attempts? Or indeed Messrs Campbell and Mandelson ?
    Maybe just the moderaters ??? ( They have mortgages too and need their jobs after all!)

  • Comment number 86.

    Dont worry about the blame! The world bank has trillions of $ and (£s) left yet!, The real worry is when we suck that bank dry who will bail them out?, as your average retired pensioner in the 25% tax + zone it makes some of us think, why did,nt we all just borrow instead of working.
    I guess Im old fashioned Nick, we earned it before we bought it!!

  • Comment number 87.


    Dont do drugs mate, they're bad for you. Clouds your judgement.

  • Comment number 88.

    I don't know why Brown thinks being photographed standing next to Obama is going to boost his poll ratings. Rather than sorting out the real problem of bank lending all he's done over the last few months is bang on about "global solutions for global problems", blame everything on the Americans and snipe at the "do-nothing tories". The £12 billion VAT cut was a waste of money, Merv and Darling have told him he needs to reign in spending and the Germans and French aren't buying into the "let our children pay off our debts" line. Even the latin Americans are teaching him the basic lesson of saving for a rainy day.

    Someone please get rid of him before he does any more damage.

  • Comment number 89.

    GB is great at politics, but a disaster in terms of the governing.

    That said, the Electorate keeps buying New Labour promises - e.g. 'things can only get better'!

    Only once the Electorate can see through the spin and a) there is a credible alternative or b) things are so bad that [virtually] anyone else is a better bet, will we get change.

    Bit of an ask for whoever takes over though, I wouldn't fancy it...

  • Comment number 90.

    Obama praises Brown's integrity? Hasn't anyone told Obama that Brown muscled his way into the highest ministerial office in the land through the back door? Hasn't anyone told Obama about Brown's stealth taxes? Or Brown's declaration that the UK is better placed than most to weather the economic storm, whilst the IMF says the UK is heading downhill faster than any other G20 nation? Who briefs Obama? Brown?

    If I was Obama I would be pulling strokes as hard and as fast I could to put some distance between me and the world's biggest loser.

  • Comment number 91.


    "Cant live off the backs of others forever can you?"

    Oh I dunno Saga, judging from your tax plans from a few threads ago, I thought you were advocating exactly that, from those who earn anything over 100k.

    Doesnt look like your stimulus idea is going to fly though mate....

  • Comment number 92.

    I can see that there are good reasons for wanting Gordon Brown to go - most of them are based on the fact that he has been around too long and he was in charge when things went wrong. What I find depressing is that none of the 'experts' who inhabit this blog have provided me with any convincing argument that Cameron would manage the present situation any better. The first requiremnt is to restore confidence. Thatcher inspired confidence in the section of the electorate who were inclined to vote for her. Blair similarly. But Cameron? I fear not. So the question that needs to be solved first is why does our political system produce such duds?

    Great ideas (or even correct plans) remain just plans unless there is a leader who can convince the populus and the economic world that the plans will work. Neither Cameron nor Brown nor anyone in their parties are up to the job. The question you need to ask yourselves, dear bloggers, is with the venom that you pour out is who would want the job?

  • Comment number 93.


    Another apt one for today methinks......

    Youve seen life through distorted eyes
    You know you had to learn
    The execution of your mind
    You really had to turn
    The race is run the book is read
    The end begins to show
    The truth is out, the lies are old
    But you dont want to know

    Nobody will ever let you know
    When you ask the reasons why
    They just tell you that youre on your own
    Fill your head all full of lies........

  • Comment number 94.

    Best bit I liked was at the end when Barak was guiding Brown to the door with his hand on his back. Probably telling Brown that he ought to have an exit strategy before he is pushed.

    There was only one man in charge today and that was Barak. He was a man walking tall. Brown was doing his usual cringing lap dog act. Brown even pushed his wife out of the way so he could be photographed glad handing Barak on the steps of No10.

    I think Barak will be glad when it all comes to an end, so he can get away from this sycophantic bore of a PM.

  • Comment number 95.

    I'm off on holiday to Turkey next week. So glad to be leaving behind this over hyped media circus. The afterglow of the G20 for Gordon Brown I fully expect to have have dimmed by the time I return. It seems he has already been outmanoevred by the French and the Germans.

  • Comment number 96.

    reagan @ 36

    CLOWN is an idiot who has ruined our once Great Britain

    oh come on, Ronnie! ... I know it rhymes and all but Gordon is still Labour as far as I know ... can't see him ever crossing the aisle, to be honest

  • Comment number 97.

    fingers @ 50

    If someone could explain how the financial stimulus is supposed to work

    yes, I think the same as you, it won't work if confidence doesn't pick up ... I guess the best STIMULI would be capital spending on infrastructure ... things that either generate a return (like better transport) or things which will allow us to spend less in the future (like better schools, or maybe some of the green initiatives)

    it's a toughie, that's for sure!

    can't keep ripping off the Developing World though, I'm afraid ... so, whatever happens, I think we have to accept lower living standards for the UK

  • Comment number 98.

    67. At 4:13pm on 01 Apr 2009, valdan70 wrote:

    It's called protocol. World leaders always meet main opposition leaders on major trips abroad. He will meet Merkel and Sarkozy's opposite numbers too, when he visits France and Germany.


    It was 20 minutes actually.


    30 actually, about the same as Brown got in America before Obama's pressing engagement with the Boy Scouts.

  • Comment number 99.

    @13. Nice to see Derek and the Guardianistas back, now that a non-story has to be 'bigged-up'.

    "Ebony and ivory" says Derek. A typo, clearly. "Ebony and irony" is the correct term.

    BTW: There are some delicate little flowers on this blog today (you know who you are) trying to engage in a grown-ups' debate.

  • Comment number 100.

    "PS. Think back a few months ago. There were questions then about whether President Obama would come to the G20 at all, questions about who would visit the White House first, questions about which country he'd visit first.

    The answer to every question was answered in the way Gordon Brown wanted."


    Nick, why would Gordon Brown want the answer to the question of which would be the first country that Obama visited to be Canada?

    Nick, on the 6 O'Clock news this evening you said that Brown had beaten all his rivals to become the first foreign leader to welcome President Obama.


    That particular feather in the cap went to Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.


    C+, must do better.


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