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No ordinary week for the PM

Nick Robinson | 08:00 UK time, Saturday, 26 September 2009

"No ordinary week at no ordinary time".

That was the advance billing Gordon Brown gave to this, his week in America. A week in which decisions loomed on how to combat climate change, to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, to win the fight with al-Qaeda and to revive the economies of the world.

Looming too was the most predictably unpredictable figure on the world stage - Libya's Colonel Gaddafi. Team Brown feared that, after their maladroit reaction to the release of the Lockerbie bomber, the Gordon and Gaddafi show could ruin all they'd so carefully planned. In fact Gaddafi's theatrical tearing up of the UN charter gave the prime minister an irresistible opportunity to slap down Libya and stand up for the United Nations at one and the same time.

Gordon Brown walking behind Barack ObamaWhat Team Brown did not anticipate is that it would be the prime minister's relationship with the man he sees as a friend, ally and political soulmate - Barack Obama - which would threaten to overshadow the substance of the week's diplomacy.

Odd this since, if you listen to both men's speeches to the UN, it's clear they are in political lock step. Gordon Brown has long dreamed of an American president who would give a speech like the one Obama gave to the United Nations.

What's more, by week's end, prime minister and president were standing shoulder to shoulder not in preparation for war - as their predecessors had - but in an effort to avoid one by turning the diplomatic screw on Iran. Obama's support for what Gordon Brown calls "a growth strategy" - and what others call a policy of 'borrow and spend' - is a political boost on the eve of his party conference.

So, what went wrong? Ask Gordon Brown and his answer would be clear if probably unbroadcastable on a family programme. He is furious with what he regards as the media's childish games and disinterest in issues and results.

But it's not as simple as that. Downing Street were "desperate" - to quote the former Foreign Office Minister Mark Malloch Brown - for a Gordon and Obama moment . The White House had other more important things on their minds and in the president's diary. Both failed to foresee the headlines that would follow when all this leaked out .

The prime minister is now struggling to break away from two powerful media narratives. One lazily states that he's politically doomed and seizes on any evidence to confirm it. The other - advocated by his enemies on the right - insists that Britain is now in decline diplomatically, militarily and economically.

A snub from the US president fitted both narratives nicely. The news of a snatched conversation in a UN kitchen added unforgettable colour.

The irony is that once the"snub story" emerged, Gordon Brown was rewarded with the bilateral he'd craved and pictures to die for as the president repeatedly clapped him on the back and tightly held the hand of his wife Sarah. Thus, the special relationship was, once again, put back on track.

The same certainly cannot be said of the relationship between Gordon Brown and the media.

This was, indeed, no ordinary week.

Comments

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  • Comment number 5.

    The whole point of the week for Gordon Brown was to get THE PHOTOGRAPH.
    Policies and 'Saving the World' were all secondary matters. Very few believe anything GB comes out with nowadays and even fewer think he will be in position to carry through any announced policy after next May - if not sooner.

    The reason for Number 10's panicing was that the week was progressing without the all important PHOTOGRAPH. Prior to the party conference, Gordon has to convince the faithful that he is still a man of importance. He has given up on trying to persuade anyone else.
    I respect Obama for eventually agreeing to humour Gordon and play along with his little fantasy.
    p.s. Still laughing at GB's "World Statesman" award.

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  • Comment number 10.

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  • Comment number 11.

    "Team Brown"? Hands up anyone who thinks they belong to Team Brown. Surely an extinct species? A bit like the Giant Panda. Why is anyone expending any energy to keep this political evolutionary cul-de-sac alive.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hoping this blog isn't closed before I finish typing.... Just to say that Brown now seems in a position where things can hardly get worse. Great, making those grandiose statements about climate change, nuclear weapons and how great the UN is - anyone can do that - words are cheap.

    But at home? Everyone knows he's brought the UK to the brink of disaster with little hope of getting out in my lifetime; the country is ungovernable - I suppose he hopes that anarchy on our streets will slowly desensitise people so that "perceived crime" will go down; he's swathed us in surveillance and filled our lives with useless fashion accessories like HIPs, Community Support Officers, ID cards....

    Yes, it has been a week for him - an escape. Vacuous verbiage that can do no one, least of all himself, any harm.

  • Comment number 13.

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  • Comment number 14.

    Nick,

    What are you talking about? This was a typical week:


    1. Brown looks an idiot on the world stage? Check.

    2. Brown upstaged by Gadaffi? Check.

    3. Obama snubs Brown? Check.

    4. Brown desperate for photo opportunity with Obama? Check.

    5. Ministers resign? Check.

    6. Pound crashing? Check.

    7. People calling on Brown to resign? Check.

    8. Brown showing poor judgement over not sacking dodgy ministers? Check.

  • Comment number 15.

    it's never an ordinary week for our failing embarrassing Prime Minister.

    But here in the world of Nick Robinson and the BBC, Broon is a star and he is saving the world.

    I imagine that this topic will be closed for comments shortly, because the comments are not the "right" sort.

  • Comment number 16.

    No maybes about it, he is regarded by the US as yestrday's man. There was a desperate attempt to be seen in Obama's afterglow, but this became no more than a token appearance for the cameras. Brown may still hold sway over a desperate Labour party , but on the world stage he is now regarded as on the way out and of no great significance, as evinced by the photo of Obama welcoming the delegates to Pittsburg which went out to the world's news agencies, a great photo of Obama with Mons. and Madame Sarcosy.

  • Comment number 17.

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  • Comment number 18.

    So Gordon Brown was photographed with President Obama.

    Errrrrr........ so what ????

  • Comment number 19.

    The whole week has simply emphasised the lack of quality, common sense and discretion in Brown's backroom team.

    Blair's was first class, on strategy, media and managing the home political powerbase. The only time they seriously tripped up was over Iraq when the 'special relationship' was held to be more important than anything.

    Brown's era has been marked by fumble, bumble, bad ideas and obfuscation among his staff leading to uncomfortable scenes (e.g. the long running cuts v. 10% saga at Question Time) and now this whole 'frantic' episode. Not helped by Labour MPs with slim majorities trying to get a few column inches by poking at the confused carcass and playing with the leadership election cards.

    How on earth they thought they could wangle another one-to-one summit and photo-opportunity with Obama when GB has had more than his fair share in the last 6 months (much to Sarkozy's fury) baffles me. People who rarely go to the UN (or to the USA) were in town and Obama needed to spend time with them.

    All in all, sounds like the party strategists, the No 10 people and the policy advisers in the FO are completely out of touch with each other.

    If GB's Labour party is to stand half a chance of getting anything but wiped out next year he badly needs a few more Mandelsons and Campbells around him, not the idiots he's had and got (remember McBride?)

  • Comment number 20.

    Brown is capable of taking any normal week, and firmly placing his foot in his mouth

    He may have the behind the scenes mechanics to hold his party together but his lack of charisma and empathy are played out on the world stage for all to cringe at

    His fawning, pettiness, and childish outbursts demonstrate exactly what kind of man he is. He is a follower, not a leader

    Next begins a week which might cement him in British History

    A conference which will back him to the election, because the party fears any "change" and presumably the repercussions from Brown's back room boys, which daily grows like the phobia of Stalin

    I can then hope that come the election, if Brown actually does have the bottle to call one, the electorate will be able to vote on the record of this administration

    What I'd like to know though is; if Brown has hung on this long to await the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty so that Bliar can have the presidency and thus help out all his cronies from Brussels, and either (or both) the Irish or the Czechs refuse and delay its implementation, what will it have all been for?

  • Comment number 21.

    So Gordon got his face time with Obama after the media storm then? Hardly surprising really, the POTUS could hardly "be seen" to snub the PM of the UK, especially with current events in Afghanistan etc. More telling is his response before the media storm, which was "No... no... no... no... no"

    Also some ppl seem to be surprised that Gordon won Statesman of the year? I gotta say that it didnt surprise me... after all Tony Bliar was made peace envoy to the middle east, while British troops that he sent there were still fighting. I believe that the term is doublespeak.

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  • Comment number 23.

    Good Morning Nick,

    woke this morning and first heard the report on Today that Brown is going to sort out cancer. You probably were kept in the loop, that we are to be able to be referred by our GP for some sort of diagnosis. Trouble is it is another five year plan. Training the staff, ensuring all the right equipment is in place, sounds just like a plan for invading Iran, the same model as Iraq. No labour cuts here, just more investment.

    Also listened to Milliband, 'no sane person...' in respect of military action against Iran, trouble is I am beginning to see another outbreak of insanity. I think that the world is getting ready to unleash the dogs of war, again!

  • Comment number 24.

    I don't know about all this "yesterday's man" business - Brown has about 25 pc of his premiership still to go, that's not insignificant - you're watching a lacrosse match, say, and it's 2-2 with a good 20 minutes to go (lacrosse matches last 80 minutes, btw, guess you knew that) ... do you assume that's the final score and start to make your way to the car park? - no, you do not - not if you're any sort of real fan you don't, anyway

  • Comment number 25.

    Nick,

    may I suggest that people take the time to read 'The Road to Serfdom' much better read then any of the stuff put together by that Keynes fellow. What people do not seem to understand about Keynes is that he was mixed up with a bunch of pacifists, only trouble is he then went to work in the treasury during WWI, and helped to fund the war, remind you of somebody. In the meantime he tried to rehabilitate himself by taking a stance against reparation payments. Found favour with the Americans, and then sorted out the global economy, again remind you of somebody.

  • Comment number 26.

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  • Comment number 27.

    Nick, you used the word 'lazily'? Stop the political posturing or being naive, because that's how it comes across and either way it doesn't put you in a good light, and wake up to what everyone accepts as truth that what is being said about Brown politically is fact. The media are probably in touch with the public than the government are.

  • Comment number 28.

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  • Comment number 29.

    24 Sagamix,

    As often as I find myself at "Lacrosse Matches"....... I think you'll find that a better sporting analogy is boxing. Brown is on the canvass out cold and there are 5 rounds remaining.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hiya Nick,

    for those interested in the earlier comments made about the 'war' may I ask people to read the headlines in Saukvalley.com, a local newspaer to where my sister lives in America. The headline, with a picture of a very tall Obama, a shorter Brown, who appears the same height as Sarkozy, keep to the point Terry, yes the headline is along the lines of 'Obama rattles the sabre over Iran'. I don't think that many people realise just how insane the leaders are getting. I use the word insane because of the comments on the Today programme this morning by Milliband and his non use of the term inconceivable in respect of military action against Iran.

  • Comment number 31.

    24 Sagemix

    I liked your sporting analogy - but its not really 2-2 with 20 minutes left now is it?

    It feels more like it is 10-2 and with 20 minutes left. Rather than walking to the car park I expect to see a mad dash to escape the carnage that the next election will bring.

    In 1997 - there was a a sense that the John Major government had run out of steam - and the media jumped onto the Labour bandwagon. In 2009/2010 the feeling is that the current government is in the same position.

    Perhaps after the next election Labour will rediscover some of its real core values and re-emerge as a left of centre party once again.




  • Comment number 32.

    All you need to know from all of this is that Brown is a loser. Just look at the way he fawns and leers at Obama like a long lost puppy. It is faintly nauseating and very demeaning for a British Prime Minister, even an unelected one!

  • Comment number 33.

    24 sagamix

    I like the analogy of Gordon Browns premiership with a Lacrosse game.

    Metaphorically speaking, Brown has 20 minutes to go, but I doubt very much that anyone would agree that the score is 2-2. The score is more like 2-20 and Brown is losing because he is simply no good at playing the game. And with 20 minutes left, the final score may change slightly but even the Brown team supporters are in no doubt whatsoever about the inevitable result. Shouts of "we can still score 19 more goals..." from the Brown team management fill the air, but no one is listening.

    Real fans or not, and with 20 minutes to go Brown team fans are streaming through the exits and making there way to the car parks - where they join many other fans who left well before half time.

  • Comment number 34.

    Nick, Gordon Brown is absolutely correct.The media in the UK have shown themselves to be a very dangerous and arragont lot,who demonstrate that it's easy to criticise,because they never have to do it!!!
    Those who work for that well known page 3 paper are classic examples of how despicitable and low people will stoop .It's one thing having a "free " press, it's another when you having the type of arragont ,self centred prats we have ,running our newspapers/TV NEWS

  • Comment number 35.

    the problems brown faces is that everything labour does is spin, stage managed, false, and not thought through.

    old labour had scruples and support them or not, they had direction and argued their views with a solid political argument.
    "new" labour have things they want to bring in, a position they want the UK to be in, but they are afraid to spell out what they want to do (why is this?) labour bring in almost everything via the back door, secret deals, which is all fine and dandy when it hasnt affected any real people, but after years of it, almost everyone has been affected in some way and what we were all warned about by opposition parties and pressure groups is shown to be true.

    everyone should have seen it coming.
    blairs 97 election win - as revealed by the BBC's panorama and others - labour thought it could be a hung parliament, so back room deals and discussions were done with the lib dems, to put up paper candidates and not campaign in areas where the vote could be split "letting the tory candidate in" (of course this would never be admitted to as it is illegal!)

    next we had regional assemblies - overwhelmingly voted against in the north east (92% no vote if i remember correctly) - have they been dropped? a firm no is the answer!
    over the next 5 years a steady stream of legislation that would bring about regional assemblies, via the back door.
    first ambulance services are centralised in each region as are fire services and police, town stations are closed down and sold off.
    then we have council housing - a grant of £42 million for repairs is offered to "public/private partnerships" if the public vote to let the councils give the housing away to them. only £27 million for housing repairs is offered if the public vote to keep the housing under council control.
    almost everyone here voted in favour of the switch with the offer of new kitchens, central heating, windows, etc, all well and good, but in return, they cannot now buy 100% of their now ex council home.
    then all the parks and gardens staff were taken out of local council control, services in the home are split up etc. all geared up to be pointed to the need for a regional assembly.

    one final example, is the id card system - the majority do not want it - labour concede this in public, but then change how the system views everyone's day to day life, making it too expensive not to get a voluntary id card!
    the amount of id we need for things increases, the cost of getting these shoots up, look at passport prices for example.
    where we could fax documents (which remain a valid legal document) but now all government departments require originals, where a standard birth certificate used to be acceptable, now it has to be an original "full" birth certificate, which of course carries all the personal data of the parents!

    it is now promoted as easier and cheaper to purchase an id card - something many people were warning would happen all along.

    there are endless examples of this process, people are being misled, they are being deceived and taken for fools and the british public do not like it one bit!
    brown's impossible position is nothing to do with right wingers or sympathetic media leanings, its all based on ordinary british people, wanting nothing more to do with him and his party, as they dont tell us honestly what they want to bring in and do, they dont argue with facts and sound argument, they simply manipulate the criteria, to bring about financial gain for the government, and often, what the public has voted against.

  • Comment number 36.

    Nick Robinsons blog sounds like a New labour advertisement :-

    Anyway, at least he notes the "Decline" although I would use the word "bankrupt"
    and to his suggested Military, Politically and economically please add morally !

    Britain has been decimated by Browns policies (with the aid of Lord Meddlesome and Blair)
    PS. This week Brown had the audacity to mention "Integrity" in politics ? and B Scotland is still in a job !!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 37.

    The nation was doubtless relieved to hear from BBC News this morning that President Obama had at least greeted Sarah Brown warmly. Whoopee Doo. In a time of economic hardship, unemployment, repossessions and financial distress, the fact that the Brown camp even think that the electorate gives a toss about photo opportunities or staged "kitchen encounters" between Brown and Obama is pathetic. The sooner all these leaders pack in these puerile, juvenile "G" summits and instead start using video conferencing the better. They're all a waste of time and money anyway. Then Brown can tell us he spoke with Obama, even if he didn't, and everyone will be happy. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 38.

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  • Comment number 39.

    #34
    It's one thing having a "free " press, it's another when you having the type of arragont ,self centred prats we have ,running our newspapers/TV NEWS

    And those that are in charge at the moment are any different?????????

    Cant wait for next week, all the new savings and policies that have only taken 12yrs to come to light.

  • Comment number 40.

    I am anti Brown, however I feel I should stand up for Nick as I can concur with the slant he has taken in his blog. Sometimes the outcomes Brown achieves are remarkable and, on a purely human level, you do have to feel sorry for him.
    However it is precisely this ability to have his achievements overshadowed by character flaws, misjudegements and failure to empathise with the public which makes him unworthy of the role of leader. Nevertheless the man does deserve credit for good outcomes.
    History is going to have the benefit of analysing blogs of the day, and I am sure that this piece will be seen as important in capturing, not only the facts but, the mood of the time.

  • Comment number 41.

    Nothing is going right for Brown becasue he has totally lost the plot. He is a man no longer capable of doing the job - the stress of it all is starting to show for all to see. There comes a time when you you should bail out for the good of your health and the good of the orgainization you are head of. Brown is constantly totally overacting to minutia. I don`t often agree with John Prescott but he is right in that Brown is being ill advised and has a very poor team of advisers who are just telling him what he wants to hear rather than fear his wrath. If Brown doesn`t get out soon he will crack up. The pressure of the job has just got too much for him. If he carries on until the election Labour will just turn on him and humiliate him and blame him for everything. Time to bail!

  • Comment number 42.

    Nick

    This blog feels as if you have been close to the action following Gordon Brown this week and have ignored the wider perspective you get when you look at the developments from afar. Looking at the issues and what has happened this week, it looks like Brown has had a good week. But let's not fool ourselves. Politically, Brown is doomed and diplomatically, militarily and economically, Britain is in decline. You don't have to be Brown's opponent to recognise that. When you realise how few people argue the opposite, it is almost a given. It is not just something dreamt up by the media. By questioning this context, your blog has a slightly unreal feel to it.

  • Comment number 43.

    If speculating that Brown is politically doomed is "lazy", perhaps you would be good enough to stop being lazy yourself and explain why you think he isn't. If he generates negative response even when he's right (or even when he agrees with Obama, which comes to the same thing, it seems), how much more doomed could he possibly be?

    Admittedly, this is a superficial judgment. But since you're so pleased that he got his "pictures to die for" (a phrase I find it difficult to believe you deployed without the slightest flicker of irony), you obviously don't think the media's games are childish at all. You can't have it both ways. Oh, sorry, wait a moment, of course you can - you work for the Brown Broadcasting Corporation.

  • Comment number 44.

    "The irony is that once the "snub story" emerged Gordon Brown was rewarded with the bilateral he'd craved and pictures to die for as the President repeatedly clapped him on the back and tightly held the hand of his wife Sarah. Thus, the special relationship was, once again, put back on track."

    Yes, Obama did the same when Brown was in America before didn't he. It's a game that Obama plays well, and Brown falls for every time...

    Make him grovel for a meeting, make it look as though he has been snubbed, then at the last moment give him a titbit.

    It keeps him in his place, but keeps him on side.

    As for Brown being "furious with what he regards as the media's childish games",

    Browns willingness to play the part in those games (and the part is a fool), is demonstrated by your next sentences...

    "But it's not as simple as that. Downing Street were "desperate" - to quote the former Foreign Office Minister Mark Malloch Brown - for a Gordon and Obama moment . The White House had other more important things on their minds and in the president's diary."

    It is a pity that Gordon Brown is so weak that the important things for him are simply to be seen rubbing shoulders with Obama.

  • Comment number 45.

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  • Comment number 46.

    It is time for Gordon to do a Blair and swan around on the World stage looking for a legacy whilst leaving somebody else to run the country. Unfortunately Blair left that job to Brown; fortunately Brown has the choice of anybody who can add 2 + 2 together.

    As a thought under the way the EU operates and if Blair becomes its president - if Labour lose the next election, will we be made to vote and vote again until we get the result the EU wants?

  • Comment number 47.

    I suspect that the British people are much more interested in domestic issues rather than events on the other side of the Atlantic.

  • Comment number 48.

    The real issue here is that yet again Bron has been shon to be more interested in popularity than in doing the right thing.

    It's a problem that we have such a person dealing with some of the most important and sensitive issues of our time. An election cannot cmoe soon enough.

    Why are blogs closed? There needs to be real debate on "Baroness" Scotland - and some real reporting. After all, how can she claim that she only forgot to copy a document hen the key issue is that the maid was an illegal immigrant, so presumably the documents were false in some ay to beging with and the real issue is that the checks made by Ms Scotland were woefully inadequate.

    I just cannot bring myself to use a title for anyone these days since the honours system is so debased by abuse that the only titles for me are Mr Mrs and maybe Ms at a pinch. Anyone for sir spelled c-u-r? The idea that civil servants get titles for doing their job an dentertainers and entrepreneurs for getting rich is something I refuse to become part of.

  • Comment number 49.

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  • Comment number 51.

    SCP @ 33

    with 20 minutes to go, Brown team fans are streaming through the exits and making their way to the car parks - where they join many other fans who left well before half time

    that's as may be but I'm still glued to my seat, nibbling a pork pie, and that's how I plan to stay until the final whistle blows - if it were a normal "run of the mill" type encounter I might consider calling it a day but there's too much riding on this one, way too much - absent a massive turnaround, we're going to troop back to the Dark Ages (don't you see?) and so I can't leave even if I wanted to - just can't

  • Comment number 52.

    To return to the blog entry: I think it would be more accurate, maybe even more impartial, to say that there are two media narratives concerning Gordon Brown. One lazily states that he's doomed and seizes on any evidence to confirm it. The other lazily states that he's not doomed and does likewise. Problem is, over the long run, the weight of evidence appears to be on the side of the first narrative.

  • Comment number 53.

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  • Comment number 55.

    24 sagamix

    The lacrosse game is now over. Team Brown were defeated 3-27 but the government adjusted score had shown that they were actually winning right up until the end.

    In a deserted stadium, the team spokesman Peter Mandelson said "the team had played well, and would won if it were not for a few external events beyond their control, and as we scored in the last 30 seconds of the game, we technically won that phase of the game, and if this was extrapolated over the entire 80 minutes of the game we would have won comfortably"

    The game itself started well for team Brown, before a series of catastrophic own goals left the outcome of the game in no doubt. More players were added to the team payroll, and the players were paid more money, but throwing money at the problem had no effect. Near the, what remained of the crowd were begging the referee to blow the whistle and end the game before things got any worse.

  • Comment number 56.

    Obama’s Middle Eastern initiatives seem to be in tatters.
    The Israelis are continuing to build in areas that they are not supposed to & Obama, like his predecessors, is too weak to do anything about it.

    Oh dear, best do something to take the public attention away from this & place it somewhere else – Iran will do.

    It will also help to divert attention away from Obama's Health Reforms that are being ripped to threads on the home front.

    North Korea already has nuclear weapons technology, but we will forget about this one & focus on Iran instead because our initiatives in this area have failed as well.

    Now, all Obama has to do is find a play mate who is desperate to get into the international lime light - & boy is Brown desperate.

    Maybe Brown’s hoping for a kick back job like they gave the former Vicar of the parish?

    The fact that the UK is planning cuts to defence spending & hasn’t even got the gear & personnel to sort out Afghanistan, let alone military action in Iran, seems to have been overlooked by our glorious leader.

    We can’t even afford the current conflicts that we are engaged in, let alone get into another – way to go Gordon.

    Just for once, why couldn’t the Americans have suckered another country?

  • Comment number 57.

    At least this coming week will bring some respite for Gordon Brown. Surrounded by the party faithful in Brighton he will hear nothing but good things said about himself and the Labour Party - the standing ovation is probably being rehearsed as I type.
    But eventually he will have to return to Planet Earth and do a proper job. Is he aware, for instance, that Police no longer deal with hooliganism? Or that the senior law maker doesn't think her own laws apply to her?
    I will be watching the coverage of the conference, but only to see how the various speakers will try to 'spin' everything to show how wrong we - the general public - are while everything Gordon has done is right.

  • Comment number 58.

    I agree that some of the media are milking this 'snub' issue for all it's worth, totally OTT. But that's what happens when you have an unpopular government and an even more unpopular leader. And a government desperate to stem the tide of bad news. Brown is manna from heaven for opposition newspapers, even for pro-Labour ones. Every gaff he makes sells units. It becomes personal. A measure of Labour's position is the Guardian suggesting Sarah Brown could be the star of the Lab conference, even "save the Labour Party". When the wife of the PM is touted as their best hope then surely all is lost.

    Nick says of the "two narratives" in the media: "The other - advocated by his enemies on the right - insists that Britain is now in decline diplomatically, militarily and economically." If you look at the facts those are legitimate claims. The fact that many other countries are in the same boat is not of interest to the public nor the press.

  • Comment number 59.

    Regarding Iran they will not be a pushover militarily if we do go down that route. The USA has 1.5 million armed forces personnel, UK 120,000 and Iran just over 900,000 personnel. Their Air force capability in fighter numbers is greater than ours, and missile defences can only be guessed at. The RAF has just taken on 250 untried and untested in battle Euro fighter jets.

    The Iran Air Force is made of US fighters from the Shah's time, Russian and Chinese planes plus their own Iranian built craft which tend to be copies of the above. Having survived the brutal Iran Iraq war the populace will be inured to hardship and deprivation.

    However the really frightening part of their arsenal is their navy in the form of submarines. They have 3 Kilo class Russian built subs which are amongst the quietest in the world when submerged i.e. very difficult to detect. Our leaders who are busy beating out the Tom Tom drums really have no idea what they are letting themselves in for.

    Can any of the pro labour supporters tell me when Labour became the war war party intead of the jaw jaw party? This momentous event does not seem to have been carried by any news organisation.

  • Comment number 60.

    One of todays newspapers had a picture of Sarkozy Obama and Brown walking somewhere (presumably to their joint press conference).
    Brown was leaning sideways at a slightly unstable angle and Obama appeared to have his hand up Brown's back pulling the strings on the puppet. Nothing different from Bush and Blair, except the puppet and the puppet master are both a bit taller.
    Still, Brown will be a footnote to history six months from now. Bring it on...

  • Comment number 61.

    NR: "What's more, by week's end prime minister and president were standing shoulder to shoulder not in preparation for war - as their predecessors had - but in an effort to avoid one by turning the diplomatic screw on Iran."

    Where to start. This is the start of march to war, complete with the usual chorus of cliches. I would really like to know what is going through NR's mind here. Is it a rush of anticipation at the thought of another war to spice thing up. A suppressed desire to bomb some more muslims--its been a while (Afghan wedding parties hardly count).

    Or is it just sheer laziness?

    I will say one thing--if it comes to pass it won't help Israel or any of us achieve peace or happiness or anything worthwhile.

    http://senseorsensibility.com

  • Comment number 62.

    So Obama was nice to Gordon and his wife for all to see? so what, it is not the result, but how Brown got there that counts. He lost all dignity during the week.

    Sadly this is typical of his government. They always get it wrong, in fact doggedly so, and then occasionally manage it pull everything out of the fire.

    It is like driving to a hotel for a romantic weekend, getting lost on the way, having a huge argument with the wife over her map reading skills, running into the back of another car whilst distracted, and finally arriving wondering why she is in a right huff and saying 'but darling, we are here'

    What was it Jim Royal would have said 'Victory, .. ............'

  • Comment number 63.

    What we all want to know is what you (Nick Robinson) asked Brown that caused him to storm out and not finish the interview sessions with other reporters (who had interviews arranged)?

    But the incident shows Brown for what he is. That he thinks the British people want to see him all buddy with the US shows how little he appreciates the British people. It might make him feel good but over here in the UK we are in a big time recession caused by the US mis-management of their financial sector. True that in the UK we are hit harder than many other countries because of Brown's lax regulation of the banks but the source is the US so following then, buddying with them is not the top priority of those losing their jobs, losing their houses, suffering from cut backs, etc.

    The incident does yet again illustrate the deep character flaws Brown suffers from and shows how inappropriate he is o being a leader.

  • Comment number 64.

    A desparate attempt to paint Gordon Brown as an International Statesman of good repute. The only part that has any semblance of truth is the international part.
    Remember about 3 years ago, Brown's predecessor Blair embarked on a world wide tour at tax payers' expense; seems like the present incumbant is following suit.
    Do you something, Nick, about Brown's intentions?

  • Comment number 65.

    59. excellentcatblogger

    This might help explain why the US / UK has not engaged to date.
    If a blogger knows all of this, then the American Intelligence Services certainly know, & more besides.

    Personally, I think it is just a whole lot of hot air designed to deflect attention from Obama & Brown’s current problems on their home fronts.

    Have you ever seen the film “Wag the Dog”?

    Nick: Where can I get my Team Brown sweatshirts & baseball caps?

  • Comment number 66.

    For those of the commentators who are interested in substance and who dislike childish name calling, you can read through the Statement of the G20 in Pittsburgh here:
    http://www.pittsburghsummit.gov/mediacenter/129639.htm

    After you have read through the statement, analysed its policies, reflected on the combined efforts of the G20 made over the past year and reflected on the future impact of this Summit's agreements, I look forward to conduct a serious debate on economic policies, the roots of the current global credit crunch and debt crises, as well as to debate promising ways forward to overcome the UK's economic crisis.

  • Comment number 67.

    66. At 12:45pm on 26 Sep 2009, discuss2010

    After you!

    Please start the ball rolling.

  • Comment number 68.

    5 Zideco

    #p.s. Still laughing at GB's "World Statesman" award.

    I am afraid that sums up the infantile attitude of you Tories Gordon Brown recieves a accolade from the leaders of the world for what they consider his excellent archievments that you Tories are to frightened to admit too,And the best that you can come up with is a nervous giggle, what makes it worse is that you seem proud of this childish behaviour,I'd put money on the fact that Cameron will never archieve that honour.

  • Comment number 69.

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

  • Comment number 70.

    The media is often like water and tends to follow the easy route.

    So when Gordon on various issues dams the obvious path there is resistance. For example the economic crash really required a full blown apology over the fact that the regulatory framework was highly inadequate - regardless of whether or not other countries were better or worse. We are dominated by the financial sector.

    So its hard to feel sorry for the man if he is approaching the election and feels like the little boy with his finger in the dyke and another hole is opening up elsewhere.

  • Comment number 71.

    #50

    I thought that the most interesting comment was when referring to 'Patricia' Baroness Scotland that Brown said it was only an administrative error and that she had not made copies of the documents. He actually made reference to Xerox when making copies, now excuse me but that is not going to appeal to younger voters who probably wonder what a Xerox copier is. Now, if Rank had not got out we would have a much better copier system. As for computers and the printers which can now of course, copy, and scan, well Gordon please get up to date, I am sixty.

  • Comment number 72.

    65 forgottenukcitizen

    I wish I could share your confidence. Unfortunately politicians lately are now adept at ignoring the advice from the specialists. How many reviews has our government instigated only to refute the conclusions and go with their own hunches.

    Populist politics in the past usually end in tears, and you are right that this issue deflects attention away from the domestic fronts. Back in the US Presidential campaign trail spoof videos were made at various times. Here is one of McCain singing a Beach boys hit to the lyrics of "Bomb Bomb Iran":

    http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/johnmccain/youtube/mccain-bombiran.htm

    I must have have read the newspaper upside down or something, as I thought that the Democrats would have a totally different approach than the Republican party regarding foreign policy.

  • Comment number 73.

    discuss2010 66

    Well, I will add a few thoughts.

    First, it is important to distinguish between the credit crunch and the debt crisis. The credit crunch certainly is international, and the way ahead seems indeed to be what has been done - i.e recapitalizing the banks. But it is useful to pause and consider how necessary recapitalization by the state was. Note the relatively strong position now of Barclays, the least beneficiary of state assistance. But it may yet be true to say that most of the public "investment" in the banking industry will be recovered in due course (albeit that the huge goldmine that Lord Myners talked about this week is probably more in the realms of fantasy). It is also worth a quick point that public investment in the banks was funded predominantly out of reserves, and no significant amount of our current national debt is due to measures to assist the banks.

    The debt crisis is more complicated. Throughout the Labour government, government expenditure has exceeded income and our debt has therefore increased. Some try to apologise for this by comparing our debt vs GDP with other nations, arguing that we did not, up to the point of the start of the current recession, have excessive debt. However, the other nations, by comparison, had lower personal debt and lower taxation, meaning that their scope, if necessary, to manage debt costs through increasing taxation was considerably greater. Therefore, in fact, because of the particular balance of our economy, we were already at a grave level of debt before the recession started.

    In the recession, tax revenues have collapsed, yet expenditure has been maintained. Hence our now unsustainable debt crisis. We all know the enormous costs to the economy of our interest repayments - no need to repeat that here. The solution is to cut back public expenditure to some degree and to launch measures to stimulate recovery and so restore the tax-take. The option is not there simply to increase taxation - because we are highly taxed already and because we have relatively high individual outgoings, particularly on personal debt: across the population, there simply isn't enough money left in people's pockets to bring in useful additional tax.

    Cutting (of government expenditure) has to be done carefully. It certainly is the case that uniform cutting would slow recovery, for example by increasing unemployment. On the other hand, numerous areas of current public expenditure currently benefit the broader UK in a very unbalanced way. Take the wide range of computer projects - ID cards and the NHS computer systems, for example - which are really substantial costs and where most of the activity involves foreign companies as contractors, and where work is done predominantly by foreign labour. The same could be said of certain publicly-sponsored building projects. These are the kind of areas where cutting will yield broad gains, little or no pain to the public and no damage to economic recovery.

  • Comment number 74.

    grandantidote 68

    Gordon Brown did not receive his "World Statesman of the Year" accolade from other world leaders. It actually came from a rather obscure, slightly mysterious and near-dormant charitable foundation. Sure, Kissinger was there to hand out the gong, but he was just hired in for the day and earning a crust. There is good reason why Labour is not making a big fuss about this reward, and that is because the least bit of investigation of it would reveal its triviality.

  • Comment number 75.

    So where are we now?

    Brown has changed focus now his priority is cancer rather than meeting Obama. Short little span of attention...sorry Paul Simon.

    Iran runs amok.

    Miliban is not ruling out military intervention.

    Isreal continues to build in the west bank.

    History repeats?

    Where is the statesmanship in any of this.

    Am I alone in thinking that the Isreali's need to be slapped down. They can not be allowed to disregard UN resolutions while the rest of the world expect Iran et al to bend the knee and tug the forlock. The double standards can not be allowed to continue.

    If our PM was not besotted with SPIN and news management and was sincere in trying to do something to improve the world this may be a topic to look at. But he is hell bent on being seen as the leader who sorted the financial crisis. Hopefully obfuscating his role in causing the crisis.

    Now that would be

  • Comment number 76.

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

  • Comment number 77.

    "I don't know about all this "yesterday's man" business - Brown has about 25 pc of his premiership still to go, that's not insignificant - you're watching a lacrosse match, say, and it's 2-2 with a good 20 minutes to go (lacrosse matches last 80 minutes, btw, guess you knew that) ... do you assume that's the final score and start to make your way to the car park? - no, you do not - not if you're any sort of real fan you don't, anyway"
    =====================================================================

    The trouble for Mr Brown is that the score is not 2-2! His team is losing 5-0 and his sole aim for the last 20 minutes is to keep the score down.

    As Brian Blessed Said "Gordon's worst week - since the last one"

  • Comment number 78.

    74 Jrperry
    #. There is good reason why Labour is not making a big fuss about this reward, and that is because the least bit of investigation of it would reveal its triviality.

    and of course if Dave by some unlikely mischance had been offered the same award he would have refused it because of its triviality,he's not a man to jump on a bandwagon is he?.

  • Comment number 79.

    75 exiled Scot

    #Iran runs amok.
    #Isreal continues to build in the west bank.

    So now we are going to blame Gordon Brown for the problems with Iran and Israel, your forgetting the fires in Calafornia and Australia are'nt you and was'nt there some flooding somewhere in the far east. were not going to let him get away with that are we?.

  • Comment number 80.

    The comments about Brown's view of the media speaks volumes - he thinks he is right and media wrong on most if not all issues. On top of this his views are apparently so obsene they cannot be published. This is not good enough from the UK's Prime Minister - its aggressive, unpleasant and basically dishonest.

    To put him in touch with reality I suggest you journalist's publish what he actually said. Then we can listen to his denial that he said these things. Then you should all state unambigously that he lies.

    I think this might just be enough to get him to resign to the great relief of everyone including most Labour supporters.

  • Comment number 81.

    I would really love to know if anyone remembers the claims and sketches of a hidden site, built inside a mountain, that was plastered over the news before our Gov. went to war with Iraq.
    Anyone remember this?

  • Comment number 82.

    #68 Grandantidote

    Th thing about that award, besides its triviality and it having nothing of the grandeur you are trying to ascribe to it, is that we, the country that matters to GB don't give a stuff about his "world statesman" aspirations. Its this country that needs sorting out and fast.

    I would be ecstatic if Cameron didn't even come close to being liked by other world leaders as it would mean he was doing a good job for the people that put him there. I don't want a world leader I want a Prime Miniter of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
    So you can take GBs award and shove it into the black hole along with all the sterling that is being wasted. whilst he is strutting, we are being pummelled and he doesn't seem to care.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • Comment number 83.

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

  • Comment number 84.

    jrperry

    I commend your post at #73, which is perhaps the most succinct analysis of the debt crisis that I have read anywhere.

    Anyone interested in the issues should definitely go back and study it.

    The G20 announcement is also, obviously, essential reading. For the moment I'll resist the temptation to selectively quote various passsges that could be used in support of, or against, the current UK Government.

    Among the things that struck me:
    a) there is insufficient emphasis on correcting global trade and current account balances between debtor (e.g. US, UK) countries, and creditor nations (e.g. China). Many commentators have highlighted this as perhaps the most serious threat to future financial stability. There is a reference to correcting current account balances, but it does not have the prominence that might have been expected.
    b) the G20 have agreed to resist protectionism, but recently the US has imposed tariffs on Chinese imports. In a way US protectionism is linked to the US/Chinese trade imbalance, the lack of domestic demand in Asia, and the artifically low exchange rate.

  • Comment number 85.

    It's all been a big global 'spin' show, of course.

    The US giving Brown some sort of award alleviates the US guilt for exporting systemmic banking risk and crises around the global financial system - as the UK banking system has also been (and probably still is) a major conduit for transferring internationalised financial toxicity around the globe. Quite a clever way of the US saying we appreciate your own personal responsibility on the crisis and Brown's preaching to the world is based on the US not wishing other countries to make the same mistakes as him (Brown). So does Brown actually know why he got the award?

    Brown may think he's another Roosevelt, but 'Frankly' - I don't think that the Americans do!

    Bashing up Iran shifts attention from failed US foreign policy in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Korea and the global threat posed by an enlarged and massively powerful and very dangerous China. This does nothing to address why some countries have nuclear weapons and some do not and why this poses a major security risk to the entire planet.

    Syria, Pakistan, countries in South America/ Africa together pose a massive threat to regional and world peace but the G20 consensus is to focus on Iran as Brown dare not say anything about the other countries particularly as he is out of his depth and the UK also does not have a proper foreign policy either.

    What on earth is the point of offering to scrap one nuclear submarine out of four and which has, for about three decades, been described as the minimum mumber that is required to maintain an effective nuclear deterrent for a 'middling tiddler' like the UK - what a pathetic and irresponsible piece of the most incompetent propoganda. Either we have or need an effective nuclear 'deterrent' or we do not - Can someone open the debate and encourage and informed, democratic and proper decision here please?

    I thought it was entirely an ordinary week for Brown - very little if anything achieved and is damaging and quite embarassing for both Brown and the UK!

    Well, at least Brown appears to have avoided kissing the 'Mad Dog' this time out! (Oh no! Please don't now tell me that he did!)

    Perhaps Brown is thinking that the UK's fourth nuclear sub can be sold off to Libya!

  • Comment number 86.

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  • Comment number 94.

    82 purpleangelgeogina

    #Th thing about that award, besides its triviality and it having nothing of the grandeur you are trying to ascribe to it, is that we, the country that matters to GB don't give a stuff about his "world statesman" aspirations. Its this country that needs sorting out and fast.

    I don't recall ascribing any granduer to it I just considered that any country whose PM was given this award it would be something to be pleased about that is unless you are a tory which you patently are, you as most Tories do set your self up as representing what most of us think
    I think that I and many others were glad that he recieved this award it confirms to us that contrary to what you tories espouse along with the Murdoch press is that Gordon Brown is not the pariah that you want us to believe but away from the self serving press and the tory anything that GB does is wrong there's a hell of a lot of people out there that think differently.
    As for your remarks about not giving a stuff about the rest of the world it only shows your little Englander aspirations, I am not ashamed to say that I do care about the World outside of this country.
    As for sorting out this country, thats exactly what he has been doing as unpopular as it has made him, perish the thought of the mess we would now be in with the Tory policy of do nothing, the finances of this country although are dire now they would have been catastrophic under the Tories.

  • Comment number 95.

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