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The Obama and Gordon card

Nick Robinson | 08:19 UK time, Thursday, 24 September 2009

It's important to separate facts from interpretation in the story of Gordon's nightmare kitchen. [credit: The Sun]

Gordon Brown and Barack ObamaNo-one disputes that Downing Street was "frantic" - to quote one source - when repeated requests for a proper bilateral meeting with the president were turned down. Nor does it dispute the fact that their only one-to-one meeting so far has been a "walk and talk" in the UN kitchen.

What though does all this tell us?

It reveals how keen Labour strategists were to play the Obama and Gordon card before their conference. When I interviewed Peter Mandelson in the summer he constantly linked the two men for having taken the right decisions during the economic crisis.

If they hadn't been so desperate, this would never have been a story at all. After all, no other EU country's leader got a meeting with Obama. What's more, those leaders he did meet he had good reason to want to woo now - the new Japanese PM and the presidents of China and Russia whose support is needed for tougher sanctions against Iran.

Even without a meeting, Brown could fairly claim that his and Obama's international and economic agendas are closely aligned - witness their complementary speeches to the UN yesterday.

What though of the White House's refusal to grant a meeting?

We simply don't know if it was down to carelessness - as with the cack-handed reception given to Team Brown at the White House; or political calculation - "why invest time in a foreign leader who could be out of office soon?" or simple pragmatism - "we have a lot to do and we're too busy to fix meetings to help anyone else".

What we do know is that a prime minister in real political trouble faces a press willing to put the worst gloss on most stories and lacks a good enough friend in the White House to lend him some of his charisma.

We also know that by day's end Obama will have found a way to show how much he values Brown. It will, of course, be too late.


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  • Comment number 1.

    'met with brown in a kitchen' - thats brilliant.

    i hope Obama does'nt pander for Brown's spin addiction by arranging something more formal - Brown deserves to be shown up as the shallow desperate little man we see in Britain every day.

  • Comment number 2.

    far too many pieces on this - difficult for me to keep logging in and typing NON STORY over and over again - stop it, Nick

  • Comment number 3.

    Its hardly surprising that Obama has no interest in meeting Brown - both he and Blair spent most of their time in office being 'special friends' with George W.

    Obama knows how popular he is in Europe, and doesn't want to use up that political capital by getting close to a leader with Brown's pathetic approval rating. Just as Brown is desparate for charisma to rub off on him, Obama will be worried about it going the other way.

    I'm sure the US will eventually remember that we are special - I expect it will be around the time that they want something.

  • Comment number 4.

    Could the reason be that President Obama, with access to sources of information and facts the likes of I, and may I respectively suggest even you, do not have, knows what most suspect, that Brown was heavilly involved in the release in the Lockerbie bomber, and wants to be associated with him as little as possible ?

  • Comment number 5.


    The UK being involved with the US is like a teenage relationship where one partner gives little but expects alot and the other ends up self-harming and starving themselves hoping it will make them feel better. The US has nothing but a destructive effect on us socially, politically and economically.

    It's a national psychosis. Forget it, we should go to therapy and then start being a constructive European partner. End of story.

    The US only has one special friend and it's called Israel.

  • Comment number 6.

    "What we do know is that a prime minister in real political trouble faces a press willing to put the worst gloss on most stories and lacks a good enough friend in the White House to lend him some of his charisma."

    Yep, fully accept that, Nick. Makes the WSOTY thing a bit hollow then. Mind you , anything Brown does lend, he can never afford to even keep up the interest payments on, so maybe Obama's being sensible in keeping it under lock and key.

    "We also know that by day's end Obama will have found a way to show how much he values Brown."

    Sounds more like "we hope that by the end of the day..."... I wouldnt be holding my breath, I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 7.

    When Gordon Brown slithered his way into number 10, he distanced himself from the outgoing and vastly unpopular George Bush. Now Obama is doing the same to Brown. He's just getting his comeuppance.

    Gordon Brown is a slimy, horrible man. He picks people up and uses them until they're no more good to him and he dumps them. If Obama was unpopular, Brown wouldn't go anywhere near him. He deserves to be treated the same way he treats others.

  • Comment number 8.

    "What we do know is that a prime minister in real political trouble faces a press willing to put the worst gloss on most stories".

    No Nick what we ALL know is that nearly every publication, TV station and other reporting outlets have also seen the constant lies, miss-management, rushed policy and panic stricken in fighting that you and I have seen from this Broon Government for months and months. The press is merely reflecting the inevitable and know his time's up.

    Of course not you though Nick. Your fighting his cause till the death. Waiting for the moment his falls in his sword like a brave Samurai Soldier in defeat. That won't happen thought will it Nick?

    I do admire your efforts though.

  • Comment number 9.

    What a pathetic figure Brown cuts.

  • Comment number 10.

    Nick -- why are you continuing to run this story -- when back home Brown has an Attorney General who he should have fired but is to scared running up to the party conference. This continual BBC support for Brown is getting a little tiresome. Try a new topic please !

  • Comment number 11.

    There are 2 points to take into account when considering President Obama's coolness towards Gordon Brown. One is that Obama's whole background, judging by his history, is less likely to make him receptive to the notion of a "special relationship" between America and Britain. The second is that he probably can't stand Brown anyway. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 12.

    Perhaps this latest snub will convince Gordon Brown and the British media (and therefore also the British public) that any 'special relationship' there might have been with the US is now history. Why doesn't he stop trying to cow-tow to the Americans (with whom we apparently have no influence) and instead concentrate on (re-) building our relations with the EU, where we do have a voice?

  • Comment number 13.

    So the leader of the free world has no intention of holding a meeting with Gordon Brown, indeed has rejected five attempts to fix one up.

    But what do we hear form the newlabour apologists? People are making too much of this... like we would have made too little of it had they maanged to pull this one off.

    You can't have it both ways, lads; either you want to rub shoulders with the leader of the free world or you don't.

    Time to move on and move out

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 14.

    sagamix @ #2
    What political stories critical or showing Gordon Brown in a poor light wouldn't you like to close down? In recent weeks, most, it seems.

    Perhaps this blog entry may allow regular contributors, most of whom sustain the thing, the opportunity to post more than four comments before being closed for comments, or, in the case of the Baroness Scotland piece, a short window after the afternoon long moderation queue was cleared.

    I think Team Obama realise the game is up for Gordon Brown and slowly, slowly are dis-associated themselves from the loser.

  • Comment number 15.

    "No-one disputes that Downing Street was "frantic" - to quote one source - when repeated requests for a proper bilateral meeting with the president were turned down."
    Perhaps if they request a meeting with the P.M. in future, we should send "PM" instead!

  • Comment number 16.

    Why anyone would want to meet with GB is beyond me.

  • Comment number 17.

    This article reprsents another amazing peice of labour spin, on other words playing the public for fools in a futile attempt to conceal the real reason for Obama not wanting to be associated with Brown by burying it in reems and reems of detailed and irrelevant points of detail. The reason why Obama does not wish to spend significant amounts of time with Brown is straightforward - Obama does not want to take advice on economic party from a man who endulged in a decade of such prolific, wasteful and unsustainable government spending that has bought his country to the brink of bankruptcy. No one in their right mind would take advice from someone with such an appaling track record.

  • Comment number 18.

    Obama can spot yesterday's man at 20 paces and has the good sense to avoid being seen with him like the plague.

    Brown is a dead man walking, and will carry on for another 8 months until the electorate finally get a chance to pass judgement on what he has done to this country.

  • Comment number 19.

    I hope that the White House doesn't find a way to show how much Obama values Brown.
    Why? Because it will look contrived, artificial and will only give an impression of being done as an afterthought. Brown is a busted flush in the UK and is insignificant so far as having any role on the World stage is concerned. Therefore there is no reason at all why Obama should waste valuable time on him.

  • Comment number 20.

    The "snub" was probably a combination of all three factors Nick mentions.

    Cameron is likely to get much the same treatment.

    Our diplomatic and military influence is shrinking, the one strength we had, banking, has taken a beating, our GDP is diminishing...Britain is sliding down the world rankings. Obama has more interest in China, Russia, Japan and the emerging economic nations, and those that can wield influence in the middle east. Let's get real, Germany and France are now the senior players in the Eurozone. We're more on par with Spain and Italy.

  • Comment number 21.

    10. At 09:17am on 24 Sep 2009, Me-thinks wrote:
    Nick -- why are you continuing to run this story -- when back home Brown has an Attorney General who he should have fired but is to scared running up to the party conference. This continual BBC support for Brown is getting a little tiresome. Try a new topic please !


    I'm sorry, but how on earth can you describe 2 blogs about gordon brown's humiliationm on the world stage as 'BBC support' for Brown.

    I'm used to the constant snide little anti-beeb remarks from certain contributors but this is surely a new low in paranoia and the confusion of 'bias' with 'doesn't pander to my exact opinion'.

  • Comment number 22.


    'We also know that by day's end Obama will have found a way to show how much he values Brown. It will, of course, be too late.'

    What an absurd comment.

    Are we to read into this that Obama is Gordon's personal friend or merely friend by convenience.

    We know that the US needs Britain to support its military efforts and to assist it in its economic recovery by not living the American bankers out in the cold.

    So we know that Gordon Brown likes to think he is a really close personal friend, but I must have been watching completely different on screen meetings to everyone else.

    I cannot see anything different in the way Obama is with any other European or Foreign Leader.

    I think you will find he values Brown because of his position and alliance, not for any persoanl friend reason that you seem to be hinting at here.

    Is Obama coming over to Britain to support Brown on the campaign trail? I think not!

  • Comment number 23.

    Obama snubs Brown!! Exactly what several million of us in the UK are waiting the opportunity to do.
    Roll on the election!

  • Comment number 24.

    Why should Obama make any effort to talk to Brown? Our glorious leader, statesman of the year (lol), lap dog Brown does everything Obama wants without being asked.

    And lets face it, sycophants make the most tedious company.

  • Comment number 25.

    Brown is like the loser at school hanging round with the popular kid in the hope that it will get him the girls. What a sad figure our prime minister has become.

  • Comment number 26.

    Whilst we continue to pander to american presidents like a love sick poodle - why should we be surprised that we get walked all over.

    We are their best friends when then need us but when the going gets tough we are simply expendable.

    Our relationship with America has been far too subservient for years now, we get the occasional pat on the head to placate us but the US wants to play with the big boys and we are simply not in the same league as Russia and China.

    I hope any future UK Governments tries to restore some dignity to our relationship with Obama and then we may earn some respect back.

  • Comment number 27.

    Nick, you ask "What though of the White House's refusal to grant a meeting?"

    To be honest, it's an embarrassment.

    I think we can understand Obama's exasperation with Gordon over the Al Megrahi case. The Labour government was not honest, and it does now appear that trade deals did indeed play a part. Brown has also gone on record for blaming the entire world financial crisis on the Americans.

    Is it a surprise then that Obama needs to show his fellow Americans that this won't do?

    Right now, Obama has to keep the American public on track back home, particularly given his desire for health care reform in the USA. Being seen to cosy up to Brown would not be to his advantage right now.

    Brown's advisors should have anticipated this and found a diplomatic way to explain the lack of a face to face interview. After all, there were many other leaders who Obama didn't meet either, so that shouldn't be a big deal. But by making a big fuss, it rather gives the appearance that our Prime Minister has been sent to the 'Naughty Corner'.

  • Comment number 28.

    There is an intellectual and influential abyss between President Obama and Brown. Why should he spend any time with a leader who has shown himself to be politically impotent and therefore of little value to the US in pursuing their, ostensibly, more inclusive global ambitions.

  • Comment number 29.

    Maybe Barack Obama just finds Gordon Brown a bit creepy. I do.
    British politics is full of creepy people. Has anyone else noticed how Tony Blair has become posh again. No more excruciating clipped vowels etc.. What a creep! And last night I heard Eddie Izzard interviewing Alistair Campbell on R4's Chain Reaction. Toe curling and sycophantic. Who'd a thunk it? Campbell came across as a creep and 'right on' Eddie Izzard as a political leech (And an unfunny one at that!)

  • Comment number 30.

    If the majority of Labour MP's don't have any time for Gordon Brown let alone the British voters!

    Why should Obama?

    Brown will grandstand anywhere he can get a visa for like his mate Gaffadi!

    Yet why should we be surprised if Brown is no more welcome by the Whitehouse than the other oaf the Libyian?

    Why should Obama who watched Bush drag Americas reputation through the mud aided by schemeing and coniving Blair & Brown!

    Care if Brown has to try and prove to his own Party Conference this week he has some sort of infetisimal clout on the World stage?

    Even if he clearly doesn't in his own Party and or espescialy with the British people!

    Why should Obama be tainted by contact with Browns following his colosal economic failure and his odious war against the productive and prudent in his own country.

    Brown is and always will be a pariah!

    Why should we be surprised that it is not only his own countrymen, who don't want any sort of relationship with him, let alone the President of America?

  • Comment number 31.

    This kind of reminds me of the "Yo Blair!" incident between Obama and Brown's predecessors, where Bush couldn't even be bothered to stop eating while talking to our PM.

    Obama seems to hold Brown in as equal amount of contempt.
    Then again, don't we all...?

  • Comment number 32.

    Yesterday Gordon was honoured as "World Statesman of The Year" - and then bang and crash, Brown falls back to earth to fulfil the role that we are more used to from him "Pathetic Clueless Imbecile"

  • Comment number 33.

    I wonder which cabinet minister, vying for position, leaked this story?

  • Comment number 34.

    You say that Downing St was frantic to set up a meeting with Obama?
    Not as frantic as the UK population are to get Brown out

  • Comment number 35.

    The US administration have realised that Brown is yesterday's man and it is pointless talking to him. As long as he does what Obama tells him to do, Obama will be content. Meantime the world leaders who have any credibility left will be allowed into Obama's inner circle. Brown sadly no longer has the respect of any of the other heads of state, who realise that he is totally incompetent and on the way to oblivion.

  • Comment number 36.

    So is the real story, that we now have to rely upon The Sun for our news?

    I watched the sun man on newsnight last night besting Maguire at every opportunity.

    I agree with Obama, Brown has too much going on domestically, and if Brown were to be seen to indulge in statesmanship when he fails to resolve those issues then some of Brown's problems may rebound upon Obama's new foreign policy approach

    The one thing I do get, however, from all this UN stuff is that this might just be the beginning of another period of American isolationism.

    Brown and Team No10 can be as ruffled as they care, I'm afraid they don't quite fit into the bigger picture, when they can't even help out in Afghanistan and had to be dug out of the situation they made in Iraq

  • Comment number 37.

    "What though does all this tell us?"

    I'd say that if this is any kind of standard for political journalism, then we can only be amazed that the "dumbing down" of educational standards has not plumbed the same pathetic levels.

  • Comment number 38.

    Yes, Nick you are correct. This is deemed as a snub, no other word for it. Oh, and to Saga, who keeps telling us this is a non story, like s/he does everytime Labour are humiliated. If, next year, DC is PM and gets the same treatment, you will comment on here that this too is a non story, right?

  • Comment number 39.

    The reason is obvious. Why would Obama want to spend time with a loser?

  • Comment number 40.

    What does it tell us? It tells us how desparately shallow this government has become. The bottom line is the general public don't give a fig about the relationship with America. We should concentrate on those relationships that bring prosperity to our country and stop running around after the bully in the playground.

  • Comment number 41.

    After reports of Alistair Darling's interview with the BBC yesterday, before he flew off to join Team Broon, maybe Gordy is trying to get a meeting with Obama as a way of avoiding being cornered by the Brazilian president:

    "Mr Darling's (NEW BIG) idea is to also have a blacklist of countries that are regulatory havens where the rules and regulations companies have to follow are less onerous.
    'People can set up in the Caribbean or South America, the regulators here can't get the sort of information they want and that sort of secrecy leads to instability,' he said."

  • Comment number 42.

    21. Couldn't agree with you more. The level of paranoia & hysteria displayed by many contributors is scary. I really can't see that Nick is biased, unless by biased they mean "doesn't agree with everything I say". And before I get accused of being a Labour drone, as is often the way, as far as I'm concerned all the political partys are equally despicable.

  • Comment number 43.

    Nick, For several days I have been coming to the conclusion that all the little stories that have been leaking abaout Gordon Brown have one particular reason.
    Is it possible with stories now abour Browns lack of eyesight, final bash around the world leaders etc, that at the Labour Conference he is going to announce he is standing down due to health reasons.
    Nick this announcement would overshadow the Tory Conference and of course the news will be dominated by Labour Leadership contest.
    With Labour in a desperate position in the polls is this the likely outcome next week? or is GB that mad that he cannot see his demise.
    Good or bad thoughts Nick?

  • Comment number 44.

    Separate facts from interpretation Nick? It is a politicians sworn modus operandi to do precisely the opposite!

    Fact 1. Brown WAS snubbed by Obama (The FIVE times is too accurate a report for it to be made up)

    Fact 2. Disloyal Labour aides leaked it (How else did it get out - it was a non story in the US)

    Fact 3. The Lockerbie bomber release upset the "In the street" American far more than the naive Gordon had calculated. It was "Letting down a friend" He still doesn't understand the damage it has done.

    Fact 4. Obama is clever and can pre-empt or even drive public opinion, Gordon and his extremely poor PR team always try and FOLLOW public opinion.

    Fact 5. Obama has presented his people with policies. Gordon hasn't

    Fact 6. Obama has a political future. Gordon doesn't

  • Comment number 45.

    Obama is dead right. Have nothing to do with Gordon. Business gurus often state that you should avoid negative people and losers. Sack them if you can as they are infectious. Seems the right strategy to me.

  • Comment number 46.

    A contributor spotted this earlier on your blog, Nick. If this person can spot this glaring omission, why can't the Downing Street staff? I am sure your blog contributor is not being paid a lot of money (our money?) compared to those in the Downing Street staff.

    I have started to think that OB is Jimmy Carter and GB has Harold Wilson (Jim Callaghan - seems more affable and not as paranoid), although I can't think Dave C as Mrs T somehow?

  • Comment number 47.

    Rowan Atkinsons portrayal of him driving a mini becomes more and more accurate everyday

  • Comment number 48.

    Won't be long before we all snub Gordon Brown... might just beat us to it way the news is going.... remember "Yo Blair", this time it'll be "Hoy Flash" as he's licking a nice cold ice cream.... there get that licked!

    Putting all the sulks to one side, I wonder how Brown would have performed if he had made a clean slate instead of plonking his boots in Blair's footprints, have we forgot about all the mysterious absentness when he couldn't get his own way - the bottom line he ain't the right guy for the job no wonder he needed Peter Mandelson....

    ... there goes an ex prudent Chancellor, spin, pure utterly spin he just can't lead, rule yes but not lead for example as for being snubbed he just hasn't a clue how to handle it...

    ... we've been the dog's tail too long, far too long under Labour!

  • Comment number 49.

    How do you expect Obama to react. The convicted mass murderer of hundreds of American citizens is released on compassionate grounds and the leader of that country now wants a photo opportunity for his party conference buid up. I don't know about refusing a meeting, Brown should be grateful President Obama didn't try to stick one on him!

  • Comment number 50.

    Quoting no one in particular, but on this and a few previous threads there seems to be a degree of glee, or perhaps national masochism, in reporting the UK's decline. Throw in a visceral hatred of Gordon Brown and America, sometimes by the same contributor, and many of the posts seem emotionally unbalanced.

    To state the obvious: it is the UK's national interest to have good relations with major powers, and particularly the US. There are shared interests in reforming the global finance system, and in foreign policy, counter-terrorism, shared intelligence, and military systems.

    And despite Labour's efforts the UK is still a major economic power.

    In President Obama we have a US President who seems to be more in tune with UK political values (and I write as a Conservative supporter). He may be less willing to meet the UK's national interests, but that is something we can work on and try to change, hopefully under a new and more competent Prime Minister.

  • Comment number 51.

    Just a point, in the Politics main page the blog is teased to us with the pharse "Obama to meet with Brown". This seems to hint at Gordon being the senior partner and Obama seeking to pay homage to him.

    Surely as they are in America and also as Obama is the "dominant male" in this scenario it should be the other way round though I imagine "Brown desperate for meeting with Obama in vain hope that starbust will brush off onto him" doesn't sound as good for New Labour.

    As an aside there still seems nothing re Sarkozy's staesmanlike appearance at the UN last night on the BBC yet. Perhaps this would also show Gordon off in a bad light?

  • Comment number 52.

    Could Obama have been watching the nose picking incident on youtube?
    It might put a refined person off slightly ,no??

  • Comment number 53.

    There's no way this was accidental, the gift situation of the dvds was also deliberate.

    Everything that Obama's done/said regarding the uk since he became president has been an implicit message that although Obama deeply values the country-to-country relationship, he doesn't want to personally deal with one of the 2 people (the other being bush) that actually created the economic crisis in the first place.

    The fact that Brown has never actually been elected is another factor in Obama's calculation.

    His attitude would be along the lines of:
    "This man destroyed his own economy due to sheer negligence and now I have to help pick up the pieces globally, he was never elected either. He also used double-counting at the last g20, he constantly lies to his own people, and he won't even say that releasing a convicted terrorist is a bad idea. I'll talk to the uk properly when they get an elected leader, but in the meantime I'll just keep the country-to-country relationship ticking-over."

  • Comment number 54.

    Obama and the British electorate have one thing in common then.............we are not interested in Brown's turgidity! (look it up!)

    It seems Obama is leading Brown through the kitchen but it will be the the electorate who will give him one huge boot up the backside and out of the back door within no more than 300 days!

    Can't wait!

  • Comment number 55.

    Regarding the comment about Brown being made Statesman of the Year was because of the paucity of eligible candidates! Can't think of any other reason. And yes of course Obama doesn't want to be associated with this awful excuse for a Prime Minister - he has devalued the office.

  • Comment number 56.

    "What we do know is that a prime minister in real political trouble faces a press willing to put the worst gloss on most stories" - Nick Robinson.

    Gordon needn't worry. I'm sure that to counter this, somewhere in the media there's someone willing to slavishly put the most favourable spin on any old dross that Brown does.

  • Comment number 57.

    "We also know that by day's end Obama will have found a way to show how much he values Brown."

    Already has, Nick. He already has....

  • Comment number 58.

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

  • Comment number 59.

    What better place than a kitchen to practice the steps of the Magrahi Reel followed by McAllisters Lament on the back steps.Gordon has proved clumsy in step, thought, word and deed. Wouols anyone want to have a meeting with him.?
    Oche Aye,

  • Comment number 60.

    Its extremely embarressing to say the least for Brown to beg repeatedly for an audiance with Obama but much more importantly it degrades the reputation of the UK.

    However, I think we do owe something to Gordon Brown and his complete lack of political understanding - its about time we dropped the pretence of "special relationship" and just looked after our own interests for example as France does - it would be a refreshing and growing up experience. If we realise this Brown has done this country a favour.

  • Comment number 61.

    It seems whatever, and whenever events are surrounding the involvement of Gordon Brown, things only always go from bad to worse.

    It therefore should be of no surprise then to find that Obama and other World Leaders are preferring to keep our Un-elected Prime Minister at arms length from their Stables.

  • Comment number 62.


    Been looking into that a little deeper...

    Past recipients of the World Statesman Award include President Nicolas Sarkozy (2008), Chancellor Angela Merkel (2007) and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2006). Other recipients include former Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, Romano Prodi, John Howard and King Juan Carlos I.

    Oh dear. Thatch? Drat, that wasnt part of the plan, was it?

    John Howard? Another Presidential Medal Of Freedom recipient, like TB. Hmmm.

    And Lula? "Lula has faced criticism for recurrent corruption scandals benefiting private groups and his own party, and also for alliances made with right-wing politicians, bankers, plantation owners and most of the economic elite of Brazil, which has led observers to question his self-proclaimed position as a socialist leader." (sounds a bit close to Browngabe that doesnt it? Insert "bankers, hedge fund owners, Oligarchs, Private Equity Funds, TV/Goat personalities..." quite close to home)

    Illustrious company then. A cabal of political pragmatists who wear their religion like a tie pin when it suits them.

    Bit like Time Magazine in 1939's January edition awarding one Adolf Hitler the title of "Man Of The Year."

  • Comment number 63.

    Arise sir lord brown Oh sorry obama i was just following the american dream we still have some form of relation- ship then ?

  • Comment number 64.


    Would you want to meet with him, the blokes a bloody Mood Hoover!

    In addition don't let him know about this 7th Century Anglo Saxon Gold Haul, he'll probably pass it off to Money4Gold.

    Still only another 7 Months...........

  • Comment number 65.

    Gordon only wants to meet Obama for the photo opportunity and to support a line in his conference speech that goes something like "when i met President Obama last week....". Thats all. What a sad man he is. I see the 'eye problem' exit strategy has been exposed. Will have to think of another one now. toenail perhaps?

  • Comment number 66.

    I didnt think it could get any worse, but this is probably the most embarrassing thing Browns done, practically begging for a meeting and then settling for a walk through the kitchen as Obama tastes the food and says it needs a bit more salt.

    It's gone past ridiculous now though, as soon as Brown goes we can get our country in order and get going in the world again.

  • Comment number 67.

    "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.."

    Just common sense from BHO in my opinion..

  • Comment number 68.

    How remiss of President Obama to snub the man who saved the world.

    And as for meeting on a kitchen walkthrough he should be used to kitchen meetings with his predecessor or was he not invited to those either ???

  • Comment number 69.

    Me thinks it was a snub. Perhaps a non story as some say; could the story be who is spinning and briefing against Broon? Or is he doing it himself as previous poster suggested.

    Whichever it is it is not doing the country any good. Grown men running like children screaming "he won't let me in his house" or words to that effect. Let's grow up.

    The point about the eyesight is more worrying, if it is true then he has my full sympathy. However, if there is no truth, then whoever started the rumour is despicable and beneath contempt.

    Still it shows a government in disarray, worrying about the big boy and not doing their homework.....not good. Delta minus

  • Comment number 70.

    Nick, you raised very good points. No doubt you will find the answers (and share them with us) while travelling with the entourage of crash Gordon. According to his shambolic PR (you can see "I am Mandy, fly me" is not there) he had a "long" meeting (15 minutes) in the kitchens, but can you find out for me whether it was in the kitchens?
    Usually men carry on their business conversations during their breaks in the gents.

  • Comment number 71.

    In the words of Tony Blair, this story, like our pathetic Premier is
    "Weak, weak, weak!"

  • Comment number 72.

    Is this story aimed at distracting us from the attorney general fiasco? Let us all laugh at how pathetic Gordon is so we'll forget he's also a weak leader without the strength of character to sack someone who needs it?

    I am extremely surprised that the BBC is running this, let alone Nick producing 2 blogs on it, especially given teh speed at which yesterdays blogs were closed - who touched the nerve there then?

    Amusing though it is picturing him trailing in Obama's wake through a kitchen like an over eager puppy, it doesn't distract form the fact that he's depressingly incompetent in every department that a leader should excel in...

  • Comment number 73.

    Have to say, this doesn't seem like the most imortant political story of the day.

    But yo'd have to ask what the Foreign Secretary and the F.O. were doing to prepare the way for a meeting way before the UN sessions.

    Meetings like this are planned - they don't just get heads of state to pop over for a chat. So if Brown wanted a high-visibility chat with Obama, someone in the massed ranks of expensive minions would surely have been beavering away to try and find a slot for Brown? Or didn't Mili Major bother to organise diary time? (THAT could have been a story!)

    Japan and China are vital to world economic recovery. Russia just vital to international calmness. Doubt that Obama gets to chat to those folk too much.

    The political nonsense is that Brown's team would seem to be desperate to fix a short-notice meet for a "look who I'm shaking hands with" photo opportunity. That's just silly.

    I guess Obama feels that Brown is doing what he can to help (in a minor way) to prop up his economy. What else can he bring to the table? Brown can't make Japan and China "better". He's struggling with us on this island...

  • Comment number 74.

    "a press willing to put the worst gloss on any stories" that just about sums up the Prime Minister's position. A desparate man in desparate times.
    Five requests made to the White House for meetings and five times rebutted. Listening to the comments by the Editor of the Sun last night on Newsnight must have made heart fluttering news. Prior to that Charles Clarke demolished chances of the Government succeeding in the G.E. next year.
    What politician, where-ever in the world would want to be associated with failure? Why, even Gaddafi had forgotten Brown in his rant to the U.N. I think that you may be backing a loser Nick.

  • Comment number 75.

    @43 steeple

    God I hope not!! Much though I hate him (and lets face it Brown epitomises everything despisable about Labour), without him Labour might not be banished forever.

    I can cope with another 8 months of scorched earth policies if it means that there is no hope of another Labor government until the next generation of suckers come along (at least 20 years gives us some hope of economic recovery).

    If we get rid of him before the election there's a chance that some people might be dumb enough to fall for it and vote New Brownless Labour

  • Comment number 76.


    Anything on the impending departure of Shriti Vadera? Possibly to head up UKFI?

  • Comment number 77.

    Good week for Brown...

    Two Ministers resign....

    One Law Maker who should resign...

    Obama will not talk to him...

    But on the bright side he can see and is in full health

  • Comment number 78.

    Even Gordon's mates are snubbing him now

    No green shoots for Baroness Vadera!

  • Comment number 79.

    #65 tough.No he needs a chiropodist as hes gone Way past the quick.

  • Comment number 80.

    So despite the fact that Gordon Brown had five requests for a meeting turned down by the Obama team the BBC have decided to write about with a lovely old photo of Gordon gurning at Barack Obama somewhere in the Garden of Eden.

    Is this a real photo? Or has Gorodn been sync-ed into the shot by a clever IT specialist.

    Given they finally met in a kitchen is it appropriate behaviour for the BBC to be publishing an old photo of these two that has nothing to do with the current chilly atmosphere between the two teams and men?

    Isn't this playing with the truth to some degree?

    And this is the company that thinks it should use licence fees and tax payers money to buy the Lonely Planet tourist guides...what on earth for?

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 81.

    Yes, because as we all we know rubbing shoulders with an American president is the fastest way to the British publics heart. I mean, yes, it is President Obama. But I feel this latest idea from the government is a little foolish. But then, haven't they all been lately? -- It's almost become comical, it's such a shame it's real life.

    ( Also, hi all, new here :) )

  • Comment number 82.

    #16 I'd love to meet him , but he wont, as he is a osterrich with his
    head in the sand. To talk to him about justice fairness and equality all the think sagamix loves to reminise on . And how they do not apply to the family courts and what happened to Bady P on his watch etc etc.

    So I would love to meet the man and see how much courage he really has.

    Its always good to talk unless itsto people that have a different opinion to you.

  • Comment number 83.

    49. Dextershut wrote:

    How do you expect Obama to react. The convicted mass murderer of hundreds of American citizens is released on compassionate grounds and the leader of that country now wants a photo opportunity for his party conference buid up. I don't know about refusing a meeting, Brown should be grateful President Obama didn't try to stick one on him!

    Or could it be, that for once in our sad one sided special (sic)relationship, that the UK actually stood up to the US & said “This is our country & our law not yours”.
    If this is the case, then Brown has just gone up in my estimations – From zero to 1 percent.
    Obama is probably sulking because he thought he had a puppy like Blair he could count on to agree to everything he wanted.
    Not so with Brown, & hopefully not with Cameron in the future.
    Just shout “Yo Obama” & this should get his attention.

  • Comment number 84.

    #75 I_Despise_Labour

    I can cope with another 8 months of scorched earth policies if it means that there is no hope of another Labor government until the next generation of suckers come along (at least 20 years gives us some hope of economic recovery).


    I'm pretty new to politics. But isn't this what happened in '79 -> '97. I mean, after 18-20 years New New Labour will rise from the ashes and tank the economy again. We need some way to break the cycle. Like, perhaps once a year we can all mourn "Labour Economy" day or something. Or just further reinforce that red means severe danger.

  • Comment number 85.


    Have you finally explained why so many of your posts are pro Labour?

    Your "What we do know is that a prime minister in real political trouble faces a press willing to put the worst gloss on most stories and lacks a good enough friend in the White House to lend him some of his charisma" implies that you're trying to balance "overall" media coverage.

    Unfortunately, the BBC's coverage is supposed to be impartial, something you seem not to be. Do, please, try harder to be impartial yourself or at least to provide some balance.

    How about giving us your own opinion on the fragrant Baroness, for example?

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

  • Comment number 86.

    Dear Nick,

    I can see Obama's point.

    GB is now on the way out (Will he last till Christmas?) and he does not want to be seen with such a car crash that GB is.

    Lisbon vote next month, then GB is gone.


  • Comment number 87.

    Was the meeting they want to discuss about the JSF second engine being cut.That the PW would servive and the GE/RR one, which seems to be better and would get larger market share , getting the chop ?

    Woul dwe be announcing the with drawal from the JSF as a result ?

    The effect that his would have on the special relationship ?
    where the SNAFU_Liebour Party always let the americians walk all over our industry and jobs etc ?

  • Comment number 88.

    Assuming the story is accurate, for me the point of it isn't that Obama refused 5 times but that Downing asked 5 times. How needy, pathetic and undignified is that? Particularly bearing in mind that the so called snub was entirely predictable, if not inevitable

    Let's think. Brown and the UK government - rightly or wrongly - currently are widely regarded with disgust and contempt by the USA electorate as a result of the Al Magrahi release. Gaddafi is in town strutting his stuff and hogging the headlights. Obama has to decide. Cosy up with Gordon Pariah Brown and provide photo opportunities for the American people, alongside a stark Lockerbie reminder in the shape of Gaddafi? Or not?

    Mmmmmm - tough one.

    Sheer incompetence and lack of judgment on the part of Brown and/or his advisors. Seeking to advance Brown's personal position but managing to achieve the double whammy of damaging that and creating a cringeworthy image of the UK government.

  • Comment number 89.

    While stitching up the hand of a 75 year old Devon farmer, who cut it on a gate while working cattle, the rural doctor struck up a conversation with the old man.

    Eventually the topic got around to Gordon Brown and his appointment as Prime Minister. “Well, you know,” drawled the old farmer, “this Brown fellow is what we call a fencepost tortoise.”

    Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a fencepost tortoise was. The old farmer said, “When you're driving along a country road and you come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that’s called a fencepost tortoise.”

    The old farmer saw a puzzled look on the doctor’s face, so he continued to explain,

    “You know he didn't get up there by himself, he definitely doesn't belong up there, he doesn't know what to do while he is up there, and you just have to wonder what kind of idiot put him up there in the first place.”

  • Comment number 90.

    "Like, perhaps once a year we can all mourn "Labour Economy" day or something."

    Hah... Like it. Could schedule it for the weekend Gordon arranged the marraige of HBOS and Lloyds. :-)

  • Comment number 91.

    Post 76 I do hope that isn't where she is going. If so I will need to sell my RBS shares pdq.

  • Comment number 92.

    Are we seriously supposed to believe they met in a kitchen?

    Is someone trying to tell us that world leaders have to make their own dinner at these sort of events?

    What are we not being told?

  • Comment number 93.

    #50 johnharris66

    Great to see you're still slinging insults at those you don't agree with - and you're even throwing in a psychiatric evaluation to boot, what value for money.

    I agree that it is in the UK's interests to have good relations with major powers, however, when that relationship starts to become dysfunctional (look at the way that Brown and the UK press are obsessed with getting an audience with Obama, it's bizarre), the UK should probably try to talk to a few others aswell (near neighbours are always a good start) - not put all it's eggs in one basket.

    The shared interests you refer are all part of the same dysfunctional relationship... trying to resurrect the free market economy is a farce as the free market comes running to the government/taxpayer for cash when it's in trouble. Forget reform, think change. It's what the Americans voted for in Obama and it's what the British people want.

    Shared interests in foreign policy? No, America only has it's own interests in mind - they love to have partners to legitimise their exploits but hate sharing. Just because a good orator has taken power, doesn't mean things change and they haven't, his words are without substance. Obama has surrounded himself with foreign policy hawks and even kept Bush's secretary of defence.

    The shared intelligence you refer to took us into Iraq and got us involved with torture, kidnap and rendition. They share their military systems simply because we're worth more to them plus there's Diego Garcia that they lease for a pitance and use for a staging post for long range bombers. They didn't hesitate to drop Poland and the Czech Republic when they no longer needed them for the missile shield - we're no different.

    Thank you for admitting that the UK is still a major economic power, I thought, as a CONservative, you'd be towing George Osborne's 'Britain is bankrupt' line. Consequently, how would you diagnose George?

    You say that President Obama seems to be more in tune with UK political values, however, have you bothered to read speeches that he's made around the world? It would seem that he's in tune with just about everyone's political values even if he would prefer them to be a corporate-controlled western style democracy. Lovely words and all that but he's yet to add any substance.

    I'm sure he'll make a great American president and I'll personally have the greatest admiration for him if he manages to beat the insidious right wing blocking campaign and push through universal healthcare.

    Tell me, any news from Dan Hannan on whether his buddies are succeeding? Hope not, it must be horrendous to not be able to get proper medical treatment when you really need it.

  • Comment number 94.

    "It reveals how keen Labour strategists were to play the Obama and Gordon card before their conference..."


    Pure comedy. Are you for real?

    It actually quite saddens me to see the BBC sliding into the gutter with their reporting of this type of absolute drivel. The only scenario where I could ever envisage this almost childlike 'angle' being even vaguely newsworthy would be if you were to mention it during an interview with the two people in question, at which point they would no doubt take the urine out of you completely.

  • Comment number 95.

    # 41 Shambles Baby – Laught at Darling comment as turns out a lot of these tax havens are British Overseas territories excluding the Channel Islands as the UK belongs to them being part of William I Duchy Originals.

    # 55 johnharris66 – It is more a case that most of us on this blog know that they can run the country better than GB or have the guts to do the right thing. The UK does have a lot of shared interests with the US, but it has to be realised that the US has not been helpful to the UK on various occasions.

    #72 I_Despise_Labour – See that it is reporting on the loss of Baroness Vadera leaving a sinking ship the Government to go into a G20 role.

    I wonder what OB, GB and Gaddafi are going to say when they are in the Security Council meeting?

  • Comment number 96.

    #81 EmilyQuango

    Errrrrr, hi!

  • Comment number 97.

    latest from the US...

    White House frantic at Brown's refusal to meet Obama...

  • Comment number 98.


    Have to wait and see. The other one doing the rounds is that she'll be joining the backroom lot at the G20 to push through Browngabe's Global Grand Bargain...

    But considering the previous head of UKFI jumped ship last month and that she played a significant part in Browngabe's Saved The World weekend, either, both or neither of those rumours have got legs at the moment.

    "Wonder if anyone has told her she has been resigned yet" was how one wag on Guido put it. All part of a dark masterplan...

  • Comment number 99.

    #90 Fubar_Saunders

    Don't get me started, I'm with LLoyds. Touch wood everything seems ok so far. GB tried to ruin my savings from within I tells you.


    The Telegraph is reporting this story slightly differently to the BBC.

    "British officials made five attempts to secure official talks with the US President and even agreed to a policy change in an attempt to land a joint appearance between the two leaders, said diplomatic sources."

    It doesn't seem to mention what that policy change was.

    It also states:

    "Mr Brown was criticised for failing to stay at a dinner where he was honoured as Statesman of the Year."

    This has to be sarcasm. He probably recognised he was being mocked and refused to stay.

  • Comment number 100.


    Or.... it could be another New Labour Revolving Door scam.

    You know, those ones the apologists like to forget about and comfortably gloss over, preferring instead to make you think that as well as the Tories eating babies and pinning them to Trident missiles that their best mates in the City hedge funds will always keep them going...

    Or for the conspiracy theorists... its making sure that one of the trusted rats is in place to implement the new world order, even if NL are out of power.


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