Thursday, September 24, 2009

No friends at home,
and no allies abroad.

Spurned by Obama and under more friendly fire at home Gordon Brown is sinking to depths of unpopularity unseen for a PM in living memory.

So, the man from Illinous says "no".

What a desperately low state this country is in. Bankrupt and now marooned internationally. Frantic efforts by Foreign Office officials failed to secure even a five minute formal meeting between the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern ireland with the President of the United States while both men were in the same building, Gordon Brown had to apparently make do with tugging the great mans sleeve whilst waiting in the kitchen. Oh dear.

The world of international politics and diplomacy is a cold, hard place. As the BBC's Nick Robinson says: 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".

Politicians fear unpopularity is infectious like a particularly virulent plague. Gordon Brown is being seen as a loser -yesterdays man- and being seen to identify with him is increasingly toxic, so the international movers and shakers move gently away from him when he enters the room -especially if the cameras are running.

Then the Telegraph had this story - that Gordon Brown was spurned by American Bankers (hardly surprising given that he has heaped blame on them for everything and then tried to cut their pay) who stayed away in droves from his convention. "Although invitations to a number of Wall Street's biggest banks are known to have been sent, only one senior US banker, 52-year Citigroup veteran Bill Rhodes – who stepped down as chairman of Citigroup North America in July but remains on its board – attended yesterday's economic roundtable."

Brown has brought his office to a new low and it is not just at home that much work needs to be done to repair the reputation of our Government. I can't think of a time in the post-war era when we have had a serving prime minister held in such open distain both at home and abroad. There is something deeply embarrassing for us all in seeing the leader of our country humiliated in this way.

Gordon will have to get used to it, though. The Labour Party Conference next week is known to have such a low attendance that party officials have been offering last minute free tickets to anyone from Brighton who wants to come along.

Nobody is interested in what the Prime Minister has to say, not even the press.

The story at Conference will instead have to be all about the leadership, (again) and what the future holds for the Labour Party in opposition.

Favourite Charles Clarke was first out of the stalls last night with another call for Brown to 'do the decent thing' and in the shadows any number of off the record briefings are already underway from the so-called 'friends' of various cabinet members keen to let it be known that if the unthinkable did happen their man (or woman?) may be persuaded to throw their hat in the ring for a leadership contest.

Expect the action to all be in the fringe meetings debating the future of left-wing politics. Just like the Lib dems this week, Labour have discounted losing and are thinking of a future in opposition.

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