This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Good luck tomorrow, Mr Brown!

Tomorrow Gordon Brown makes one of the most important speeches of his life when he addresses both Houses of the US Congress.

I am still unsure as to why the Obama Administration has granted our Prime Minister this rare honour.

But never underestimate the importance of a set piece speech like this in helping to define an agenda. Some of Tony Blair's speeches like the one he gave to the Labour Party Conference after 9/11 helped to define an era and shape government policy for years. There is a chance that Brown's could be equally significant.

Brown should use the occasion as a chance to push for whole scale international reform of the financial markets and the financial system. This is what he knows best and is most comfortable with - so he should stick to the serious, substantial stuff. There is no need to be hectoring but he must impress on the Americans the importance of international co-operation in fighting the credit crunch and reforming the financial systems. And he must not be afraid to criticise some of the protectionist instincts within the Democrat Party and the wider political scene.

However, he shouldn't try to be something he isn't and fawn over the new President. To be quite frank, any forced familiarity would be embarrassing.

The worst case scenario would be that the whole spectacle of our Prime Minister next to the President would somehow diminish Brown in the voters' eyes and remind them of his flaws - especially next to the charming and eloquent President.

We should see it as a good sign though that a British Prime Minister is the first European leader to meet the President and has been asked to address Congress. It lays to rest the argument put forward by some 'doom-mongers' who said that the special relationship would be over.

In fact it suggests to me that the Obama Administration might be willing to cut Brown some slack over the forthcoming G20 meeting in London in April and agree to the Prime Minister's reforms. Why else would they have allowed him to make a political case directly to the American people? The Prime Minister's speech will be covered tomorrow by the US news networks.

This is excellent news. The current economic situation lends itself to active, interventionist governments which progressives on both sides of the Atlantic should be trumpeting. No doubt Brown will make this case passionately.

Finally, in all of this Brown has to remember that the most important audience is the one at home. I don't believe for a second that the Presidential magic is suddenly going to rub off on Brown and transform him in the eyes of voters. But the occasion might just show Brown at his best.

A Prime Minister - who more than any other world leader - actually knows what he is talking about when it comes to the economy and has a plan about what to do. Brown must convey this tomorrow. If he does, it is job done and who knows it might just enhance his image in the eyes of the voters at home.

1 comment:

thePoliteer said...

I suspect that the US administrations willingness to put Gordon first in line is due less to the largely fictional 'special relationship' and more to their liking the continuing idea of an Americanophile conduit into the EU. The true nature of the special relationship - a monkey and organ grinder analogy comes to mind - was demonstrated during the run up to the Iraq war. All that said, its true that the venture could be good for Gordon, and should be supported because of that. Cheers Heedy