Martin Bright

Gordon Brings the International Stage to London

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At the height of the internal Labour Party coup against Gordon Brown just before the last Labour Party conference even the Prime Minister's greatest detratctors agreed that he did the international economic stuff rather well. I remember one senior Blairite heavyweight suggesting that after his removal, Brown should be allowed to occupy a new role as a roving economic ambassador.

Since then, his reputation for economic competence has undergone an assault from which few would recover. But, whatever his opponents might say (and Fraser is right to say that it was largely done with smoke and mirrors), the G20 summit ended up as something of a triumph or Gordon Brown. I can already feel the brickbats as I say this, but our Prime Minister is respected on the international stage and by bringing that stage to London, he surpassed all expectation. Sarkozy's speech was a dream -- it was almost as if he had been primed to depress expectations only to come through for his "Anglo-Saxon" counterparts when it really mattered.

Whether this will win Gordon Brown a single vote in the next election is another matter. There will undoubtedly be a concern among voters that Cameron and Osborne will not be taken as seriously  on the international stage as Brown and Darling. They are right to worry. The Conservative Party has still not provided a convincing narrative of how they will tackle the crisis should they win the next election. The truth is that they don't have any more of a clue than anyone else. Part of me feels that they should just get honest with the electorate and admit that they believe nothing can be done and that the recession should be allowed to run its course.