James Forsyth

Hope over expectations management

Hope over expectations management
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Martin Kettle and Steve Richards devote their columns today to the question of why Gordon Brown has so hyped the G20 Summit that it cannot possibly live up to expectations. Kettle sums it up nicely, when he writes that:

“He has set expectations too high. His rhetoric left reality standing. From the moment the summit was mooted, Brown bet the whole farm on the rewards of being seen at the heart of the economic summit. As a result, Thursday's gathering has been seriously oversold as a transformative political event. The danger for Brown is that now, instead of being hailed as the man who led the global economy out of recession, he risks being dismissed as boastful but ineffectual.”

Steve compares this error to the election that never was. But there is a fundamental difference. The failure to manage expectations about an autumn 2007 poll was born of over-confidence, the Brownites were drunk on power—the prospect of winning their own mandate and destroying the Tories. This time, the mistake has been a consequence of desperation. The Brownites know they are heading for defeat unless something changes, so they poured their hopes into the idea that this summit would be the game-changer. For this reason, I expect we will see many more failures of expectations management before Brown finally has to face the electorate.  

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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