Peter Hoskin

No.10 belatedly starts the G20 expectations management

Today’s Times has a great double-page spread on the forthcoming G20 meeting; concentrating on how much the summit will cost, and the dim prospects for any meaningful agreement being reached.  Nestled among the coverage is this quote from a “government source”:

“We are by no means talking it down but I do not think anyone is suggesting the world’s problems can be solved in a single day,”

If this is expectations management, it’s all too little, too late.  We’ve already had Brown calling for a global “grand bargain”; we’ve already had the Downing Street-fuelled idea that this is Brown’s Big Chance to save his premiership; and these memes have had plenty of time to take root and create expectations that will be very difficult to meet.  

All in all, it encapsulates one of Brown’s greatest problems of the past few months.  Hopes have been raised, and events talked up, to the point that there can only be disappointment.  It happened with the PBR, with the Obama meeting last week and, now, with the G20 summit.  If Brown’s going to have any chance of capitalising on, say, the Budget, then you feel he’s got to rein in his loose-tongued advisers and spinners, as well as some of his own inflated rhetoric.

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