James Forsyth

No game-changer

No game-changer
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As Gordon Brown heads back to London he can content himself with the fact that his Washington trip has not turned into the disaster is threatened to during the whole not a ‘press conference but a pool-spray’ moment. His speech wasn’t up there with Blair’s 2003 effort, but his knowledge of American politics enabled him to hit most of the right notes and, at the risk of being guilty of the soft bigotry of low expectations, Brown’s delivery was better than usual.

Brown must, though, know that the trip has not changed the course of British politics which, from his perspective, it needed to. To use an American sporting metaphor, Brown needed to him a home run with this visit but only succeeded in getting on base.

Worryingly for Brown, there are also signs that the G20, the summit which is so integral to his recovery strategy, might turn out to be more of a damp squib than a turning point. The Obama administration has still to staff up—the only confirmed official in the Treasury Department is the Treasury Secretary himself, Tim Geithner—with the result that it has not yet come to a view on what it wants out of the summit. More on that—and the whole visit—in the magazine tomorrow.

For obvious reasons, British politics will not return to normal for another couple of weeks. But when it does, its essential trajectory will remain the same as it was before. Brown is still headed for defeat at the next election.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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