James Forsyth

The global temptation

The global temptation
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Whatever one thinks about the substance, the G20 summit was a presentational success for Brown. But as Andrew Rawnsley writes today, there is a danger for Brown if he decides to try and repeat this move:

‘After his summit high, the temptation for him will be to look for further kicks of this kind. He palpably enjoys being Chancellor of the World. He looks much more comfortable in his skin playing that part than he ever did when he was simply prime minister of Britain.

How warm is the glow of international summitry; how cold is the chill of bad poll numbers, rising unemployment figures and angry voters. Global Chancellor plays to his strengths, feeds his self-confidence, garners approving headlines and wins the applause of his international peer group. How seductive to think that he can carry on in that satisfying role from here to the next election. That is the lure and that is the trap.

He is going to have to spend less time saving the world and more energy running Britain if voters are going to give any consideration to re-electing him. He will have to become a prime minister again. That doesn't mean not talking about the economy; it does mean talking about it in the same language as his fellow citizens. He will have to focus less on SDRs at the IMF and more on the experiences and feelings of people in Birmingham, Bristol and Bury. The trillion dollar man will have to learn to talk pounds and pence again.

Becoming prime minister will also mean addressing subjects other than the economy. Since he moved into Number 10 nearly two years ago, Mr Brown has not delivered a major speech on crime. In fact, I don't think he has yet delivered even a minor speech on crime. He will have to find resonant language and convincing approaches to all the other concerns that press on voters from their health to the education of their children.’ Brown is at his most formidable politically talking about economics. I expect we’ll see an effort from him to use the G20 to restore his economic reputation. But the problem for him is that this will conflict with the reality of the economic situation in Britain. 


Written byJames Forsyth

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

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