Martin Bright

Time Changes Everything

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It wasn't so long ago that senior Labour politicians were suggesting that Gordon Brown should use the coup of the G20/Obama visit to bounce straight into an election. It seems bizarre now, but such was the confidence of the Labour Party in those early days of the economic crisis that there were close allies of the Prime Minister urging him to go to the polls this spring. Their only concern was that it might be too late. The ideal time for those urging a snap election (the second in a series of elections that never were) was February. Now, the idea that Brown will do anything but wait until the last minute seems inconceivable, but anything's possible.

The other point that now seems obvious is that President Obama is no longer such a novelty. Of course it's always exciting to have the most powerful man in the world on British soil. But we're beginning to get used to having him around on our TV screens and in our psyches. A few months ago it seemed amazing to believe that Obama would be here at exactly the time Brown needed him the most. But now it's happening and it seems the most natural thing in the world. Soon it will be history and our Prime Minister will have to return to the brute reality of the UK recession.

After this there is only one set-piece event left and that is the Budget. Expectations have been managed down here even more than they have for the G20 summit. After that , I'm afraid, we are in pretty serious election mode for months ahead. What will it be like? It's always a mistake for political commentators to make predictions. Because however it looks from here, it won't look like that when we get there.