Saturday, April 04, 2009

G20 Reaction

It's safe to say that the outcome of the G20 last week was a surprise to everyone. Last November the Americans were expecting to sweep into London and dictate the agenda, while the French and Germans were expecting they would get to lecture everyone about how their economies had survived intact while the Anglo-Saxon economies had not. And both the Tories and the press were loudly anticipating a failure by the Brown government to get all the differing parties onto the same page right up to the eve of the summit.

As it turned out, Gordon Brown not only pulled it off, Britain was central in driving the agenda (the first time this has happened at these meetings in decades).

It wasn't just the official agenda that went right, the peripheral one of welcoming the Obamas on their first visit abroad went right too. We saw Sarah Brown again for the first time since Glenrothes, and again she was a hit. She managed to strike exactly the right note, from getting her friend JK Rowling to give a reading (thrilling not only the Obamas but the Medvedevs), to making tea in a cancer centre, she was pretty much the perfect representative for Britain.

Everyone likes Sarah. Part of it is that she isn't pushy like Cherie (who was vilified by the press) but not cringingly shy like Norma Major (who was bullied by the press). She is very much as middle England likes to see itself - kind, well-mannered, endearingly plump and sometimes a little frumpy. Cherie (and Samantha Cameron who fancies herself as a fashionista) would not have been able to resist competing with Michelle Obama in the fashion stakes. Sarah, who is the same age as Michelle, didn't bother to try, and her instincts were right. While the Americans and French supposedly don't mind seeing their leaders' wives spend thousands on couture in the middle of a recession, Brits are a different cup of tea.

It's a rare skill to be able to tap your country's mood without even trying. Sarah Brown turned out to be the big winner of the G20 summit.


broncodelsey said...

As Brown's key objective for the G20 was his fiscal stimulus which was blocked (by the French,Germans,Governor of the bank of England,IMF & Darling amongst others)in the week before the meeting,by any stretch of the imagination the meeting was a failure.
Brown milked the Obama's for all they were worth,but Obama's meeting with Cameron obviously showed that he realises Brown is on his way out.

Yes,Sarah Brown is better than Cherie Blair (that wouldn't be difficult though),but someone needs to talk to her about her dress sense.For someone that's so visibly overweight to wear those very tight dresses with short hemlines just looks awful.

Brown & Labour must be incredibly dissapointed that after all the photo ops with Obama,all the grandstanding for a week and they get a derisory 3% poll increase in the Labour friendly YouGov poll.

broncodelsey said...

I must apolgise in that my earlier post omitted the fact that Brown has managed to get agreement to increase the funding of the IMF.
This will certainly help this country when Darling is sent with the begging bowl to the IMF later this year.

At least we got the reassurance from Mandelson and Timms that their is no stigma attached to the IMF giving us a loan.

snowflake5 said...

broncodelsey - Sarah Brown is normal weight. No wonder Tories are losing the female vote with prejudices such as theirs... Insult us women at your peril...

As for the IMF, LOL. Tories are consoling themselves for the narrowing of their lead by pretending that labour are about to go to the IMF. Just like they pretended to themselves that the G20 was "bound" to be a failure... Your fantasy world has no rivals.

BTW the Germans are stimulating more than the UK. Do the numpties in the Conservative party realise that? Obviously not....

You guys have been in Sheffield rally mould since Jan. Think! We are in a recession, but Labour is closing the gap. What does that tell you about the Conservatives?

DevonChap said...

Snowflake. I like the choice of picture. Seems to imply the place for the women is making tea for the men while they sort out 'man matters'.

Pretty much all experts had been expecting a post G20 bounce for Labour provided it didn't collapse. The YouGov poll has Labour gaining but the Tories unchanged, still over 40%. Time will tell if this is a one off shift or if there will be future movement.

I think the trouble for Brown is that this has been treated by the media like his budgets towards the end of his chancellorship. Everyone is looking to find the false claims and double counting. True to form only 10% of the 1 trillion dollars pledged is new money.

Now we are back to the political grind with only the budget for Brown to look forward to. If he can pull a rabbit out of the hat then with his G20 boost it might give him something to build on. If not it is downhill. Trouble is the political agenda is refocusing on domestic issues. Scandals and job losses will soon crowd out the G20. Hoon is the latest minister revealed as profiting from second home expenses today. As I said before, Tory scandals are mostly about sex, Labour ones money (though Nigel Evans is working on the sex part for Labour)

broncodelsey said...

A good piece by John Rentoul in the Indy on Sunday

“…His early reputation as Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was a brilliant and prudent guardian of the nation’s finances, was terribly damaged by his attempt to count planned spending on schools and hospitals twice, and to roll up consecutive years’ numbers into impressively large “bullions”, as he called them. You would have thought that he would have grasped two things. One is that most people have no concept of scale when it comes to large numbers. For the purposes of getting a political message across, there is no difference between a million, a billion or a trillion. The other is that, having thus attached the word spin to New Labour like a barnacle, repeating the error on a global scale would be unwise.

But no, the presentational slipperiness of that early period has returned. We should have realised in mid-March, when Alistair Darling suddenly redefined “fiscal stimulus”…..

..Yes, Brown may get an Obama bump in the opinion polls. But it will be weaker than his previous attempts to defy political gravity. The dead cat is proving surprisingly elastic, but it is still dead. The voters have decided, broadly, what they think of him, and it is that he has brought the country to rack and ruin…”

A very good synopsis of how the majority of the electorate feel about Brown.

DavidH said...

"Britain was central in driving the agenda (the first time this has happened at these meetings in decades)."

Not sure I agree with that. The G8 Gleneagles agenda was very much Blair-lead.

Brown's clearly had a very good week, PR-wise. The summit reached conclusion without serious dissent and the media's been focussed almost exclusively on Brown hosting and apparently leading the world.

It still has all the smell of a Brown budget, except that now he's run out of money in Britain, he's having to spend other nations' cash - and sell off other institution's gold reserves (at least they'll get a better price this time!). His budgets generally good on the day and got worse as the details went on.

This time, the problem is that there are no details. The Doha round is unprogressed, the toxic debts are still clogging the financial system, the asymmetry between trade deficits and surplusses remains (and the Chinese and Indian currencies have still not been properly integrated into the global economy). For all the noise, the summit achieved very little.

That, however, is not the impression you'd get from the media. Reality will hit home when voters' house prices continue to fall, savings returns remain rock bottom, pension funds remain in severe deficit, when unemployment continues to rise and when the government makes massive public sector cuts because it's run out of money (unless it prints it). The polling boost for Labour (all from the Lib Dems and others btw - the Tory share was unchanged), will be no more than a bouncette.

david kendrick said...

Sarah Brown is average weight, which could be the same as 'normal' weight...but it doesn't have to be.

The problem with Brown's very recent conversion to Keynesian economics is just that---it is very recent.

Keynes believed that it is the govt's role to be 'out of phase' with the general economy. So in boom times, the govt should take a frugal attitude to its spending, and put taxes aside for 'a rainy day'. When there is a downturn, and there is a shortage of orders/spending, the govt should fill that gap by spending more, borrowing if necessary.

But Brown did not save, on our behalf, during the fat years, and clearly there is less scope than there should be, for extra govt spending now. That looks incompetent to many in this country and abroad.

Sure, the G20 appeared to be a success. But that reflects better on GB as a politicain, than GB as a guardian of the nation's finances.

Quietzapple said...

It does seem that no deceit is too ludicrous for tendentious tories these days.

Gordon Brown had been arguing for restructuring of the international finance system for over 10 years which made the Franco-German attempts at grandstanding the issues a real guffaw!

Sarah is a quiet delight so far as I am concerned. They all hated Cherie because she was so evidently clever, and her own woman. Male tories can rarely stand up to a strong woman, they either go for battery, or submission it seems.

Their almost invariable abuse of the physical attributes, real or imagined, of any Labour lady disgusts me. Such abuses are almost invariably tolerated on the Dully Tele (Daily Telegraph) blogs.

The more desperate such people get, the worse they are making it for Cameron . . . .

broncodelsey said...

So back to business as usual with the New Labour scumbags sinking to yet even lower levels and Brown's gone into hiding.What's new?

Brown's great moral compass!

Bet team Cameron can't believe their luck.

Harry Flashman said...

Biggest story of the G20 was surely how quickly it faded from the news cycle.

Brown got a few good headlines but for 2 steps forward, the following weeks have been 6 steps back.

Junius said...

'Labour is closing the gap'

Famous last words, eh?

Quietzapple said...

By their abuses do we know them - "scumbags" a sound traditional tory word no doubt, shows the style of their breeding I suppose.