Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Invasions, Intrigue and Inspiration

It is a little odd, reading about current affairs during summer weeks away, where you grab the occasional snippet, or hear about events that seem to belong to a far away country. It has certainly been an eventful summer. Starting with the PM, Gordon Brown must have wished for a return to the issues and profile of last summer, where he seemed to bestride the political stage with confidence. Now, nearly everything he has turned his hand to has made him seem small and inadequate. The Russian-Georgian splat left him silent for days, giving the field to the ever canny David Cameron who nipped across the border from his holiday in Turkey to go and meet Saakashvili. Appalling bit of opportunism, but that's politics, and Cameron is showing the flair that is so missing from Brown. Brown, incidentally, is notoriously uninterested in foreign affairs, and has no vision for it whatsoever, which may seem refreshing but is actually a serious disadvantage for a British PM.

For the Olympics, Brown didn't bother attending the opening ceremony alongside the likes of Sarkozy and Bush, but did then hop along to Beijing when the British olympians were showing their metal, only to be rather out-classed by the shambling Boris Johnson. Where Blair would have been able to milk the British success for his own purposes, Brown has been peculiarly unable to do so - even the hapless John Major has managed to emerge from the Olympics smelling of roses thanks to his National Lottery decision. Perhaps, also, Boris's view that British youth is not in endemic breakdown seemed a little more reasonable on the backs of inspiring Olympics success.

Finally, we have the joyous spectacle of a Labour civil war that never really took off. The over-rated Miliband, who should have had his hands full with his foreign affairs brief anyway, found time to plot for a leadership position that he isn't prepared to fight for, make an approach to the inept Alan Milburn about being Chancellor in a Miliband administration, and they try to desperately row back from a political and PR disaster. If the Tories had ever been worried about a Miliband take-over, they must have been reassured by his shenanigans over the summer. For Miliband, read Portillo?

Meanwhile, the news focus shifts to America, as the Democrats hold their convention in Denver this week, and we all wonder whether asking that old plagiarist Joe Biden to be his VP candidate will help or hinder the hero of the hour. There'll be more on the presidential race over the coming weeks of course, but the issue for Obama, whose lead has dwindled to nothing, is an age old one for America - wil enough white people vote for a black man to be president? I suspect they won't, and I think we will have a McCain presidency next year - perhaps with Mitt Romney as VP. Watch this space.

So here we are, hurtling towards September, a new term, a new political year, and all the old faces continuing their neverending game of political chairs. Ever fascinating.

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