A tale of two speeches today, as Brown and Cameron delivered addresses largely on the markets and financial regulation. The big difference: Brown’s was directed at a European audience in Strasbourg, whilst Cameron’s was delivered here in Blighty. It made for a striking comparison.
On the one hand, you had the PM putting a Continental spin on his usual platitudes – he even said that "we in Europe are uniquely placed…". Will this really achieve all that much, apart from raising a few chuckles from those European politicians who can remember when Chancellor Brown frequently snubbed meetings of EU finance ministers? Of course, the idea is that Brown has to rally support ahead of the G20 and, in turn, the Downing St strategists hope that will translate to a G20 bounce for the PM. But, with the hope that anything meaningful will be achieved in Watford dwindling by the day, there’s still a grim futility about it all.
On the other, you had the Tory leader delivering a quietly effective attack on "Labour’s Debt Crisis" and the Government’s "failure to regulate public and private debt". He even managed to make some encouraging, if slightly nebulous, noises about how the Tories regard regulation and free markets – and all with a British slant. Sure, the subject matter was a little on the dry side. But throw in Mervyn King’s comments, and the Tories have been able to score some useful blows against the absent Brown.
All in all, it’s on days like today when you see just how easily Brown’s global approach could alienate him from the British electorate – the people, lest he forget, whose votes he’ll need come election time.
P.S. Dan Hannan used Brown’s European appearance to absolutely skewer the PM. Here’s the unmissable footage: