Will British voters learn from the lessons of a new American Presidency?
In a fantastic post over at the Spectator Magazine’s Coffee House blog, James Forsyth asks whether an expected Obama presidency will either prove or disprove Gordon Brown’s claim that “this is no time for a novice”
He writes “If by the time of the next general election, which will probably be about 16 months into an Obama presidency, Obama is seen as a success, the line will lose most of its force.
It will be a stretch to argue that while America is doing just fine with a novice president, the situation is too serious for Britain to have one.
A successful Obama presidency could also set off a yearning for a generataional turning of the page which sees the Browns, Mandelsons and Campbells of this world consigned to history”
I think there is some truth in this, and wonder if the same could be said in reverse – that if American elects the veteran Senator John McCain as its President, that his successes could bolster the PM, or that the ‘continuation of the same failures’ could prove David Cameron’s point that “the risk is sticking with what you’ve got and expecting a different result”?
We have already noted that, in general, focus on the economic helps Barack Obama and any foreign policy or military challenges play to McCain’s strengths. I wonder if the difference in the UK is starker and less issue-focussed – that in moments of crisis, either economic or of security, Brown benefits as the incumbant. Certainly, the recent economic fallout has improved Labour’s numbers a little, and his highest poll ratings (albeit during his political honeymoon) came during the floods and terrorist attack on Glasgow airport.
Of course, British voters will not be founding their decision on the personage or performance of the new American President, but I suspect James Forsyth is right to pick up on the way that a new US Administration performs will percolate into the language of our next General Election campaign.