I'm not going to say too much more about the Prime Minister (at the time of writing) Gordon Brown partly because I think it is getting a bit boring and partly because I'm beginning to feel sorry for him. I don't believe, as some people do, that he is mad but he is clearly under a great deal of stress and there is no obvious relief coming.
His 'Obama Beach' gaffe is vaguely reminiscent of former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin repeatedly referring to the allied invasion of Norway in a speech about D-Day a couple of years ago. The Brown/Martin comparison has often been made but it's worth going over: both men came to power as finance ministers in centre left governments after routing their Tory opposition, both men served in that role for a long time as their Prime Minister amassed multiple election victories, both men had leadership ambitions and ultimately derailed their leader and finally both men led their once invincible parties to defeat and the verge of electoral oblivion. Critically both of them were widely hailed in the media as being substantial figures who would bring renewal to their respective parties after a decade in power under formally popular PMs who had lost their lustre.
I think the reason that they disappointed their followers so much when they actually took office is because of "Overrated Finance Minister Syndrome". The world underwent a sustained period of growth from the early 1990s onwards because of the end of the Cold War, the opening of previously closed markets like China & India, the advent of the internet and just the economic cycle. This led people in various countries to attribute the economic success to the man lucky enough to be sitting in the hotseat when the boom was in full swing. Proclaiming a Chancellor as a political titan because he happens to be in office during an economic upswing is akin to declaring that a Defence Secretary is a genius because our army could invade Luxembourg.
As well as Brown and Martin, Brian Cowen in Ireland is an example of the same kind of thing as was Paul Keating of Australia in the 1990s (somewhat earlier than the others it must be said). When they actually took power and had to rely on their abilities to deal with multi faceted problems where their input actually mattered voters soon realised that they weren't particularly brilliant and in fact had been posted to the finance brief because they were fairly awkward figures who were not necessarily suited to roles that involve prolonged exposure to the public.
The question should not be why Gordon Brown is struggling as Prime Minister but why so many people were convinced he would do well given that he had never occupied a role which tested the qualities required to be Prime Minister.
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