‘Nuclear security and proliferation’ is not a topic that is dominating discussion down at The Voters’ Arms, but for Gordon Brown it has suddenly become the number one priority.
The Indy confirms that Our Dear Leader will attend a conference on the very subject on 12 and 13 April. The attraction of this little wheeze is that it takes place in the States and will hosted by, wait for it, Barack Obama.
Iain Dale posted on Brown’s proposed trip the other day and made the point that “these trips can also go very wrong, and there is always a danger when a Prime Minister is out of the country during an election campaign”. Indeed so, but there a couple of other matters worth discussing.
Firstly, there is the ‘little local difficulty’ down at the airport, which may continue into April, disrupting the holiday plans of thousands over Easter. It will hardly go down well with the punters when they observe Brown jetting off to see his best mate.
Secondly, let’s have a closer look at the election timetable. The consensus is that Brown will seek a dissolution 6 April. This will be followed by “the wash-up”, allowing parliament to be dissolved on either 9 or 12 April, after which the campaign proper begins. Then, up pops the first of the TV debates that will take place on either 14 or 15 April.
As Dale highlights, there is previous form on a Prime Minster jetting off for a summit during an election campaign. Thatcher attended the G7 in 1987, but it was in the middle of the campaign and the result was not in doubt. For Brown to fly off at the beginning of the campaign when the manifesto is launched is a rather odd decision.
Leaving the TV debates to one side, and assuming Brown does go to have his picture taken with Obama, is our tactical leader going surprise us all and take tea with HMQ earlier than we have assumed, allowing the campaign to start earlier.
It will be one of Brown’s rabbits.