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Should Joanna Lumley be allowed to dictate Gurkha policy?

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While Gordon Brown increasingly draws comparisons to the mortally wounded bull gasping his last at a Spanish corrida, one personality at Westminster  has been putting on a show of decisive policy-making that has brought the bloodthirsty crowd to its feet.

Totally at ease with publicity, absurdly photogenic and much loved amongst the electorate at large, actress Joanna Lumley — AbFab’s Patsy to the younger ones, The Avengers’ Purdy to more seasoned TV viewers — has provided Westminster watchers with an object lesson in how to get things done.

She has led the charge for the Gurkhas from the start, corralling the press, harrying ministers over their right to settle in Britain and even holding private meetings with Gordon Brown when she felt it was time to go to the top.

Yesterday was perhaps her finest hour as she handbagged the hapless immigration minster Phil Woolas in the Westminster offices of the BBC as the cameras rolled, reportedly extracting more concessions from him.

Expenses row saps Brown’s authority

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It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Gordon Brown setting out a plan to overhaul MPs’ unpopular allowances and announcing it on YouTube too.

A week later the plan has unravelled in the face of opposition protest and internal Labour party misgivings. The upshot is more bad press and the feeling that Brown’s authority has been further undermined.

Michelle sparkles as hostess Sarah plays it safe

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Sarah Brown will have had an anxious early morning.

Her husband’s attempt to be the great fixer of the financial crisis and best friend of the United States at the same time was a big ask, but how was she going to handle the visit of Michelle Obama?

This was the first time Sarah had been called upon to host her new opposite number from The White House. And it wasn’t all smiling outside Downing Street either – the pair had to visit a cancer care centre as well and – horrors – meet Her Majesty the Queen.

from MacroScope:

Brown gets helping hand from Obama

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He loves the Queen and the British people. Truth be told, President Obama was always going to be a hit on his first overseas trip.

But Gordon Brown probably could not believe his luck. The prime minister just could not stop grinning as he stood next to the new president at a news conference in the Foreign Office ahead of the G20 summit.

How necessary is the G20 summit?

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From the cosy fireside chats and walks in the woods of 30 years ago, world summitry has expanded beyond all recognition, with this week’s G20 meeting in London being billed in some quarters as the biggest gathering of leaders since 1945.

But the problems now are of course much bigger too. Long gone are the days when a few soothing words about co-operation on currencies would be enough to declare a summit a success.

Ghost of past failure haunts G20

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Stopping off in New York during a marathon, 18,000-mile diplomatic offensive before next week’s G20 summit in London next week, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recalled a conference held in eerily similar circumstances in London 76 years ago.

Sixty-six nations gathered for the June 1933 London Monetary and Economic Conference which was aimed at lifting the world’s economy out of the Depression.

The Bank of England enters the political arena

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Gordon Brown has not said openly that he plans to turn on the taps again in the budget with another package of spending and tax cuts, but his appeals to world leaders to do just that have led to a widespread feeling that more stimulus is to come.

So Mervyn King’s warning against more spending when debt levels are already so high has predictably been leapt upon by the Conservatives as a powerful message of support for their own position. 

Mervyn King’s warning to the government

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The unusual foray into politics by Bank of England Governor Mervyn King, in suggesting there should be no more tax cuts or spending rises in next month’s budget, has been widely interpreted by the newspapers as a blow to Gordon Brown but a source of secret satisfaction to the Treasury.

Chancellor Alistair Darling, several say, was not happy with Brown’s reported budget plans to offer voters more jam before they had digested the 25 billion-pound fiscal package in last Autumn’s Pre-Budget report.

Brown flatters, but are we still best of friends, papers ask

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“Brave” was how most of the British press responded to Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s speech to both houses of Congress in Washington.

Brown was the first European leader to be invited to Washington by the new U.S. administration and was only the fifth British prime minister to speak to a joint session of Congress.

Tennis anyone? Brown’s audience with Obama

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After all the angst, the special relationship is alive and well. For Gordon Brown, it must feel like job done, to a certain degree.

Before his trip to Washington, there was endless speculation about whether or not the new president really cared about the so-called special relationship between the two countries.

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