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PM Brown triggers row with McCain by 'backing' Obama


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Labour is starting the spin but this is a major **** up. The half arsed excuse given is almost comical. No wonder Brown is a joke in the UK.



By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor and Tom Leonard

Last Updated: 6:00AM BST 10 Sep 2008

The Prime Minister heaped praise on Mr Obama and the Democrats in a magazine article, saying they were "generating the ideas to help people through more difficult times."

Dealing with economic problems is the crucial battleground in the US elections and Mr Brown's comments were interpreted as backing the Democrat candidate.

The Prime Minister's office and the British Embassy in Washington were last night involved in an embarrassing behind-the-scenes operation to try and limit the fallout from the incident. They were alerted after the highly influential Drudge Report website picked up the story, sparking a flurry of comment and analysis from election watchers in the US.

Well-placed sources claimed that Mr Brown may not have read the article written in his name by a "junior Labour official".

A source said: "It is clearly going to annoy the Republicans and is a naive mistake by a junior Labour person. The American Embassy is doing a lot of work to reassure the McCain campaign that this is not an endorsement of Obama."

In a statement, Number 10 said that the "Prime Minister is not endorsing any candidate and never would." It added: "Presidential elections are a matter for the American people. The Prime Minister looks forward to working closely with whoever is elected."

The article appeared in the Parliamentary Monitor magazine and was intended to set out Mr Brown's plans to overhaul Labour policies ahead of the party's annual conference this month.

In the article, Mr Brown drew attention to policies to help deal with the economic downturn. He said: "Around the world, it is progressive politicians who are grappling with these challenges. In the electrifying US Presidential campaign, it is the Democrats who are generating the ideas to help people through more difficult times.

"To help prevent people from losing their home, Barack Obama has proposed a Foreclosure Prevention Fund to increase emergency pre-foreclosure counselling, and help families facing repossession."

No mention is made of Mr McCain or his proposed policies in the article.

The Conservatives last night seized on the apparent gaffe. William Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said: "A responsible British Prime Minister needs to be ready to work with either Presidential candidate after the US election, and should neither take sides nor be seen to be taking sides.

"Gordon Brown needs to make clear why he appeared to be favouring the Democrats in this article and to explain whether this was his deliberate intention or a careless mistake."

The chief reaction from ordinary US voters on politics websites was one of derision, with many pointing out that the endorsement of a prime minister as troubled as Mr Brown was of dubious value.

There was also a widespread amount of annoyance – not confined to Republicans - that a foreign political leader should be seeking to influence the US election.

Readers of the influential US Politico blog were roughly split two to one between those who were critical of Mr Brown's comments and those who approved of them.

One wrote: "Brits like Obama? That's like a dog whistle to the Dumbed Down Americans to vote for Palin-McCain. Thanks Brown."

Another commented: "Cue beam of light...People of the World, he is the One for you. But we have a quirky little thing here in the colonies, American voters pick our President. Not the British Prime Minister nor the People of the World."

The colonial theme was picked up by others. "The most incompetent PM in recent English history for the first time since King George III and Lord North telling the USA who should run their country," wrote one. "Makes me feel like dumping some tea in the harbour."

British Prime Ministers have largely declined to disclose their support for American candidates.

However the Blair administration was questioned for its close relationship with the Al Gore election team in the run-up to the 2000 election while John Major's links with George Bush senior also came in for criticism. The Bush camp contacted the Conservative government in the 1992 election battle seeking details about Mr Clinton's time as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford.

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Sounds to me like a bit of honesty just got politically covered up. Had it really been a junior bozo acting on his own and improperly using the PM's name and inventing quotes, the bloke would have been named and fired. This is diplomatic CYA.

or... I agree with Oldskool

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