An interesting match

The Steinbrück bounce?

Team captains Team captains
I've never been interested in football so only have the faintest memory of the 1966 World Cup, this was when England beat Germany in the final. I'm told the result was 4 - 2, and I'm told that means goals; for some the joy of that victory lasted years. And, following the EU summit meeting today it would seem that Gordon Brown can claim another victory over Germany. The headline in the Telegraph says - Gordon Brown claims victory as ambassador complains to Germany in economic policies row - full article HERE.

But is this so? It was on Wednesday of this week that Brown made his now famous remark about "saving the world" during PMQs. Here we are on Friday and the debate about whether this was a man speaking from the heart, or not, continues; Freudian slip or simple gaffe? But there is more to this. The very fact that two German politicians, Peter Steinbrück and Steffan Kampeter, have made critical remarks, on the record, about Nulabour economic policies can be taken, as Brown did, as personal criticism. Not so long ago, when Tony Blair was the PM, such a thing would have been unthinkable. But blundering Brown seems to have raised his game to a level beyond football rivalry into something else.

The reason for this lies in his manner and tone when dealing with or speaking on any subject. The bombast and the bellowing roar in the House of Commons has gone from the tedious to the pitiful. Likewise when speaking one-to-one with a journalist for a radio broadcast we get the contrived gravitas act, the deep rumbling sound not of a powerful figure bothering to speak to a minion but sounding more like a new age devotee practising his Buddhist chanting. As we know some sounds are so high pitched that only dogs can hear them. But with Brown the opposite is the case, when he comes on the radio only the goldfish in the bowl on the opposite side of the room notices anything and then only that the world gently rocks for a while. No wonder the unelected Deputy Prime Minister Lord Mandy has changed Brown's name from Big Clunking Fist to Moses.

Mind you, there's another problem. The other evening a few of us were wondering what would happen if Brown took this new name to heart and grew a beard. We think that now Brown has grey hair he would end up looking as Saddam Hussein did when he was on the run from the US troops! So Gordon, don't do that.

Writing in the Guardian Martin Kettle says - Stop lecturing Germany, Gordon. Steinbrück is right - full article HERE.
Moses, I'm here to help, OK? Moses, I'm here to help, OK?
One would expect that any Guardian reporter would believe that big government is the best way to go and more EU the way to do it, but read Kettle's article beyond that level and his analysis of Brown is correct and well worth reading in full. Here, in my opinion, are the best bits.

If he (Brown) had his way, politics would be played out in Britain, the transatlantic relationship and - his current unfortunate conceit - the world. These are the chosen stages, real or delusional, on which our prime minister moves with assurance and a politically dangerous degree of hubris.

And - Nevertheless, Germans have not run up the unsustainable levels of personal debt that the British have. Germans have not financed their wealth on a house-price bubble and cheap lending, as we have. Germans save their money and they base their economy on industrial manufacturing and exports, in which we lag behind.

And - He (Brown) has lost no opportunity to lecture Germany from the free-market right about the shortcomings of its social market economic model. Now, with no word of apology, he is lecturing them again, this time from the diametrically opposite statist left. Not surprisingly, the Germans don't like it.

Kettle also suggests that Steinbrück might be - the single most important finance minister in Europe.

Brown has now reached a level of detachment and mania last seen in the final months of Margaret Thatcher's reign. Kettle is also correct in his description of Brown's attitude to the EU. So back to football and a question: why, if Brown is not keen on the EU and playing as England's captain, did he invite Mandelson, who last played for the EU, into his team? Could this lead to trouble?

Last word on football. England won the World Cup in 1996, our only victory. Germany won in 1954, 1974 and 1990 and were runners up in 1996, 1982, 1986 and 2002. So, Gordon Brown or Peter Steinbrück, anyone taking bets?

The picture (top right) comes from The Daily Mail and shows Gordon Brown and Peter Steinbrück in a jolly pre-match mood, we hope it lasts.