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The Need For Experience

I've just heard your election's been postponed for a few days because of your economic problems. Don't worry -- we've sent our best man to sort it all out. Yes, it's the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. He's popped over to offer a few words of advice on how to control all those awful speculators who blew your economic system apart.

Now, Gordon Brown is easy to spot on your screen -- he's the one with the dark hair and permanent expression of gloom. He says he's been warning for years that controls had to be tighter, and no one listened. So now he's going to tell you again.

Those furrows on his brow have become even deeper in the last few months, but it's not the world economy that has caused the heartache. His problem is that no one here seems to like him any more. His ratings have plunged. Even his best friends, and there aren't many of those, predict he will be badly beaten at the next election. His cabinet colleagues hide in corners and whisper dark traitorous thoughts. And Gordon Brown's shoulders seemed to sag, and the smile, which never appeared that often, looked like a grimace of despair.

But something very curious happened this week. Mr. Brown turned up at his annual party convention and actually did rather well. His speech was acclaimed as one of the best he has ever made. His opponents suddenly melted away. Why? Well, believe it or not, even though a lot of voters here may blame Mr. Brown for their problems, suddenly all his previous ten years of experience in charge of the treasury, that furrowed brow, and those endless dense and complex economic pronouncements that we never quite understood -- they all seem so ... so reassuring.

As I sat listening to him in the packed convention hall, his most telling phrase when discussing who could best run the country was: "I am all in favour of apprenticeships, but let me tell you this is no time for a novice." It was a killer line, officially directed at the young leader of the opposition Conservative Party, but really aimed at his own 43 year old Foreign Secretary David Miliband who had been widely suspected of trying to encourage a coup.

Like you, the British people feel themselves not just on the edge of a depression, but cast adrift in an economic hurricane. And at such times, the inclination is to go for experience over youth, for stability over excitement. And so as Mr. Brown now strides the international stage, there is a new spring in his step and just the glimmer of a smile on that stern face. He has one thing which none of the pretenders can offer -- he has experience. Trouble for YOU is that neither of your candidates seems to know much about economics. Tell you what -- you have Gordon.
By Peter Allen