Politics Blog

Tuesday 10th June

Being out of the spotlight might not be so bad for Bush and Brown.

George W Bush must be feeling very neglected at this particular time. As the Democratic Nomination has finally drawn to a close, all of the focus on successors must be somewhat demoralising to someone who is now a very lame duck indeed.

As much as he may not want to admit it, Gordon Brown is fast finding himself in a not un-similar position. But perhaps the shift out of the limelight for these two titans of world politics is an unpredicted blessing.

An impressive performance by home secretary Jacqui Smith on the 42 day detention issue, has led to an even more surprising result. Some MPs are now considering adding Smith to the ever-growing list of people who would be strong contenders to succeed Brown as PM when his time does eventually run out.

But more importantly, both men now have an unprecedented window in which to legislate without the blinding glare of the media spotlight.

While such an opening could be used as a golden opportunity to execute initiatives or to deliver on long-forgotten promises, it is instead being used to attempt to push through unpopular measures that would otherwise fall dead in the face of the full force of the media’s gaze.

While the distractions away from Brown are not as formal as the American Primaries, he has still managed to try and push through previously unthinkable measures such as announcing that all 16 year olds found carrying a knife should be taken to court, following a little-publicised meeting with police chiefs.

Bush, on the other hand, used his state of the union address to announce new immigration measures – securing borders, stopping “catch and release” border policy, and doubling the number of border patrol agents – all measures that he would be hard pressed to achieve without the help of the diversion of the primary campaigns.

But despite the obvious similarities there is one crucial difference. Bush has expected this shift of attention, particularly within his last term of office. Brown, on the other hand, has been a victim of his own timing. What will make this even worse for him is that the area with most interest in successors is inside his own party and his own Cabinet.

Perhaps he should have another well-timed state visit to America.

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