Brown and Cameron clash over ‘new era’

Tories taunt PM over claims America’s choice of Obama signals ‘time for change’ in UK

The election of Barack Obama provoked a fierce clash between Gordon Brown and David Cameron after the Tory leader claimed he would benefit from a similar "time for change" factor at the general election.

Mr Cameron said: "In these difficult times, people everywhere are crying out for change. Barack Obama is the first of a new generation of leaders who will deliver it." He argued in the Commons that Mr Brown's recent attack on him as a "novice" was now redundant after change trumped experience in the US election.

The Prime Minister hit back, saying he had told the President-elect in a message of congratulation that "serious times need serious people". Ridiculing the Tories' stance on government borrowing, he said: "The only change that they represent is that they change their minds every week."

Labour strategists admit that Mr Cameron's "change" message may work now but believe the "Obama effect" will have faded by the time the British people vote in 2010. They stressed that the change in the US had been away from a right-wing party to a progressive one which shared many of Labour's values.

Mr Brown will speak to the President-elect on the telephone soon but they are unlikely to meet when he goes to Washington for a summit of world leaders on the financial crisis on 15 November. A formal meeting may have to wait until after the new President is installed in January.

The British embassy in Washington will be trying to put the Prime Minister in pole position for the new President's first meeting with a foreign leader. But the sharp-elbowed Nicolas Sarkozy may hold the trump card because France currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency.

Although Mr Brown was initially closer to the Clintons, his foreign policy chief Simon McDonald and special adviser Stewart Wood have close links with the Obama camp. There was a blip when a leaked memo by the Washington ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald suggested Mr Obama was "aloof", but Downing Street insiders claim it has long passed.

Team Brown is hoping for a more fruitful relationship than the Prime Minister has had with George Bush, which has been "business, not personal" in a deliberate contrast with Tony Blair's approach. The Prime Minister believes he shares the same values and policy agenda of the incoming President, who he described as "a true friend of Britain".

On reform of the financial system and bodies such as the United Nations, there should be broad agreement between President-elect Obama and Mr Brown. Ditto climate change, where the US election result should boost the prospects of a new international agreement to cut carbon emissions. Talks on the issue begin in Copenhagen next year.

One difficult area may be free trade. Although Mr Obama made protectionist noises while seeking the Democratic nomination, Mr Brown believes he is an internationalist at heart. Another potential problem is Iran's nuclear programme. On the face of it, President-elect Obama's desire for "unconditional engagement" is at odds with Britain and the UN's position that Tehran's nuclear enrichment programme must be suspended before negotiations can begin.

The two leaders should, however, have a common agenda on Iraq, as they both want out. Afghanistan might be a little more tricky but Mr Brown hopes the new president's demand for greater "burden sharing" by Nato members will be aimed primarily at Germany rather than turning into a call for yet more British troops. British officials believe the pair will agree on a "comprehensive" three-pronged approach in which any military "surge" would be backed up by economic and political change.

Mr Brown has spoken about the need to win "hearts and minds" in foreign affairs. He believes that rhetoric will chime with the instincts of the man who won the hearts and minds of the American people.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant

£12024: Randstad Education Leeds: Teaching Assistant September 2014 start - te...

Physics Teacher

£130 - £162 per day + UPS: Randstad Education Hull: Physics Teacher Long Term ...

IT Technician (1st/2nd line support) - Leatherhead, Surrey

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Technician (1st/2nd line support)...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn