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Was Obama making Kinnock’s Sheffield mistake?

July 29th, 2008


    Did his foreign trip make him look too presumptuous?

Barack Obama has returned to the US after his whirlwind foreign tour to find that some polls are now going against him. Was it wise or not and should he have avoided the mass rally in Berlin?

We don’t know the long term impact but after sifting through the reports again I could not help being reminded of Labour’s famous Sheffield rally a week before the 1992 General Election. This came over in the media as though it had been arranged to celebrate Neil Kinnock’s victory over the Tories.

What he said that day and his whole demeanour did not go down with the voters. He gave the impression of taking the coming election for granted – he was being presumptuous. He was also reminding the public what a Kinnock-led government might look like which with the benefit of hindsight that was not wise.

    Voters like to feel that what they are doing is important and if you act as though an election is a done deal then they might just bite back.

Ever since his nomination became a certainty Obama has looked as though he might fall into the Kinnock trap. The creation of an Obama “seal of office” was quickly withdrawn but the overseas tour went ahead in a form that could be portrayed as though he assumed he was in the White House already.

What should have been presented as a fact-finding mission to prepare himself came over as though he regarded the little matter of the election on November 4th as a minor inconvenience.

This is on top, of course, of middle America’s long-standing distrust of foreigners.

A full range of White House betting markets is here.

Mike Smithson






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