It is snowing in Davos. I don’t know why that should surprise me. It is a ski resort, after all. The locals – who apparently do not simply disappear when the World Economic Forum leaves town – are pleased, since it means there will be plenty of snow on the slopes for the school half-term. But for some delegates, the snow seems to be a bit of a downer – adding to the discomfort of Davos. I saw one South African delegate struggling into his heavy coat and gloves and moaning, “this is torture.” The Chinese, however, are pleased. A senior Chinese official claims that there is an old Chinese saying that – “Heavy snow means there will be a good harvest.” This was slightly more interesting than his claim that the nations of the world “have common but differentiated responsibilities” over climate change.
I have spent much of the day in meetings of the Davos “International Media Council” which brings together a group of journalists from all over the world for off-the-record briefings with important people. This is all very flattering – but also slightly frustrating, since I am not allowed to report what they say.
One of the briefings was given by David Cameron. As a British citizen, I was interested to see what a small group of foreign columnists and editors made of the man who is likely to be our next prime minister. Generally, they seemed to be favourably impressed. The Americans were simply astonished to find a conservative who was willing to discuss the idea of tax rises in a calm fashion – and who took “liberal” positions on the environment and gay-rights. “The last time we had conservative leaders like that in the US”, said one, “Eisenhower was in power.”