Some of Gordon Brown’s recent comments have offered curious insights into how he sees the UK’s role in the world.
Last Friday saw the prime minister jet off for India and China with the promise to teach its 2.4bn citizens how to speak his native tongue. “I want Britain to make a new gift to the world….English,” he pledged.
Among his other gifts was a new programme to recruit “master trainers” to train 750,000 English language teachers in India in just five years.
This sort of bombast is looking increasingly familiar to those following Brown’s comments on foreign affairs over the New Year.
In post-Bhutto Pakistan, the prime minister said “we will be insistent” that free and fair elections were held as soon as possible.
As for Kenya, meanwhile, he intoned, “I want to see a bringing together of all the different groups.”
“I have talked to the president. I have talked to Mr Odinga…..now I want both parties to meet together with Mr Kufuor….I want an end to the violence….etc…etc.”
One African newspaper has asked whether this “language of a former colonial power” was appropriate, suggesting that his tone “set teeth on edge”. It pondered whether Brown would have used the same language if another former British colony – the US – had a hung election.