Endorsements and non-endorsements
I'm not impressed by all the huffing and puffing from William Hague about the PM's alleged "endorsement" of Obama in the Parliamentary Monitor. Dod's Publishing must be delighted at the free publicity for one of the lesser known of their stable of journals.
I also don't think No10 should be apologising or denying an endorsement so frantically.
There are good political arguments for not interfering in overseas elections: in most cultures it really irritates the locals to have outsiders trying to tell them which way to vote, a good example being the Guardian's crazy scheme where UK liberals wrote to swing voters in Ohio in 2004 begging them to vote for John Kerry, which completely backfired.
But I can't see any in principle reason not to do it - indeed in France and Spain recent elections have seen socialist PMs and party leaders from neighbouring counties as guest speakers at the final socialist party election rallies - after all we on the left are supposed to be internationalists.
One of the few aspects of Tony Blair's premiership that I really didn't like was the hinting that he somehow preferred his diplomatic allies and personal friends Berlusconi, Sarkosy and Aznar winning to their opponents from our sister parties. It was fine to work with them in the EU where that furthered British interests but a Labour Party Leader should always be backing the socialist, social democrat or Labour (or in the US case Democrat) cause in an election - I see that as an obligation of our membership of international political families like the Socialist International and Party of European Socialists (who have a nice and very explicit endorsement of Obama on their website).
My view is that you have to separate out the two hats a Labour PM wears and Brown should be saying:
"In my capacity as Prime Minister of the UK I have to stay neutral and of course I'll work closely with whoever the people of country X choose as their leader.
But as Leader of the British Labour Party I hold a partisan position and I have a duty to call for the election of the candidate from our sister party."