David Cameron owes his diary planners a drink after this week. Or at least an enormous thank you.
This week was supposed to belong to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. And, sure enough, the papers have been plastered with stories from the Labour Party conference. Corbynmania is still in rude health – even if the term now applies to some of the more critical interest in the new Labour leader.
But then, in classic one-upmanship, David Cameron popped up in New York. Why? To address the United Nations.
If the timing of this global leaders’ summit might be fortuitous, then the PM’s next trip – an official visit to the Caribbean – is probably far less so. And in addressing the United Nations and conducting business on the world stage, David Cameron has achieved two important things.
The first is that the Conservatives have been able to wrest some of the headlines away from Labour. The second is that Mr Cameron has been enabled to fulfil the statesman part of his job description.
Why is this important? The first reason is that the flurry of foreign policy activity has allowed the Tories to nullify some of the attention on Labour. The significance of this is that the Tories get their own conference and time in the sun next week. And Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t have a UN Assembly or official overseas visit to go to. Meaning it’ll be that much harder for Labour to interject themselves into the Conservative headlines.
The second reason is that Mr Cameron has been able to present a stark contrast to Jeremy Corbyn. In many ways he’s posed an unspoken challenge to the electorate – can you see the Labour leader addressing the UN or hobnobbing with likes of Putin and Obama? William Hague said it best – the Leader of the Opposition has to show that he can thrive in that sort of environment.
The final reason this is important is that it shows what Mr Corbyn is up against. Not just an established performer on the world stage such as Mr Cameron. But also an experienced, battle-hardened and savvy media operation. In boxing parlance the Tories deserve to win this week on points. They’ve played an intelligent game with the opportunities open to them. Labour’s leader has struggled to ‘wow’ his own MPs, activists and the general public. The Conservatives’ leader has been to seen to operate on the world stage.