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How powerful is Gordon Brown?

Forbes ranks Brown at number 29 in its power list

Gordon Brown has made it to number 29 in Forbes's annual global power list. I won't quarrel with that -- Brown also appeared at 29 in our recent list of the 50 people who matter today.

It's certainly an improvement over GQ's risible "100 most influential men in Britain", which put David Cameron at number one (the GQ editor, Dylan Jones, is the author of Cameron on Cameron, a book of conversations with the Tory leader), George Osborne at number four and Brown at number nine.

Forbes's accompanying blurb for Brown bizarrely fails to mention his considerable influence on the global bank bailout, something that led Paul Krugman to declare that Brown had acted with "stunning speed" and that he had "defined the character of the worldwide rescue operation".

But the magazine does claim that voters will have their say on Brown "in June". Unless someone has improbably leaked the date of the general election to Forbes (3 June would be the last possible date), this appears to be another example of the casual foreign assumption that the UK has fixed-term parliaments. In fact, the ability of British prime ministers to go to the country at a time of their choosing is something that gives them more power than many of their foreign counterparts.

What of the rest of the list? Nicolas Sarkozy, a man with a pronounced Napoleon complex, will be astonished to see himself at a humbling 56th. But the BBC director general, Mark Thompson (the only Brit on the list other than Brown), should be pleased to sneak in at 65 after a fraught year for the corporation.

Finally, Rupert Murdoch's animus against the "parasites" of Google is unlikely to ease after Sergey Brin and Larry Page were given fifth place, leaving the media mogul trailing in seventh position.