Jamaica and Britain have more in common than most people think. Shahid Naqvi caught up with Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding during a visit to Birmingham.

"Is it anyone special?" asked the youth sticking his head out his car window as he drove by the suited entourage walking down Dudley Road in Smethwick.

"It's the Prime Minister," answered one flunky.

Not Gordon Brown on this occasion, but Bruce Golding, Prime Minister of Jamaica.

And the two men could not possibly be more different.

For while Mr Brown has gained a reputation for being stiff, awkward and moody, Mr Golding was greeted with hugs, handshakes and hand slaps as he strolled along and chatted with Birmingham's Jamaican community.

As an example of a politician with the common touch, it was a masterclass - and perhaps something our leaders could learn from.

"Sometimes Prime Ministers come to the UK for meetings and discussions and what they will do is tack on something with the community," said the 61-year-old.

"This time I have come to meet the Jamaican community. The primary purpose is to meet the Jamaican community. I feel I have a duty to do that having taken office eight months ago and explain what we are doing and also to hear from them."

It is a bit unfair to compare the Prime Minister of a sun-soaked West Indian island and birthplace of Rastafarianism to that of a cold northern island with a tradition for showing a stiff upper lip.

The two countries, however, are bound by history, with Jamaica having been under British rule since 1962. Immigration, particularly in the subsequent decades, has resulted in at least 400,000 Jamaicans now living in the UK. Not bad for an island with a population of 2.7 million - less than that of the West Midlands.

Just as we might learn a thing or two from Jamaican culture, British politeness and reserve also has something to teach the West Indian nation, according to Mr Golding's wife, Lorna.

"I have always felt very proud of our connection with Britain. We learned calm and good manners from the British. I grew up with that but I think we have lost some of the things we have been taught by the British.

"We have to continue to remember that we have been taught a lot of principles and values. That is what makes us the children of Britain. If you have a problem, we have a problem."

Spoken out of her husband's earshot, one wonders if Mr Golding would have been comfortable if he had heard his wife's comments. It was all somewhat reminiscent of another well-known former leader and his outspoken wife a bit nearer home.

There is, of course, another more troubling common ground between Jamaica and Britain - rising violent crime, and in particular crime perpetuated by young people. Earlier this week an independent study declared a decade-long drive to cut youth offending in the UK has had "no measurable impact".

Earlier this month Cherie Blair visited Birmingham as part of a commission on youth crime to find ways of solving a problem her husband's ASBO-obsessed administration failed to crack.

Mr Golding's solution seems remarkably similar to the "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" promise that Tony Blair, in the eyes of many, failed to deliver.

"We make a mistake if we try to chase after everyone with a gun," he said. "If we do we will find we will never be able to arrest them fast enough. We have to look at the causes of crime. What is concerning is many of our people, young men in particular, take up a gun and feel murder is OK.

"We have to look at the community where these individuals emerge from. What is it that causes them to be such willing conscripts to criminal activity.

"These are communities that have been left behind. They have been marginalised. We have pulled a curtain around these communities and shut them out of our sight and believe if we don't see them we don't worry about the lives they have."

Mr Golding said it was time to "pull back that curtain" and give such communities the help they need and tell them they are not going to be left behind.

Undoubtedly the citizens of Jamaica will be hoping he has more success than Britain's leaders.