Thursday, September 14, 2006

David Cameron's Speech

Faithful reader Louie Louie asks what El Jefe thinks of UK Conservative Party leader, and shadow Prime Minister David Cameron's rhetorical attack Monday to the Prime-Minister Tony Blair's "slavish" relationship with the United States, and in particular with the Bush administration.
Mr. Cameron's speech has spent the last day riding around in my bag, joined now by a Times report on Washington reaction; plus the Guardian and Daily Telegraph leaders on same...and I hope to get to it in more detail this evening.

Based solely on what I've heard: I am not inclined to get as worked up about it as some people: Mr. Cameron has a radically different set of political calculations facing him than do Washington politicians. It makes good sense for Mr. Cameron to be rhetorically a bit anti-US, or more specifically, anti-Bush at present, although I question his taste in airing such views on 9/11. Although the fall of Tony Blair is imminent, and the electoral defeat of Labour a possibility whenever Blair’s successor (probably Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown) gets round to calling an election, a Conservative victory is by no means a given. In any case, there does not HAVE to be an election till 2010, so the possibility of a Cameron government, for the present, is more apparent than real unless Labor undergoes a total meltdown. Current projections (formulated prior to the news that Mr. Blair would be leaving Downing Street), put the Conservatives about 40 seats short of a majority in the House of Commons, so a Tory government might be a tad harder to come by than some imagine. A hung parliament is a real possibility.

In any case, Mr. Cameron has to differentiate himself radically from Blair so that people will look at him; he has a larger Arab bloc of votes to deal with; there is a strain of anti-Americanism in the Tory back-benches to take into account; and, he has perhaps made the calculation that the American movers and shakers with whom he, at some point, may have the power to deal with are perhaps going to be more left than the present lot. Finally, the Iraq war is deeply unpopular in Britain, much more so than in the United States. For all of these reasons, it is entirely predictable that the Tory leader should be running around making speeches saying, in effect, that he is not a Bush lap-dog.

Britain is a US ally because it is in their national interest so to be, and vice versa. All that talk about the "special relationship" is a lot of eyewash for diplomatic dinners and state visits. Finally, Britain has, fundamentally, not decided yet whether it is going to subsume itself within the EU or remain on its fringes. Until it does, Britain’s attitude to Uncle Sam will remain somewhat equivocal.
Far more interesting than Mr. Cameron's attitude towards the United States is the matter of Gordon Brown's feelings on the subject, since he is, quite likely in short order, the next Prime Minister. Mr. Brown's positions on any number of issues are almost certainly not going to be to our liking.

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