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Comments

David

All that needs to be said is that the UK will pursue the foreign policy it sees is in its own interest. An attempt by any US administration to "punish" it for that is childish and counter productive.

sped

Howard earnt far more cedibility by a principled stance on the Iraq war and relations with the White House than IDS and DC have by their opportunism in attempting to toady to Bush.

This visit has been a disaster and should never have happened!

first wrong move by cameron since rwanda!

Winchester whisperer

Who cares? There'll be a new US President before DC is elected.

Adam in London

Oh please this is pathetic. First off - which Republicans do you want us to toady up to? Olympia Snowe or Trent Lott? Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney? Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee?

Second of all does toadying to the GOP involve shunning the Democrats? What happens if Clinton or Obama won the Presidency? Would you advise Prime Minister Cameron to thumb his nose at them?

I fail to see why there should be a relationship with the US Republicans which is markedly more special than that with the Australian Liberals, Polish Civic Platform, Spanish Partido Popular, or Canadian Conservatives. I can't help but feel this is the ramblings of a rather sad group of British Conservatives whose biggest regret in life is that they weren't born an American. Their abandonment of their own country's national interest is a tawdry sight to behold.

Bill Brinsmead

Sorry Editor, you are naive and wrong. A Conservative leadership should be on good terms with any and every party that is likely to form a government. Alliances exist between states, not between political parties in different countries.

John Major was too close to George Bush and the Republicans in the 1992 election – as a result he never established a fruitful working relationship with the Clinton administration

Giles Clifton

I note that you have diplomatically avoided reference to the special revenge exacted on Anthony Eden's Government by President Eisenhower (Republican), or to the relationship between Churchill and FDR which really set the ball rolling on the special relationship. FDR was of course a Democrat loathed by American conservatives (in both the Republican and Democratic parties!).
Surely the truth is tht when interests coincide, as they often do given the similar world views of both the United States and the United Kingdom, then Tory Prime Ministers will always work closely with US Presidents (MacMillan and Eisenhower/Kennedy)irrespective of party affiliation. However, clearly the special personal and idealogical bond between Lady Thatcher and Reagan did give extra meaning to their relationship. Lets just not mention the influence it had on the decision to go ahead with the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 which certainly did no favours for our party at all in this country.

Tony Makara

Because Iraq was a mistake doesn't mean that the United States can't continue to play a proactive role in advancing peace, prosperity and democracy around the world. Mistakes are made and mistakes can be instructive. The Blair/Bush relationship was always one of expediency for president Bush and one of egocentricity for Mr Blair. The relationship was a bizarre paradox at a time when president Bush needed the support of a major power to legitimize the assault on Iraq. Now with Blair chasing another footnote in history in the middle-east and president Bush coming to the end of his tenure Britain and American need to forge a new type of relationship. One based on a shared perspective of geopolitical affairs and how they can be influenced for the good of all mankind.

Ami

I have always thought comparing the Conservative Party in Britain with the Republican Party in the US is like comparing apples to oranges. Europe doesen't have anything to close to the Republican Party regardless of whether it is called Conservative or not. We define the words differently.

I am always tickled when European leaders talk of the "friendship" between the US and Europe, it's so disingenuous. Europeans hate America, and America is indifferent to Europe, how does that translate into "friendship?" As for the "special relationship" the quicker this thing dies a natural death the better for all concerned. America and Europe may have shared history, but certainly will not share a future. We are nothing like you, and you are nothing like us. That is an arrangement which will benefit both of us.

ceidwadwyr

Strikes me that Camerons Conservatives have more in common with the Democrats than the Republicans.

Do we really want as special relationship with GWB?

Andrew Lilico

I am more sympathetic to the Editor's line here than to that of his critics above, but I'm not totally sold.

The Republican Party is the inheritor of the anti-Slavery element of the Whig Party of the United States, to which we might usefully append the liberal California Republicans. The other kind of American conservative - the Southern Democrat - is roughly the inheritor of the pro-slavery element of the Whig Party of the United States.

The rise of political evangelical Christianity actually places the Republican Party more in line with its Whiggish inheritance, but with a very different emphasis - social Whiggism - from that of the modern British Whig - who is very much more a corporate/economic/constitutional animal. This difference reflects the very different challenges that Whiggism has faced in the US from its challenges in the UK, and also the much greater power and spread of US Whiggism compared with its UK equivalent - in the UK Whiggism has been much more a philosophy of the elite.

Thus, when one talks of common cause between US and UK conservatives, one is really talking of common cause between a considerable majority subset of the Republicans, including its leadership, when these are thinking of economic issues that are not their primary concern, and a largish majority subset of the Conservatives that includes far-from-all of its leadership. Tim alludes to this when he says that Republicans should not confuse the statements of our leadership with the views of our members.

So I do think there is something in what Tim says. However, I think that he underplays the significance of the difference in topic choice. Republicans define themselves in terms of social issues - abortion, marriage, duties of philanthropy, and so on - that are so far from the central concerns of British Conservatives that many British Conservatives instinctively find Republicans alien and do not recognise the similarities that are, I think, there to be unearthed.

Tony Makara

Andrew Lilico, interesting analysis. America is very much divided by lifestyles these days and the political parties have come to reflect those widely differing lifestyles. The progressive movement in the states is a very broad church with a catchment that pulls in support from people as far apart as anarchists to big government centrist's. The Republican movement is more homogenous and unites people with common lifestyle imperatives.

The progressives are very much a reactive front, they really exist as an antithesis to the Republicans. The Republicans without doubt reflect the mainstream, just as the Conservative party does in the UK. Although of course what constitutes the mainstream differs in both countries. There is no doubt that the Conservative party and the Republican party are kith and kin. The mainsteam instincts that unite both are stronger than any potential differences over foreign policy.

Adam in London

I think it's a huge mistake to think of the Republican party as a homogenous block. It isn't. Republicans in New York are different to those in Georgia, are different to those in California, are different to those in Kansas, are different to those in Mississippi, are different to those in Minnesota, etc. (and the same is true for the Democrats). It's part of why there is no space for a third party in US politics - Sen. Ted Stevens (Alaska) doesn't have to adopt the same stance as Sen. Tom Coburn (Oklahoma).

Iain Murray

Andrew,

As usual I agree with much of your analysis (although isn't it Whiggery not Whiggism?), but I'd say that the three big issues for the GOP are, as David Freddoso put it, "Guns, Babies, Taxes." So 1 out of 3 ain't bad. Define "guns" as "social breakdown," which is not an outrageous definition, and you get to two.

Andrew Lilico

Iain@5:09,

I wasn't intending to suggest that social issues were the *only* way in which Republicans define themselves. I was merely meaning to suggest that making such issues any part of one's political self-definition is rather alien to Conservatives (though less so to ethical liberals in the Labour or the Lib Dems). Obviously Republicans have other concerns - notably terrorism and taxes, but I suspect also matters such as pensions reform - with which Conservatives can relate much more easily.

(It used to be called Whiggery - these days Whiggism is a bit more normal, I think.)

Andrew Lilico

Apologies for double posting, but I wanted to add that I *was* definitely saying - and definitely take the view - that Republicans make their social self-definition an absolutely core part of what it is to be a Republican, in a way that Conservatives would never dream of doing. For example, Iain, in how many Republican places/dining clubs/think tanks/and so on would a pro-abortion Republican be welcome (at outside of California and New York)?

Bob Harrison

To be honest, I'd say we have more in common with the Democrats than the Republicans.

An alliance between Conservatives and Republicans is not a desirable thing.

davod

"Strikes me that Camerons Conservatives have more in common with the Democrats than the Republicans.

Do we really want as special relationship with GWB?"

Yes.

The Tories need to redefine themselves by moving back to the right of Labour.

Until then they are doomed to forever haunt the opposition benches.

Tony Makara

"I think it's a huge mistake to think of the Republican party as a homogenous block"

Adam in London, I was thinking more in terms of the core vote that it attracts. The people likely to support the Republicans are more similar than those who support the democrats. The progressive movement is far less homogenous and if ever a party emerged in America that was left of the democrats most of the more radical elements in the progressive movement would support it. I think its possible to define a typical Republican supporter, less so a progressive.

Tony Makara

"I think it's a huge mistake to think of the Republican party as a homogenous block"

Adam in London, I was thinking more in terms of the core vote that it attracts. The people likely to support the Republicans are more similar than those who support the democrats. The progressive movement is far less homogenous and if ever a party emerged in America that was left of the democrats most of the more radical elements in the progressive movement would support it. I think its possible to define a typical Republican supporter, less so a progressive.

Iain Murray

Andrew,

I'm not all that sure that there are that many "pro" abortion British conservatives. There's an acceptance of the current law, but I'm not so sure how many people would be in favor of it if it were proposed as it stands now. There hasn't been any real debate over the issue in the UK, but if there was I rather suspect more people would be uncomfortable with it than appears.

There's also the alien aspect of the written constitution, with the feeling that abortion was imposed by an activist Court rather than allowing democratic debate. That changes things and makes the issue more salient.

As for the GOP thing, I think that social issues are certainly a core aspect of defining oneself as a Conservative, but not so much as a Republican. It's one of the reasons why I define myself as a Conservative in the UK, but am inclining more towards Libertarian as an American description (although social issues like crime and manners are very important to me).

You'll also note that Robert Novak, a grey eminence of the Republican coalition, has in recent days talked about the danger of evangelicals who ONLY vote on social issues. If I may, "guns, babies, taxes" has to be a trinity. These political unitarians are a problem.

Steevo

Tony you shown a pretty good assessment about our core vote. There are no fine lines here until we get to the extremes. Its worth keeping in mind too many here who consider themselves 'progressive' are simply liberal/leftists, the American kind. The bad kind. Republicans do reflect more mainstream thought but that does involve considerable disparity and Adam's immediate response picks up on. There are actually more registered Democrats but if we define 'mainstream' disposition, many of them are Blue-dog Dems, not the party yellow-dog type.

All in all I can understand the need for Brits to keep in mind having the best relationship possible whether Democrat or Republican administration but many of Tim's points should be understood. Its in the Tory and UK's best interests to hope for a Republican administration in spite of feelings about GWB. A Republican administration will not so readily give heed to UN and EU authority. And there should be greater respect for national sovereignty and human rights free from terror and repression (not multiculturalism and global governance). There's no perfection here, but hopefully, common conviction of worthy ideals.

Finally, Ami's points should not be overlooked. I am witnessing American indifference to Europeans on a weekly basis and I don't like it. Its not a prejudice of superiority just anywhere from resentment to "who cares." The fact is anti-Americanism is real and clearly understood as prejudice and we understand prejudice well. The sentiment has no justification (ie blame Bush).

I want us to have better relations, but that's better relations with Europeans who are not multicultural, leftist, globalist, anti-Israel and of course anti-American. I know if any Republican administration is elected next term, we will all have the best hope toward a commonality of worthy ideals.

Tony Makara

Steevo, I'd like to see Britain and America enjoy a Thatcher/Reagan style rapport. Those two were so vital in bringing down the Soviet slave society. It was fortunate for the world that both leaders held power at the same time and, Grenada aside, shared common ground on almost all issues of that delicate era.

Maduka

Tony Makara,

Don't you think Gorbachev deserves some credit for pulling down the Soviet system? What about John Paul II and Lech Walesa?

What Gorbachev did required a tremendous amount of courage. He could have done a Deng (opened up the Soviet Union for business while keeping the police state intact).

If Andropov lived ten years longer, the story would have been much different.

I agree that Reagan did a marvellous job, but it was the combined efforts of several KEY figures - Gorbachev, Thatcher, Lech Walesa and John Paul II changed the course of history.

James

I think the reason the Tories and the GOP don't make easy bed-fellows is to do with social conservativism. As contributors above point out, whilst there still may be a link between the GOP and Tories with regards economic and certain foreign policy issues, to describe the Tories as "socially conservative" is rubbish. There are no more people opposed on principle to abortion, for instance, in the parliamentary Tory party than there are in the Labour Party. Similarly, the Tories have - by and large - reconciled themselves to liberal attitudes regarding crime and punishment, marriage, single mums, the failure of "the war against drugs" and all the rest of it. On whole swathes of domestic policy, their default position - as Americans would understand it - is liberal with a capital L.

I don't think this is a reflection of the attitudes of the British people (how can it be when they consistently cite fears of crime and immigration as their top two issues of concern?) but more to do with a whole range of factors that needless to say, aren't present in America. If Britain had a socially conservative party, then it stands to reason that its members would have more in common with the GOP.

davod

Mad:

The utter humiliation of the mighty Soviet State would not have happened if it were not for Reagan's firm opposition to the Soviet tyranny.

The other participants, Gorbachev, John Paul II, Lech Walesa and Thatcher would have had little effect without Reagan's actions.

Why would Gorbachev have taken the actions he did?

John Paul and Lech Walesa may have done stirling work, but what would their work have achieved if the Soviets had not felt pressure from Reagan

I admire Thacher but she is in the same category. The UK alone had little leverage. Thatcher's critcal role was being a stalwart supporter of Reagan's policies.

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