Thank you, Lizzy for your warm welcome. American politics has always interested me. The main reason for this I think is Ronald Reagan. He allowed Americans to be proud to be American again. He had the air of a kindly grandfather, putting his arm around the country, and he truly was the great communicator.
I was brought up in the Thatcher era, and she too turned this country around and put the great back in to Great Britain. She limited the power of the unions, reformed our public services, transformed our economy and it is down to her, we have the economic stability we have today. Many regard her as the most divisive figure in British politics, but many – like me – do not. She did what she had to do and if it had not been for previous political failures, some of her harsh medicine would not have been needed. The true test of a leader is that they are willing to do the unpopular things. She did, and I for one am grateful. The relationship those two great leaders had, led to a golden era between our two countries. It was an equal relationship.
What worries me at the moment is the unequal relationship between George Bush and Tony Blair. Of course it is right to support your greatest friend and ally, but the friends you really value are the ones who will argue with you and tell you when you are wrong. Tony Blair has singularly failed to do this and as a result has made the special relationship ‘one sided.’ Blair is seen here as Bush’s ‘poodle’ and there isn’t any evidence to point to the contrary. The equilibrium has to be restored. It has to go back to the FDR – Churchill times and the Reagan – Thatcher times. Tony Blair may be seen in the US as a hero for supporting your president, but here he is as unpopular on domestic issues as a prime minister can be. He has said he is going to resign before October and the mood in the country is the sooner the better. There are many reasons for this and his domestic failures are so staggering, I will leave them for another post at another time. Suffice as to say, Blair is not the man that many Americans think he is.
The leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, is getting a bit of stick from some people in Washington. He is getting this stick, because he disagrees with some American policies. John McCain addressed the Conservative Party Annual Conference last October and him and Cameron seemed to be the best of buddies. Now McCain thinks Cameron is not as strong or as conservative as he thought. All I have to say on that is that Cameron has turned around our party in just over a year from being unelectable to being ahead in the opinion polls. Okay, polls get it wrong, but I would rather be ahead in the opinion polls mid-term, than behind, and an opinion poll in The Times newspaper yesterday, put David Cameron 15 points ahead of Gordon Brown. Brown is the heir apparent to Tony Blair. The two of them do not get on, but it is highly unlikely that the Labour Party will not elect Brown as their new leader, and as Labour have the largest number of Members’ of Parliament, Brown will automatically become prime minister. If you want to see David Cameron in action, click here. He is addressing a rally of junior doctors in London last Saturday. Considering the National Health Service was an area the Conservatives have never been trusted in, the response Cameron gets is truly amazing. Under his leadership the Conservatives are trusted on the NHS.
I will end by saying to Americans who have formed opinions about David Cameron; give him a chance. The special relationship will continue to exist under his premiership, and Britain and America will continue to be the closest allies. The change you will see, however, is that Cameron will be more willing to stand up to the US president. This is a good thing and has always worked on the past and indeed has strengthened the relationship between our two countries.