If the Special Relationship is to be kept alive (and were it up to me, I’d turn off the life-support right now) then the downside is that we will miss the pleasure of listening to our American allies’ regular outbreaks of advice. Howard Dean (2004 not-quite-nominee for President) told a US Channel/BBC Parliament multicast yesterday that:
“I know the Liberals, I know Nick Clegg very well, and he intends to win this and I think they could. So you may have a hung Parliament but I think you won’t have a coalition. At least not that coalition going forward.”
I’m glad Mr Dean has nailed his colours to the mast of an outright Libdem win in the event of a coalition-free hung Parliament going forward. I in turn feel emboldened to let him know I expect Barack Obama to dissolve Congress, and go see King George in order to ask whether the pesky Russian bear can still be coaxed into the EU.
The only near-serious standup fight I’ve ever had was in a Boston restaurant, when a wannabe Ed Murrow at the next table gave me his measured analysis of how evil “you Briddish” were for “denying the vote to the Catholic majority in Northern Ireland”.
Ed Murrow was a true friend of Britain – but more importantly, knew what he was talking about. He braved the Luftwaffe in order to send brilliant reports back to the US from London in 1940. But for a long time now – since Suez if we’re being honest – the US-UK reservoir of goodwill has been spent recklessly by the Americans…and fallen well short of being special for us.
I see no reason why our relations should be special: if I was the US President, I’d ignore Britain as irrelevant along with the whole EU. It’s the insincerity of the pretence that makes it unconsciously amusing. The “Say, let’s go invade Eye-rack” one minute, followed by “Let me help you negotiate to keep your own territory” the next. But while all that guff makes me smile, the long tradition of Prime Ministerial mugs is laugh-out-loud funny.
Wilson’s “as I said to Jack” was hysterical even when I was eleven (I think the great dissembler met JFK once) and the Thatcher-Reagan lovebirds stuff made me giggle uneasily. But once the George Blair & Gracie Bush Show got into its stride, I kept waiting for Tony to give the audience a mystified look as Gracie said “Can you imagine a whole continent speaking Latin?” or something similar.
Sadly, it’s not funny any more: Obama (and he is an arrogant man, isn’t he?) just looks bored – and, on the rare occasions when they meet, Brown gives me the creepy feeling I’m watching a sweaty, homicidal pervert trying to snare a gay lap-dancer.
We mistakenly see the Americans as friends, but they’re not even allies really. We should’ve taken Jo Grimond’s advice in 1955, and accepted the German offer to join in talks about a common European trading area. Now – fifty five years on – we have no choice but to make Europe work, and the current mess over here does at least give us the chance at last to wade in, push hard for democratic reform, and start dismantling the Brussels praesidium.
We won’t do it of course, but I wouldn’t mind betting that Howard Dean thinks Nick Clegg is a shoe-in for Holy Roman Emperor…if only we can just get the Queen to sign off on the deal. Goddamn, she can be ornery at times.