Saturday, 17 July 2010


The prime minister, David Cameron, has described Britain, in an interview with Time Magazine, as the junior partner in the special relationship between the UK and the US. The prime minister topped that by saying that Britain should not be too "needy" of America. The article was published on the eve of Mr Cameron’s first visit as prime minister to the United States.

Cameron defended the notion of the special relationship and called it "essential", but nonetheless injected a sense of hierarchy. He said: "I believe in the special relationship. I think Britain is, of course, the junior partner, but I think it is an important and long-standing relationship and I hope that we bring things to that relationship." So there you are we are America’s lickspittle: its official!

Cameron has previously said Britain was obsessed with Europe and the US. In particular, he criticised his predecessor Tony Blair's unquestioning loyalty to the US. He also said Britain must look at where its strategic interests lie, by possibly having more than one special relationship. Oh really? And how does that fit in with wee Willie Hague waiting to hear what Hilary Clinton thought of the Israeli hijacking of that aid ship before actually having an opinion? Maybe he should have employed that great Tory tactic, perfected by the last Tory PM, of hiding in a cupboard and avoiding TV cameras till he got the call. Oh and the BP phone call? Read on!

Cameron was accused of being insufficiently patriotic and has risked the wrath of many in his own party, recently for not challenging President Obama when he appeared to sanction anti-British sentiment in criticism of BP, as it struggled to get to grips with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Which it has now apparently got to the bottom of, so we can all go back to calling it a great “British” institution. Answers on a postcard for what you thought the “B” stood for in the interregnum!

The Tory blogosphere, press, blue rinse brigade and outraged of Royal Leamington Spa and Royal Tumbridge Wells were jumping up and down at that upstart Obama for referring to BP as “British”. But that was because it had done something wrong, as is always the case with these people it’s anything but British when it destroys the entire Gulf of Mexico. Despite the B historically standing for British. Doubtless if it had developed a cure for cancer or sent a man to Mars it would have been welcomed as British in spades by the same people.

The usual suspects had wanted a stern assertion of Britishness when Cameron got the call from Obama. After all we may have a special relationship (Ha!) but they are still foreigners and there is nothing the gutter press like better (it sells papers you see) than an anti-foreigner rant. Shame they didn’t get it from our spineless PM. And now he is telling Americans that we are their junior partners. And we should not expect anything back in return? And Tony Blair was unquestioningly loyal to the US and this isn’t? I feel the “H” word coming on as it does so often when referring to the Tories and their monkeys on the barrel organ of state.

"President Obama and I have a very good relationship, we get on very well," said Cameron. "Of course we will discuss BP. It is an important company, not just for Britain, but for America as well. It employs tens of thousands of people in the US, as it does in the UK."

Cameron spoke warmly of his own associations with the US. "When I think of America I think of all sorts of things. My grandfather going ashore at D-day with the Americans in support of the British and everyone working together. I also think of fantastic holidays I have had – from Florida to Texas (not the Gulf of Mexico side of course) to California. I think of American culture. It is an incredible relationship between our countries." I mean pass the sick bag or what. I’m assuming this gushing dross is intended for the American market. Certainly not cosying up to the Americans then?


  1. Aye Mr Munguin, this special relationship o' oors is soundin mair like Nora Batty an her man's aw the time, an' we're no Nora!

    If ah wis Cameron ah wid be tellin them whaur tae get aff, no runnin ower there an cosyin up tae them like a pathetic wee poodle. (Noo whaur did that thocht come fae? it feels familiar.)

  2. Sophia it's a good object lesson in the difference between what they say and what they do. Remember New Labour's ethical foreign policy? That got the heave ho right away when they realised that they can't have an ethical foreign policy. And so we have David Cameron criticising Tony Blair for being too pro American and that was with a pro-British President. And then he rushes over there to suck up to an anti-British President and in the most sycophantic terms as well. He must be desperate to be included in all the international conferences etc and make himself look like an international figure ahem a bit like err....Tony Blair?

  3. Munguin.

    In some ways Cameron is acting like a Union flag waving buffoon but I do agree that the UK is the Junior partner in the special relationship with the US and we don't get much in return except having the privilege of engaging in unwinnable wars.

    I hope Cameron shows more spine towards the Americans than Blair or Brown did but I do wonder had the republicans won in America then would Cameron be so patriotic??

    As for the BP saga. I have little sympathy for the Americans (at government level) for a few reasons.
    American oil companies destroyed thousands of homes in Nigeria and paid the government to kick out local tribes (at gun pint) so they could drill for oil. They caused so much pollution rivers were like tar and local river fishermen's livelihoods were destroyed.

    But back in the richest nation in the world, BP is paying billions out to local fishermen and so on for the oil spill. Its the hypocrisy of the US government that is the real polluter or a case of not in our back yard.

  4. I could remind you that it wasn't BP doing the drilling. The rig itself did not belong to BP. It was owned and operated by Transocean, the largest deepwater oil drilling specialist contractors in the world. Transocean is as American as apple pie, able to trace its roots back to 1950s Alabama. Headquarters are in the Swiss tax haven of Zurich, but they are basically an American company. BP just happens to have purchased the rights to drill, they didn't cause the spill.

    That's why people got irritated at the idiot Obama's comments, they were diverting attention away from who really was to blame.

  5. Quiet Man.

    Exactly, but nothing like a little rant at BP to boost approval ratings for Mr Obama.

  6. Good artile Tris.

    First time in a while I think I've said that!

    But the answer to US 'special relationship' nonsense, is Europe. And our common European destiny.

    Integration, harmonisation, solidarity - EU!!!!!

  7. Allan: I don’t think that the language quoted above and the fact that Cameron is prepared to say that releasing Megrahi was a mistake would indicate that he is going to be anything other than as compliant as Blair or Brown. The man is a paper tiger and will do whatever the US wants. He is so desperate to be an international player that there is nothing that he wont say or do to achieve that.

  8. QM: that’s as may be. But the point here is the usual hypocrisy of our leaders. One minute he is criticising Blair for being a US toady and the next he is trumping Blair in the toadying department with this sickening admission that we are the US’s poodles. And he ditched the so called respect agenda to say that Kenny MacAskill’s decision to release Megrahi was wrong, all concerted to endear himself to a US President who is clearly antipathetic to the British. In order to toady he has had to plumb the depths of sycophancy to an extent that even Blair and Brown didn’t have to.

  9. Allan: it’s true that the US senators and the US President have an agenda when they divert attention from their own shortcomings by lambasting BP or calling for an inquiry into the release of Megrahi. That surely is to be expected of politicians. What is not expected is the breathtaking extent to which our new prime minister is prepared to play along. Blair and Brown never had to admit that they played second fiddle to the US even if it was a truism. But Mr Cameron hasn’t hesitated for a second to whizz out in print just that admission.

  10. Dean; thanks for that, this one is down to me. Another needless anti-Tory rant? Well we haven’t had one for a while, so why not?

  11. Munguin.

    Okay you may well be right but Cameron sounds better than Blair and Brown, seriously though, I think Cameron will not be as quick to suck up to Obama as Blair was to Bush but if it were a Republican that was in office then I think Cameron would be like a poodle after a dog crumb. I say crumb because that is all we get out of the (special relationship).

  12. Dean.

    Yeah Dean, don't mix the two of them up. Munguin is the cuddly cute one and Tris, well he is the not so cute one lol. ;)

  13. 'Oi you.... a little less of the "not so cute" if you don't mind mister. I might not be your cup of tea but I'll have you know I can turn heads!!

  14. QM: Indeed BP were not doing the drilling but they were responsible for the health and safety on their rig. It seems that there was always a BP man in charge, and when Transocean’s team reported a problem and advised a stoppage, the BP man in charge said NO.

    If I remember this is not the first time that that has happened.

    Where I think Obama was wrong was to emphasise the British in British Petroleum, them having changed their name from British Petroleum to BP some 10 years ago. I also agree with Allan that the hypocrisy of the American government and Senate in summoning BP executives to explain their behaviour given America’s record in Nigeria, and probably other places and whilst they have colluded to keep the executives of Union Carbide safe from interrogation by the Indian Government.

    Obama is a politician and his party is facing hard elections; he is bound to say what people want to hear. It is said that he is much less pro British than previous US presidents, possibly because of his familial ties with another British colony in the past. If I were Kenyan, I doubt I’d be particularly pro British. But it is also true that the minute that the recession of 2008-2010 came an inescapable truth, Brown uttered the famous words... It started in America... in order to try to deflect blame from himself. Indeed as I recall it started in America and travelled all around the world going every single place that there were people before, right at the end, reaching the UK. Britain had nothing to do with it....

    That was not a clever thing to say, given that it was a lie, and that Brown was every bit as culpable as Bush. And, if you want to get on the President of America it’s best not to try to blame the States for your own inadequacies.

    Whit’s gaed tae gie’s no ill tae tak... as my Gran would say. (Trans: What is good to give is not bad to take.)

  15. Allan: I have yet to be persuaded and he has not made a good start in my opinion.

  16. Dean.....

    Awwww. You liked my post, but it wasn't mine....

    And Allan thinks I'm not cute....

    It's hardly been my day....

  17. I've always viewed the British Establishment's insistence that there is a, "special relationship", with the United States and that as a country we are their favoured partner and friend as parochial and delusional coupled with an odd belief that Britain is still somehow an equal of the United states.

    It's almost as if the British Establishment still hasn't acknowledged the loss of Empire and Britain's current status in the World or that the US has a lot more than Britain to think about.

    The US is a world power and Britain is a small part of Europe. From the States Britain is very small and very far away.

    The US has the asian superpower China across the Pacific, the still militarily capable Russia on its Alaskan border, its oil companies embroiled in the Middle East, its Armies in the Middle East and Central Asia and the US has all of South America below its southern border. It's obsessed with its, "War on Drugs", War on Terror", and being the World's superpower.

    From a US perspective the UK is like an obsessed fan of the US, useful because they will do anything for their idol but not someone you'd ask an opinion of.

  18. Munguin,

    Well then Munguin ... I liked your article ... and that is a first in a long time too.

    Dougthe Dug,

    you are spot on the money with that assessment - the UK is no longer a 'Great Power' state-actor any longer. Nor indeed are any of the European state-actors. This has enabled the systematic hegemonic abuse of our continent by the US, it is time to esablish a new equal partnership - which can only be done though the EU ... which it seems is now managed to gain more recognition in the UN, with voting powers!

  19. An excellent summation of the situation Doug.

    The UK wants, I think, to hold on to its seat on the Security Council where, along with Russia and China and, obscurely, France, it thinks that it rules the world.

    I think that the truth is that it knows perfectly well that at a word from the American President, the makeup of the Security Council could be changed. Of course the USA, China and Russia would continue to be members, but the emergence of India and Brazil as economic powers would have to be taken into consideration. The fact that there is no representative from Africa or from the Middle East is another point that would need addressing.

    In the face of such a review it would be difficult to justify the continued membership of two relatively small countries right next to one another in Europe. The more likely outcome would be the removal of both France and the UK (or England as they often call it). I could imagine that the EU as a massive economic power would be likely to replace these two past colonial powers.

    Of course America is hardly likely to raise this issue as long as one of these countries is its faithful lap dog, and as America pays the bulk of the bill for the UN, it really is in their hands.

    The UK often reminds me of the wife who is always asking “do you still love me?” and America as the husband who says “yes dear, of course I do”, whilst reading the paper and thinking of his new girlfriend. (With apologies to feminists; it could be the other way round.)

    British PMs bristle with pride when an American president calls them ‘friend’. Tony Benn’s diaries recall how Jim Callaghan kept referring to President Ford as Gerald and how he replayed over and over the conversations always stressing that the president would say “Jim.......”. Tony Blair on his early visits to Crawford, Texas, positively shone like a new pin in his jeans down there on the ranch with George W, and Mrs Thatcher was a girl once again with old Ronnie.

    It is for that that we keep the nuclear weaponry that would bankrupt us. And it is because no British PM would want to be the one that saw the final vestiges of imperial power fall from Britain on his watch.

    They use us and we love being used. We are the political equivalent of a whore, and the price we pay for a cuddle from Obama, is continued nuclear weaponry, continued use of our troops in their worthless wars and continued voting with them in the Security council.

    Why have one seat on the Security Council when you can have two.

  20. Doug: I have to agree with that. It has always been clear that the UK was a de facto juniour partner. It has just never been admitted before.

  21. Dean: thanks very much appreciate that. I'm sorry to say that I very much doubt you will like the next one.

  22. Seems odd that a Briton or a European would make a favorable reference to American "culture." Or holiday in Texas for that matter. (Actually, the only problem with Texas is the Texans.)

  23. He was sucking up to Americans Danny. He doesn't actually mean any of it. California and Florida are the places that Brits go on holiday. I dunno about Texas though...seems odd. Maybe he should have mentioned Hawaii!

  24. Danny you know we all love your culture lol most towns have a choice between Burger King and MacDonalds these days tee hee.