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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Vichy Britain: Conservative politicians pledge their allegiance to The Empire (and to buy US arms)

Today's Guardian reports:

Conservative party politicians lined up before the general election to promise that they would run a "pro-American regime" and buy more arms from the US if they came to power this year, the leaked American embassy cables show.

Liam Fox, now the defence secretary, promised to buy American military equipment, while the current foreign secretary, William Hague, offered the ambassador a "pro-American" government. Hague also said the entire Conservative leadership were, like him, "staunchly Atlanticist" and "children of Thatcher".

The frontbencher admitted that there was an opposed faction within Tory ranks. "Fox asserted that some within the Conservative party are less enthusiastic, asserting that 'we're supposed to be partners with, not supplicants to, the United States".

Despite British leaders' supportive stance, the dispatches also reveal – in what some will see as humiliating detail – how US diplomats in London are amused by what they call Britain's "paranoid" fears about the so-called special relationship.

No one should really be surprised at Hague and Fox’s positions or that Cameron’s Conservatives are the 'children of Thatcher’ (as I warned here, shortly after he’d been elected as party leader with neocon support, Dave’s no moderate).

But even so, the level of obsequiousness towards a foreign power is still truly amazing, don’t you think? No wonder the Americans are 'amused'.


Robin Carmody said...

The "special relationship" does not exist. It is an act of national self-delusion.

Those who invoke pop culture to pretend it does exist have got everything arse about tit, and unfortunately this is one of many areas where Labour is weak against Cameron because everything the Cameronites have done on this front, the Blairites did first ...

Robin Carmody said...

Also, this reveals something that has been obvious for a long time to anyone who knows how these things work - that the Tory "rank and file" are often very much ill at ease with their leaders' uncritical support of the US (just as, 20 years ago, they were probably less supportive of broadcasting deregulation than any other Thatcherite policy).

This is one of the many ways in which FPTP holds us back - if we had PR, we'd have had a breakaway party years ago which better represented Tory grassroots opinion on some of these matters, which might have seriously challenged the Tories in the outer shires (and the effects of such a split might have wiped the Tories out for good a decade ago, because at that time they were only still doing well in the outer shires; Labour were dominating the M25 corridor where all-round Atlanticism is probably much more popular).

John said...

And to think, not that long ago Great Britain had a leader in Harold Wilson who stood up to American pressure to get involved in the Vietnam debacle. When I think of some of the leaders of the past like Harold Wilson and Charles de Gaulle, it really makes me depressed. We are living in an era of midgets.

Gregor said...

I’d have to admit to being profoundly unsurprised. I’m afraid that England has a deeply entrenched view of itself as a US vassal. Yes, two of the most odious uncle toms, Michael Gove and Liam Fox are Scottish but they were both parachuted into safe seats in Southern England. Not a few miles away to traditionally Tory seats in the Lowlands where both those creatures came from, but several hundred miles away. Their party has been largely wiped out by the SNP. I don’t regard myself as a conservative, but surely a key component of conservatism is respect for one’s country? If the English (overall, though I know there are exceptions) can’t respect their country, how do they expect anyone else to?

Furthermore, what are we to make of America’s insane foreign policy where we have a supposed crusade for Western civilisation against Islamic fanaticism: which seems to mean bombing one of the most secular regimes in the Arab world (including the use of white phosphorus) and chortling with Schadenfreude when Slav civilians are massacred by Islamist fanatics in Russia and the Balkans, and indeed dropping cluster bombs on Serb civilians.

By contrast the SNP opposed the war against Serbia and the war against Iraq. I suspect that the SNP will steamroll the Lib Dems in the European elections and possibly stamp on the last remaining fingers that the Tories have in Scotland.

If this happens, the conservatives can tell themselves the usual stupid clich├ęs: that it just goes to show that Scots are spineless in the face of civilisation’s enemies, and that it will only be a matter of time before the Caliphate of Motherwell threatens England’s northern borders or Hitlerstalin Putin sets up his communistfascist Dacha in Berwick. Or they can ask themselves just why the party that is supposedly the voice British patriotism and by extension Western values is so thoroughly despised in a nation that has arguably retained more small-c conservatism than England itself.

Those who invoke pop culture to pretend it does exist have got everything arse about tit

Whilst I don’t like political gossip in general, I thought there was something quite profound about Hague’s baseball cap gaffe. It reminded me of those middle class British film critics who still use terms like ‘ultra hip’ when praising films that are aimed at 14 year old Americans, no doubt picturing American adolescents (all in baseball caps of course) reading the review and going ‘whoa dude, there’s a like totally ultra hip film on mayan’. Perhaps Hague does indeed think he’s a bit of a ‘cool dude’ in his cap, which shows how out of touch the Tories actually are with America.

Robin Carmody said...

Indeed the slave mentality of Britain's leaders is a scandal, but I object to the use of the phrase "Vichy Britain", which is rooted in Neil's usual moral relativism and inability to distinguish between democracy (*however flawed*) and dictatorship.

The US, for all its faults, has never deported and killed British people who do not fit its own criteria of racial purity (the Gary McKinnon case is a scandal, of course, but it is an entirely different thing). To invoke Vichy in any other context is inappropriate, and weakens your own case, which in itself is strong.

vladimir gagic said...

In a moderate defense of the United States, don't forget the warmongering goes two ways. Tony Blair was the proximate and primary force that motivated Clinton to bomb Bosnian Serbs in 1995 and Serbia in 1999. Without Blair's insistence, Clinton would never have had the stomach for the attacks.