The British Conservatives and the American Republicans enjoy as close a friendship as New Labour and Clinton’s Democrats. Tony Blair and ex-President William Clinton walked hand-in-hand on many issues but such will not be the case with George Bush Junior. It will be remembered that Thatcher and Reagan, then Bush Senior, worked closely together but when the Democrat Clinton was elected into office, relations with John Major’s Conservatives turned sour as it became evident that this British party had collaborated with the Republican party to try to find “dirt stories” from the time when Clinton was a student at Oxford University. Clinton never forgot the issue and the special relationship of Thatcher with the USA’s Republicans under Reagan deteriorated. When Tony Blair surfaced with New Labour, the transatlantic friendship blossomed again. While it is true that the British like to mock the Americans for their way of speaking, it is also true that the bond between the two countries is much deeper than many think. There is even a movement in the UK to leave the European Union and to form an economic community with North America (USA and Canada). The popular support for this idea has not yet been put to an opinion poll but many British people feel more affinity for their “sister nations” across the Atlantic than for Germany, France and Spain, for instance. Indeed, any story about the European Union in the British press is likely to be one making fun or ridicule of the countries or peoples of “the Continent”. Now as the new administration of George W. Bush settles into the White House, the affinity between New Labour and the Republicans will be put to the test. Tony Blair’s main ally for the “Third Way” has gone. This “Third Way” was a middle path between state interventionism and rampant monetarism favoured by the US Republicans and Britain’s Tories. Maybe Tony Blair will find a closer ally in President Vladimir Putin than in George W. Bush. Anthony Giddens, director of the London School of Economics, said “there is no intellectual or political identification between Blair and Bush which could justify a deepening of ties across the Atlantic”. As these words are written, Robin Cook, the British Foreign Secretary, is determined to keep the relationship with the USA afloat. He said Britain needs to “renew and deepen the Translantic friendship”. This issue gains added importance in the year of new Parliamentary elections in the UK. As the leader of the Conservative opposition party, William Hague, reinforces the contacts he has been making with George Bush since 1998, he expresses his unconditional support for the Strategic Defence Initiative started in the days of Reagan. If the gut reaction of the Republicans would be to support the Conservatives and Hague, it will soon become evident that New Labour and Blair and here to stay for at least another term in office (five years), unless of course the CIA manages to find a smear story to destabilise New Labour. In today’s political world, nothing is surprising. What both the Conservatives in the UK and the Republicans in the USA forget is that the mainstay of their foreign policy, invasion from Eastern Europe, belongs to yesterday because it does not exist and never did. Times change and history is brutal for those who do not learn to navigate in the changing currents.


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