POSTED ON Jun 29th 2016 BY LESLIE LOFTIS UNDER Diplomacy, London, Motherhood, Politics, UK Media, US/UK compare and contrast
We moved home too early, I think. I wish we had stayed in London for primary school. We loved ours in London. We are less pleased with primary eduction here. But that’s all regret I’ve covered previously.
This regret is new. Lately, I have far more hope in British politics than our own. While I’m stuck choosing between Clinton or Trump over here, Liam Fox will announce his run for Tory leader over there. Oh, to be able to vote for him!
I was never a Cameron fan. He seemed so pliable. Back in 2011, Liam Fox was still Defence Minister. Fox was not pliable. I wrote at least two posts on Fox back at my expat blog. They are good background and I enjoyed revisiting them when one of my editors sent me a heads up that Fox was announcing. The first, Keep an Eye on the Fantastic Mr. Fox, is from June 3, 2011, back when bloggers used to fisk things.
Utter nonsense and wishful thinking for the day: What Cameron Can Teach American Conservatives: [comments mine]
British Prime Minister David Cameron has emerged as the most admirable of anomalies: the budget-cutter as leader of conscience. [This will go well.]
If relocated to America, Cameron’s program of austerity would make him an unrivaled Tea Party darling. [Crap. Tea splattered all over computer. Hang on a sec… Clean computer so I can type witty actual response: What?!] What serious American has made detailed proposals to cut spending in each government department by an average of nearly 20 percent during the next four years? [I assume that by the “serious” qualifier, the writer is excluding all the republican proposals which have proposed deep cuts? Neat trick, that.] Who would choose to simultaneously slash government jobs, social services and military spending? [No one. But sometimes choice isn’t a choice.]
The extremity of Britain’s fiscal crisis, of course, left few alternatives to budget-cutting ambition. [Precisely. But it isn’t much good to claim what a great guy you are for remaining seated when it is no longer possible to stand.] Yet many British politicians have opted for less-responsible approaches. Cameron campaigned, won and generally has governed on a platform of fiscal discipline. [Campaigned and won, yes, generally governed? Does he have an NHS plan yet? I mean one he hasn’t backtracked on or scrapped? He did cut defence and then had to back door funds when he went into Libya. The VAT went up. That “generally” seems to be hiding a lot of details, no? That Cameron might be one of the least bad options isn’t really cause for optimism.]
Still, Cameronism is defined not only by austerity but by a few notable exceptions to austerity. The prime minister has protected some spending categories from reductions, erecting what’s called a “ring-fence” around health programs and foreign assistance. [And here is why Cameron would not be a Tea Party darling. If you don’t understand that these are things the Tea Party types would not ring fence, then you aren’t informed enough to be writing political commentary.]
[Little did we know then how under informed the bubble dwellers were. The fisking continued for a while, and then I got to Fox.]
Giving away other people’s money is not generosity. (h/t The Corner) The British pol who figures that out, that person might be a Tea Party darling. Daniel Hannan comes to mind. Then there is the Fantastic Mr. Fox.
But the biggest factor in Dr Fox’s favour is the growing perception that he was prescient to warn of the impact of defence cuts. Mr Cameron’s zealous intervention in Libya, which came just a few months after he signed off on the spending reductions, has drawn attention to the gap between British ambitions and British resources. There is thought to be concern in Washington at the prospect of a close ally downgrading its military capabilities. (America, incidentally, captures the gap between Dr Fox and the Tory leadership like nothing else: he strives to maintain contact with the Republicans; Mr Cameron’s people are fervent fans of Barack Obama.)
Cameron had to smear Fox out of office for asking too many questions, causing too many problems over British defenses. Downgrading British military readiness while America retreats—that has tuned out as the experts expected, no?
That “noted last week” link with more Fox is still up, but here it is so you don’t have to click:
After the US State Visit
The basic take: British pols are still in thrall to Obama, but the public is wary. I made a great effort last week to get a read on public opinion of Obama. Mind, I am an experienced expat and did not go around asking direct questions to any Brits, save M&M. I have long since learned to be a shameless eavesdropper. I have also learned how to ask leading, suggestive questions that don’t mention the topic I really want to discuss. During the US election and the previous Obama visit, getting a read on public opinion on Obama this way was easy.
This time, there was complete British silence. The only people to mention the visit were Americans, and only two of them at that. Yasha suggests two reasons for this. One, people no longer trust Obama. The Guardian article I posted on last week is probably an overly optimistic version of this. The Guardian is a leftist paper whose readers want to trust Obama. Non-leftists, however, aren’t so invested in trusting Obama and gave up on him a while back. (Time Traveller says the Nobel Prize did it for him, and I think that might have been a pivot point for Brits.) Two, the UK has her own problems and while the rest of the world does pay attention to US politics, they pay less attention than the American press would have us believe. They will pay more attention during the election.
British pols and press, however, are another story. Are they really that gullible? George Bush gives Tony Blair a nickname and pals around a bit after they had spent years in the political trenches getting shelled for the Iraq War, and that makes him a strangled poodle on a short leash and prompts sneers about a “special relationship.” Obama and Cameron high five after a photo op ping-pong match in an unveiled attempt to look like best mates after three years of frosty and ham-handed diplomatic exchanges, and the pols and press believe it indicates some genuine bond?!
The only pol not fooled was Liam Fox, the UK Defence Secretary. While Obama was hanging out at the Palace and in No 10’s rose garden, Fox was in the states. (h/t Conservative Home) The Mail wrote:
As the President prepared for talks with Cameron and Cabinet Ministers on Wednesday, Fox was about to jet off to the States.
One bemused No 10 source says: ‘He didn’t go to any of the main meetings with Obama.
‘One of the advantages of going to Washington is to see the key players. But the key player, the President, was here.’
That “key player”, the one who devastated the Middle East peace process then headed out of town while Netanyahu gave a powerful speech to Congress? The one who has acted decisively on Libya? The one that rumors suggest had to be dragged into the OBL raid? Perhaps Mr. Fox knows something about the “key player” that others don’t, like perhaps he isn’t really all that “key.”
For my American friends, Mr. Fox is the man who has battled with Cameron over the defence cuts.
UPDATE October 2011: He was soon after forced out on a trumped up scandal about him using government funds to entertain a—whisper-whisper, this is the real scandal—secret gay lover. I’m with this guy:
David Pasley, a Tory councillor in Mr Fox’s North Somerset constituency, described the MP as “hard working” and “diligent”, and said he was “deeply saddened” by Friday’s events.
But he added: “He’s someone who you can’t keep down.
“He has got such experience in his political career that I’m sure it will just be a question of time before he’s back, and I hope he’s back very soon in a high profile position.”
One can hope.