The fickle and much commented upon capricious nature of Trump’s America is much in the news these days. There’s also been much comment of what the pundits call ‘the special relationship’ Britain has with the US. I and this blog have never believed in such a phenomena as the special relationship. To me it has never existed unless it had advantage for the Americans. We British, for a whole variety of reasons, have satisfied ourselves with licking American boots and imagining that this is some sort of privilege and hence the belief that there is some sort of ‘special relationship’. Let us recall some history that may cast some sort of light on the matter....
1. Britain established the original 13 colonies that became the US;
2. Britain foolishly lost those colonies - partly due to the connivance of the French;
3. On and off for a quarter of a century more we were at war with America - but we were also simultaneously at war with the French, Spanish, Egyptians and countless warring tribes on the Nort-West frontier;
4. Somewhat later the Americans started fighting amongst themselves in a soul searching episode that left thousands of them dead but feeling as though - as unionist victors - some sort of moral high ground had been attained. ‘The world will listen to us now, eh ?’
5. America - much to our chagrin - develops economic and industrial models that work on the principle of risk assessment - highly successful if you can pass the risk on to your customers. Britain is chained to a warring and politically unstable Europe (does that ring any bells ?) that constantly threatens its empire;
6. In the last century or so, Britain finds itself economically as well as strategically challenged; our ‘friends’ in America say, ‘Hey guys, we’ll loan you a bucket load to get outa’ your troubles, but golly gosh, remember it’s a loan and remember that the interest rate is real high and no matter how much we may not like you, we’ll always be there to collect our dollars. Now off you go and play at your wars whilst we’ll back both sides and pick up the spoils after you’ve beaten yourselves to death. Oh, and bye the way, have a nice day !’ And this happened in 1914 and again in 1940. Two cataclysmic periods when the so called ‘special relationship’ was forged.
So, the ‘special relationship’ was created out of our need and their greed - which some would argue is fair and the way the capitalist world works whilst others would call it something different. But today, after over two centuries of us experiencing American largesse, we should have the courage to say to upstarts like Trump something clear, unambiguous and to the point - along the lines of ‘’P*** off, we no longer need you in our backyard.’ We can never erase the fact that American industrial, economic and manpower inputs during two world wars tipped the balance, but let us not forget that they were only able to make that difference because we were holding back the storm, so let us not let the Hollywood version of our history be skewed too much to make us look like snivelling yokels with no idea about what to do. And today’s Conservative government should have the balls to say to Trump and his weird administration to go and play its tricks somewhere else and that until they learn how to conduct themselves as a nation then don’t try and come here again. In short, trying to cosy up to a trade deal with Trump is like trying to herd a crowd of five year olds into an organised group - both pointless and unpleasant for this country - we can do so much better elsewhere.
As for Brexit, I’m bordering on being speechless, but I’ll force a thought or two out. What a big surprise that now we’ve told the EU we’ll pay them some extortionate divorce settlement in order to get a trade deal than they turn around and tell us (in a range of quaint European accents) ‘Gosh, no. The money is to settle your existing obligations - it has nothing to do with getting a trade deal. And you haven’t sorted out your Irish border problem yet, mais non ?’ Did our negotiators really think the big bucks offer was a solution to all the EU’s blockages ? It’s a complex subject, for sure, but I fear we are losing ground here and that the Brexit the British electorate voted for cannot be delivered whilst we play cricket rules negotiations. Whilst I’m reluctant to concede the point, we need to adopt a more aggressive, uncompromising line more along the lines of American loan strategies in the 20th Century - no rules but your own and no retreating. After all, at this stage we have nothing to lose and everything to gain....