James Forsyth

Shared values

Shared values
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Gordon Brown’s visit to the USA shows that his team really has developed the reverse Midas touch. The Embassy has secured meetings with all three presidential candidates and on home turf to boot, an impressive demonstration of diplomatic clout that few countries—if any—could match. But by arriving at the same time as the Pope, the Prime Minister has guaranteed that he’ll be over-shadowed. (Tomorrow’s US front pages are going to be dominated by pictures of the Pope blowing out the candles on his birthday cake at the White House).

As Pete notes, Brown’s Wall Street Journal op-ed is hardly likely to make any American mist up—as Tony Blair’s speeches so often did. But something that Brown said recently, did demonstrate—albeit unintentionally—the strength of the special relationship.

Brown’s decision to not attend the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics transformed the US debate on the subject—before it Obama and McCain wouldn’t commit on the question, after it they would. Admittedly, this was partly because Hillary Clinton—who was advocating such a step—seized on Brown’s statement. But it was also because there was a general feeling that, to borrow a phrase, Britain and America share a moral compass; that if the British aren’t going then maybe it’s not the right thing to do. It is these shared values that ensure that the special relationship will survive the odd, inevitable rocky patch.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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