Alex Massie

Shocker! Cameron Snubs Republicans!

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Nile Gardiner is always good for a laugh and his latest contribution to the Telegraph is no exception. Apparently David Cameron, visiting the US this week, will rue the day he "snubbed" American conservatives.

It is a short-sighted approach with significant long-term risks. David Cameron’s visit to the United States this week is a lost opportunity. In addition to meeting with the President, Cameron should be reaching out to Republican leaders and the American conservative movement.

OK. So who should the Prime Minister meet?

It is disappointing that the prime minister is not meeting this week with influential conservative officials in Congress such as Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner,  House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Er, OK! I suppose little harm could come from a courtesy chat with Speaker Boehner. But what would be the point of meeting Eric Cantor or, god help us, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen? What could they possibly usefully talk about?

According to Gardiner:

David Cameron has nothing to learn from Barack Obama’s big government agenda, but a great deal to gain from building ties with prominent US conservative leaders who are advancing a limited-government, low-tax agenda that pushes economic freedom rather than government bureaucracy.

This could conceivably be the case if this were an accurate description of the contemporary Republican party. But it is not. In any case, it would be poor manners for the Prime Minister to be seen cavorting with Republicans in an American election year. If, as Gardiner says, conservatives are Britain's "true friends" in the United States they will understand this.

Gardiner warns that "the winds of change are sweeping through Washington" (we'll see) and "Mr Cameron should be careful not to be chained to Barack Obama’s sinking presidency" as though this was either possible or liable to have any political impact on either side of the Atlantic. 

In any case, it is a mystery why Mr Cameron would wish to be associated with the Republican party in its present mood. He has rather more in common with Mr Obama than with, say, Rick Santorum. Why should he wish to spend too much time with the leaders of a party presently convulsed by pseudo-controversies such as the provision of contraception or that half-beleives Mr Obama is a socialist fifth columnist or something.

Meanwhile, over at Foreign Policy I've a piece making an argument familiar to many readers: the GOP's brand could do with a makeover, just as the Tory party needed refreshing when Mr Cameron became leader in 2005.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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