Alex Massie

Special Relationship Fretting: Cui Bono?

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There's no need for me to take pro-American lessons from anyone but that doesn't mean I necessarily or secretly want to be American. That can't be said of everyone on the British right. Take Douglas Carswell for instance. The MP for Harwich and Clacton is deeply upset by the Scottish government's decision to free Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds. That's his right.

What's odder is that he seems to be more upset by the fact that the Americans are upset than by anything else. In one post he suggested that the US ban those responsble for freeing Megrahi from entering the United States. In another, he asks "Is Britain a Reliable Ally?" and suggests that, actually, she's not and that what's needed is a set of policies that will tie the United Kingdom still more closely to the United States. Carswell, in fact, seems to agree with some of the more extreme elements on the American right that Britain is done for and no longer worth considering a useful, let alone a reliable, ally.

I imagine Carswell thinks that his favoured policies would be good for Britain and only incidentally good for the United States. But he gives the impression, perhaps unintentionally, that it's the other way round. That is, Britain should follow policies that demonstrate it is a reliable ally of the US. If that also benefits Britain then that's all to the good but it's not necessary.

Perhaps this is an unfair interpretation of his position. Nonetheless, there are some British rightists who really do view everything through a filter marked What will the Americans think?

Not much, in this instance. Sure, there's been some official outrage (though, as I've said before, no-one really wants the Lockerbie files reopened and that includes the Americans) and there's been some disappointment, nay anger, expressed. But Lockerbie has nto, to put it mildly, been the talk of the American blogosphere. Nor has "old media" been much exercised by it. for instance, the word Lockerbie has not appeared on the New York Times' editorial or opinion pages since Megrahi was released.

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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