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What precisely is wrong with Peter Ainsworth saying the Bush Administration in the US is 'crap'? He's right. The admin is an embarrasment to most conservatives here in the UK. What is wrong with 'opportunism' in politics? If it helps to damage the 'opposition'- it's fine by me! When have most policy reviews not been influenced by 'opportunism'( along with an over-riding political philosophy)? And to suggest being anti-Bush (and the barmy religious right) equates to being anti-American is , may i suggest, cheap opportunism on your part Tim.

I was amazed to see Ainsworth's comments. They reminded me of a student politician.

Simon: "What's wrong with opportunism in politics?"

Because if it works in the short-term it ruins your brand in the medium-term - which is why Cameron was right to say that he would eschew it.

Simon: "And to suggest being anti-Bush (and the barmy religious right) equates to being anti-American is , may i suggest, cheap opportunism on your part Tim."

I didn't quite say that, Simon. Of course you can be anti-Bush and pro-American but constant Bush-bashing does contribute to the wider feeling of anti-Americanism - particularly if the emphasis is always on Washington's failures and never its achievements like the world's biggest HIV/AIDS and anti-malaria programmes. Programmes that were the product of lobbying by what you describe as the "barmy religious right."

Yoiu are right to be concerned about an anti-US stance developing but there is a need for a correction in our relationship with the US.

The UK basic position is that of an atlanticist, with strong connections to the EU and weaker ones to the Commonwealth. Our relationship with the US is bound by the strong links forged in the second world war and particularly of the relationships of four PMs with the US presidency. Churchill, with an American mother, Macmillan, with a family connection to JFK (who had known him as Uncle Harold), Thatcher & Reagan with very close political bonds and then Blair with Clinton and Bush.

None of these close periods have been trouble free without arguments or disagreements. Neither in our less associated periods have the UK and US interests always been the same. The problem is that Blair has been, unfortunately, a poodle. In his short relationship with Clinton he gave the US too much leeway in Northern Ireland. His relationship with Bush was dreadfully exposed in the Yo Blair episode.

The US betrayed this country and France in 1956 - Eisenhower recognising it was his big mistake. Much of the present Middle East & islamic miltancy grew from that error as did the French decision to look elsewhere for its allies and seek its own course.
Macmillan chose differently from De Gaulee but that choice was not subserviency.

You argue that the Conservatives should support the government when they are doing the right thing (or at least the right direction) and oppose when they are wrong. The same applies in our relationship with the US and EU.

The US has been wrong-headed on climate change though its late conversion to do something is to be welcolmed but this present administration will not in its dying days deliver. I recognise iIt was not Bush but the Congress that stood in the way of effective action - whether that will change I don't know. The Asia-Pacific Partnership is a great idea, I believe human ingenuity and technology will provide solutions, but it remains a hope unless there are clear objectives. JFK didn't say he was setting up the Apollo programme to research how to get to the moon, he said it was so the US would land a man on the moon before the decade ended.

I don't believe Kyoto was worth the paper and energy it consumed but I do believe that effective international co-operation is required. That means the US must change - its happy to co-operate on its own terms and providing its in the driving seat. That will not work if we want China and India to also co-operate.

You are right Tim to say that Bush, John Howard and Stephen Harper stand against Cameron on Kyoto but other conservative politicians like Merkel and McCain are on his side. Conservatives are divided on the environment.

Tim, well, we'll have to disagree about 'opportunism' in politics. You did not illustrate a policy that was not created out of some sort of 'opportunism'(ie) whether to get votes or to turn the screws on the opposition)!But i take your point that the 'religious right' did play a part in health-care in the third world (through gritted teeth!). But i still think on the whole they are bonkers.

Peter is quite right to say what he does. Bush's America is altogether too high handed.

You will remember from Love Actually the bit that got the Cameron PM (Grant) his biggest ratings was an anti-American initiative.

The relationship between the USA and the UK is not that of friend but of employer, albeit in a family firm scenario or landowner and ghillie sense. America likes the UK and for many of us the feeling is mutual but that hides only from the naive or the wishful the reality that America is only ever out for America.
As an English nationalist, I don't find this reprehensible or even unexpected but as an English nationalist, I reserve the right to consider occasions when our foreign policy must be out for us and not for America. The UK will always be America's best ally. We have similar political outlooks, intertwined economic interests and over the last 50 years a shared history. That doesn't mean that we should expect them to show us any special favours or that they should expect us to be their Yes-men.

I think the opportunism line is a bit much. It makes you sound like a prep school headmaster.

A bit more opportunism amongst our listless and neurasthenic front bench and we might be nudging the necessary 42% in the polls

Thanks Jonathan. I did make it clear at the beginning of my post that I disagreed with some aspects of US and Bush administration policy. I'm just not convinced at the wisdom of Peter Ainsworth making the intervention as he did - as i tried to explain.

Opportunism is surely a pre-requisite for successful electoral advance?

Here we go again. What, exactly, is the point of electing a left-of-Blair "Conservative" government?

I broadly agree with the editorial line in the first part of this article ... although "Treaty obligations that would actually do very little to stop global warming (even if implemented in full)" should read "(even if anthropogenic global warming really exists)". See the weak defence of this unproven hypothesis in today's Telegraph letter from the President of the Royal Society - "In a system as complex as the global climate we cannot predict with certainty what will happen in future" - having worked with computer models of complex systems I remain sceptical.

However I do not agree with the editorial line on the probation service, which like other public services is being surreptitiously "reformed" primarily to conform with the EU's regionalisation agenda without any concern for the practical outcome.

Thank you Tim.

Thank you for your excellent editorial, and for saying it as it is.

I agree about short and medium term advantage. In the short term, we may benefit from playing to the left wing gallery. We certainly won't gain in the medium term.

Tim is right, Ainsworth is wrong.

There you go just as easy to say as everyone else is right and Bush is wrong.

Mr Baker wrote a good piece in The Times on something like this. Say Bush goes and Obama or Clinton become president - who are the left going to blame for everything?

On probation though, as Denis Cooper writes above, this was not a good bill. Moreover, the problem with supporting policies because you agree with the principle is that you have to watch as your ideas are discredited by poor implementation. In any case, I'm sceptical about privatisation in the probation service - I distrust localism and privatisation for one principle reason - that they look a bit like an excuse for politicians to pass the buck, and get issues off the national stage, and onto the local stage where they can be brushed off more easily.

There was an adjournment debate...was it yesterday or the day before?...on road pricing in Shrewsbury. Was that opportunistic? It didn't sound like it - the Tory MP claimed that there was no congestion in Shrewsbury. It all looks like a sneaky plan to impose extra taxes by stealth, by applying them to only bits of the country one by one.

I don't like the Tories playing politics on the NHS. "Stop Brown's NHS Cuts" is going to be a little embarassing when the Tories turn up and decline to bale out the trusts and fund a couple of billion pounds worth of extra treatments. But they aren't being totally stupid about this, and we should note that Osbourne has told the cabinet to stop promising new, expensive ideas.

Finally, Ainsworth is being a twit on Bush. We don't even want the support of Green Party voters, because their agenda outside of green issues is...suspect.

So we shouldn't go public against perceived failings of the Bush administration, but it's ok to couple this article with a public attack on Cameron for being "opportunistic"? This is really unhelpful, partly because, relatively speaking, Cameron hasn't been that opportunistic, but also because this is precisely the opportunistic Lib Dem line this weekend!

By the way, I'm wholly with you on the stupidity of anti-Americanism point!

US is the big boy momentarily on the world stage, we would do well to distance ourselves from them. Do we have shared values with the US? I dont. I dont want a religion dominated, PC, litigious, vacuous, divided society as any kind of role model. As we are finding out their actions are purely selfish, they do as they please. If we are allied with the US no progress will be made towards peace anyway they are involved. Wecannot preach equality, democracy, freedom and rights at anyone without looking the worst hypocrites. We cant have mushareff as an ally and decry military dictatorships like Saddam, no matter how bad. Involvement with US has seen our parliament corrupted, soldiers killed, brought increased terrorism to our shores, ruined our reputation internationally and what have we gained???

The US economy is about to dip badly, Russia and China influence grows, they have screwed up the middle east, Europe hates them and the most unstable dictator on their home continent calls them imperialist blah.blah...... sometimes the answer is the obvious one.

The risk of the US becoming more isolated is a very real one and maybe not a move that suits us. We need to change our strategy in global politics dramatically.

"So we shouldn't go public against perceived failings of the Bush administration, but it's ok to couple this article with a public attack on Cameron for being "opportunistic"?"

I really think it is time we get real and stop getting picky about ourselves. The name of the game is winning, now capitalism/socialism arguments don't get anywhere. But, I would say the Cameroons are now making the same mistakes that lost three elections - they knew Labour had turned the probation bill into an issue but never bothered to explain why they voted against it.

"And now, despite David Cameron's leadership contest talk of co-payment, the party is playing politics on road pricing and may be doing the same on missile defence."

How are they playing politics on road pricing? I confess I've missed any Conservative statements on the issue. I don't see what's wrong with opposing the idea - if people prefer congestion over higher taxes than so be it.

I think Ainsworth is being a twerp and I agree with the "opportunistic" tag. Non-co-operation over Kyoto dates back to Clinton and his greener-than-thou veep, Gore. Specifying Bush as the man responsible, and suggesting that the world will be a safer place without him, blah blah seemed to me to have Iraq more in mind than carbon.

Constantly Bashing bush = Anti-Americanims

Not at all. Many Americans are bashing Bush, both Republicans and Democracts. Too much Fox News I think.

Also, please do not cite the Religious Right as a force against HIV/Aids when they block the distribution of condoms or proper sex education in US schools.

Spooner March 03, 17:41
"...Many Americans are bashing Bush...".
For example, see:

There's no point defending Bush -- the sheer incompetence and bloody-minded of his administration has handed the anti-Americans all the ammunition they need.

As for Canada and Australia both those conservative administrations have distinguished themselves of late by adopting strongly environmental measures.

Hint to the eco-phobes: Conservatives conserve. Idiots start wars without any idea of how to finish them... and perpetuate western dependency on fossil fuel imports from despots

"...Hint to the eco-phobes: Conservatives conserve...."

Yes, I want Conservatives to conserve our economy and standard-of-living from attacks by 'watermelon' environmentalists [green on the outside, red inside] who seek to undermine our wealth in the name of 'saving' the planet.

Ainsworth belongs in the new Conservative Party, which is not a right-wing party.

Would not Ainsworth better spend his time attacking Labour?What does he think of the EU shafting UK taxpayers £300+ million for fashion icon Beckett's failure at Defra.

He is either 'green' ,dumb or trying to please Great Uncle Ming for a place in a well hung parliament.

I wouldn't give Ainsworth the time of day but that unfortunately applies to too many Tory MPs who have either lost the plot or never knew it.

Ainsworth should join the Greens.

I fear the party are going to come unstuck by aligning themselves with the green lobby, who are probably not going to vote for us whatever we say. The whole climate change issue has been hyped up by the media and politicians from all the major parties have jumped on the band waggon in a "me too" frenzy without the slightest intention of putting in the policies which would make any significant impact.

Many of the public are already ahead of the game. Our politicians have been rumbled. Nigel Lawson has exposed the truth. It is seen as a giant tax-raising scam with its tentacles in the detested road-pricing poisoned chalice.

We must ditch this quietly before it's too late.

What green proposals have we made?

Ultimately, in this imperfect world, I feel they can say what they like if the policies are ok.

I don't disagree with Peter Ainsworth about his attacks on the bush Administration which like him I think has been useless in most of the major areas of policy and has until very recently been spectacularly uninterested in enviromental issues. But I think he was wrong to criticise anyone else unless and until Conservative party policy on enviromental issues has been formulated to a much greater extent than is currently the case.The fact that he did this to an audience of enviromental campaigners leads me to think that you are right Editor, this is sheer opportunism.

Ainsworth is right.

I'm a Tory who thinks Bush is a disaster and am glad to see sensible Republicans standing this time around. I'd have voted for Gore or Kerry.

Well, Milton, if you had voted for Kerry you would have voted for an out-and-out isolationist and flip-flo merchant. Remember how well the UK did in the days when the US was isolationist like 1914-17 and 1939-41.....and in those days we had at least some semblance of credibility as a force in international affairs? We have none now so who are going to be our new friends: Russia, China?. If you had voted for Gore, you would have voted for a good 'ole tax and spend Democrat who sees the environment as a great way of scaring OTHER people into paying far more tax and putting up with a lot more intrusive regulation. Add to which that Mr "Do as I say not as I do" Gore's personal environmental footprint looks the size of Goliath's.

The Bush administration has made many many mistakes but the kind of Tory who regards Bush as an unmitigated disaster is the kind of Tory who favours an alliance with the Lib Dems - a TINO or Tory in Name Alone.

My MP's comments were well wide of the mark. There is total cross-party consensus in the US that they will not sign up to a deal on the environment which imports recession to the US and gives China, India and Russia a free hand to pollute. An entirely sensible position....as opposed to the sado-environmentalist posturing of our politicians, who will pass the bill to us voters while agreeing an opt-out for themselves, just as they have done over pensions.

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