Saturday, May 9, 2015


The Conservatives won...somehow, but the laurels might go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer rather than to David Cameron.  The Labour Ed (Cain) Miliband lost despite having gotten rid of his brother David (Abel) in some Greek tragedy "brother feud".  The Scottish were the only ones who voted with a passion rather than caution.  The British ceiling cracked.

It has to be said that the election rules in the UK could serve as a template for other similar events elsewhere, especially in the United States. They are brief and to the point.  In America they take forever and often appear more concerned with the religious and the petty than with the existential and the pertinent, pandering to non-starts rather than to up-starts.

P.M. Cameron got a majority. He also found a two-headed dragon on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street:  the Scottish vote could booby trap the United Kingdom, and the promised referendum on the adhesion of the UK to the EU in 2017 is a sword of Damocles. All decisions regarding Europe risk being mortgaged to this promise made.  That the United Kingdom is no longer the power broker of former times is a fact. Since the Thatcher days, the country has been obliged to face a descending spiral. The Falklands might have been the last show of power. With Tony Blair the United Kingdom became a Sancho Panza to American folly. The Cameron years where more indicative of London's lower profile than of a firm strategic vision.

It would be tragic if the United Kingdom were to leave the unloved EU. For sure Brussels is viewed more as a curse more than as a recipe, but the absence of London would make it even more parochial than what it has become.  Besides, a Sottish divorce could as well set in motion the downfall of Dr. Kissinger's Westphalia model. The United States would lose a reliable prime interlocutor in Europe.  Chris Patten offered a balanced criticism to Americans when he thought they were not always versed in international "ways". The current "mood" in the US is in provincial mode and requires a firm but not-too-intrusive politico-cultural input from a third party, as only the British can provide. Alas, the Thatcher/Reagan chemistry is gone.

After all, in the EU Germany is a power without desire, France is one in repetitive trauma. The "American air carrier" needs an escort(er) that can only be British.

Cameron will need to tame his backbenchers and to lift his constituents out of the (deserved) EU blues. He will have his hands full keeping the UK together and not letting the bridges to the EU be booby-trapped by his own Euro sceptics. The EU had better help, otherwise it might well become, even more, a project adrift!  The Anglo-American relationship is essential.  The US and the UK have to become more cousins again, and less strangers. *

* Chris Patten.

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