Nick Vaughan is a Director of the Young Britons Foundation, former National Chairman of Conservative Future and Councillor back home in Herefordshire. He is about to lead out a large group of volunteers to Ohio to support the John McCain ’08 Campaign.
As a Republican sympathiser and like so many other UK Conservatives, I have been left to defend the shared interests of the transatlantic alliance more than ever as consequence of the specific distaste toward the Bush administration. Many who criticise Bush point towards his policies. However, I am acutely aware of the strength of criticism which has focused on the ‘language’ which has been espoused by the administration in the past eight years. Some of you will recall that last Blair-Bush press conference held at the White House in May 2007, and when asked of his biggest regret as regards operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush spoke of his sometimes ‘aggressive’ language. And in June 2008, speaking to The Times he conceded that his rhetoric could have made the world believe that he was a “guy really anxious for war”.
Like him, I still do believe our polices in Iraq and Afghanistan were right, and hopefully history will prove that. Though the aggressive ‘with us or against us’ attitude of the US administration has been one of the main catalysts behind contemporary anti-Americanism.
Only a few years ago I was there listening to McCain addressing the Conservative Party Conference. It didn’t have me jumping up and down, it certainly didn’t make one jump in the spontaneous way Hague seems to manage every time – but what it did do was made me realise that here we had a Conservative who knew his brief and above all else, shared my values. He spoke then as he does now of the need to achieve victory in Iraq and Afghanistan. And he still speaks of the good old Conservative values of a low-tax, low-fat government.
NWith Obama we do indeed have someone who can appeal to the world electorate. We do require a voice less aggressive and more open to others. However, as concerned onlookers, we must avoid ‘hoping’ that someone who can speak to the outside world can necessarily provide the best policies. Furthermore, that we forego our natural Conservative instincts to favour a inexperienced politician in an ever increasingly polarised world order.
Remember that television advertisement for Werthers Original toffees, the Grandfather who would bore the hell of his grandson before giving him his sweets. This dangerous world requires a wise old Grandad who has been there in the trenches and does know how to speak to people on the international stage. Someone who is prepared to be as boring with the detail as his EU counterparts is prepared to be. But importantly, who is prepared to make the tough decisions on Iran for example (unlike Obama) but without losing further key allies (unlike Bush).
There will be tough decisions to be made over the coming years and all Conservatives should be there looking forward to a very boring, mundane yet very effective Conservative presidency under John McCain. Not ‘hope’ for a nice looking, nice sounding Obama presidency to bear fruits.