The Financial Times and Times are reporting that one of the favourites to succeed George W Bush as US President has agreed "in principle" to address the Conservative Party Conference in October.  Senator John McCain’s agreement gives David Cameron a big boost on the international stage and is, the FT reports, the result of sustained wooing by Shadow Chancellor George Osborne.  Senator McCain is a hawk in the war on terror – and with Joe Lieberman has argued that the US has failed to deploy adequate troops in Iraq.  More in tune with David Cameron’s thinking is Senator McCain’s sympathy for Kyoto environmentalism and his caution on tax cuts.

The FT’s report coincides with the publication of a paper on Tory-US relations by the Heritage Foundation’s highly-respected Nile Gardiner.  Noting that the Conservative Party "has returned as a major force in British politics," Dr Gardiner is worried about the vagueness of Tory foreign policy in general…

"The newly released party manifesto, “Built to Last,” makes no mention at all of the United States and fails to outline a coherent vision or strategy for fighting the global war against Islamic terrorism or confronting the growing threat posed by Iran and other rogue regimes. Nor does it address the future of Britain’s relationship with the European Union."

…but also at the leadership’s specific criticisms of Israel:

"Even a Democrat-run White House would balk at the kind of language being used to describe Israeli action against Hezbollah."

Dr Gardiner calls for "greater dialogue and exchange of ideas between British and American conservatives, as well as high-level contacts between shadow cabinet ministers and officials in the executive branch of the U.S. government."  Such contact has been minimal since the infamous falling out between the White House and Michael Howard.  William Hague led a bridge-building visit to Washington in February but Sir Malcolm Rifkind is leading an internal party rebellion against American ‘neoconservatism’.

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