There are a number of good conservative criticisms of the Bush administration. The failure to control spending and the Rumsfeld light footprint doctrine would be my top two. I would also add the first term steel tariffs and the failure to legislatively progress the President’s faith-based initiative. If I was a Tory politician I’m not sure I’d go public with those criticisms, however. While Bush-bashing might be easy politics it’s hardly statesmanlike. It only feeds the anti-Americanism that is all too pervasive in Britain and so corrosive of our two nations’ special relationship.
Peter Ainsworth obviously thinks differently. In a play-to-the-gallery yesterday the Conservative environment spokesman argued that "the sooner the current administration in America goes, the safer the world will be." "It has been a deplorable drag on international efforts to get a resolution," he continued, "the leading polluter of the world hasn’t been playing a full part."
That’s unfair and unconservative. The Bush administration is joined by conservative leaders in Canada and Australia in rejecting Kyoto environmentalism. Europe loves to attack America for failing to sign up to Kyoto but many European nations are failing to meet Treaty obligations that would actually do very little to stop global warming (even if implemented in full). Insofar as sclerotic eurozone economies are meeting Kyoto targets they are often only succeeding by exporting industrial capacity to developing nations. Unlike the Kyoto Treaty – which does not engage with the world’s faster-growing developing nations – the US has led the formation of the Asia-Pacific Partnership On Clean Development And Climate Change. The Partnership also includes Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea. The six nations that account for 50% of the world’s economy are co-operating on more than one hundred programmes that cover everything from cleaner fossil energy to greener forms of mining and steel manufacture. The US government is spending more money than any other nation on environmental technologies.
That Mr Ainsworth chooses to regurgitate the talking points of left-leaning green groups is thoroughly depressing. Mark Steyn overstates things but there is too much truth to what he wrote yesterday: "[The British Conservative Party is] conservative only in the same sense Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin are."
Yesterday’s attack on George W Bush is only the latest example of too much opportunism within Project Cameron. In ConservativeHome’s ten peaks of David Cameron’s first year I paid tribute to the decision to support passage of Tony Blair’s education bill. The education reforms weren’t perfect but they were an improvement on the status quo. Exactly the same is true of the probation service reforms that the Tories attempted to sink in the last week. The Whips cancelled all leave in an attempt to defeat the Government. They miscalculated in a tactical failure that saw the Government win comfortably. It was a double whammy reverse – a tactical defeat and, as The Sun said, it allied the Tories with leftie dinosaurs. The same happened, of course, last November when Tories joined forces with anti-war nationalists to embarrass Labour on the Iraq war. 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. David Cameron was right in the leadership race to say that the party must do the right thing and not seek cheap political wins. Unfortunately the pursuit of cheap wins is exactly what is happening now.