Those are the four questions we’ve already posed in this occasional debate feature. Today, on the eve of US Presidential elections year, the debate is whether Britain will be more affected by the outcome of the race for the White House or the battle for the keys to 10 Downing Street?
The battle for the White House will affect Britain most: Every major problem in the world requires American leadership. The next US President could be a protectionist with massive implications for world trade. When America’s economy sneezes we catch a cold. Much of the growth enjoyed under Gordon Brown reflects the strength of the American economy. There’ll be no progress on climate change if the White House vetoes it. America is the only nation with the military power to deal with terrorist-supporting states. The next President will decide what to do about Iran. America’s missile defence shield represents our best hope of protection from rogue dictators with nuclear arms. Yes, the British election matters but there are not massive differences between the two main parties at the moment. George Osborne has pledged to match Labour on public spending. Conservatives won’t pursue major reforms of our hospitals. All parties take roughly the same approach to climate change. Much of our domestic agenda is set by the EU anyway and the Tories propose no fundamental reform of our relationship with Brussels. A Tory government will surely be a lot more competent than Labour – it couldn’t be less competent – but Brown V Cameron is not Thatcher V Foot or Atlee V Churchill.
No, the battle for Downing Street obviously matters most to Britain: Britain is in decline again – economically, socially and in terms of its standing in the world. A Conservative government will change Britain’s course. Britain will be set on a path to economic liberalisation. Taxes will be lower. Reforms to education, policing and family policy will begin the repair of our social fabric. We will operate a more humble foreign policy and put national security first. Although the choice of American President is important the differences between the Republican and Democrat candidates may not be as great as some imagine. Despite the Democrats’ rhetoric they are not going to pull out of Iraq fast and corporate America won’t allow the USA to become too protectionist. The Republican candidates will also be more open to action on climate than the Bush administration. The most important decisions affecting Britain over the next few years will be taken in Downing Street, not in the West Wing.