Kerry win wouldn't be bad for Blair, say British experts

Thought this was interesting. Original at

Kerry win wouldn't be bad for Blair, say British experts

LONDON (AFP) - Victory for Democratic challenger John Kerry in the US presidential election would not necessarily be bad news for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has been a strong ally for George W. Bush in Iraq.

Because of Iraq, Blair might even benefit from a change in the Oval Office and the impact that a Kerry win would have on US foreign policy, experts in London say.

"In terms of domestic politics, a Kerry victory would be easier" for the British leader, Lord William Wallace, an international relations specialist at the London School of Economics, told AFP.

In fact, given the scale of anti-war sentiment in Britain, Blair might even be "intensively relieved" if Kerry -- who promotes himself as a multilateralist -- gets in.

While Blair made good on his promise to put British troops in the front line of the March 2003 invasion -- and there are still 8,500 of them in southern Iraq -- Bush "hasn't given him a concession in return," Wallace said.

From this point of view, "a second Bush term could be embarrassing," he added.

When he came to power in 1997, Blair was immediately on easy terms with then president Bill Clinton, a Democrat, who won a standing ovation when he spoke to Blair's governing Labour Party in October 2002.

Understanding the essence of the "special relationship" between London and Washington, the prime minister then moved swiftly to accommodate Bush after the Texan was declared president in 2000.

While they were united on Iraq, Blair is less hardline than Bush on a number of other foreign policy issues, such as climate change and the stalled quest for Middle East peace.

"Tony Blair has shown in the past that he is able to deal pragmatically with whoever is in office," said Julie Smith, an expert on transatlantic relations at Cambridge University.

She speculated that it would be "easier to do business with Kerry than with people that were opposed to the (Iraq) war from the beginning".

However, "it clearly won't be a relationship as close as the relationship with Bush," which has been "coloured" by the Iraq war, Smith told AFP.

She held that, while the rest of Europe might prefer to see Kerry in power, "the continuation of the Bush administration would be the best thing for Blair," given developments in Iraq.

"If Kerry was willing to work through the United Nations and negotiate a settlement (to the Iraq crisis), the situation has worsened so much that it will be very difficult to achieve it," she said.

In that case, she said, the dominant question becomes: "How do we stay (in Iraq) without further reprisals?"

Wallace said that while it could be "a tremendous advance" for Blair to have Kerry in the White House, the fact remains that, as far as Iraq is concerned, all the keys to a solution do not rest only in the London-Washington relation.
Interesting developments last night - news showed the final TV debate between Bush and Kerry and a focus group of undecideds watching it were asked to use individual 'swing-o-meters' to indicate which candidate they preferred at each stage. At the end, the focus group all agreed that Kerry won the debate hands down but then they all said they would still vote for Bush! They said although he did not say the right things, they believed he meant well! Is this a war thing or the compulsion to always give leaders more than one term?
Personally I believe Bush is reaching out to peoples patriotism. He's seen to be backing the military (TBLiar take note here please) and trying to lead from the front, albeit in the wrong direction. He showed a decisiveness during 9/11 and that will probably win it for him.
For Tony it doesnt matter who wins, because whoever the Prime Minister is, the terms and agreements of the 'Special Relationship' involve being as far up the Presidents arrse as possible.

But id rather be with them than against them. (at the moment)

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