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The poodle factor

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Nick Robinson | 13:11 UK time, Thursday, 27 July 2006

In Whitehall they call it "the poodle factor" - the widespread perception that Britain is America's poodle or, more specifically, that Tony "Yo" Blair is George Bush's. This is the only reason I can identify for the foreign secretary cutting up rough about US planes carrying bombs for Israel using Prestwick airport as a stopover.

The key question in this affair is: "Would the British government have said yes if the Americans had asked?"

The answer, I'm told, is "yes".

Indeed, the next few weeks will see more such flights. But under CAA regulations the carriage of dangerous goods has to be notified and in this case there was no notification. Failure to tell the authorities can result in a fine of - wait for it - £5,000. Hardly enough to cause even a transatlantic ripple.

Margaret Beckett is making a stand - making it clear that the UK should have been asked. It's an argument which might appear to be about mere process but is really about pride, politics and poodles.

This a day before Tony Blair turns up at the White House.

Comments

So, what matters isn't that we are helping the US arm Israels acts of aggression, it's they didn't let fill in the right forms?

The moral bankruptcy of this government is staggering...

  • 2.
  • At 03:06 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Freddy wrote:

Nice for Bush - he's got himself an attack dog who will savage his enemies with a little encouragement and feeding (money and munitions) and a poodle to help him look less like the thug in the park with a snarling pitbull.

Before we simply savage Blair for supine behaviour though, I can't remember hearing much from Dave and Ming about this. Is Dave busy playing with his windmill, or would he care to articulate his views on the Middle East?

Blair is Britain's Affair. Since Bush [and the Democrats/Republicans] have been destroying the world with its Cold War Tactics, the time has come for the world to demand an opening in US Politics so that Alternative Parties [such as Libertarians/Greens/Independents] can compete on an equal basis. I say this as a US Citizen by birth who has seen Republicans and Democrats destroy the USA and taking the world with it.

  • 4.
  • At 03:19 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Mark Marsh wrote:

"This a day before Tony Blair turns up at the White House" - Perhaps he can collect our £5,000.

  • 5.
  • At 03:20 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • ed wrote:

You would have thought there were more important things to get worked up about. Remember extraordinary rendition, anyone?

Shocking stuff - America supporting Israel in their attacks.

Today Israel have said they're not going to stop because world leaders haven't exactly said they should stop with their attacks.

Of course, with this concept of America providing missiles to Israel we know why the USA haven't said to stop (and the U.K. for that matter).

I'm a student and have taken part in a debating competition called Model United Nations where students pretend to represent country's from around the world. They write resolutions (proposals) and debate with each of the other country's.

Through MUN I learn't that America supply Israel with missiles and hoped that Israel wouldn't need to use them. (It's too late now, though).

I highly recommend Model United Nations - certainly exposes corruption in the world with government's.

(More info about MUN @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_United_Nations )

Nick,
You may think your cooments regarding 'poodles' is amusing.
Not so to the families of dead servicemen (like us), or to those currentlysuffering in the Middle East.
The job of the BBC is to report the news in an accurate and sensible manner, not to script write a political satire.
This is not what we expect of our prime broadcasting organisation.
Regards
Colin Main

  • 8.
  • At 03:26 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Benjamin K wrote:

Is there anything we can do as British Citizens to stop our Government from following along with any decisions the US makes?

I'm increasingly finding the "poodle factor" to be the most disappointing aspect of the Blair era.

Of all the things I thought we'd see when Labour won in 1997, this wasn't it.

It's ironic that compared to today, John Major's firm stand, and use of European pressure against the US, on the issue of Kurdish no-fly zones seems like iron man politics.

I can live with all the other mistakes Blair has made. But the continued pandering to the US is a pretty hard thing to swallow.

  • 10.
  • At 03:34 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Jonathan wrote:

Nick,

Whether the UK would have said yes is irrelevant to the issue here. We are a soverign nation [supposedly] and not some American colony.

Could you imagine the US infringing upon French soverignty like this? The Blair GVN should demand the sacking of the US official who failed to get clearance for this flight and it's cargo. If they refuse, then we in turn should require all future US flights landing on UK soil to be inspected by our customs officials BEFORE they are allowed to re-fuel.

Oh! And by the way, I'm not anti-American or anti-Israeli [quite the reverse] but enough is enough! We can be America's freind without losing our own identity and foreign policy.

  • 11.
  • At 03:37 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Mike wrote:

Yo miss the point. It's one thing to volunteer to be a lickspittle, toadying weakling and a completely different thing to have your cowardly consent to any depravity assumed as a matter of course. It's Mr Blair perogative to choose which boots and bottoms he licks, and when he shall lick them. Even if he has been indiscriminate in this regard throughout his disastrous career driving in toadying, there is still a principle attached. Sadly, not to Mr Blair, who apparently also lacks a spine or a conscience, but a principle nonetheless. Somewhere or other. Maybe in Gordon's office. Unless Prescott sold it to an American businessman and forgot to declare it...

  • 12.
  • At 03:38 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • eajaz wrote:

Does The Great Britain has its own Foriegn policy if yes what at this juncture or its simply copy cat U.S dangerous policy,please answer Mr.Blair.

  • 13.
  • At 03:39 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Bryan McGrath wrote:

Blair lacked credibility before the ‘Yo Blair’ incident, it merely confirmed what most people had suspected: Bush says ‘JUMP’, Blair says ‘HOW HIGH?”

One worrying aspect of this is that Blair’s motivation is now driven by self-interest. He MUST earn £20 million in order to pay for the ‘London pad’. I suspect he would be hard pressed to earn 20p in the UK after he leaves office: it means he will have to follow the path of his great mentor Thatcher in working the ‘rubber chicken’ circuit in America after he leaves Downing Street It follows that he must remain Bush’s Poodle in order to pay the bills.

  • 14.
  • At 03:41 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • David Duncan wrote:

My thoughts are that we british do not like to see a bully in action as Israel are to the innocent people of Lebanon and the constant Yes Mr Bush, No Mr Bush, Three bags full Mr Bush tactics of Tony Blair and some members of our Government. Time to go Tony as I like probably millions of others are fed up of your pandering to Mr Bush (stand up and be counted)and I don't state the majority of Americans because they think the same.
I will not vote labour again and I have always done so.

  • 15.
  • At 03:44 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Andrew Briggs wrote:

I imagine Dubya's response is "Margaret who ?". Yet another socialist minister showing that their blinkered little world is no preparation for the real one.

  • 16.
  • At 03:46 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Mike Green wrote:

Hi

Poodle seems to be the right adjective (or is it noun), but I think Tony Blair is the master actor in all this Middle Eastern tragedy.

He is the driving force in supporting Israel but wants to be seen as being led by his boss in the U.S. so as to divert the blame, as usual.

He is the master of the pass the buck game, the master of metaphor and downright lies.

For the Labour party is now so utterly divided that in all sincerity it ought to split into Blairite and Labourite parties.

I am so upset by the failure to argue for peace now rather that to allow the murderous assault on the women and children of the Lebanon ( and in secret of Gaza) to continue that I don't want to be in the same party as Blair..but I'm damned if I
'll be the one to leave !

  • 17.
  • At 03:47 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • sola wrote:

Frienship at the dentriment of others.I am surprise with the relationship between Bush and Blair.Bird of the same feather flock together.Both of them should please consider the live of 10s and 100s dying in Iraq,afganistan and presently Lebanon.

  • 18.
  • At 03:47 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Rob wrote:

Ultimately won't kicking up a fuss about a trivial thing like this case simply demonstrate how powerless the goverment perceives itself to be on serious issues?

For example Hezbollah, Gaza, Afghanistan, Iraq, Oil, Trade,Extradition treaties, Prisoner transport, and the use of our own expensive, basicly pointless nuclear arsenal?

Poodles does us quite a lot of credit I would say!

  • 19.
  • At 03:47 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Brian Fargher wrote:

Maybe 'Yo' Blair' is beginning to realise what an inconsequential figure he really is in the theatre of world politics and how little influence he has on George Bush.

It's sad that he became deluded, after 911, that he really meant something in the United States. The Americans were genuinely grateful for Britain's support at a tragic hour, and Blair became, for a time, a heroic figure to the American people, glad of such unswerving loyalty.

But in the background the hard nose of American politics, in which Britain has always been a bit player, remained unaltered. What a pity that Blair is now being reminded on a regular basis just how much our concerns are brushed aside and our sensitivities ignored. The use of Prestwick is just the latest example. ..and this will go on until Britain finds itself a role in which it can be a major player, preferably in Europe, rather than our current one of walking behind the American horse, carrying a manure shovel.

  • 20.
  • At 03:49 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Howard wrote:

Nick, Britain could learn a lot from other countries like France when it comes to 'sabre rattling'.

I would have thought that Tony would jump at the chance to indulge in a spot of posturing in the form of outrage at bombs passing though our airports without permission. It would do a lot to distance the UK just a little from the Americans at this most critical time for the Middle East without really doing any damage to our relationship.

The French are better cooks as well..

  • 21.
  • At 03:52 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Josh wrote:

Nick, I'm curious as to whether you think Margaret Beckett made a mistake. You seem to imply that she should have hesitated before attacking the Americans a day before Blair's visit, for fear of offending our larger patron, and also seem to be saying that there is an element of pathetic grandstanding to her gesture.

A lot of Britons would rather our leaders chose one path or the other - either closer to America or away from it - but moments such as this show the weakness at the core of the government. With its motif of 'Third Way' politics, it has enshrined equivocation, and has failed to grasp that sometimes there are only absolute answers.

Blair's insistence that there is a way of ending the Lebanese conflict by placating both sides is another example of this. Sometimes definite action is called for, and by confronting the Americans and demanding an immediate ceasefire, Blair could signal that he is capable of shaping world events rather than reacting to them. But alas, our government remains content to waft along the path of least resistance. When did we lose the courage of our convictions?

  • 22.
  • At 03:53 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Neil Breward wrote:


Nick,

Time was, before Britain became a spineless puppet state of the USA, and British Foreign Secretaries were more of the calibre of Palmerston, that a threat to British nationals in Lebanon would have resulted in a gunboat being sent to flatten Tel Aviv . . . . .

Instead we get a whimper about whether a foreign state should have asked us first before using us as landing strip for its arms trade.

Truly pathetic.

  • 23.
  • At 03:53 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Nick,

"Spin" and the manipulation of the press has been this Governments cornerstone policy. For the last few years, our Prime Minister has been laughed at being George Bush's poodle, the incident at the G8 summit in which the microphone was left on confirmed this.

This is nothing more than Tony Blair using Margaret Beckett to deflect the critisicm coming his way especially as the US and UK policy in the Middle East has failed dramatically, the UN again is being sidetracked as it was over Iraq. Hard hitting questions need to be asked to our leaders, on the reasons why a consertive diplomatic push is not being pursued.
I still find it ironic that most conficts especially over the last 100 years have developed during the "silly season", when MP's are on their extended summer break. Isn't it amazing that this conflict is escalating whilst are Prime Minister and MP's are lounging about on their holidays, and the lack of ANY comments by the Conservative or Liberal democrats on the situation in the Middle East just makes a whole mockery of what our democracy stands for. where are the voices of concern for the Goverments policy on this matter?

So political commentators earn your money and don't accept the spin on this conflict, keep pushing in asking for answers on why are we letting a terrible situation spiral out of control and could end up in an wider war.

  • 24.
  • At 03:56 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • J Bargh wrote:

I always knew that Blair had no problems with America viewing us effectively as a client state, but I had no idea that the personal relationship between him and Bush was as bad as it is. "Yo Blair" - as friendly as it sounds - is indicative of the general lack of respect that the president has for the prime minister. In Bush's world, Europeans in general and Blair in particular are clearly viewed as 'weenies' to be bossed around or ignored.

  • 25.
  • At 03:58 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Sam Badham wrote:

What i find remarkable about Blair is that despite the fact he is quite obviously Bushes poodle and is humiliating the British people by making us as a nation impotent. People still support him and his party.

Was anyone really surprised as to the outcome of the last election? Or indeed what the result of the next election will be? What is it with the people of Britain? Are we as brainwashed and dumbed down as the Americans?

Is it because we no longer have a choice in the UK? No ideological differences left between the parties? I guess it is, as a 20 something I.T profesional with a keen interest in politics i certainly have no politcal party that remotely reflects my political beliefs.

Politics only works if their is choice. In the UK there is no choice. Blue conservative or red conservative nets the same result and neither care to listen to the people because they don't need to.

  • 26.
  • At 04:13 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • David Lawunmi wrote:

The 'Special relationship' demands an obsequious poodle! The UK has been happy to play the poodle over the last few decades.

How else would you describe the Thatcher-Reagan relationship?

The perception / image of this relationship depends on 'events dear boy', and the ability of the labour spin machine to present these to the UK public.

The reality is simple if Britain wants a special relationship with the US, then it has to accept its role as a poodle.

  • 27.
  • At 04:13 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Clerkenwell Green wrote:

Having listened to, and read, much of the depressing news of the day relating to the Middle East, it seems to me that the only thing politicians pay regard to is ridicule.
I believe Blair was hurt by the "Yo Blair" remark but is it "yo" as in "hey" or "hi"; or is it the diminutive for "Yogi" as in the famous bear. In any event he (Blair) is either unaware of, or too afraid to strike back with "Yo Diz", "Diz" being the diminutive for "Dizzie".
Of course, even Bush's closeset cronies don't call Bush "Diz" to his face but it is a nickname he's had since he was just a toddler. Indeed, it precedes "Shrub" by many years and almost certainly was coined by Bush the Elder.

  • 28.
  • At 04:18 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Nick wrote:

Yes, to a certain extent Beckett's stand is a matter of pride - we used to hold the US in such affection but Bush & Blair have reduced most of the goodwill in this country for all things American (which is a shame).

But it is also much more than pride - it also highlights concerns about our 'special relationship' with the US and our role in the world in general. It has become increasingly clear that the special relationship is 'special' from only the British government's perspective, while the US increasingly views us as one of its more useful client states. That, taken together with a questioning of our role in the world (i.e. with a decision on Trident needed soon, with our involvement in Iraq, extraordinary rendition, the rise of BRIC countries, etc etc) - we are asking ourselves what sort of participant we would like to be in world affairs.

The events over the last 4 or so (and probably more) years have highlighted how a reappraisal of British foreign policy and our place in the world is long overdue.

  • 29.
  • At 04:19 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Rob Marrs wrote:

Some stand? We don't mind getting kicked repeatedly up the arse. However, please ask before we get a good humph.

  • 30.
  • At 04:23 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Darren Stephens wrote:

Unfortunately it matters all too much. However much Margaret Beckett persists with what is essentially a tokenistic gesture.

The fighting parties in the middle east know pretty much where we stand; any pretence at impartiality and being able to bring anything useful to a process to stop the violence is doomed to failure. Hizbollah (correctly in my opinion) see America standing square behind Israel (how else would they see the US's current contentment to stand by and watch things continue). If we are seen as a US poodle then we have no credibility and it will be assumed (again correctly in my opinion) that we won't break ranks and fly in the face of Bush.

On the other hand, everyone knows this to be the case now anyway, so it's not exactly news, is it?

  • 31.
  • At 04:24 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • A Shah wrote:

Nick, glad to seem someone finally point out this mother of oddities. When I first read of Beckett's "formal complaint" I assumed, as I'm sure did many others, that she objected to the delivery of a batch of devastating bombs to a live war zone. What a fool I was.

  • 32.
  • At 04:24 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Peter Thornton wrote:

It is time that we stopped letting the US decide what we say and do. So they don't want a ceasefire until Israel have destroyed Hezbollah (and most of Lebanon in the process); why do we have to agree with this sentiment?

Blair needs to find his spine or find a new job. There is a lot of suspicion that he goes along with the American line because that is where he plans to make money when he leaves office and wants to come across as some sort of pro-American hero. I think it stinks.

  • 33.
  • At 04:30 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • David Hogg wrote:

What I can't understand is why we are so close to American foreign policy.
What really is in it for us? I can only conclude that Blair thinks he can have more influence if he's close to Bush but it's quite evident he has none.
I actually think he'd wield more power if he said no every now and again, provided it was at the right time.

  • 34.
  • At 04:31 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Bernard From Horsham wrote:

Nick
If the Americans ask anything of us we always say "Woof Woof"!!!!!!!!!!

  • 35.
  • At 04:36 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • John Hayden wrote:

'Margaret?'
'Tony here.Listen...this bombs at Prestwick thing. Obviously a bit embarassing considering our committments to George & the electorates failure to grasp the wider picture. ...Before you meet Condi I want you to make it known that we aren't very happy about it..you know the sort of thing...a bit indignant..I will prime George & Condi so that they don't take it too much to heart, then when you do get together you can work out some kind of joint response to deflect the flack....If we stall a bit it will get forgotten about with everything else that's happening out there...Talk later...Tony'

  • 36.
  • At 04:37 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • John Kirk wrote:

Blair's subserviance to Bush is one of the major reasons I have developed contempt for him as a leader. Bush seems to think that once he has spoken with Tony, then "Yurp" is on side as a unit . Blair is in search of a global/EU politicaljob after being PM, but has blown it over Iraq, and damaged his credibility with previous Blairites like me. That's why he is hanging on to the PM job in desperate hope that something will turn up.I am so fed up and bored with Blair that I have even thought of voting Tory for the first time in my life (aged 48)! - but I'll probably recover by the time of the next election.

  • 37.
  • At 04:38 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Marie Denley wrote:

The heat has caused my few remaining brain cells to atrophy, sorry; are you suggesting that Margaret Beckett, in making her protest, is actually obliquely attempting to rehabilitate Poodle "Yo" Blair with a token show of UK independence before his arrival in Washington?

Or to put it more simply, is Margaret Beckett's protest disingenuous and manipulative i.e. pro-Blair, rather than an independent stance anti-Blair?

I just wish I knew myself.

Good wishes,
Marie Denley

PS My first post here, with trepidation. I very much enjoy reading this Newslog, thank you. It's always thought-provoking.

  • 38.
  • At 04:38 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Dominic wrote:

If Blair stands against America then his future earnings on the lecture circuit over there when he retires go down and he won't be able to pay off the millions on his mortgage.

  • 39.
  • At 04:43 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Simon wrote:

Dear Nick,

Interesting, but it such a silly matter for Margaret Beckitt to raise might, I think, I have more to do with stamping her authority on the department. I can't imagine that the state department gave the prestwick airport journey a second thought, after all the US uses our airspace all the time! Of course, it could also be the Foreign Office trying to tell No. 10 that it doesn't like the government line on the Middle East crisis? It seems to me a strange thing to kick up a fuss about! Yes, of course it would have been polite to ask, but then there is a war going on and maybe the state department forgot. I can imagine that they think it strange that this is such a big news item in the UK! On the Middle East Crisis though, I'm still not sure what our government line is. I know what our PM's line is, but I've heard nothing from anyone else. Not good enough really, rather cowardly in fact. Either the rest of the cabinet agree or they don't on Israel's actions; if not then stop the flights, if they do then allow the flights. Simple really!

If the US decided not to follow procedure and ask for permission, and the British government had the audacity to levy a £5,000 fine, would Washington be any more likely to pay it than its diplomats' congestion-charge dodging fines or unpaid UN dues, or would "American exceptionalism" and "the special relationship" ensure that the fine was swiftly forgotten?

  • 41.
  • At 05:00 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Nick wrote:

Perhaps they have been reading the BBC articles about Suez and got hot and bothered about not being told about this ahead.

What goes around........

  • 42.
  • At 05:00 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Pauline Randall wrote:

I agree that Blair probably does 'belong' to George Bush however I do object to him being decribed as a Poodle.

I own a Poodle and she is the least biddable creature I have come across, knows her own mind and certainly wouldn't get pushed around like Blair. She'd have told Bush where to go long ago!

  • 43.
  • At 05:01 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Andrew Payne wrote:

How the tables turn... Perhaps it's about time we had our own 'Declaration of Independance' from American rule.

  • 44.
  • At 05:01 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Tom Maxwell wrote:

It's not a 'perception' that Tony Blair is the Bush Government's poodle - it's a fact.

Thank god America has had enough of Bush and thank god Al Gore looks like replacing him. Maybe then we can get down to speaking to these people and sorting out differences rather than just hoping enough bombs will do the job.

But would the Scottish Executive or Scottish Parliament has said "Yes" to the use of Prestwick airport for the shipment of American cluster bombs to the Israeli Airforce or the transport of prisoners for torture? The answer, I know, is "No". How can it be democratic that this happens in a country where the people and politicians are against it?

  • 46.
  • At 05:13 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Kwena wrote:

Spot on Nick. Marge is being shunted to the front to make it seem to us like there's still muscle left in Tony's obese pack. She might howl at the passing carrier, but like the greyhound, will she drive it if she catches it?

  • 47.
  • At 05:14 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Alastair Rae wrote:

Surely allowing the shipment of bombs to Israel makes us complicit with war crimes. Hezbollah may be terrorists but Israel is commiting war crimes by its massive collective punishment of the innocent population of Lebanon. And by attacking unarmed UN observers and continually ignoring UN resolutions, it must be considered a rogue state by any definition.

  • 48.
  • At 05:20 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • shahid wrote:

Blair the dog only barks when told to bark, he pleads with Bush to go to the middle east to be the middle east spokesman, and Bush tell him to sit down and be quiet... its a farce! The UN is a farce, who listens to it anyway! The Israeli "in Justice" Minister has already declared that the whole world is with Israel in bombing Lebonon, and that every single eprson in south Lebonon is a terrorist. I feel sorry for the poor civilians branded as terrorist that cant get out of south Lebonon due to no roads bridges etc. Do you think those 4 UN workers in south Lebonon were terrorist too!

  • 49.
  • At 05:43 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • Ewan Mac Mahon wrote:

If they'd have said yes anyway then they are poodles. All they're doing is yapping without any real intention of changing anything - just how real poodles behave.

  • 50.
  • At 06:44 PM on 27 Jul 2006,
  • nick allen wrote:

I'm training for my private pilot's license as part of my ongoing mid-life crisis. If carriage of dangerous goods only carries a £5000 fine, I may well start transporting my mum around.

  • 51.
  • At 01:05 AM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • Soran Hourami wrote:

It is amazing that Blair is viewed as Bush's poodle in the UK whereas in the rest of the world it is the other way round.

  • 52.
  • At 05:40 AM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • SJ Horan wrote:

Mr Blair does things which are domestically unpopular in support of US policies or interests. He believes he does this out of principle; that it it is the right thing to do. As a consequence he is in many ways better regarded in the US than in Britain.

Yet it is widely assumed that soon after he stops being prime minister he will start to make a fortune on the US lecture circuit. Perhaps he could make clear that his decisions really are matters of principle, for which he would not seek to obtain any collateral personal advantage, by stating that he will not look to make money out of his popularity in the US once he leaves Downing Street.

  • 53.
  • At 06:53 AM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • Iain wrote:

Blair's supinity - almost certainly driven by his desire to tap into the US lecture market after No 10 - will put the lives of Brirish troop in increased danger in Basra and Afghanistan.

The man has no shame and no credibility.

I think the whole exercise this week with noises about dissent in the Britih government over Bush and his tactics with Israel are merely a smokescreen. Blair obviously is backing Bush and uses the media to promulgate a notion of conflict to ameliorate his critics. Blair is squarely behind Bush, and we will see nothing change in our Foregin policy as a result of his meetings Bush today. There will be guarded statements and cautious words, in essence making the whole exercise more protracted so Israel can get on with its work. This is just a way to make Blair more comfortable with his alliance and the British people (me included) feel like we have a voice when we have nothing of the sort.

  • 55.
  • At 07:54 AM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • Richard Crowley wrote:

Blair the poodle of Bush? just as you journalists are poodles of the American 'gutter' press!!

  • 56.
  • At 08:01 AM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • andy A wrote:

This talk of Blair being a poodle is twaddle and wishful thinking by the Government's opponents.
I can read body language and the message I got from that clip was that these are colleagues, senior and junior who are well familiar with each other and have settled into a working relationship.

Bearing in mind that the US tends to rush into its Foreign Affairs by inviting the baddies to come out with their hands up, what I think Blair brings to the partnership is 400 years of diplomatic experience gained when we ran an Empire. As a nation we are vastly more experienced in world affairs than Uncle Sam.

If he is a poodle then "poodle" must mean "incredibly influential person".

  • 57.
  • At 08:09 AM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • Vernon Moyse wrote:

WRONG! Since Israel is now making the USA's Middle East Foreign policy, it is Bush who is the poodle: Blair is just a tick Bush picked up somewhere.

  • 58.
  • At 08:22 AM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • Tonto Kowalski wrote:

Friends of the Rottweiler syndrome for the UK again... Here is a small section of the US State Department's press briefing by deputy spokesman Tom Casey yesterday (published on their website). During the briefing he was answering a question about the bomb shipments via the UK upsetting the UK government. He said, and I quote:"But the main point of it is, this is not an issue where either of us [US/UK]should worry about the kinds - or let these kinds of details, or these kinds of questions, stand in the way of our broader relationship. We're good friends."

  • 59.
  • At 08:25 AM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • Kenny wrote:

The sad thing about this whole affair is that it is another nail in the coffin for the re-election of the Labour party. Blair in his early days making his speeches about how they are whiter than white and that they’ll be a good and trustworthy government (better than the disgraced Tories), give me a break!
Gordon Brown (if he becomes the next leader of the labour party) will have the tag of being “the best prime minister we never had”, because if the government keep on going the way they are then they will not win the next election.

Two real points:

If the Americans had been smart, they'd have sent the aircraft through one of the RAF bases that they 'lease' from the MoD - Lakenheath, Mildenhall or Fairford (as noted on @ http://www.raf.mod.uk/stations/index.html ) - and then no one, including probably the MoD or the CAA would have been any the wiser whatsoever. No doubt they'll do this next time.

Secondly, I hope you managed to pick up a copy of today's The Times at Heathrow before you left - their cartoonist Peter Brookes, sums it up very well - see it @ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/comment if you haven't. (Dare I suggest that this picture does tell 1000 words?)

In his comment on 27 Jul 06 Mr.Colin Main wrote: "The job of the BBC is to report the news in an accurate and sensible manner, not to script write a political satire..." I think that Mr.Colin might have misunderstood, like others, the very nature of weblog. We are not looking here for the impersonified "sensible" news - on the contrary we are looking for a personal touch and sharing our personal thoughts with a competent professional and brilliant journalist.
With all due respect to the families of the dead servicemen and those currently suffering in the Middle East, isn't it fair to ask a simple question: What IS this they are dying (or suffering) for over there?
This is what Nick is doing, actually...

  • 62.
  • At 09:36 AM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • towcestarian wrote:

Nick, you have completely missed the real story here - its nothing about poodles but all about government /ministerial SPIN and/or ministerial incompetence. Why did Beckett make such a public and completely undiplomatic attack in the US? As we know, its not because the government disapproved of the 'plane landing in the UK, and if it was just about failure in "procedures", this should have been passed to the US authorities quietly and an an appropriete level.

So why did she choose to engage in such embarassingly crass megaphone diplomacy? Spinning for herself? Spinning for Blair? Spinning against Blair. Spinning for spinning sake? Or maybe she really is just as incompetent as she seems and didn't bother to engage brain before putting mouth into gear. I'd so much like to be the proverbial fly during the next Condi/Beckett get together. I'm sure the conversation won't be about caravans.

  • 63.
  • At 09:45 AM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • davewath wrote:

The issues we face today in the Middle East are exacerbated by Bush coining the expressions "war on terror" and "axis of evil". This has provided the Israeli government with an excuse to prosecute policies as legitimate which otherwise would be roundly condemned by political leaders as excessive and unnecessary in their use of force. Examples of this are in Lebanon and Gaza today.

For humanities sake the British government must call for an unconditional ceasefire now in both areas and help the dispossessed civilials with humanitarian and economic aid. Then we in Europe might have a chance of mediating between Hizbollah, Hamas and Israel.

  • 64.
  • At 12:42 PM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • Jon Morrall wrote:

The 'poodle factor' or whatever you want to call it exists, period. It exists because even if we didn't agree with the U.S on a certain issue, like supplying the Israelis with even more bombs, it wouldn't stop them anyway. Its like trying to tell your older brother to stop selling hookie laptops. He'd mostly likely hear you out but carry on anyway. He's got nothing to fear from you, what would he miss out on if he lost your friendship. Nothing. If we lose favour with the U.S who'd give us bigger guns when the next Falklands comes along. When are we going to say, hang on a minute Bush, your on your own on this one, without fear of harming the special relationship. 'YO BLAIR' you decide because i genuinely dont know what the best thing for our country is.

I'd also like to add that i in no way mean any disrespect to the families who have lost their loved ones due to any involvement we've had with the U.S. Maybe if our leaders were as brave and decent as the men and women we've lost, we wouldn't be in this predicament in the first place.

  • 65.
  • At 01:01 PM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • Michael wrote:

It all reminds me of Londons controlling of it's protectorates foreign policy in the 1930-50's. I think its high time Britian began to have its own voice and opinion again instead of towing the line from Washington, no matter what the consequences are.

  • 66.
  • At 05:50 PM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • Malcolm wrote:

What a lot of 'special relationship'... A couple of years ago when talking with my father - then about 90 - I remember him giving his view on this relationship. He dismissed it as twaddle, viewing this relationship as purely one way traffic. US involvement in WW2 did certainly save our skins but certainly not our bank balance! The relationship does not seem to have changed much over time. When the US will gain an advantage we can be 'special' but not otherwise. Forget altruism.

I once thought Tony Blair was an intelligent man who was privy to information which made his judgement different to mine. I had faith in his ability. Sadly he seems to have been intoxicated by the limelight and fed the right mis-information he seems to have become this K9.

PS. I have several American friends but generally we have to 'beg to differ' on politics. They must watch 'Fox News'.

  • 67.
  • At 08:49 PM on 28 Jul 2006,
  • CarolM wrote:

Surely what we ought to be worrying about here, is not whether or not some silly US president considers the UK PM his poodle, but what the World and it's leaders can do to halt the unfolding tragedy of the Middle East?
Aren't the lives of the innocents, on both/all sides more important than petty squables? Or do we consider British Pride more important than Israeli and Palestinian lives?

Hmmm - my belief is that in fact Blair is a Labradoodle, the currently fashionable breed crossing the steadfastness of the Labrador with the fluffiness of the poodle meaning that Blair is unswerving in his loyalty to G W Bush but fundamentally foolish in his views.

  • 69.
  • At 12:28 AM on 29 Jul 2006,
  • gary brown wrote:

The special relationship between the USA and Britain is very special indeed when you are on the verge of lossing every thing that you have ever worked for and then some one comes along and gives you the financial banking and the muscle power that you so despretley need then that is what I call a special relationship by this I mean Americas involvement in world war 2 because had America not had entered the war the London not Hiroshima would have been the first test for a nuclear bomb on a civilian population then were would we have been we would have all had German kitchen appliances and driving around in German cars ?

  • 70.
  • At 04:00 AM on 29 Jul 2006,
  • Joe Buckley Chapman wrote:

Mr Robinson,

Read the post by the family who have suffered the loss of a loved one in the Middle East again and think a little more deeply next time you boot up your expensive BBC laptop.

And if Blair is a poodle, what does that make you?

  • 71.
  • At 11:01 AM on 29 Jul 2006,
  • Stewart wrote:

Can Andrew Marr please drop a whisper into Tone's ear that the special relationship is between US and Israel. Britain, what and where Britain? Woof, Woof.

  • 72.
  • At 11:22 AM on 29 Jul 2006,
  • Frank Heydenreich, Paris wrote:

I like the idea that a special relation can have some advantage for the PM Tony Blair and, of course, the UK. However I don't see what he is getting out of it. I've always being rather ennoyed by the UK goverment not teaming up with Europe. Yes, it's complicated and still a lot of work to do. However the UK not supporting sufficiently Europe resulted in a weaker worldwide position. Europe would have a stronger position with full UK support. That would have had a much bigger chance to stop the killing & bombing in Lebanon.

  • 73.
  • At 11:53 PM on 29 Jul 2006,
  • Steve Ollington wrote:

Nick,

I find it a struggle not to sink so low as to throw insults at you.

Either you are blind sighted enough to believe what you say, or you have sold out for what you believe as a popularity competition.... much like the media equivalent to one Mr. Galloway.

We (Brits) and the PM are not a poodle in any way shape or form, the fact that Tony Blair is intelligent enough to see a problem and how to/not to deal with it, along with the fact that President Bush does that same does not make us poodles.

If there came a cry for a ceasefire, Israel did so, and then was subjected to more attacks, they would resume their offensive. How might that look? Do you think they would listen the next time we asked them to stop, and if they did and it failed, what about the time after that?

Bush and Blair have something in common.... common sense, something which so many like you are lacking.

In-fact I think I will sink so low.... You sir, are an idiot!

  • 74.
  • At 12:03 AM on 30 Jul 2006,
  • Allan UK wrote:

I wonder if this is plain jealousy of US power and if so...get over it!

Stand post and be counted or shut up with your whining. We voted Blair in for superficial reasons, why be so annoyed to find he really is that superficial.

  • 75.
  • At 12:10 AM on 30 Jul 2006,
  • Kate wrote:

Becketts comments seem childish given the current circumstances. If she had any real backbone she would come straight out and say the WAR is wrong rather than hide behind smoke screens.

The US could not care less about her and in all honesty will be wondering who the hell she is. Same with Robinson.

  • 76.
  • At 01:28 AM on 30 Jul 2006,
  • John Gillies wrote:

Mr Robinson
The Middle East requires serious political analysis from journalists, not celebrity gossip reporting. The trivialization of the issues, with talk of poodles and who said what to whom, serves no purpose but amusement for the groundlings. Is this what the BBC is come to?
By the way, the British press interpretation of "Yo Blair" as dismissive is completely incorrect (though it could be a result of dishonesty rather than ignorance). It is indeed friendly, and typical of Texas. Of course, those whose horizons extend from Westminster to Camden can not be expected to get this right. But why then should we give credence to their comments on matters in Beirut?

  • 77.
  • At 08:47 AM on 30 Jul 2006,
  • ken wrote:

Come on Nick..you and the rest of the media are making a mountain out of a molehill with this "yo Blair" business.
All it was is a common greeting amongst "good old boys" in the Southern States; it has a macho, quasi military element that appeals to both Bush and Blair. It is, in effect, a token of acceptance and buddyism and not, as you are encouraging us all to think, a display of alfa male Bush's dominance of passive Blair.

  • 78.
  • At 11:56 AM on 30 Jul 2006,
  • Sarbo Sen wrote:

At our local bridge club, we have a name for Mr Blair. After he was summoned to the Canaries by Bush just prior to the Iraq invasion and told to forget about his quest for a 2nd UN Resolution, and he meekly acquiesced, we here started calling him Tony 'The Phony' Blair. Now, it seems Bush had, all along, another way of disrespecting him. Shame on a nation with such a proud history as Britain. We here in India winced at hearing the 'Yo Blair'. This name will stick to the man forever, just as everybody even today knows who's 'The Iron Lady'.

Sarbo, Calcutta, India

  • 79.
  • At 11:35 PM on 31 Jul 2006,
  • rachael minihane wrote:

if tony blair is george w bush poodle what does that make churchill it was churchill who stated that the united kingdom must keep strong ties with america for britains future why well this can best be described by looking at other former powers germany france italy these three nations have no stage in the world today both france and italy have fallen down the pecking order in terms of Financial world Dominance and germany although the worlds third largest Economy has little or no Influence in world affairs so all the time that britain is in the spotlight because of america we still have a voice in the world today and it is better to have some voice then nothing and least we forget that these were the wishes of churchill of leaving govement that whoever is prime minister must keep the UK US special relationship strong for britains place in the world and after all who are we to argue with winston churchill the person that we voted the greatest britain of all time

  • 80.
  • At 01:57 AM on 03 Aug 2006,
  • duchesszone wrote:

Excuse me. You limeys need to Shut the heck up. Go ahead and diss your pm for the decisions you don't agree with. Go ahead and diss my prez cuz you don't not agree with the way he chooses to run things.

But for Pete's sake, "Yo!" is just an endearment. It ain't no cotton-picking put down like you peoples in limeyland seem to want to make it.

It is cultural bigotry...not a pretty sight to see. God help Blair if Bush said "Wasssup?" to him?

Oh my gosh, get a life you tea-drinking ignorant elitists.

And quit hiding "bugs" around the prez, you Wayne Kerrs Prss idoits.

You can just kiss my...grits.

  • 81.
  • At 05:59 PM on 03 Aug 2006,
  • Jack wrote:

Thanks "duchesszone" for your contribution, if you are genuine and not a caricature of a dumb American, you have illustrated precisely why the last person who should be in charge of anything, let alone a country is "doubya"!

Unfortunately, it is your "prez" who is the poodle ...of the Israelis and your right wing neocons, Blair is merely the rag doll that the poodle has his way with occasionally (and that's putting it politely).

Jack
Liverpool.

  • 82.
  • At 01:21 PM on 16 Aug 2006,
  • Lawrence wrote:

A British PM meekly going along with whatever the US President wants to do...

... Nothing changes

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