“I will leave Reno this evening on a trip abroad that will take me to England, Poland, and Israel.”It may seem a trivial point, but Prime Minister Cameron is the leader of what used to be called the Conservative and Unionist Party. They changed the name, but its members still believe in maintaining the unity of the United Kingdom as one of their principal political goals.
The United Kingdom, while it is one country itself, also consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. When you say "England," instead of the United Kingdom, you leave out three of those countries.
To understand the political faux pas involved, imagine if a French Presidential candidate announced a visit to 'Quebec, Poland and Israel'. Canadians who don't live in Quebec probably wouldn't be terribly amused.
This may seem a trivial point of diplomatic protocol, but this statement came in a speech on foreign policy in which Romney was trying to establish himself as a foreign policy expert. While it may be a common mistake for many Americans to call the UK "England," people running for President should know better, especially when they visit the place. Did the man get no briefings whatsoever?
Rather more serious was the gaffe by Romney's spokesperson that John posted earlier.
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”The problem here is not just the casual racism on the part of the speaker, but the assumption that these views are typical of the UK. Cameron and Clegg must be very offended by the suggestion that they could not work with a black US President. Such views may be acceptable in LDS circles, which only abandoned Brigham Young's loathsome 'Mark of Cain' racism in 1978 (under duress), in the UK they are not.
Try as they might to prove how they understand 'England' better than Obama, Romney's advisers only succeed in demonstrating how little they understand us at all. Take this passage in the original Telegraph piece, for example:
“Obama is a Left-winger," said another. "He doesn’t value the Nato alliance as much, he’s very comfortable with American decline and the traditional alliances don’t mean as much to him. He wouldn’t like singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory'.”"Land of Hope and Glory" is a British patriotic song that extolls the virtues of imperialism and colonialism.
"Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;It is not quite as explicitly jingoistic as Rule Britannia, and nowhere near as embarrassing as the third and fourth verses of the national anthem, God Save the Queen, but they're hardly sentiments that are widely shared in modern British society. It is a song that is very rarely heard outside the Last Night of the Proms, and on similar (rare) occasions.
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet."
I would not expect Obama or Romney to sing it any more than I, as a Brit, would recite the Pledge of Allegiance. In fact I would be rather offended if either of them did sing it. For better or worse, Land of Hope and Glory is a part of our heritage. It belongs to us. It certainly does not belong to either Romney or Obama. I would certainly hope that Americans would be outraged if their President did so, just as Brits would be outraged if their Prime Minister recited the
Finally, note the elegance of the last graph in the Telegraph piece, that neatly exposes the advisors as hypocritical liars:
The advisers spoke on the condition of anonymity because Mr Romney’s campaign requested that they not criticise the President to foreign media. After another adviser criticised Mr Obama in a German magazine last month, the President sharply instructed them that “America's political differences end at the water's edge”.