Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Welcome to the World We Live In

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Welcome to the World We Live In

Article excerpt

Byline: BERNARD TRAFFORD

WE RECENTLY performed the annual family ritual of sitting down in front of the fire to watch Love Actually, a film that is only seven years old but seems to have acquired timeless status as an essential part of the festive season.

We laughed at all the usual bits and sheepishly wiped away a tear at the sentimental ending.

And, as always, we cheered when the newly-elected Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) told the US President where to get off.

His fictitious refusal to hang on to Uncle Sam's coat-tails struck a chord back in 2003, a time when many of us felt uneasy at the way in which Tony Blair appeared to be indeed becoming George Bush's poodle in international politics.

It was, we were assured, a special relationship, about more than what Oscar Wilde famously described as "two nations divided by a common language". This special relationship was and remains, one hopes, a friendship. In general, friends are well advised not to rock the boat by making personal comments or by presuming too much on the other's patience. But a friendship is weakened if the truth is never told, if one side cannot pluck up courage to point out something that is wrong.

The term "critical friend" is widely used in the language of management and coaching, but Bush was surely too insensitive and Blair too fearful of straining relations for any such important conversations to take place. It had to be left to the latter's surrogate, Hugh Grant, to speak for us Brits.

A special relationship closer to home - our coalition Government - has come under strain recently. First Vince Cable was caught out saying what he really thought about the policies he'd supported unwillingly and, bizarrely, about his intense dislike of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Next, other Lib Dem Cabinet members made fools of themselves, describing how David Cameron isn't to be trusted and George Osborne is hard to like.

Fancy falling for the old undercover reporter trick! But these guys did, hook, line and sinker. The Daily Telegraph, whose journalists posed as long-standing Lib Dem supporters, had a field day. …

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