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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Kinnock tips Bush to win election
By Ollie Stone-Lee
BBC News Online political staff at Labour's conference

Neil Kinnock
Kinnock wants more back for UK loyalty
Neil Kinnock has reluctantly conceded George Bush will probably win the US presidential election.

At a conference fringe meeting, the ex-Labour leader also said the UK must use evidence of its loyalty to America to lever it away from unilateralism.

He argued Tony Blair had been right to engage with the US to influence policy but that influence was now on the wane.

Britain could also no longer claim to be a bridge between Europe and America, he added.

Influence?

The outgoing European commissioner was speaking at an Institute of Public Policy Research's debate entitled Irreconcilable differences? The UK, Europe or the United States.

He said Britain should use continued "solidarity and loyalty" to US policy to "lever a change in that policy".

The ambition should be to get the US to abandon its unilateralist stance, he added.

"The US is a superpower, it is the world's only superpower at the moment and with super power goes super responsibility," he said.

There was scant evidence America was showing that responsibility, Mr Kinnock argued.

Tony Blair's fortitude did have the effect of making more wise and securing necessary mitigation of the war
Neil Kinnock

America had to realise the "war on terror" should be fought on a number of fronts, not just military campaigns, and those included work on the Middle East peace process, said Mr Kinnock.

He praised Mr Blair's "remarkable fortitude" over the Iraq war and said his involvement had made its conduct "more wise".

But since the conclusion of the war the UK's commitment to the US had not exercised the influence it deserved, he said.

Jeeves style?

Referring to relations in Europe, Mr Kinnock said claims that Britain was a bridge between America and Europe no longer held true.

"In order to have a bridge, you must at least one road leading to it and one road leading from it and we have not some roadworks going on here which interrupt that kind of intercourse," he joked.

Patricia Hewitt
Hewitt urged people not to pull Europe and the US apart
Oxford University academic Timothy Garton Ash likened the traditional British approach to the US as the "inimitable Jeeves school of foreign policy".

"Britain is the wise old butler who stands behind this idiot young nincompoop in the White House and is impeccably loyal in public but in private whispers in his ear: 'Is that wise sir? Do you really want to invade Iraq?'"

He said British influence had declined over the last 50 years and prime ministers now had to be prepared to publicly criticise America and build up Europe as a voice to which the US had to listen.

Premier judgement

Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt countered that she had robustly spoken out against US tariffs on steel imports.

She went on: "The prime minister has to make the judgement about what is said publicly and what is said privately but sometimes it is very uncomfortable not to be able to say publicly what is being said private and get the plaudits."

The important test was which was most effective, said Ms Hewitt.

She urged people not to pull apart transatlantic relations.

"If it gets undermined and broken then it's only the bad guys who rejoice," she said.

The Cabinet minister argued it would be a betrayal of Europe's identity if it tried to define itself as "not the US".

It was wrong to see insularity only in America and "virtuous multi-lateralism" solely in Europe.

She pointed to US commitment to world trade talks with developing countries while saying there was protectionism in Europe on farm subsidies.

Europe could do with "more hard power" in realising force had to be used in some circumstances while America perhaps needed "more soft power", especially on nation building, she added.





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