Sarah Palin, star of the American right, is considering bringing her publicity tour to Britain in the hope that some of Margaret Thatcher's fame will rub off on her.
Alaska's former governor, who is an avid admirer of Britain's Iron Lady, has been on the campaign trail in New England, in what appears to be a prelude to putting herself forward to run as Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential race, afterrunning for Vice-President on John McCain's ticket three years ago.
There is a brief pause before the bus tour starts again in Iowa, where the first crucial test for would-be Republican runners is to be held – giving Mrs Palin her opportunity to take a glimpse of old England, part of the world outside the USA of which her knowledge is notoriously thin. "I am going to Sudan in July and hope to stop in England on the way," she said. "I am just hoping Mrs Thatcher is well enough to see me as I so admire her."
When Ms Palin does arrive in London, she may be thwarted in her ambition to meet the country's only woman former Prime Minister. Baroness Thatcher had to stop making public appearances years ago because of ill health and is seldom at home for guests. A reception hosted by David Cameron in Downing Street to celebrate her 85th birthday had to go ahead without her.
An aide said: "Nowadays, the Lady rarely meets people at all. If a meeting went ahead it would be very much low-key, and would very much depend on how things were on the day. We don't make firm appointments for this sort of meeting."
Mrs Palin has never been to Europe, though a year ago she said she wanted to visit London – although it did not go unnoticed then that she has said nothing about wanting to meet Mr Cameron. Downing Street said yesterday that it could not discuss what arrangements would be made for a Palin visit.
The US Embassy in London has not been told for certain whether she is on the way. It is by no means certain that the Prime Minister or any other high- ranking Conservative would want to be photographed with Ms Palin.
Some other Tories would welcome the figurehead of America's right-wing "Tea Party", members of which define themselves (broadly) by their support for reduced government spending and low taxation and absolutist interpretations of the original US Constitution.
Fervent admirers who can be expected to send their own high tea invitations to the Alaskan include the maverick Conservative MP Nadine Dorries. "Palin is a toughie," she said. "She has passion, charm, drive and ability along with a huge, massive connectivity to the American people. She continues to demonstrate her willingness to tackle tough domestic and international issues, in doing so she presents herself as a serious 2012 contender who is not willing to be defined by the liberal media."
Tim Montgomerie, of the ConservativeHome website, said: "When the idea was first discussed nine months ago, it was thought that David Cameron might agree for them to appear at a function at the same time so that they could be photographed, but since then her star has fallen so far that I don't think even that would be thought necessary. She is an embarrassment for mainstream Conservatives.
"She wants to come to see Margaret Thatcher. She doesn't want to see Cameron or anyone, because it's Margaret Thatcher who has resonance with the Republican right."