Sir Robert Worcester: No serious observer can claim the special relationship is finished

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The Independent Online

The foreign affairs committee report that the "special relationship" is somehow less than it was. The media make it headline news. As Bruce Anderson argued in these pages on Monday: "Scepticism is in order".

In his first formal speech, the new American Ambassador Louis Susman, speaking to the Pilgrims Society last November, observed how strong our two nations' ties are. He pointed out the basis of the special relationship, a term coined by Winston Churchill, is constitutional and legal, going back to the Magna Carta, perhaps better known and better respected there than here.

Financial ties are strong: the US and the UK are each other's largest investor country. A strong case for the special relationship is linguistic: we may be separated by a single language, but it is a single language. It is cultural: we are each other's biggest market for TV and cinema production and distribution; auction houses here are also there; exchanges of theatre, opera, classical and rock concerts take place regularly.

We take a keen interest in each others' political, military and cultural histories. Who here wasn't interested in the last US presidential election? In education, the most sought-after educational exchanges of both students and faculty are US to UK and UK to US. Britain's top military and naval officers all endorse the importance of the special relationship. The exchange of information in the intelligence communities is unique. The two countries' nuclear scientists work together harmoniously and continuously. Every year between 12,000 and 15,000 American senior civil servants, politicians and members of the American judiciary visit their opposite numbers in Britain, no other country comes close.

Of course each country work in its own interests, but more often than not, America's interests converge with Britain's, and Britain's with America.

To quote ambassador Susman, "Over the last few months there has been comment in some circles that the special relationship between our countries has diminished. Anyone who accepts that analysis is wrong and is ignoring the lessons of history. In war and peace, in prosperity and in times of economic hardship, America has no better friend and no more dependable ally than the United Kingdom."

Sir Robert Worcester is founder of Ipsos Mori and chairman of the Pilgrims Society