The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold : Dear Brian, these Republicans are a funny lot Unlike Republicans, Tories abhor vulgar jibes

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SAN DIEGO - My Dear Brian, How truly priceless these Americans are! How brash, how vulgar, how banal! These are my first impressions of the Republican Conference here in San Diego. One is constantly amazed, for instance, at the sheer unabashed crudity of their attacks on their opponents - the childish demonisation of the President, for instance, is a thing to behold! Yrs ever, Wallace.

SMITH SQUARE - My Dear Wallace, Many thanks for your remarkable word- picture of the conference: it fully justifies the Party's choice of you as our official observer. The Americans do sound extraordinarily crass and brutal in their propaganda! It all makes one very grateful indeed to be dealing with a more sophisticated electorate. Incidentally, our excellent new poster campaign depicting Blair as the Devil seems to have touched a chord. The battle is ours for the winning! Yrs ever, Brian.

SAN DIEGO - My Dear Brian, Delighted - though not surprised! - that my Blair-as-Devil campaign is taking off. Another delicious example of US awfulness is the infamous gun lobby, represented here in force. Of course, the craven American politicians are only too happy to comply. Makes one proud to be independent, peace-loving and British, methinks! What news from home? Yrs ever, Wallace.

SMITH SQUARE - My Dear Wallace, Scant news from home, save that the Commons home affairs select committee has boldly rejected a ban on handguns in the home - thus saving us all from the anti-firearm hotheads and troublemakers. I am at present hard at work in preparation for this year's Party Conference at Bournemouth - any tips from San Diego? Yrs ever, Brian.

SAN DIEGO - My Dear Brian, Alas, the Americans lack all sophistication, and have no sense of what makes a debate. Anyone opposed to a given motion is simply shepherded away to preserve "unity" at all costs! How one yearns for the healthy cut-and-thrust of British politics! Incidentally, their deliciously absurd names continue to make one giggle: Newt Gingrich, indeed! What news from home? Yrs ever, Wallace.

SMITH SQUARE - My Dear Wallace, Debates for Bournemouth are now finalised. Happily, all 15 chosen motions are set to congratulate the present Government for its smooth handling of health, home and foreign affairs, education, law and order, etcetera, and, simply to save time, they will be followed not by any dissenting voice but by a Vote of Thanks. Redwood and his fellow subversives are likely to try to create trouble, but we have successfully shunted them to the fringes. As you say, Newt Gingrich is a hoot of a name - I was saying as much to Selwyn Gummer and Mrs Virginia Bottomley only this morning! And am I right in thinking our American friends spend most of their time going on about "The American Dream"? Yrs ever, Brian.

SAN DIEGO - My Dear Brian, How right you are! Every other speech seems to contain a reference to "The American Dream" ie a mishmash of such tired old warhorses as freedom, equality and justice for all - more The American Nightmare, if you ask me! Thank heavens a British Tory politician would never sink to such depths! The dream of warm beer, short strolls and the clunk of leather on willow is much more the Prime Minister's style - and that's what makes Britain the acknowledged leader of the free world! These Republicans are quite unabashed in their hypocrisy. General Colin (Coe- Lin, if you will!) Powell gained a standing ovation for declaring that American blacks were "rich in spirit" - yet 3 per cent of his audience were black! Incidentally, how sick and tired I am of hearing that most meaningless and insincere of greetings, "Have a nice day"! Yrs ever, Wallace.

SMITH SQUARE - My Dear Wallace, You hit the nail on the head. American politics truly leads the world in hypocrisy! And you are quite right, too, in drawing attention to the quantity of black delegates in the Convention hall. Michael Howard will be wisely keeping his references to racial equality to a bare minimum this year! Good morning! Yrs ever, Brian.