Obama: Cameron has no substance

By Ian Dunt

Reports of Barack Obama’s opinion of David Cameron reached a new low this morning after it emerged the US president considered the Tory leader to have no substance.

After meeting Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Mr Cameron on July 26th last year, President Obama is said to have decided that Mr Blair is “sizzle and substance”, Mr Brown is “substance” and Mr Cameron is just “sizzle”.

The comments come in today’s edition of the New Statesman. There were originally communicated by one of President Obama’s aides to a British newspaper journalist, but he had been unable to write it up after a frantic call from the aide to stop publication.

Today’s news follows comments from President Obama last year in which he described Mr Cameron as a “lightweight”.

More recently, President Obama’s foreign policy circle have come to distrust Mr Cameron over his choice of Michal Kaminski as leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists.

Mr Kaminski has a highly dubious past as a member of the neo-Nazi National Revival of Poland (NOP) party.

A comment piece in the Guardian by Timothy Garton Ash condemning the move is understood to have been widely circulated among Obama’s team.

One Democratic party source close to the administration told the New Statesman: “Your assumptions about the beliefs of Obama’s foreign policy team are correct – there are concerns about Cameron among top members of the team.”

Meanwhile, David Rothkopf, US foreign policy expert and former deputy under-secretary for international trade under Bill Clinton, described attitudes in starker terms.

“I used to think David Cameron was just an empty suit,” he said.

“But it is increasingly clear that the former PR guy. ought to be ditched at the altar both by the British people and by the Obama administration.”

The Kaminski decision made Mr Cameron “an even more dubious choice to be Britain’s next prime minister than he was before and, should he attain that post, someone about whom the Obama administration ought to be very cautious,” Mr Rothkopf continued.

“A pillar of leadership acumen he ain’t.”

Political observers are expecting a tetchy period in Anglo-American relations should Mr Cameron come to power.

British officials are already nervous of the new president, who does not share the rosy view of Britain of many of his predecessors.

But many assume Mr Cameron’s right-wing, free market and eurosceptic agenda will clash with the president’s more progressive posture, and his belief that the EU, not Britain, should be America’s main partner.