Last week’s presidential elections in the United States were as enthralling as ever. As the polls showed a closing gap between the candidates in the preceding weeks, and media attention sky-rocketed, tensions were high by the time the votes were being counted. The announcement of the victor (it was Barack Obama, by the way) led, the next day, to the expression of many messages of congratulation. One thing has always intrigued me: how do the telephone calls of congratulations between world leaders go? Do these messages really express a desire to reaffirm special relationships, or are they more bland?
A couple of Prime Minister’s Office files – PREM 11/572 and PREM 15/1980 – detail two very different communications between the political leaders of the United Kingdom and the United States, even if some of the underlying aims of their ongoing co-operation are remarkably familiar.