Coffee House

The Romneyshambles road show

26 July 2012

5:38 PM

26 July 2012

5:38 PM

David Cameron broke with Downing Street tradition today by meeting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But Romney might now be wishing that, like François Hollande, he’d been snubbed by the Prime Minister until the elections were over.

He started his day with forgetting Ed Miliband’s name, calling him ‘Mr Leader’ instead when the two met. That wasn’t too bad: it’s not as if British people, or indeed the media, can remember what the Labour leader is called half the time, anyway.

But once in Downing Street, he decided to get out a spade and dig a rather large hole for himself in the back garden (which he accidentally described as the ‘backside’) by trying to make amends for the remarks Jonathan reported earlier describing British preparations for the Olympics as ‘disconcerting’. This afternoon he said:

‘My experience as an Olympic organiser is there are always some little things that don’t go as planned, but those get ironed out and then when the Games themselves begin and the athletes take over, all the mistakes that the Organising Committee, and I made a few, all of those are overwhelmed by the many things that the athletes carry out that capture the spirit of the Games.’


The PM had already taken a bit of a shot at Romney, who has the authority to label some aspects of London’s Olympics ‘disconcerting’ because of the role he played in salvaging the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games. Speaking at the Olympic park earlier, Cameron said:

‘We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic games in the middle of nowhere.’

Apparently the Prime Minister was talking about Burma, but perhaps Romney felt he needed to make amends when standing in the backside – sorry, back garden – of Downing Street. Describing the Olympics preparations as a bit ‘disconcerting’ is not unlike turning up at someone’s house for a lovely supper and pointing out they’ve forgotten to dust the coffee table.

Not content with slightly offending both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in his host country, Romney thought it best to let it slip as he left that he’d met with MI6 chief Sir John Sawers. Let’s hope Sawers didn’t tell him anything ‘disconcerting’ during that top secret briefing.

There is a serious side to all this sniggering at a shambolic Romney roadshow, though. One of the purposes of this visit was to big up his credentials on the world stage. He is also visiting Israel and Poland as part of the same tour. Romney does not enjoy a strong reputation when it comes to foreign policy, and his undiplomatic behaviour today has done little to change that.

P.S. Hats off to Simon Mason, who coined the brilliant ‘Romneyshambles’ pun even before the man arrived on British soil.

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Show comments
  • Hexhamgeezer

    Maggie – If you were told that the Americans were holding something in Washington – you would automatically know which one it was would you? Puerile student drivel.This place looks more like CiF everyday.

    • Maggie

      I would assume that it was Washington DC rather than Washington, Co. Durham. If I’d got it wrong and they enjoyed a moment of hilarity at my expense then I’d probably join in rather than get bad-tempered about it.

  • Maggie

    I’ve just heard another example of American cluelessness. A friend visiting from California says most people there think the Olympics is being held in Shakespeare’s birthplace. – Stratford.

    • Curnonsky

      You really think most Californians can identify Shakespeare’s birthplace? I somehow doubt that they think the London Olympics are somewhere other than London…

  • David

    One has to ask Mr Romney as to why he believes that, after coming here and insulting us to our face, we would loan him the bust of Churchill that he keeps claiming he will put back in the Oval Office.

  • David L

    Britain is probably the USA’s staunchest ally. All Romney needed to do was turn up, smile for the cameras, and look statesmanlike at No10. But no; too much to ask. Why does the GOP keep selecting whackos like this?

  • DavidH

    It seems two-faced for the British press to get all uptight about Romney’s comments when they themselves have been ripping into the olympic preparation “shambles”. Anyway, all Romney needs are a few photo opportunities for his campaign. Doesn’t matter to him what he says or what the British press says.

    PS – What happened to the function to re-order the comments with the oldest first? Things don’t make sense otherwise…

  • David Lindsay

    Actually, it is a reassuring sign of moderation and conservatism that Romney and Cameron are manifestly free of the extremist pseudo-conservatism that sees Britain and America as the same country, that country being a certain idea of America.

    It will be interesting to see what Romney and Netanyahu have to say to and about each other and each other’s countries in a few days’ time.

    The staunchly anti-Soviet stand of Attlee and Bevin springs to mind.

  • Tim Robson

    So Cameron broke with downing street tradition did he?

    I seem to remember Gordon Brown meeting with three candidates at the last US presidential election. Can we try and pretend that are journalists have an attention span longer than a gnat?

    • Ian Walker

      Ah, a common mistake, confusing ‘people who write for the Spectator blog’ with ‘journalists’

  • Win The Future

    “Romney does not enjoy a strong reputation when it comes to foreign policy”, that puts him level with Barry then.

    • TomTom

      So the Governor of Massachusetts now has to have a foreign policy just like the Mayor of London…..who insults Greece and Spain for the Olympics !

      • http://spectator fergus Pickering

        No he doesn’t, Tom Tom. You just don’t understand upper speak. Mock insults are a sign of affection. Pity you didn’t spend your formative years at a good public school. Even now, you’d feel the benefit.

        • TomTom

          Oh Fergus – you’re still alive ! Marvels of cryogenics ! Actually I went to a better school than you but of course it excelled academically rather than simply giving agricultural types a social polish.

          • Nicholas

            Oh dear, publicly boasting about one’s academic credentials is not the attribute of a true English gentleman. That is nearly as bad as presuming them of others. I’ll refrain from passing judgement on the school as it might not be responsible. Education can only go so far.

  • Bill Kenny

    So the recruitmant of security guards was n’t a ‘humiliating shambles’? There was n’t a proposed strike by Borders Agency staff? Or are we just not allowed to talk about these things in front of the children?

  • Kevin

    “coined the…pun even before the man arrived”
    (Gives the game away, doesn’t it? When it comes to Republicans, the British media script is a cut and paste job.)

    Romney was “undiplomatic” to Cameron? What did he do? Hand back a bust of Winston Churchill that was loaned to the US President from the Government’s art collection after 9/11?

    He got Miliband’s name wrong? What! Did he call him Ed Maldives? 

    He said “pants” instead of “trousers”? Ha! Ha! Do not let him near the Queen, or the oik might talk through the national anthem!

    Romney should do fine on the rest of his tour. As long as he avoids the expression, “Polish death camp”, I cannot imagine Prime Minister Donald Tusk berating him for “ignorance, lack of knowledge, bad intentions”. That would be Obamanable! (Geddit?)

    • Wilhelm

      Mitt Romney doesn’t fit the narrative

      According to the media, Obama is Moses born in a Chicago sewer. Romney is a evil Republican.

      • Procrustes

        and Romney will be revealed in an exclusive as Thatcher’s love child and a distant relative of Ashcroft. He will also obviously love bankers,not understand Global warming and believe M. Hollande is a left wing idiot. If we keep going, he may have been personally responsible for starting World War 2.

        Really, how dare anyone use the word ‘disconcerting’ I am surprised many journalists know what the word means.

  • lgrundy

    which he accidentally described as the ‘backside’

    Reminds me of a rather lovely young Polish girl who checked me into my hotel room in Poznan late last year.

    When I asked whether a front or back room would be quieter she replied rather amusingly “I prefer it in the backside and I always recommended that my guests go there”.

  • Wilhelm

    There is a serious side to all this sniggering at a shambolic Romney roadshow, though.

    Shambolic ? You mean he told the truth.

  • Frank P

    I’m sure that Romney’s team have already apprised him of the fact that Cameron has his head so far up Obama’s arse that he could read the President’s autocue through his mouth.

  • Wilhelm

    P.S. Hats off to Simon Mason, who coined the brilliant ‘Romneyshambles’ pun even before the man arrived on British soil.

    ” Brilliant ” I don’t think so.

  • Mina

    This is what happens when you invite the Americans over for tea.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    Ouch, Boris has just mentioned Mitt in his speech at the Olympic flame ceremony in Hyde Park in front of 60,000. He asked the crowd if we were ready with the obvious response!

  • alexsandr

    Sadly politicians seem to have forgotten the old adage, ‘shut the f*ck up until you know what you are talking about’

    • Draughtsman

      Our shower obviously have forgotten it alexsandr otherwise we would never hear anything from them at all – now or in the future!!

  • anyfool

    Is there no context you media studies graduates cannot attache the word shambles too.
    brilliant ‘Romneyshambles’ pun, not really brilliant,
    MI6 chief Sir John Sawers. is not a state secret since your mates in New labour decided accountability trumped reason.
    the media has just spent 3 weeks carping about Olympic hiccups as though they were insurmountable barriers to the smooth running of the games, so a small query about this is not a world peace threatening gaffe,
    You write He is also visiting Israel and Poland, these two countries will prefer him to your soul-mate Obama regardless of any imagined slight that you care to name.
    It was Obama who put peoples lives at risk with his loose lips and he did that deliberately for political gain, releasing details about a double agent just for one good headline, so what in comparison with the current President has is Romney any worse.

    • 2trueblue

      Very apt. Our media spend their time making mch of anything that will show the government up. The company were chosen by Labour. We also have a very politicised civil service, (which we all pay for) and the BBC who are really the spokes people for Labour. The trouble is the BBc are too dumb to realise that they are talking the country down, continually. They have no idea what journalism means.

    • Daniel Maris

      I’m waiting for the Government to try and reform the gambling laws then we can have a Gambleshambles.

  • James J

    It is impossible for the Westminster bubble to know how these things play in the USA, which is all that matters to the Republican team. The target electorate will just get the photo of Romney with Cameron, who they may recognise if a symbolic item associated with Britain is in the shot, together with “Olympics” in the story line. This is just to give him some international depth in the eyes of the minority in the US who care about things outside their borders.

  • telemachus

    Morons are all the same

    • http://spectator fergus Pickering

      Really, telemachus, Mitt Romney is not a moron. He’s made a stack of money. Have you done that? He’s the Republican candidate for the White House. And he may win. You mean, of course, that heis on the right, rather than on the left where all the Ballsian charisma is.

    • Nicholas

      But you have told us that there is only one telemachus, so clearly they are not.

    • UlyssesReturns

      You would know matey.

    • David Ossitt

      Takes one to know.