If only he were George Bush.
To be fair, Howard inherited a damaged party, intellectually spent after 18 years in office, riven by disagreement over Britain's place in Europe, and, following two heavy defeats to Labor, increasingly given to self-doubt. And of course American politics do not directly transpose across the Pond. Bush— a self-styled rancher, a Christian and a warrior with the occasional utopian flourish—would not be a winning candidate in Britain. Moral values don't play in secular Britain the way they do in the church-going red states—Blair's piety is as much of a liability in the U.K. as Bush's God-talk is an asset in the U.S. Still, if (when) the Conservatives lose, it will be in no small part because they too readily shunned the effective formula of American conservatives. The Tories may find more Brits think like them when they start thinking more like Republicans.
James Harding is Washington bureau chief of the Financial Times.
Photograph of Michael Howard by Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images.