Lord Renwick on what Hillary Clinton would be like as President

1st November 2014

Lord Renwick, a distinguished City figure, adviser to JP Morgan, and formerly Britain's ambassador in Washington, has written a short biography of Hillary Clinton, the first to focus on her time as Secretary of State. His book, Ready for Hillary - Portrait of a President in Waiting, published by Biteback, essentially concludes she would be a good President because of her experience in foreign policy. That is something which the world evidently needs. Lord Renwick also sees her as essentially a conservative Democrat and somebody Britain can do business with. His book is well timed, pithy and well-informed.

Mrs Clinton has not yet declared officially she is running in 2016, nor has her potential Republican rival Jeb Bush (whom Lord Renwick also knows and respects).

On Monday night, Lord Renwick addressed a group at the Centre for Policy Studies. You can watch it on Youtube. I asked him what, from a City point of view, could be expected from Hillary. His response, essentially, is that she is pro-British but not necessarily pro Wall Street or the City of London. It is worth quoting verbatim.

GT: “If you talk to people in the City particularly, it really worries them that America has turned, if you like, not anti-British but neglectful of the British. This manifests itself most particularly in an aggression towards financial institutions and businesses. What’s your sense of her approach to that subject.”

Lord Renwick: “Hillary is an unreconstructed Anglophile. She has a lot of connections here, Bill Clinton use to bring her over here. He proposed to her here, and so on and so forth. She turned him down by the way. Very sensibly at the time but he did persist until eventually she agreed. That doesn’t mean that she is going to do us any great favours, that’s not the way it works. You are measured in America by your contribution, how much can you help and she described the other day Angela Merkel and Europe’s greatest leader – from her perspective that is correct. In foreign policy she will be a very effective ally.

This book describes the absolutely dreadful decision making processes in foreign policy by the Obama administration. Of the President not really wanting to do foreign policy, being remote, detached, uninterested etc. And Hillary and two friends of mine Bob Gates and Leon Panetta pressing for actions to be taken. Most of which eventually were but pretty late in the day. So she would get on just fine with the British government in its foreign policy dimension, though not, I fear with Mr Ed Miliband, because she was absolutely horrified by the vote at the House of Commons against taking action in Syria. She doesn’t agree with him about Hamas and Gaza among other things. She is new Labour to the core rather that Old Labour.

In fact there is one lovely moment in her memoirs when she says, “I was so pleased about Tony Blair and New Labour, same as New Democrats, then I switched on my TV until I saw the people in the Labour party conference addressing each other as comrades!”

She was absolutely horrified by that. So she’s no great Leftist.

But in terms of financial regulation, and all of that, the justice department and securities so on I can’t expect any great relief from her or indeed from the alternative. If Jeb Bush became President, he’d be very good President by the way, but I don’t see him stopping these regulators whacking institutions. I still work part time for JP Morgan, no one has been whacked harder than JP Morgan. We were fined $11 billion for sins committed by Bear Sterns before we brought them. There was a wonderful headline in the WSJ saying “Uncle Sam robs US bank of $11 billion!” I’m afraid that’s not very likely to change.”