Apparently the phrase “special relationship” has disappeared from official British government references to relations between America and Britain. This is a healthy development for both, since it puts an end to the fiction that London gets any concessions from being in a “special relationship” with Washington and signals to Washington that it cannot assume British support with respect to affairs in Europe or elsewhere, which will compel Washington to engage with other nations on a more direct and even-handed basis. So long as Washington could always rely on invoking the “special relationship” in cajoling London into doing whatever it wanted, and so long as London felt obliged to acquiesce, lest it be seen as a rejection of Atlanticism, neither government made very good policy that served the interests of both, and more generally the perception of this close link undermined good relations for both with the rest of Europe. It would have been very much in America’s interest if Britain had refused to go along with the Iraq war, not least since the refusal might have made the war much less politically viable over here, but because Britain felt pressured to retain the “special relationship” with its promises of special access and influence (which resulted in nothing) that did not happen. Now that the relationship is no longer officially “special,” it may become a much better working alliance that serves the national interests of both rather than just one or neither.
P.S. This also helps to correct for the rather ludicrous expectation that Gordon Brown would be embarrassingly “pro-American” (whatever this label was supposed to mean) because he took his holidays in the Northeast.