Published on 25 May 2011

Obama mania: Brits on board with US President

You get a flavour of why David Cameron might be so keen to bask in Barack Obama‘s glory on this trip in various photo ops. We asked YouGov to repeat a poll they did in November 2003 when President George W Bush was in town and see how the numbers changed. It suggests that Brits love Obama as much as they hated Bush.

The 2003 poll suggested that 75 per cent polled had little or no confidence in President Bush. Today 72 per cent have a great deal or fair mount of confidence in President Obama. In today’s poll, 81 per cent think President Obama is highly intelligent, back in 2003 17 per cent thought the US had got itself an highly intelligent president. You get the picture.

But there’s another bit of the poll that suggests the legacy of Iraq still lingers. November 2003, things were already going awry in the war, and 47 per cent of Brits polled thought the “special relationship should end and Britain should be readier than now to take an independent line.”

That figure has fallen back but only to 39 per cent, even with the adored Obama in office.

You can see the whole thing here.

Finally, at risk of trivialising the great occasion in Westminster Hall, it was fascinating to see who the President shook hands with on the way out. A mixture of good fortune, placement, reocognition or the Speaker guiding the presidential hand. I’ll leave you to guess which fall into which category but I clocked words and handshakes with: Keith Vaz, Marcia Falkender (yes!), Health Minister and US political enthusiast Simon Burns, Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans, Jack Cunningham, Lord Carrington, new MP Matthew Hancock (who gave a thumbs up), Nicholas Soames who beamed and countless others – and Baroness Floella Benjamin who got a big hug.

Tweets by @garygibbonblog

9 reader comments

  1. Chris Squire says:

    In the 1st sentence, ‘cask’ should be ‘bask’.

  2. MediaWeasel says:

    Comparing Bush with Obama is like comparing the sound and effect of nails down a blackboard with the feel and taste of warm brandy. No, China, India and other emerging nations are not threats, nor should they be – if Bush was still in the hot seat he’d be waving sabres and doing the whole cowboy number.

    The world has a chance of putting things right in the medium to long term, and although I don’t go along with everything Obama has said during his term so far, I’m willing to trust his determination to help change global politics.

  3. Ray Turner says:

    Barrack Obama certainly showed he’s mastered the British sense of humour, with his quip about the Queen, the Pope and Nelson Mandela…

  4. Mudplugger says:

    Those polls, taken from people who have had no direct contact with the two Presidents, are merely measures of perception. But sadly, in the media-driven world of modern politics, perception is reality.

    Obama, like Clinton and Kennedy before him and Reagan on the Republican side, is a practised purveyor of popularisms, almost entirely vacuous, but the audience isn’t really listening, it’s just basking in the warm, moist glow of star-struck sycophancy. We too have learnt that lesson, as Blair and his self-confessed apprentice, Cameron, continue to demonstrate.

    Western democracies have moved to a point where the electorate takes a blind gamble on the ‘lead singer’ in the unsupported hope that his backing group of ‘operators’ will somehow prove able to deliver on his vocals.

    Trouble is, what’s the alternative ? Without a ‘star turn’, no party will ever get elected, but we have no way of assessing the quality of their backroom ‘delivery staff’. We seem doomed to be ruled by perceived pixie-dust rather than proven competence.

    Clem Attlee wouldn’t stand a chance today, and neither would Churchill ! Progress, eh ?

  5. Saltaire Sam says:

    Only 55 per cent think he is articulate! What does it take and where does that leave John Prescott?

  6. Andrew Dundas says:

    Perhaps my Telly wasn’t working properly, but I saw Obama shake hands with each of the three former Prime Ministers present. Including a short of exchange of words with Gordon Brown. I wonder what they said to each other?

  7. Mike says:

    I think Obama comes across as having integrity, even if the practicalities of office and noteworthy opponents have made this a difficult thing to hold onto at times. In contrast some of the Bush administration gave me the impression they would pimp their grandma if they felt it would support theirs or America’s interests.

  8. Barbara says:

    Bush started a war based on dubious issues,namely non existent weapons of mass destruction. He took Blair with him.The British public were not convinced.It was an unpopular decision nationally and internationally.

    Of course 9/11 was a major unspoken motivation.

    Obama is now stopping that war which is a popular move here.Currently action in conflict zones is not unilaterally American.The UN is involved.

    However in this era of the Arab Spring Bush must be credited for initiating the moves against dictators with his determination to remove Saddam Hussein.Obama has fuelled this with his ‘new beginnings’

    Perhaps we are beginning to move into an anti-dictatorship world.

  9. Barbara says:

    Popularity: Obamas comfortable rhetoric is enjoyed by many.
    Bush’s fight against terror was unnerving . It made people feel a sense of unease.The British public do not like to feel a continual sense of pending disaster especially if it comes from America.

    But the fight against terrorism is now rightly a western priority.

    America’s current spending to create this new world order must surely be a concern.Economic considerations are going to be supremely important in the future.

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