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 @garygibbonc4