Chips goes to London

Oct. 11, 2004, midnight | By Zahra Gordon | 19 years, 9 months ago

Getting a bit of the British perspective of President Bush

This story is partly compiled from the author's experiences while in London this past summer.

Sometime in Feb. 2003, President George W. Bush picked up the phone, called Tony Blair and said "Hey, I'm planning on invading Iraq pretty soon. You think Britain would mind giving me a hand?" Then, Tony Blair replied, "I don't see why not. When's a good time for you?" And the Prime Minister and the President chit-chatted away, choosing attack dates, weighing pros and cons of using bombs, deciding how many troops to send abroad.

This is how Great Britain became America's strongest ally in the war with Iraq. So considering that Britain was our biggest supporter, the British opinion of our President, the man who initiated the war, would be quite relevant. Whether the British think his foreign policy is unjust or not, the best way to get the British opinion is to talk to the workingman.

The Sainsbury Center for Mental Health (SCMH) is a research center in South London. I went here to get the British view on Bush over the summer. Employees here all harbor similar feelings towards President Bush and the election; they do not want Bush to be re-elected. Claire Groom, a project coordinator at SCMH, acknowledged that she has not been following the election closely but nonetheless is adamant that Bush should not win. "I would like to see anyone elected except Bush," says Groom.

Groom feels as though the President's manner towards other countries is inconsiderate. "It's so frightening how he conducts foreign policy," she says while shaking her head. "It's absolutely terrifying. He doesn't seem to care [about other countries]," says Groom.

Rose Wright, who works in accounts, believe that President Bush can't do anything correct. "He's in a right mess," says Wright quite frankly. "I can't see the logic in anything he's done since he's been in power."

Another co-worker of Wright and Groom's, Ken Robb, director of business and finance, thinks that Bush's foreign policy is beneficial only to America. "He seems entirely selfish and naïve about the rest of the world," says Robb. "Americans don't seem to realize what other people think of them."

The sentiments of Groom, Wright and Robb are not unlike the general British public. According to the BBC News website, the anti-war protest on Feb. 16, 2003 was Britain's largest demonstration ever. British police estimated that there were 750,000 protesters, while organizers claimed there were two million. Even when Bush visited England in March 2004, people protested his presence.

The global community also holds anti-Bush sentiment. Surveys taken in Canada, Japan, Russia and several European countries all show results of distaste for the American president. The Washington Post reports that 60 percent of Canadians preferred Senator Kerry to President Bush. In Japan, 57 percent of the Japanese were opposed to Bush, and in Russia, Kerry was preferred over Bush by an almost 4:1 ratio. In addition, a survey of nine European countries revealed a 76 percent opposition to Bush.

The British media is not as critical as the British people and the global community. David Robertson, a national organizer at SCMH, believes that British media could be harsher towards President Bush. "I think that British media portrays Bush quite fairly considering the number of mistakes and blunders that he makes," says Robertson.

Robb, on the other hand, feels that media portrays the president moderately. "The British media is pretty fair to Bush, but then again they can't exactly go off and say 'Look what a dipstick this guy is,'" says Robb.

As for the English opinion about current election campaigns, the English find it quite commercial. "It seems to be more about how you appear on TV and not really about the issues," says Robb. "It's more about how big you smile and how much you wave and how well you look on TV."

Another SCMH employee, Paul Chapman, shares the same opinion. "It was very interesting watching the democratic convention on TV. It seemed very showbizzy," says Chapman.

Overall, the British find Bush's foreign policy unilateral and self-centered. They say the American electoral process is like a big TV show and would rather that President Bush not be re-elected.

Tags: print Cultural Connection

Zahra Gordon. Zahra Gordon is 16-year old JUNIOR at Blair who is overwhelmingly proud of being from the Caribbean twin-island nation of Trinidad & Tobago (and she never fails to mention that). She has been living in Maryland for four years. If you're ever trying to find … More »

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