The British Hate Bush. Or Do They?

Protestors prepare for visit, while poll shows war support surging

| November 2003

Bush is heading to London amidst U.S. diplomatic snafus and London's mayor calling the president the 'greatest threat to life on the planet.' Still, Alan Travis and David Gow reported for The Guardian today that 67% of Brits think the U.S. is 'generally speaking a force for good, not evil, in the world,' and voters thinking the Iraq war was justified reached an all time high of 47%.

In The Observer, Martin Bright reports that as London gears up for the visit, with security costing roughly $8 million and more than 14,000 police on duty, many British are seething over a list of U.S. demands that were refused by the British government. The demands included diplomatic immunity for American special agents and snipers, closure of the underground subway network in London, overflights of armed U.S. air force planes and Blackhawk helicopters, and the 'shipping in of battlefield weaponry to use against rioters.' Add this to Bush's cancellation of a speech before parliament due to fear of heckling and probable walk-out of anti-war MPs, as well as comments by the London mayor that The Independent's Nigel Morris says 'will infuriate Downing Street,' and the trip is not looking to be the post-Iraq victory lap the White House had planned.

Still, with The Guardian reporting that opposition to the war has slumped to 41%, Tony Blair's popularity gaining, and more people welcoming the arrival of Bush than opposing it, the trip might not be the catastrophe some on the left are hoping for. A recent Alternet piece by David Livingstone, 'Bush Goes to England, Blair Goes to Hell,' may well be the perfect example of jumping the gun. Regardless, while the outlook for Bush spin-doctors may be slightly better than the lefties would have it, Bush will certainly not get the warm reception of landing on an aircraft carrier, and thousands of protesters in the streets will be enough to warm any progressive heart.

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