British public: America is a villain

Stephan Shakespeare writes:

On YouGov’s daily BrandIndex tracking of the British public’s perception of countries, the US has a net score of -31 (that means 19% of people have a positive view of America, 52% have a negative view), better than Israel on -39, and Iran on -55, but behind China on -7, and Russia on -27. Australia is on +37, and France on +4 and Germany on +12.

In other words, America is placed among the villains. This site, and this writer, are solidly pro-America, but we are in a beleaguered minority. In this context, those politicians driven by public opinion find it very hard to make the case for American foreign policy. As virtually all British politicians are now almost solely driven by public opinion, that means America is unable to rely on support from its most important ally.

Brown_chancellor
Gordon Brown will soon succeed Tony Blair as Prime Minister. The ground has been well prepared for a switch in emphasis from Britain as America’s comrade-in-arms, to Britain as closer to Europe.  Brown’s strategists, who have already spun that he will ‘stand up to America’, are counting on a halo effect in part from his painting himself as the man who brought our boys back from Iraq.

Conservative party strategists are worried that its earlier support for Blair on Iraq will mean that they will remain identified with his misadventure, while Brown is let off. As ConservativeHome reported, the pro-American Dr. Fox, Conservative spokesman on defence, was recently carpeted by the Conservative leadership and told to stop making pro-American noises. We’re changing tack.

David Cameron, the Conservative leader, has made an unofficial pact with pollsters: you tell me what the public is saying, and I’ll agree. So long as the polls continue to record the unpopularity of America, US policy will find few champions either among any of the three main political parties in Britain.

This is the consequence of a failure to lead public opinion. Other polls show that Britons are indeed concerned about losing the ‘War on Terror’, but they haven’t been asked to face up to the consequences of that; in the wake of attempted hijacks, they have said they support a ‘tougher’ policy, but they haven’t been told what that might mean. My own view as a pollster is that politicians should indeed be guided by what the public wants from them, but only if the public have been taken through a proper debate about the realistic alternatives.

Related link: American brands suffer from negativity towards America

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8 Responses to British public: America is a villain

  1. Matt Davis says:

    This is a truly sad moment and clearly demonstrates how the Politicians have abrogated their duty and responsibility to lead public opinion in favour of allowing the left wing commentariat to do so instead. But I guess that this is what you get when your politicians, rather then being persons of belief and principle motivated by a genuine vision of how to improve and lead our nation, are instead PR spivs motivated by a desire to acquire personal power and the trappings of Government.

  2. TomTom says:

    Chicken-Licken Time again !

    We had exactly the same when LBJ was in The White House; when Nixon was in The White hOuse, when Reagan ewas in The White House.

    We had Spitting Image with tasteless skits about “Reagan’s Brain” and we had silly prancing demonstrators in The Netherlands and Germany frightened the USSR might collapse if Reagan continued to re-arm.

    We had contempt in Europe for Carter and fear that the Russians and Cubans acxtive in Mozambique and Angola, Portugal and Afghanistan, taking over Cam-Ranh Bay Naval Base in Vietnam……..that the USSR would be dominant as their Olympic athletes were

    The 1970s were a time of fear as energy prices quadrupled then Khomeini took over in Iran and oil prices doubled again. The End of the World was nigh but still we survived to get in a panic because Reagan was not a Social Democrat.

    This cycle is always there – just look at the Days of Rage in 1968 Chicago, Kent State, My Lai, Tet Offensive, Soviet nvasion of Czechoslovakia 30 years after the Nazis; the Yom Kippur War, the shhoting down of KAL 007.

    Our Media paints a grim and depressoing picture so people choose to commit suicide rather than watch any more TV or buy any more papers. It is the old trick of Doom and Gloom.

    When you think of where Europe was 60 years ago with hundreds of thouands of refugees a week pouring into Germany and Brtain on permanent rationing of food, clothing and furniture………we survived.

    The Americans have their quirks and need a bit of friendly advice and opposition periodically but they change as we change. Daniel Cohn-Bendit is now a geriatric MEP rather than Red Danny of the Paris riots of 1968….The Present is rarely as apocalyptic as people think

  3. David Sergeant says:

    “But I guess that this is what you get when your politicians, rather then being persons of belief and principle motivated by a genuine vision of how to improve and lead our nation, are instead PR spivs motivated by a desire to acquire personal power and the trappings of Government”

    Good, we should keep telling ourselves why Blair won three elections.

  4. tired and emotional says:

    Hopefully the present won’t be as apocalyptic as I’mamadjihadman thinks, tomtom

  5. Kevin Sampson says:

    Big deal. After the 2003 poll which indicated most Europeans thought the US was the greatest threat to world peace, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

  6. tired and emotional says:

    Most Europeans are political assholes Kevin, always have been, and so are most Brits these days (sadly).

  7. Its members of the Religion of Peace who are plotting to blow them up, kill them and/or enslave them but they loath the US. Surely a clear example of why the BBC has to be privitised as they are the main source of the anti-American rhetoric in the media.

    I guess if you stick you head in the sand you can expect to get your arse kicked (or blown up).

  8. The lesson I think is not so much not to believe the spin so much as it is only to believe the exact opposite of the spin. In facy my predictions for Wee Gordie Broon are slightly different. Once Blair’s gone then Iraq will become much less controversial. Brown won’t have to worry about a strong, independent Chancellor of the Exchequer holding the purse-strings either. And he’ll obviously be very keen to present himself as patriotically British (because he’s Scottish), a big hitter on the internatinal stage, someone who’s taken seriously in Washington, and who has credible credentials when it comes to defence. In other words, he’ll probably expand the Army (as Bush is doing already) and send more troops to Iraq (ditto). If anything goes wrong, his people can easily blame it on Lord Blair of Wormwood Scrubs.

    The Tories’ plan is very simple. Wait until Bush has gone, snipe at him a bit, raise a few cheap laughs on Question Time, and so on. Say “Iraq was a mistake” but make pragmatic noises, basically agreeing with the Government and letting them off every hook. And then support the new President one hundred per cent, whoever he — or she — may be.

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