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Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Posted by Jake
Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Protests begin but majority backs Bush visit as support for war surges

The survey shows that public opinion in Britain is overwhelmingly pro-American with 62% of voters believing that the US is 'generally speaking a force for good, not evil, in the world'. It explodes the conventional political wisdom at Westminster that Mr Bush's visit will prove damaging to Tony Blair. Only 15% of British voters agree with the idea that America is the 'evil empire' in the world.

...

The ICM poll also uncovers a surge in pro-war sentiment in the past two months as suicide bombers have stepped up their attacks on western targets and troops in Iraq. Opposition to the war has slumped by 12 points since September to only 41% of all voters. At the same time those who believe the war was justified has jumped 9 points to 47% of voters.

This swing in the mood of British voters is echoed in the poll's finding that two-thirds of voters believe British and American troops should not pull out of Iraq now but instead stay until the situation is 'more stable'.

...

Labour voters are more enthusiastic about the visit than Tory voters. But it is only Liberal Democrats who are marginally more unhappy about his arrival, with 43% against and 39% willing to welcome him. A majority of "twentysomethings" welcome Mr Bush. Hostility is strongest amongst the over-65s. There is a clear gender gap in attitudes with a majority of men - 51% - welcoming the president's arrival, compared with only 35% of women.


I think this explodes a couple of conventional wisdoms. One, the affiliation with Bush is not playing as badly for Blair as was previously believed. Two, the "emerging anti-Americanism" abroad is probably not as bad in Britain as one would believe from television, and I would read it more as anti-Bushism than anti-Americanism. The people out in the streets have a problem with Bush, not a problem with America. When Clinton was doing the exact same things I didn't see these people in the streets. For reasons why read this excellent piece by Andrew Sullivan trying to address anti-Bush hatred in Britain.

UPDATE: This post on the Conspiracy indicates that the number of protestors might have been hyped.

Brian -- Can someone explain this to me? I keep seeing this line "only 15% of Britons think America is an evil empire." I really don't see how "only" can be used to describe 15% of a population who all believe that a country that espouses freedom and equality is "evil." 15% seems like a really high number for people to think that we're evil to me...


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