Bull and Bush | November 19, 2003
So the Bush circus rolled into town last night, closely followed by a staff of 700+. Before arriving the Bush administration put a number of requests to the UK government. They wanted diplomatic immunity for their 250 armed security staff to shoot to kill, just incase they accidentally shot a protester. They wanted the tube system shut down, as well as most of the centre of London, something that would have brought the capitol to a halt and cost god knows how many million pounds in lost revenue. To protect Bush the London Police force have had to cancel leave, pull in staff from across the south and are planning to have a force of 14,000 in place for the 4 day visit, more people that we currently have "Peacekeeping" in Iraq. The policing bill alone will cost the people of London £5 million, something they are not too happy about.
Despite the fact that the British Government are supporting Bush in the war on Iraq, British opinion is very much divided. There was a massive groundswell of support against the war from a wide section of society. However people felt this anti war sentiment didn't get reflected in the US media and that middle America largely believe the UK support the invasion of Iraq. An estimated 100,000 people are expected to turn up to protest against the Bush administration over the next couple of days with the hope that the US media will cover the story.
Unfortunately much of the US coverage I've seen has been very negative and misleading. There is a feeling amongst the US press that the demonstrators (and by implication the British public) are anti American, however this is far from the case. The British public feel much closer culturally to the States then they do to Europe and if you're an American in the UK you're unlikely to feel any animosity. The protesters are definitely not anti American. However they are against the current regimes foreign policies. From the invasion of Iraq to the US's failure to sign the Kyoto agreement, from illegal Steel tariffs to wriggling out of their human rights commitments, many people see the US government as saying one thing and doing something completely different.
So this is why people are protesting against Bush. It's not that the British are mad fiery Europeans who will protest at the drop of a hat. In actual fact we are a fairly ambivalent nation so it takes a lot to get people out on the streets in such huge numbers. And it's not that we hate Americans (we really don't). We just see the US as an friend at a dinner party who is being a bit obnoxious and is starting to annoy the rest of the dinner guests. As we're you're closest friend at the party we feel it's our responsibility to let you know what people think in order to avoid upsetting the rest of the guests and making yourself look like an ass.
Posted at November 19, 2003 9:28 AM