Yesterday’s YouGov poll in the Sunday Times actually included quite a lot of questions about President Bush, far more than the two reported in the paper. I think it’s fair to say that the British public are not over-enamoured of him.

The overwhelming majority of respondents thought that President Bush had handled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina very badly (60%) or quite badly (26%), and 63% thought that his response would have been greater and faster if New Orleans had been a city full of white, middle-class people. 48% thought that the deployment of US troops in Iraq has made the crisis worse. 57% of people thought that the handling of Hurricane Katrina, in combination with Iraq, showed that President Bush was “one of the worst presidents America has ever had.”

Asking about George Bush in general, the strength of negative opinion was overwhelming – 70% thought Bush was incompetent, 60% thought he was stupid, 68% thought he wasn’t concerned about ordinary people, 66% thought he was untrustworthy. There was an obvious correlation between British party support and opinions on President Bush. Liberal Democrat voters were even more united in their negative attitudes towards Bush than the population as a whole (84% thought he was incompetent, 73% thought him stupid), Labour voters were somewhere inbetween while Conservative voters had the least negative opinion of the US President, though even then their opinion was negative.

There is, of course, no particular reason for President Bush to care what British people think of him, even if they do seem to overwhelmingly accept the Michael Moore version of him. It does seem to have something of a knock on effect on British attitudes to the USA. Asked if they thought the United States were a force for good in the world, 47% of people disagreed, with only 36% agreeing. Again there was a strong difference between different party supporters: Conservative supporters were relatively pro-American, 53% thought that the US was a force for good; Lib Dems were comparatively anti-American, only 19% thought the US was a force for good. Asked if respondents saw themselves as closer to the US or to Europe, the same pattern emerged – Conservative voters looked more to America, though only just (48% compared to 42% who felt closer to Europe), Labour and Lib Dem voters both felt closer to Europe than they did to the US.


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