Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Americans watching the British Election

There has been some commentary in the UK about how no one else around the world is interested in the UK general elections. I’m sure on the whole this is correct, the UK is a medium sized country with a struggling economy. Many continental Europeans see it as politically self marginalized in Europe due to its Euroscepticism and closeness to the US. Meanwhile the US doesn’t really notice it until it needs some more deployable and well trained troops or the political fig-leaf of a “coalition” to take some international action that many others will object to. In the UK worries remain that Obama in particular doesn’t like the British; perhaps with his Kenyan heritage us Brits shouldn’t be too surprised by this.

But the UK election campaign did get brief mention on a couple of the US current affairs discussions radio programmes I listen to each week. On KCRW’s Left, Right and Centre, host Matt Miller showed himself to be a completely incorrigible political junkie by having actually watched the first prime ministerial debate as it was live streamed. In Britain the debate was seen almost unanimously to have been won by Nick Clegg of the LibDems, but interestingly – perhaps showing how political cultures differ – Miller reckoned that Gordon Brown looked like the “only adult”. There was a longer discussion on the Diane Rehm Show’s international news round-up on Friday. Here one of the journalists came up with the frankly bizarre analogy of Nick Clegg as a “Ross Perot-type figure”. I suspect that neither Mr. Clegg nor Mr. Perot would be particularly happy with the comparison, and the British journalist on the panel was only half managing to suppress his guffaws. It does seem though that some non-Brits swallowed Cleggs “new politics” and “new party” rhetoric. It will be interesting to see how far this flies amongst the UK electorate. It is an attractive idea but considering the Liberal party was a ‘rebranding’ of the Whigs who go back as far as anything resembling political parties do in the UK (and arguably in the world), as a historical claim it is a bit of a stretch!


Doug said...

Been some coverage in the French press, here's a headline from todays online Le Monde "Gordon Brown et les travaillistes se disent prêts à réformer la politique". They also made some fuss about the Royal Navy being sent to Calais which has been dismissed as an electioneering stunt

Anonymous said...

US blog www.fivethirtyeight.com has recently started covering US politics. Good stuff.