Tuesday, July 4

Our view of the other side of the pond

Bearing in mind that you can demonstrate virtually anything you like with a well-crafted opinion poll, what does one make of yesterday's Telegraph's YouGov poll which shows that "Britons have never had such a low opinion of the leadership of the United States".
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We are told that, as Americans celebrate the 230th anniversary of their independence, the poll found that only 12 percent of Britons trust them to act wisely on the global stage.This is half the number who had faith in the Vietnam-scarred White House of 1975.
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Most Britons, we are also told, see America as a cruel, vulgar, arrogant society, riven by class and racism, crime-ridden, obsessed with money and led by an incompetent hypocrite.
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The main news story is backed by an editorial which, to be fair, takes a dim view of this "Yank bashing", declaring that, "To hate America is to hate mankind".
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"Of course America occasionally deserves criticism," it intones, concluding that (even) to this day, it is guided by the Jeffersonian ideal that decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people they affect.
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It then notes that the EU "of course" is founded on the opposite principle, that of "ever-closer union". No wonder, says the paper, “its peoples sometimes resent their more successful cousins.”
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There is, sadly, more than an element of truth in this – that the supposed lack of "trust" is in fact a thinly disguised jealousy. We see this with our military men who, looking at the wealth and scale of US war materiel, compared with their own poverty, seek to make a virtue out of necessity.
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Unfortunately, in order to maintain their own self-esteem, they seem to end up convincing themselves that their enforced "make do and mend" strategy is somehow superior to the American way. It is then but a small step, openly to despise the American wealth.
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To put the 'YouGov' findings into perspective though, it is instructive to turn to the latest Eurobarometer poll - which, taken last autumn, is not very recent and therefore must be taken with a pinch of salt.
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While only 12 percent trust the US, the Eurobarometer figure for the EU is even smaller, standing at eight percent. Our own political parties fare only slightly better than the Americans, at 14 percent, although – amazingly - 33 percent trust the government and 37 percent the parliament.
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There is one figure which stands out, which makes a mockery of the whole survey game. As many as 53 percent of respondents "tend to trust the television". Given that this medium – still dominated by the BBC – churns out a relentless diet of anti-American propaganda, revelling in the Guantanamo issue, and lovingly following every twist and turn of the "Rendition affair", to say nothing of the torrent of coverage on Abu Ghraib, it is surprising that the trust factor is still so high.
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What this also says is that a nation which counts amongst its number 53 percent who still trust what they see on television is not a nation whose judgement itself can be trusted.
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As for the "vulgarity" with which a nation so large and diverse as America is tarred, have any of those people who so willingly use this epithet watched the coverage of the world cup, or even stepped outside their own front doors and looked at the mess in our high streets on a Friday and Saturday night, as our gilded "yoof" indulge in their drunken celebrations?
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What might be interesting, therefore, is an opinion poll on the "trust" people have on opinion polls. After all if 'You Gov' were accurate the editor of this Blog would be on the 'gravy train' as an MEP (see foot note) . One might find that we are a nation fundamentally without trust, in which case, the Americans – on balance – are doing rather well.
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Note: Five days before the European Parlimentry Elections ballot count in June 2004 YouGov predicted that Peter Troy, UKIP's lead candidate in Scotland would take a seat from the Conservative candidate. Though the result for UKIP was good it fell short of the numbers needed under the complex propritional representation voting system (designed by the French shortly after their revolution) to send Peter to '' the heart of Europe '' as a Member of the European Parliament for Scotland.
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1 comment:

Kelly said...

Thanks for all the thoughts, polls and comments on Americans and America in general. It means that you care enough to give us a thought and to show the depth of your feelings by keeping us in the fore front of you newspapers, magazines and television. lol That being said, I have very kind thoughts and feelings for the British in general also.

As a Native American Indian woman, I bear no ill feelings to the country that sent those colonists to the land of my forefathers. Colonists searching for religious freedom but not granting others the same right. Colonists who used and oppressed them, made them ill, herded them like cattle, killed them for their land and their women (the same women who were later discarded as being less than human and only there to serve a need or needs), and who almost decimated their culture and drove them to near extinction.

As for being cruel, and vulgar, hey even in London I found that there are people whom we would referred to as "Rednecks". If we are curel and vulgar and arrogant, I wonder where we learned these traits? You say we are riven by class and racism? You are right, of course. Aren't we all? But then the English would know, having a royal house and all.

As for our President, well, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I didn't care for Bill Clinton myself (but that is a personal opinion as since he was my President I feel I can express that opinion but any one else???? Well you better watch out!) but then you have Camilla Parker-Bowles and I believe at least one Princess who didn't live up to expectations (and no I don't mean Princess Diana, her I liked actually) And I seem to remember at least one newcaster in London who wasn't all the impressed with your own Prime Minister's abilities.

The facts are that none of us are perfect. That even those of us who work hard and try to do our very best sometimes come up short. We make a decision in our own best interests and not in the best interest of everyone. We put our needs and those of our family first. Tell me or show me someone who doesn't, other than Mother Teresa that is. Those kinds of people are few and far between and not always revered.

Now to the military, they have my full support. I might not always care for the decisions that are made as to where they will go or what actions they may take but they are there doing a job and they need all of our full support. These people are our brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, sons and daughters. They have families who need them also. Families who want them brought home safely and who want to know that they are being taken care of while they are out in the field. They live in situations that we wouldn't put up with if asked and we are asking them to do so. It is NOT for them to make do and mend. However stong and resilient it might make them, there are certain needs in the interest of safety that must be met. I would be furious if my government and the ruling heads didn't do the utmost to make sure that my military personel were not properly outfitted for any occasion.

I don't always trust my own goverments decisions and don't always agree with them either. That having been said I don't trust the EU, any, at all. It used to be that we were the poor country cousins, now that we are doing better and have improved ourselves, gained in a lot of ways, it is understandable that we are viewed jealously. It is also understandable that we might have let it go to our heads and are arrogant, prideful,and obsessed. If I were to win the lottery and moved to a more affluent area, with a bigger house, better schools and less work, I think that my former neighbours and friends might view me the same way, and my new neighbours might view me as a upstart who needs to be knocked down a peg or two. It would probably be true and untrue on all accounts. It just depends on your point of view.

Mine is that I love my country and I quite enjoy yours also.

Thanks

PS. Besides we also keep your country on our front pages, your royal house and Parliament make for very enjoyable reading. And sometimes makes our problems not seem quite as bad. ;)