UK Tabloid: The Good Guys Are Back In Charge

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

London ( - London's two leading tabloid newspapers weighed in Thursday for and against the winner in the U.S. presidential election, demonstrating that Britain, too, is a country deeply divided along partisan lines.

The conservative Sun noted with satisfaction that "the world's political swingometer has swung to the right."

"The Sun is delighted to see George W. Bush in the White House," it declared. "He is one of us. The good guys, ladies and gentlemen, are back in charge."

The Labor-supporting Mirror, on the other hand, doubted the president-elect would ever show the qualities of "honor, dignity and courage" it said President Clinton had exhibited, particularly in his peacemaking efforts.

"His presidency is so tainted before it begins, that America faces becoming the world's laughing stock over the next four years," the Mirror opined.

"But it is not just Mr. Bush who has come out of this disgraceful election so weakened. America itself has been shamed."

Meanwhile the Sun was hoping Conservative Party leader William Hague would learn some important lessons from Bush.

"[Bush's] strategy can be summed up thus: Elect me and I hand back your money, reduce the state and allow you and your family to create wealth and become free of the state.

"The Conservatives will not win power back in this country until they promise to deliver just that."

Other newspapers also had their say. The left-leaning Guardian, which described recent events in Florida as "a fix," "a set-up" and a "disgraceful charade," had little good to say about the president-elect.

"Lightweight Mr. Bush, gabbling nervously amid the [legal and political] wrangling, has looked ever more like a puny frontman for the vested interests of the GOP machine, big business, big defense and big oil," it said.

Other commentators examined likely affects on Britain of a Bush presidency, particularly after the warm ties that exist between Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"Mr. Blair was inspired by and adapted many of Mr. Clinton's 'New Democrat' themes," said an editorial in the Daily Telegraph. "The onward march of the 'Third Way' now looks anything but inevitable, and Mr. Blair will have to play 'catch-up' very fast indeed."

A columnist in the Independent noted that it has been relatively uncommon over the last generation for American presidents and British prime ministers to be on opposite sides of the ideological divide.

"The last sustained period in which a British prime minister and U.S. president were of different political color was that of Harold Macmillan and John Kennedy - who had a relationship characterized by personal warmth," he wrote. "That may seem less likely in the case of Bush and Blair. But both are people people ...

"If Blair is re-elected next year, the relationship will be greatly different from the one that he had with Clinton. But that doesn't mean it can't be made to work."

Foreign affairs

The papers also focused on new president's likely foreign policies and challenges, especially those that could place him at odds with America's European allies.

"Mr. Clinton's 'culture of therapy' - of talking things over with the delinquents of the world - has emboldened tyrants from Baghdad to Pyongyang," said the Telegraph editorial.

"America's allies desperately need a more rigorous national security team in Washington, rather than well-meaning amateurs who learn on the job."

It concludes: "After eight years of uncertain trumpets, all true Atlanticists can look forward to some real leadership in the White House, rather than the nervous multilateralism of a man who was profoundly ambiguous about the use of American power."

The Independent sees a future decision on whether to press ahead with a National Missile Defense (NMD) system as "the big black cloud on the distant horizon."

While Bush is committed to the proposal - which aims to protect the U.S. from missiles fired by "rogue" states - it will also require the go-ahead of Britain, where two military facilities crucial to the program are based.

Yet the issue, the paper noted, "could yet split the [British] Cabinet and the country ... [and] at some point the British prime minister may be faced with a deeply uncomfortable choice between the U.S. and the project's European opponents."

Many European Union members, as well as Russia and China, are opposed to NMD, fearing it will undermine the global nuclear balance.


The Times, meanwhile, reported on a small village in Essex county which claims to have been the home to America's Bush dynasty until one Reynauld Bush left the Old Country for New England in 1631.

Residents of the village of Messing - where a pub has a bar named in honor of former President George Bush - are now planning a "Gore Fawkes" night celebration for Bush's inauguration.

In the tradition of Guy Fawkes, when some Brits burn an effigy each November 5 to mark the hanging in 1605 of the man who unsuccessfully tried to blow up parliament, the citizens of Messing will torch an effigy of Vice-President Al Gore.

They will also hold a special barbecue in honor of the winner, called - you guessed it - a Bush Fire.

See earlier story:
How Would A Bush Victory Affect Anglo-American Relations? (Nov 8, 2000)

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow