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Thursday, 21 February 2008

The Good Old Days

Hillary is in trouble. After victory in the Wisconsin and Hawaii primaries, Obama has ten wins under his belt since Super Tuesday. It's “do or die” for Hillary on 4th March, where she has to win both Ohio and Texas to keep in the race for the Democratic nomination.

What is very surprising is that Britons prefer the New York senator while the Germans, Italians, Spaniards and French prefer Obama. A recent Financial Times/Harris Poll showed that 28% of those surveyed in Britain would vote Clinton. Only 23% would vote for the Illinois senator. 45% of voters in Italy, on the other hand, would vote for Obama. And 35% of Spaniards would.

It is not surprising that the Democratic candidates are much more popular than the Republicans in Europe. Many Europeans just perceive Republicans as anti-abortion, anti-homosexual, and generally illiberal. And they hate this.

I want to put my finger on why Hillary is more popular here. Perhaps it the British thing of liking to be different. We drive on the left while most drive on the right. We’ve kept our feet and inches, whereas the rest of Europe has gone metric. Everyone's voting for Obama so I'm going to vote for Hillary.

Maybe it’s our scepticism of radical change. Yes, we want Bush Jnr out. But someone who's only been a senator since late 2004 and wants US troops to be withdrawn from Iraq immediately? The French do revolutions; we do evolution. Hillary is a reliable choice: she's done this 'being in the White House' thing before. Best to settle with the safe option, especially in times of economic turbulence.

Yet, I actually think it is to do with Clinton's association with the early Blair years. Britons see Labour's first term as a good time. Economic stability, no disastrous wars and no Islamic terrorism. A tired Conservative Government had ended and the disastrous Bush-Blair years had yet to begin. The start of the Blair ascendancy was so much better than the Brown years of economic uncertainty, dodgy donations and Government incompetence we are currently suffering.

Britons are nostalgic for the good old Clinton-Blair years. That, I think, is the reason why Hillary is so popular.

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