Analysis: Bush visit

This is president Bush's farewell trip
This is president Bush's farewell trip

The 'special relationship' hits so many different kinds of low.

UK-US relations have never been so bad. It's a strange predicament to be in, given our prime minister loves America and George Bush always goes out of his way to praise the UK's commitment to US foreign policy. But one can't imagine Bush and Brown - one a millionaire Texan right-winger, the other a dour Labour Scot - getting on particularly well.

Nevertheless, the relationship has fallen down not in the corridors of power so much as in the streets of Britain. The UK has simply fallen out of love with America, as many countries have done since the events of September 11th. The road Britain travelled down after that event - the road to Afghanistan, Iraq and the 7/7 attacks - has been paved with blood and executive mismanagement.

Tony Blair remains intensely popular in the States, but his limitless enthusiasm for Mr Bush ended up leaving Brits feeling humiliated. The evident failure of the Iraq project didn't help and nor does the seemingly endless war in Afghanistan.

And yet, when Mr Bush and Mr Brown sit down to talk today - on subjects Downing Street are refusing to brief journalists on - very few people will be listening. President Bush is a lame duck, taking a tour around a continent which long-ago decided it doesn't like him. Even the anti-war activists view him as so irrelevant they can barely be bothered to protest his visit, although that didn't stop the police from banning a Stop the War demonstration from happening in Whitehall today.

All eyes in Europe, as in the world, are now on Barack Obama. So popular is this presidential candidate that if the election were held globally he would win by a landslide. Should he enter the White House there is every chance it will galvanise UK-US relations to a level not seen for generations.

For now, it is worth viewing the sad spectacle through a lens that unites rather than divides the two countries. It is not a difficult lens to find. Mr Brown and Mr Bush, for entirely different reasons, are about as unpopular domestically as it's possible to be. Each week, the two plough an unprecedented path towards to the bottom of opinion polls.

However bad things get between the UK and the US, there's always something left to unite us.


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.