The big question: would Obama or Romney be better for Britain?

We call it the special relationship. It's basically the deal between us and America where they make money happen and give us military backing in return for an ever dwindling sphere of influence over the rest of Europe, dinner with the Queen and an evening in the company of the Duchess of Cambridge. It's a good deal, no?

America's place in the world as its leading super power means we need it to be on our side. More than that we need its economic policy and foreign policy to produce global stability, which means we want its interests to mirror our own.

Britain likes Barack Obama, we liked Bill Clinton and latterly seem to have had more time for Democratic presidents than Republican ones. We must look back to Ronald Reagan to find one we really liked.

As the world awaits the US Elections on November 6, Britain is trying to work out whether Obama, or his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, will be best for us.

Sir Christopher Meyer, the former ambassador to Washington, recently said that Britain needs to vote for the man with the best foreign policy to ensure global stability. Obama, he said, is the man to provide this.

Others say that economic recovery is key to Britain and that Romney, with his exceptional business credentials, is the man to pull America and the world, out of recession.

So who should Britain vote for: Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?


Zoe Vaughan

Zoe: Obama is a safe pair of hands

Mitt Romney? No, really, really no. Honestly, the man said this: "I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in America that's the America millions of Americans believe in. That's the America I love." Huh?

But hey, that's not actually bad for a presidential candidate who insults a host nation (yes us - Britain - of the special relationship) while trying to set out his foreign policy credentials (presumably) with a trip over here, offending the whole country and really naffing off the Prime Minister (closest global ally).

Yeah, let's put Mr gaffe-a-minute, diplomacy is anathema to me, Romney in charge of the world's biggest super power (that's sarcasitically speaking, for any Americans reading). I mean it's one thing to suggest Britain isn't ready for the Olympics, heaven forbid he suggests to Mr Ahmedinejad that he's not ready for all-out Middle Eastern nuclear war. He might consider it a gauntlet thrown.

As far as we Brits are concerned we need a global statesman who is respected and can practise the levels of diplomacy needed to keep peace in the world today. Barack Obama is that. He looks good on the world stage. Mr Romney has not started well.

Four years is not long when it comes to fixing the world's problems - a job half the planet wants America to do, while the other half resolutely does not. Obama has made a good start and should be allowed to continue.

His work in the world has been good. He has signed a nuclear non-proliferation pact with Russia. He has managed well the draw down in Afghanistan and the end of the Iraq conflict. He is keeping a cautious eye on the South Pacfic , safeguarding western interests and looking to the future.

His hands off approach over the Middle East is a sensible one. The Arab Spring has not yet sprung. Regimes are unstable and unlikely to welcome undue interference from the west. New governments are wont to pander to the voices of populism, a populism that doesn't view alliances with the west warmly. The revolution in the Muslim world is not yet done. Obama is right to proceed with caution.

Now is not the time to be prodding the hornets' nest that is Iran with demands over nuclear capabilities. On this he is right, sanctions are best, though his reluctance to engage fully with Israel should be overcome. He must hold them close and steady their nerves.

Then there's the economy. Granted, Mr Romney is perhaps only half moron if he has managed to secure himself a net worth of $200m but because he's a private equity genius doesn't mean he can save the US economy. Mr Obama's cuts in defence spending, closing of tax loopholes, budget cuts and tax increases for the wealthy mirror much of our home policies. But the financial policy of recession is never popular. Mr Obama has been stymied in some of his economic programme by a House of Representatives controlled, since the 2010 midterms, by the Republicans. A party that has showed it would rather play politics than solve the recession problem.

Would Romney fare better? As yet he is to outline his plans for the economy. They are as sketchy as his foreign policy. There is always the fear with the Republicans, that in times of financial crisis they will turn to more isolationist measures that will not help the rest of the world.

Britain needs global stability - not to mention a man who can be counted on not to be rude in a social situation - Mr Romney would be a disaster.

Have your say

Who would be better for Britain, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama?

1850 responses

  1. Obama

  2. Romney



Steve Vaughan

Steve: Romney, because it's the economy, stupid

What Britain needs from America is for them to make the economy better because just as recession is contagious so is growth. Then we need them to restore global stability, or at least provide a dampener for the tinderbox that is the Middle East, and stop Iran going nuclear and bombing us all to smithereens.

It's a tall order but on his track record Barack Obama no longer feels like the man to do it. He is an idealist in a world where tough times call for a pragmatist. A teacher when we need an economist.

After four years, his progress on the economy is disappointing. Much of his financial programme has been left undone. Long-term unemployment is at its worst level since the Great Depression - the unemployment rate is above eight per cent. Two-thirds of Americans think the country is heading in the wrong direction. The green shoots of recovery wilted and died. This is a man more prone to the economic redistribution policies of Europe rather than the wealth creation ideals of the American Dream.

His foreign policy hasn't been all bad, thanks in the main to Hillary Clinton and some leftovers from the George W Bush administration. He's taken out Osama bin Laden and has a pretty good strike rate on other key members of al-Qaeda with his drone attacks (a Bush legacy).

But he has been notably silent on the Middle East as it wobbles increasingly off the rails in the wake of the Arab Spring. The dictators that held it all together are all gone and Obama is struggling to make fresh alliances or even hold sway over new regimes. It has lead to accusations of "leading from behind". Can you imagine such reluctant military support for Britain over Libya from Bush, or even Clinton for that matter?

He has failed to reassure Israel, leading to some increasingly unhinged rhetoric about strikes on Iran and he has been unwilling to get tough with Iran.

The White House has admitted that Obama is uncomfortable in the role of global statesman that both George W Bush and Tony Blair enjoyed.

By contrast, Romney is the opposite of all of these things. He is by nature a moneymaker. A man who knows a thing or two about the economy. While he is short on foreign policy specifics, he is clear he wants to maintain America's special relationship with Britain - something Obama has never looked comfortable with. He has vowed to be tough on Iran.

Had Obama provided something to build on then he should be allowed to continue but it's all words and pillars of sand. The Republicans at least appear to be ready to provide something concrete. Something that will align more readily with British interests.

So we ask, who should Britain vote for, Obama or Romney?

  • Husband and and wife pairing Steve and Zoe Vaughan share a background in journalism, an interest in current affairs and a passion for triathlons. You can read more about them here.