Sandy exposes another difference between the US and the UK

2 November 2012

Differences between the US and the UK are often commented upon. But the storm ‘Sandy’ this week has highlighted one in particular.

It is no criticism of either President Obama or Governor Romney to say that it seems strange to me to see them hugging and otherwise comforting people who have lost their homes and in some cases all their possessions.


I keep testing – and then mentally blocking – the images of a similar thing happening here. I am trying to imagine my mental state had my house and few possessions been washed away only to see, emerging from the mist, the figure of Gordon Brown. He would be surrounded by legions of cameras and reporters, of course, otherwise there would be no point in him being there. But I cannot imagine my feelings would be ones of relief as he bounded in towards me and leaned in for a hug.

The same reaction flickers while trying this thought-experiment with other British politicians. David Cameron, Ed Miliband, George Osborne? Such an event might of course be the last straw. Certainly it would leave me gnashing my teeth, shaking my fists and cursing the sky. I can just about imagine a weighty, sad, pat-on-the-back and ‘bad luck’ from Boris. But that’s it. I like America very much, but sometimes we do seem very different peoples.

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  • rndtechnologies786

    Your blog is good.

  • Macky Dee

    The Yanks seem to adore their “Leaders” almost as if they’re Royalty / Mega Stars – maybe that’s how they think of them… It all seems Pie in the Sky to me!

  • StephanieJCW

    Maybe it’s the whole head of state thing. Trying replacing Gordon Brown with the Queen the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge etc and see how you feel about it?

  • Redneck

    Did anyone see a poll in The Times today?

    Apparently, over 70% of UK citizens, were they eligible to vote in the US Election, would vote for Mr Obama. Really?

    Whom did they ask? I have to wonder about a little-bit of bias there.

    • Poppy Swanky for Romney

      They don’t know anything about Obama, and what they think they know about Republicans is false. Hence your 70%.

      • Redneck


        It is bizarre, isn’t it?

        I suspect that, on a one-to-one basis, there is much more affinity between a Southerner or someone from the fly-over states rather than between a New-Yorker and the average Brit.

        Yet the Heartland’s support for the GOP is effectively ignored or denigrated because of inherent media bias and a wish to portray conservatives as right-wing extremists.

    • StephanieJCW

      I don’t think it’s that bizarre. The Republicans seem a little bit ‘out there’ to many Britons, particularly with their insistence on politicising social issues.

      • Poppy Swanky for Romney

        What does that mean? We don’t insist on anything except on remaining free. Politics is about what the taxpayers want to fund and about how we as a people should live. ‘Social’ is really code for political unless you mean private dancing or Sunday brunch.

  • Woodbine Willy

    Who’s the bloke in the flotation pants? Or is his arse really that big?

    • Poppy Swanky for Romney

      Governor Christie is, alas for him, a very big man. Big-souled, but as you’ve noticed, it doesn’t stop there. Gaining weight is extremely easy and losing it is hard. He has my sympathy.

  • Austin Barry

    Americans, who I generally like, are so much less cynical than us: they seem to have embraced a kind of sickly sentimentality and concept of ‘love’ which we would consider emetic – to the degree of projectile vomiting.

    The thought of Gordon Brown, hopefully not too aroused, advancing towards a homeless man for a hug would probably lead to a complaint to the police.

    • Poppy Swanky for Romney

      We like you, too, Austin.

  • Poppy Swanky for Romney

    Mr Murray: I think that this touching is an affirmation of democracy. The politicians are understood to be drawn from the people, and *of* the people. We’re all in it together, that sort of thing. Reality may be more complicated than that: most high-level politicians are extremely wealthy people, for instance, and have impressive academic resumes and/or business careers. The reason that such consoling doesn’t go on in Britain is that UK pols are understood to be on a different level of privilege altogether, and therefore they are not ‘feeling your pain’ (as Bill Clinton claimed to be, once) and therefore any consoling they attempted would only emphasize the enormous gap between rulers and ruled. To say nothing of the fact that Britons are generally more self-contained than Americans — in some ways more private and needing to draw a line between the intimate and the public aspects of life. (I generalize wildly: lots of Americans wouldn’t want Obama hugging them, either.)

    I am a British American, by the way.

    • Eddie

      YOu read way too much into it. 30 or 40 years ago US politicians did not hug – I don’t remember Raegan feeling anyone’s pain or having a group hug.
      The US has become a therapy-worshipping nation, which is glued to Oprah on TV, popping pills and seeing therapists, with people so obsessed by feelings instead of facts as they self-indulgently wallow in selfpity and victimhood.
      Americans used to be self-contained too – in fact you are the puritans who rejected fun and a show of happiness and emotions! Therapy culture and the psychobabble self-esteem industry – and TV – changed that. And feminism and consumerism too.
      Sadly we are catching your disease, elevating emotions about all else. Blair was like this and hugged the female viewers of TV chat shows too – the People’s Princess moment is famous!
      You are not British American, Amanda! You are from north America with British ancestry so you are American! YOu really do not get British culture.

      • pedestrianblogger

        How is she “from” North America, Eddie, when she was born in England? Don’t bother to reply. I don’t normally talk to mad people but I happen to be at a loose end for a few minutes. You (or YOu, as you seem to prefer) are a fool who finds comfort in generalising on matters of which you are utterly ignorant. And lay off that blasted ! key – you will wear it out.

        • Eddie

          Why did you bother to replky to me then, fool?
          YOur post diplays you ignorance and how pathetic for you to step in to defend a woman (how sexist too) – you are almost certainly some old git of the kind who spout crap on most things. Fine. But you have not addressed anythig in my post, just abused me and (like all morons) pointed out a tint typo. Well done. That makes you semi-literate.
          I have a friend who was born in Ethiopia – she is not Ethipian! Being born somewhere does not make you FROM there or give you any understanding of the culture. It is clear that Amanda does not get British character or ways of seeing – but she thinks she does of course just because she was born here and has British ancestry. That’s just like saying someone with a black father knows initimately the attitudes and traditions of Africa. Piffle!
          Now shoo, fool.

          • pedestrianblogger

            Morning, Eddie. Why do you confuse being “from” somewhere with understanding the culture of that place? And why do you feel the need to capitalise words? Do you like SHOUTING at people? I am not defending Amanda (she is quite capable of dealing with a little tick like you without any assistance) but simply attacking you because you are a nasty piece of work.

            • Eddie

              Oh go away you boring insignificant twerp!

              If you cannot understahnd that being born somewhere does NOT impart knowledge magically into one’s brain, and nor does having ancestry, then you are too thick tobother replying to again. Amanda made a silly point: she just does not get Britich culture but thinsk she does because she was born in the UK and has British ancestry. I disagreed.

              Then some moron called pedestrianblogger came along and farted meaningless drivel everywhere.

              Shoo, fool.

  • Sarah

    It’s a difference between our politicians, not our people. I think a hug from Obama would perk me right up.

    • Poppy Swanky for Romney

      Really. A hug from the traitor of Benghazi would do sod-all for me!

      • Redneck

        Poppy Swanky for Romney

        Agree completely: a Commander-in-Chief who is willing to let his own people be butchered in Benghazi should engender nothing but distaste and scorn.

        • Poppy Swanky for Romney

          …and be made a one-term president.

          • Redneck

            Poppy Swanky for Romney

            Were he to be “impeached”, could we take away even that?

            • Poppy Swanky for Romney

              Not at *this* point, R.

  • Kevin

    The hurricane has certainly demonstrated to Britons that America is better off under Obama. If Romney were in charge we would see images on our TVs of distressed victims pleading for government help, crying, “We’re gonna die!”. Under Obama I haven’t seen that.

    • Poppy Swanky for Romney

      If this is satire, I don’t think most readers are ‘getting’ it.

  • kidmugsy

    I’m struck by how little is being said on the blogs about the madness of the underprotection of the NYC tunnels and subway against flooding. Very odd.

  • Eddie

    Yes Mr Murray, but this is only the America of the last 3 decades or so – ever since the whole place became hypnotised by psychobabble group-huggy therapy-speak and considered crying in public a sign of honour.
    This is part of the Oprah-fication of US society – the feminisation really, as emotions are considered the most important thing of all (not facts or knowledge or intelligence), where everyone blubs and hugs because it’s EXPECTED and learned behaviour (from TV the great teacher), and where kids are so over-praised and elevated to such a degree than the US is more Kidocracy than Democracy these days.
    Oh, and most of em are also drugged up on prescription meds, which is why they are smile so slooooowwwwwwly all the time. Thouh somehow they don’t consider force-feeding children dangerous drugs as abuse.
    No wonder the Chinese are buying the place up. The sort of emotional diarrhoea that spews out of the US (and to a certain extent the UK) is in stark contrast to their business savvy and stoicism. I am sure they hug and kiss in private with close family members or prostitutes – which is how it should be! But keep it private, purlease!
    This hugging and blubbing is all encouraged and supported by a vast multi-billion dollar therapy and touchy-feely industry too of course.
    Sadly, we in the UK post-Diana have become more American in this.
    But really, would the world be a worse place is we sacked all counsellers and therapists, got rid of all silly emotional porn TV shows (Oprah, Loose Women etc) and spent the money on more important things. Like maybe helping small business and creating jobs… or is that too real world for the emo-pixies skipping around hugging each other and crying on our meeja highways?

    • Sarah

      Might have known men’s behaviour would have something to do with feminization.

      As if men haven’t been hugging one another close since Plato’s day. When not stabbing each other that is.

      In this years Olympics you couldn’t watch a men’s event without seeing one of them blubbing. While the women tended to smile and look happy at the opportunity of a business class ticket for their return journey.

      • Eddie

        Sarah – why not just sod off and stopping stalking me, you saddo. Do you really think anyone enjoys reading your hissy spitting manhating feminist psycho rants on here, little miss deluded?
        Men blubbed at the Olympics because they have learned that behaviour from feminised television and feminised society. The statistics showed womencried far more than the men though, as always: I think 70% of women cried and 30% of men.
        Me, I prefer stoicism and removing the group huggy self-pitying emotional diarrhoea from our society; sadly, the pity parties and learned therapy worskshop huggy self-validation has spread like a cancer from the US to the UK. And yes, that IS because of the feminisation of society.

        • pedestrianblogger

          I LOVE reading what Amanda and Sarah have to say but I normally scroll past your garbage. If I really wanted to expose myself to that sort of thing I would read the graffiti on the walls of public lavatories.

          • Eddie

            Pedetrianblogger, pedestrian atitudes, pedestrian mediocre thinking, pointless drivelling snivelling posts. YOur posts are the message board equivalent of skidmarks. Yuck! You dirty pervy perv!

        • Sarah

          Lol. Stoicism. You prefer stoicism. Now that *has* perked me right up.

          I’ll stop stalking you Eddie, when you stop inciting hatred of women.

          You want to be left alone? Leave other people alone.

          You want to keep talking poisonous and dangerous shite? Get used to not doing it in an echo chamber.

          Stop whining and crying, stoic up.

          • Eddie

            Sarah – professional feminists whinger and moaner, professional feminists fabricator of the facts in order to crave and claim victimhood and then get positive action (ie legal racism and sexism) so that 4th rates like Sarah can get jobs above far better and able white men (something talented women and ethnic minorities hate like they hate bigots like you).
            Inciting hatred of women? Oh by pointing out the FACT that women cry 7 times more than men according to research?
            I never whine or cry – I just identify the false arguments and lies of professional feminists – the manhaters who deny that their influence on society has been anything but positive.
            I look down on those who publicaly cry: many women do it to manipulate or gain sympathy (look at all those women who abuse children crying in court and blubbing ‘my boyfriend made me do it’. DISGUSTING!). Men are copying women and the USA – where crying in public is seen as a badge of pride.
            Personally, I think that if people are too weak to stop themselves crying in public on a day to day basis, then they should be fined. Good manners dictates that one should not shove one’s emotional life into others’ faces – women really should grow up and go to the toilet for a little cry instead of being so weak and bursting into tears at work for the slightest thing (and really, some women are like that). It is EMOTIONAL MASTURBATION and should be done in private!
            Most British medallists cried at the Olympics; 30% of British men did – but no British men cried 30 years ago, not Coe, or Ovette, or Daley Thompson. That is a cultural change because of the emotionalification of society – a society which now elevates feelings about any other human quality. Ultimately, society has become like a self-obsessed pity party women;s magazine, and that is not good. Many intelligent women hate all this too.
            And look at the men from other cultures – I didn’t notice many Chinese men crying! Sadly, we in the UK ape the dumb USA and their wallowing in psychobable and self-pity, copying the emo-porn on TV, creating a thick huggy hypocritical Oprah-fied society (in a country where huge numbers of children are being brougt up by bad selfish mothers and no fathers at all!)
            Frankly, mentalist manhating feminasties like you do far more to incite hatred of women than anyone else! Oh and most women hate you too.
            Sarah – stop stalking me and leaving abusive pointless messages after every post I write. If you keep doing it, want to keep spewig your sexist bigoted poisonous dangerous shite, then fine – but it bores everyone and spoils the message board. If you want to make grown up points, then do, if not, we would all prefer if you took your deranged ranting to a wimmins meeting somewhere. I am sure the BBC has a helpline.
            Now run along and have a little cry Sarah. It won’t be your fault – it’s innate. Women can’t turn off their emotional brains (because they’re meant to be child-beares and carers) and so cry so easily: a weakness, many would argue.

            • pedestrianblogger

              Did you get a thrill posting this drivel, Eddie? Does SHOUTING at women and using naughty words boost your preposterous self-esteem and compensate (in what I suppose we must call your “mind”) in some way for whatever happened to you when you were a little boy (rather than the little man you are now) which made you an emotional cripple?

              • Eddie

                Shoo, fool. You sad man.

                • pedestrianblogger

                  I don’t make a habit of this sort of thing as it reminds me of Victorians going to Bedlam to mock the inmates but I will address you once more. You are an ignorant, simple-minded, opinionated, bigoted, misogynistic little twerp. You parade your ignorance and malice for all to see in poorly-written and worse-typed rants and, like the sawdust Caesar that you are, try to bully those who disagree with your repellent weltanschauung. I wouldn’t mind betting that you a repressed homosexual, too.

                • Eddie

                  Go away. Your posts do not answer any points I make, and you don’t make any serious points of your own on the topic being discussed, so your contribution just clogs up this board like congealing sphincter fat.

                  Keep ranting elsewhere, ploddy. Shoo.

            • SandyWitch

              Brilliant post.

              • Poppy Swanky for Romney

                You are very norty, you know that.

      • Eddie

        Are you SERIOUSLY arguing that men cry more than women?
        Are you seriously arguing that men have always cried publicly as they do now because they have learned that from TV and our touchy-feely Americanised society?
        Are you seriously arguing that society has not become feminised and more emotional of late?
        Are you seriously arguing that women at the Olympics cried less than men did when medals were received (and are you seriously arguing that the sportswomen were as good as the men too or had to reach similar levels of ability)?
        If so, you are not serious at all, but a deluded absurdity.

  • Roy

    But aren’t the American politicians more likeable to be giving them a hug? With their big smiles and their Hollywood demeanour, even if they are acting it up to the photographers. Place that alongside their British equivalent, of which we are familiar with their quirks and predilections. Their weasel smiles and condescending attitude that doesn’t fool anybody but could make a good picture. One wonders if acting is an important ingredient to running a country. A good script writer for speeches and comments, good points on bodily presentation, confidence and nerve is all that’s left for the person to act it out. One thing that does not appear to be important in the governing
    of the country is an overlying love of your country and its people, for which you will work endlessly and unashamedly for their benefit. If the past few decades are anything to go by, the leaders seem more obliging to foreign peoples, whilst being threatening and unconcerned with their own forgotten, out of order, left to delinquency, indigenous
    portion of the people.

  • Powder

    On the day Sandy hit America, a bigger and stronger storm hit south east Asia. The world’s media didn’t give a crap, and the people of the countries affected are just getting on with their recovery while Americans stand around demanding the world feels their pain.

    • Poppy Swanky for Romney

      Americans demand that? Which Americans, where? What *I* see is that they’re cleaning up and getting on with it.

  • Malfleur

    The photo suggests that the US has a measurable chance of success in the which politician has the bigger bottom competition with the UK.


    There’s another sandy issue, it’s called Benghazi. Nothing since September 22nd, Douglas? Part of the conspiracy of silence? tut, tut!

    And why no comment on the sudden love-in between Obama and Chris Christie. Did your irony run out at that point?

    • Kevin

      Obama has emphasised that he “ended the war” in Iraq and will bring American troops home from Afghanistan in 2014.

      It certainly would have upset the rhetoric if, in an attempt to rescue diplomatic staff, American aircraft or special forces had unsuccessfully engaged terrorists in an unstable Libya one year after Obama had gone to war in that country without authorization from Congress.

      • Bernerd

        He also promised to close Gitmo – wonder what happened to that promise! Obama is an empty vessal with all the world’s lefty, anti-Israeli fascist media drooling over him. They’re all vacant in mind and evil in desires. Pictures of Obama hugging the victims of “Sandy” made me want to throw up. I’m so glad I’m not an American – people of little or no self restarint, class, scruples or principles.

        • D B


      • Austin Barry

        Obama would rather court cowardice and sacrifice his fellow countrymen than see his election chances vanish in the wreckage of a failed rescue attempt as Carter’s did at Desert One.

        The thought of this weak, smirking charlatan swaggering to victory is a profoundly depressing prospect.

        • John

          Don’t worry, Austin, he’s going to lose. You can relax.

        • Redneck


          Agreed: suspect he knows what “Semper Fi” means, just doesn’t understand it at all.

          The toleration of butchering of American Citizens in Benghazi was an affront to the US.
          Compounded by pathetic attempt to allow Mrs Clinton to “take the flak”.

    • Poppy Swanky for Romney

      The ‘sudden love-in’, I suspect, is about not alienating those very soft voters (interpret that as you will) that will decide the election by casting their ‘swing’ vote one way or the other. Romney in the last debate did not go after Obama on Libya, either. The reason? He had to show the squishy voters that he really is Mr Nice Guy and Not Mr Wanted Dead Or Alive. His foreign-policy campaign slogan is ‘peace through strength’. The squishy voters wanted to be reassured, and according to post-debate polling, he reassured them.

      Christie, likewise, by accepting Obama as president on the scene and not criticizing him or standing aloof from him, has made it impossible for the Dems to claim that the GOP ‘politicized’ the hurricane. There was nothing to be gained politically by doing anything but smiling and focussing on the hurricane victims.

  • Dicky14

    They don’t like queing either. And why the obsession with wood houses next to the sea?

    • Poppy Swanky for Romney

      Of course a free people doesn’t like queueing. Have a look at the world’s tyrannies and see where the world’s longest queues are!

  • Gary Barker

    Curious that poor old Gordy was the first to spring to mind as your potential ‘saviour’

    • real__world

      Brown was about as welcome as a dose of the clap to most in Britain especially after ‘bigot-gate’

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