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Has BP damaged Britain's reputation?

12:13 UK time, Thursday, 10 June 2010

President Obama's comments about the BP oil spill are not "anti-British", the American ambassador to London has said. Do you agree?

Mr Obama's blunt criticism of BP over the spill has prompted accusations of "anti-British" language. He has often referred to BP as "British Petroleum" when discussing the disastrous oil leak, even though the company has not used this name since 1998.

Although BP was founded as a British company and has a British boss in Tony Hayward, BP is very much a global company: it's 44% owned in the UK, split largely between 33 institutions and seven large individual investors. US investors own 39% of the company, including 25 institutional and 14 big individual investors.

Is the US using the British history of BP for political motives? Has the oil spill made you think differently about Britain? Does the history of a multi-national matter? How should Britain respond?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


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  • Comment number 1.

    President Obama appears to be using the oil spillage as a big stick to beat the British. One wonders if he has some extreme fundamentalist agenda which he is following? He certainly dose not seem to like the one-time old colonial power! H.

  • Comment number 2.

    Dividend fears

    US interior secretary Ken Salazar said that BP should compensate other oil companies that have had to lay off workers because of a moratorium on deep sea drilling announced by President Obama in response to the Gulf of Mexico spill.

    If we are going to go down this road, perhaps the UK government should seek compensation for the knock on effect of the US mortgage crisis, upon the UK economy.

  • Comment number 3.

    Is Obama about to bankrupt BP and take down our pensions?

  • Comment number 4.

    Just what is our glorious new coalition government doing whilst one of our few remaining global firms is being crucified right in front of our eyes?

  • Comment number 5.

    Boris is right. BP are being unfairly treated in this but I'm not saying they are totally blameles though.

    The Deapwater Horizon rig is owned by Transocean. BP only leased it from them to do the drilling so which company employee's were/are actually responisble for maintainence and supervision of the rig at the time I dont know.

    What I do know is that BP have without coercsion put their hands up and are trying to do every thing in their power. They are probably one of the very few companies in the world who can.

  • Comment number 6.


    This is why our government should be looking at ways to punish the oil giant as well.

  • Comment number 7.

    No. After 13 years of Labour, Britain's reputation had long since been damaged beyond repair.

  • Comment number 8.

    The US's reputation, particularly that of its President has been seriously damaged in Britain

  • Comment number 9.

    "Is the US using the British history of BP for political motives?"

    Clearly yes, why else has it been mentioned? From Obama's point of view he is desparate to blame someone else for the problem and, failing the existence of a North Korean/Iranian 'bogey man' a foriegn one is easier to sell.

    His retoric is also very unstatesmanlike 'kicking ass' when we clearly don't know all the facts of who was at fault yet. As for 'sacking' Tony Hayward, what exactly makes Obama feel he is qualified? What major multi-national company has he run? He's a figurehead elected not on what he has done but on his demographic background and on (yet unfullfilled) promises.

  • Comment number 10.

    Absolutely NOT.

    The mere fact that Obama and his assorted idiots keep referring to BP as British Petroleum, well that really tells you everything you need to know about them. However I am surprised that they have not had a go at Halliburton thus far (well known for their Republican connections).

    If Obama continues his anti British and anti BP ranting, perhaps BP should talk to those nice chaps in China or India who would just love to have all of BPs production and stop selling oil to the US.

    Wonder what that would do to the US economy?

  • Comment number 11.

    Dear old Boris, a relic from a by-gone age when people imagined there was pro-British rhetoric permeating from the USA.

    He should know by now that the western world is steeped in a blame culture and oil contamination in a country where they cannot get enough of the stuff is pure poetic justice, especially as the US "owns" a huge chunk of BP.

  • Comment number 12.

    When Sellafield changed its name to Windscale it was to avoid the bad publicity the old name represented.

    Therefore BP, once the dust has settled, to change it into something non-British.

  • Comment number 13.

    What a surprise - Obama cynically playing the race card again; it is, after all, the only card he holds.

    An adequate president (lets not hope for good, good people aren't drawn to sleazy politics) would have leant on the other US owned oil companies to provide expertise, and deployed government resources to help with the clean up. A decent president might also be discussing the benefits of the laws that force the oil companies to drill far offshore, in deeper waters where accidents such as this one are far harder to prevent, and even harder to repair.

    Obama is, of course, a European style Social Democrat; all he can do is talk (he doesn't actually do that very well without a speachwriter and teleprompter) and has no concept of action. All we can hope is that he is a one term president and his successor is better.

  • Comment number 14.

    The way Obama is going after BP, because it's a non-US company, is disgraceful. He seems to have forgotten that US companies owned and were operating the rig at the time of the explosion. And as for his demands that BP has a 'moral obligation' to compensate people who suffered because of the spill, maybe he will remember that the next time an American company fouls up, or kills people in 'friendly-fire' incidents. Maybe other countries should start taking this hard line against US companies operating on their shores; after all if you're going to hand it out, expect it to be handed to you.

  • Comment number 15.

    Labour has already done that, but I hope BP goes bust.

  • Comment number 16.

    Obama's reaction to this has been far from statesman like, he seams determined to help fan the flames of anger within the American lynch mob press and public. I am not a Labour supporter but I absolutely agree with MP Tom Watson's view on BBC news, that the government needs to step in here and have some strong and frank words with the Obama administration about the effect their rhetoric is having on pension schemes on both sides of the Atlantic. In the long run BP will survive and the British international reputation will be fine but I think it will make most large British companies think twice before hedging large investments in the US. Protectionism is alive and well in Obama's America!

  • Comment number 17.

    No, Britain's reputation has not been damaged by the oil spill. It is being damaged by a silly little man in the White House who is behaving like an American barrister in a court room. Slanderous little so-and-so. Can we begin claims for damages?

    I suggest we send President Obama the American tank which currently stands on Slapton Sands marked "no longer required", but that would be too unkind for the relatives of those who lost their lives there, and I don't think many of us as are unpleasant as this president appears to be.

    Whatever we thought about George W Bush - there was no malice there.

    Perhaps everyone who thought "Great! First black president!" is getting a timely reminder that every post needs to be on merit, nothing to do with race, religion, colour, gender.

  • Comment number 18.

    How should Britain respond ?

    We shouldn't, this is an American problem and will require an American solution. It has nothing to do with Britain and the only British people involved are those BP shareholders who happen to be British.

    Certain sections of the American government will use the British label as a way of hiding the fact that the United States has failed to regulate their oil extraction industry properly and that deep water exploration and extraction regulations were written by the American Petroleum Institute, an organisation owned by the major US oil companies.

    The U.S. Minerals Management Service needs to be adapted or broken up so that they're no longer responsible for writing the rules regulating offshore drilling and also leasing land on the outer continental shelf and collecting royalties on the oil and gas they produce because this dual responsibility is a conflict of interest. On the one hand they're meant to be regulating the industry but at the same time they're trying to maximise the profits that will be generated for the US government from off-shore oil extraction.

    As is so often the case, this Federal Government Agency is staffed with former executives of the industry it is supposed to be regulating and this has lead to a situation where the industry is effectively regulating itself. This is just another example of the revolving door policy that exists between Capitalist governments and Corporations and the damage this can do to our environment and economies.

  • Comment number 19.

    With maybe a few exceptions the crew of the rig would have been Americans. The staff working in the BP office in the US would have been Americans.

    If anything it's Americans image that has been damaged as it was there people and equipment that was used and caused this situation.

  • Comment number 20.

    As one of the largest consumers of fossil fuels in the world, how can America be so quick to point the finger. It is the continual demand for these products that drives companies like BP to drill in such spots. How else would the US consumer fuel their 4L gas guzzling cars, power their air conditioning, and cook their burgers. Get a grip world. Yes BP screwed up but surely this was an inevitable result of a world that continues to drain the life out of our resources. Yes it will impact the local and national economy in America and will effect the greater world at large but what happens when this mess is finally cleaned up..... we learn nothing.....we change nothing. Everyone is in some part to blame, governments (who grant the approval for the drill sites in the first place) consumers for the continual demand for product, and commercial enterprises who supply without care.

  • Comment number 21.

    Q, - Is the US using the British history of BP for political motives?

    Of Course they are, they wouldn't be proper politicians if they didn't!

    Q, - Has the oil spill made you think differently about Britain?

    Nope! We're still brilliant...

    Q, - Does the history of a multi-national matter?

    To certain extent I suppose

    Q, - How should Britain respond?

    As far as BP is concerned they are a multi-national organisation and thus the weight of responsibility for this mess falls to them. Any association between us as a nation and them as an organisation is predominantly in name only and what we receive as an end product.

    However, we as a nation could offer some assistance with the clear up. We are talking about a massive environmental calamity and nationality aside we should be doing what we can to assist with its clear up. I mean, we all (globally) benefit from the end product and thus must all chip in when the "proverbial" hits the fan.

    In answer to Obama and his attempts to highlight that this is British, all I would like to say is “Union Carbide”……anyone?

  • Comment number 22.

    Has BP damaged Britain's reputation?

    They shouldn't have done, they are barely a British company.

    But unfortunately because they happen to have 'British' in their title.
    Unfortunately in the eyes of many Americans, particularly those influenced by the right wing press, Britains reputation has indeed been damaged.

    Still, on the plus side it might be an oppurtunity for breakaway - We could pull out of Afghanistan and stop blindly following the US middle east 'peace policy' for a start.

  • Comment number 23.

    in the past I have been critical of Obama, however,I approve of his stand on this matter,too often have "business leaders" adopted a cavalier attitude to any criticism of their "devil take the hindmost as long as we make money" attitude. This President has called for the "Robber Barons" of British share holders to take some responsibilty for their collective greed. They care nothing for the employees or the enviornment their only concern is how much money they can pocket,and if they can get round tax obligations then they are even more satisfied. I am glad to see share holders getting their comeupance long may it continue.

  • Comment number 24.

    Typical really. BP is heavilly co-owned by AMOCO. The American Government conveniently forgets about its attitude to Union Carbide which killed thousands of innocent Indians - yet not one American Director has been prosesscued. They refuse to allow extradition of their citizens despite repeated requests and refuse to allow US service personel involved in "friendly fire" fatalities to attend UK inquests.

    By trying to divert blame on to BP - they are simply doing what all Americans do - refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Pretty disgraceful but good on Boris for telling them to shut up!

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    I doubt it's anti-british, it's more like anti-british-oil.

  • Comment number 28.

    Yes BP has damaged Britain's reputation.However , there seems to be a smokescreen shielding Halliburton from blame and they are equally culpable.

  • Comment number 29.

    Boris is unlikely to have read the Liverpool FC and Man Utd forums, where unjustified but understandable anti-Americanism is rife.

    Boris might want to tell all Americans they "cannot accept that they might have made any contribution to their misfortunes, but seek rather to blame someone else for it, thereby deepening their sense of shared tribal grievance about the rest of society." Just as he oafishly and wrongly branded all Liverpudlians.

  • Comment number 30.

    First a comment on the BBC's spelling!!! It's Boris Johnson, London's Mayor, not major as is shown in the header. By the way, Mayor is spelt with a capital letter.
    It is rhetoric, I'd be amazed if Obama's attitude was the same to an American oil company such as Exxon. To kick out at a successful foreign company operating in the US is simply a display of jealousy and shows exactly what really interests the USA around the world - oil. It's about time someone with a reasonable measure of brains sat down and worked out a solution instead of mouthing off but doing not a lot.

  • Comment number 31.

    An American company was contracted to install the American made BOP, it failed, the company overseeing this failed, BP that would have just been signing the checks gets all the blame.

    Because they are 'foreiners'

    Even though they are being as open as they can be and will pay for everything, they could use US law to limit their liability, they aren't going to, they are still being villified.


  • Comment number 32.

    I'm afraid Obama is appealing to the lowest common denominator amongst americans in his rhetoric and as such shows what he really is - a politician, as nasty as they come under the guise of his colour. I cannot imagine Hilary Clinton resorting to such lows in tactics. His next move might be straight out of Gadaffi's book with the nationalisation of BP.

    Of course, Hayward hasn't helped being very English and making silly comments - I suppose he must be good at something to be the CEO but it's certainly not PR.

    I just wish that Cameron would take up the cudgel (as in Love Actually) and have our own version of the Boston Tea Party. For too long we have been diplomatic whereas the US sticks to its own interests first. Let's save some money from our defence budget, but more importantly the lives of our soldiers, and LEAVE Afghanistan NOW as a protest.

    I fear that american orators make poor leaders(yes what did JFK ever do that Johnson didn't bring to fruition), certainly none of them are in the class of Truman; they're all glitz and show.

    Finally, how will the US feel when the Chinese National Oil Corporation start using all those dollars they have from the US deficit to buy BP?

  • Comment number 33.

    I like Boris but this is nonsense. I love America, and I was delighted when Obama was elected, as one thing that it did was at a stroke to wipe out a lot of the anti-Americanism that had built up under George Bush. It's America's reputation here that is under threat, not the other way round. BP has taken all the responsibility. The American companies involved have scuttled for cover. No other company on Earth is remotely capable of fixing the consequences of what was a terrible accident - that's right, accident, not limey conspiracy to wreck the tourist trade in the Gulf so that holidaymakers go to Blackpool instead.

    Right now I am sick to the back teeth with Obama. His conduct has been excruciating. Unable to influence things directly he has resorted to name-calling and threats against a great British company. Unfortunately his threats carry weight - he will end up destroying this company and wipe billions off pensions in the UK.

    I hope that major BP shareholders are lining up the mother of all lawsuits against the office of President.

  • Comment number 34.

    Yes, it has damaged Britain's reputation.

    Not the actions of BP or its responsiveness. Or the leak itself. But rather the vaguely hysterical knee-jerk defensiveness of some Britons who see BP not as Americans see say Exxon as a greedy, grasping international oil company, our "drug dealer" if you will, but rather as some icon of national virtue. Most Americans couldn't care less about BP's "nationality" as its flag like all oil companies is the colour of cash. And we are amused to find Briton's with hurt feelings when you, of all people, offer up the most ruthless criticisms of anything and everything American (or French or German for that matter) all of the time. In the end, you look petulant and rather silly.

  • Comment number 35.

    There's one thing bothering me about this BP/Obama business. Obama is constantly on about BP, but there's been no mention of the AMERICAN company which was actually operating the rig for BP. Why isn't Obama threatening them instead of BP?

  • Comment number 36.

    It shouldn't have, but that gobby Obama bloke is doing his damnest to kill BP. IT WAS AN AMERICAN CONTRACTOR HIRED BY BP THAT WAS OPERATING THE PLATFORM AND IT WAS FAULTY AMERICAN EQUIPTMENT THAT WAS THE PRIME CAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT. How does that make BP the fall guy, tapping into new fields is a risky business, at one mile down if something goes wrong it's stretching technology to busting point whoever is the company doing the exploration. When is Obama going to stop gabbing and offer some real help to BP in containing the damage instead of pointing the finger. Point the finger at yourselves Obama, it was your bum equiptment and bum workforce that caused it, and no doubt the oil recovered from this rig would have been for your consumption. If you want it you have to pay the price as a nation and not blame everyone else.

  • Comment number 37.

    No, I do not think that BP has damaged the UKs reputation. The two are separate. BP is an Anglo/American company with a sordid history of lax adherence to safety standards, but I do not see the connection. On the other hand I am sure there will be some idiots trying to defend BP because of it's perceived "britishness". Those fools will no doubt help to damage the UKs reputation. BP and all the other entities involved should be held fully responsible for the damage they have done no matter what their country of origin.

  • Comment number 38.

    Granted this was a terrible industrial accident at the end of the day it'll all be business as usual between the two countries, besides, England gave us common law, beef Wellington and Monty Python. Who could argue with a deal like that ?

  • Comment number 39.

    Mr Obama is playing a very dangerous game in emphasising the British in BP. His attitude is making me VERY angry, this accident was caused by american workers under american leadership. I find it very bad that Mr Obama is telling BP that they're going to take responsibility for clearing up their mess, that's what BP have already pledged to do. Why is Mr Obama not taking such a tough stance with Union Carbide whose chemical plant in Bhopal is STILL leeching dangerous chemicals in to the environment of Bhopal & has been for 26 years, killing an estimated 25,000 people & making the land uninhabitable & water contaminated. Why are you such a hypocrite Mr Obama? The British will remember your vitriol the next time your country decide to invade, do NOT expect us to be your little puppies eagerly trotting along behind you.

  • Comment number 40.

    "As an Ex B.P. worker Tankers,I would say the company has allways cut corners to increase profit, but thats the same for any multi national oil companys? To bring in The deep oil takes' high risk and Accidents happen to the best of them, B.P. have had they fair share, of them ?but never been reported main stream, by the worlds' wide media. This ones too high profile for That. B.P. will have to pay up bigtime !!!! To keep our American Friends sweet.

  • Comment number 41.

    Britain should realise that the "special relationship" which is supposed to exist between the UK and the USA is used for US political purposes only - it is wheeled out whenever the US seeks "international" support to do something illegal or morally questionable on the world stage, like invading a foreign nation, but it is quickly shoved back in the closet whenever there is political ground to be gained from bashing the UK.

    President Obama, who seems to have no particular love for the British, has done this unashamedly in this case.

    The failed oil rig in the Gulf was operated by US drilling contractor Transocean (Americans), on behalf of BP.

    BP should be suing the American company for its losses, and our media should not be supporting American political and business ambitions (the devaluation of BP stock to the point where it becomes an affordable purchase for Exxon?) by parroting the nonsense purveyed by its troubled leader.

  • Comment number 42.

    David Cameron needs to make it abundantly clear to Pres.Obama, that whilst the UK sympathises with the USA and understands its anger,he needs to stop the anti-British invective which is damaging Anglo-American relations and that there will be consequences to that relationship should the invective not stop and if the USA decides to take unilateral action against a company that is vital to British interests

  • Comment number 43.

    A US company was responsible not only for the pollution but for the massive death toll of the Bhopal disaster. The general view is that all got off lightly in this case. I see this rhetoric from the oil addicted USA to be rather self serving and political.
    Taking a heavy legal/punishment route will almost certainly deliver less compensation than a good will settlement (as seen in Exxon Valdez).

  • Comment number 44.

    Only ill educated people who whallow in ignorance could possible infer that it is Britains fault ... er wait a second....

  • Comment number 45.

    No. BP has not damanged Britains repuation. If anything BP has behaved as it should do, accepting responsibility and attempting to deal with the problem.

    If anything this has shown up Barrack Obama and made him look bad with his posturing and unprofessional comments. I have lost a huge amount of respect for this president due to his remarks about sacking Tony Hayward.

    The U.S are guilty of hypocrisy considering their corporations behaviour,the classic example is Union Charbide and how it dealt with the aftermath of the Bhopal incident. Also, several large U.S corporations are exploting the environment and its inhabitants on a grander scale than this BP accident.

    The U.S also consumes over double the amount of oil, per person, per year compared to the UK. It is the planets biggest polluter and has been for decades. It refused to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol.

    I dont think the U.S are in any position to start making demands of BP, or seeing Britain in a negative light.

  • Comment number 46.

    While BP is responsiable for the clean up as the licene holder, its not all their fault.

    The Rig was owned and run by a US company
    The Maintenace was run by a US company
    The Safty systems were run by a US company

    BP just owned the licence.

    also a US Goverment spokesman said last week that the US has 1 or 2 blowouts of this type each year in the Gulf of mexcio. but these are in shallow waters can can be delt with easyly, this looks like a US companyies being sloppy and their Media wanting to blanme somonelse other their own on this issue.

  • Comment number 47.

    Shame on Cameron, where are BPs friends why no one is defending BP. BP is doing a great job cleaning up the accident. I just hope BP survives and not a conspiracy by American to allow Exxon to take BP on the cheap. I just hope BP survives as a British company.

  • Comment number 48.

    BP's failures are a reflection on BP. Nobody else. I think the majority around the world realise this in this age of multinationals.

  • Comment number 49.

    Hmm. I suspect someone's trying to depress a share price so the company can be bought on the cheap.

    Tsk tsk. Shame on me for even thinking it.

    That BP's made a mess of things is undeniable - but BP is now woefully undervalued. And I can't see that being anything but part - and probably a diminishing part - true.

  • Comment number 50.

    I think we are beginning to see just how bad Obama really is. I would have thought as a lawyer he would recognise that BP were not the Rig operators at fault, and if they are to held at fault just because the own the field, perhaps we should consider suing the US government for its patent failure to enforce safety standards on the rig, or even better lets fine all US banks for their sub-prime lunatic lending that caused the credit crunch.

    Yes Obama GROW UP.

  • Comment number 51.

    The Americans and the media seems to have conveniently forgotten that the actual fault was caused by an American company subcontracted to BP. It was American engineering incompetence that caused the disaster.
    I trust BP well endeavour to recover its costs from its subcontractor.
    Mind you now Peston is involved BP is bust. Please send him to America.

  • Comment number 52.

    The rig is owned and operated by Transocean, an American company on behalf of BP and Halliburton another US company, with links to the blow out in the East Timor Sea, had begun temporarily plugging the 18,000 ft well with cement shortly before the explosion that caused the rig to catch fire and ultimately to sink. Neither of these companies get a mention in Obamas “Ass Kicking” rhetoric and why is the BBC allowing their listeners / viewers to believe it is all down to BP!

  • Comment number 53.

    Of course it has.

    BP stands for British Petroleum, Put this company into the limelight and Britain will also have to answer.

    One thing for sure BP will still be drilling for oil in 5 years time, where will Obama be?

    BP have done a remarkable job since the accident (as that is what it was), in regarding the accident, there are NO experts in this field as deep well drilling is still new technology, BP are the biggest company in the Gulf not just with this rig but many more, but the failure of parts, people and customer demands will be the root cause. Obama can open an enquiry, the lawyers get rich, the American public suffer, BP will sue all the sub-contractors, BP shares will fall, USA lose $billions in share holdings, American public suffer, Oil prices increase, American public suffer.

    Guess who will suffer most from this, working together is the cheapest option, but that is not the American way unfortunately

    The only real allie to the USA is Britain, perhaps it's time to make the break, get more involved in Euopean activities and stop supporting the US wars. One weeks spending on military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan will clean up the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Comment number 54.

    BP's efforts are beginning to bear fruit, the oil is now being captured. American's should help BP and not hinder it. Accidents do happen and BP are doing all they can to put things right. Americans have trashed the worlds financial system - yet I don't see them compensating every last dime to all the countries of the world for the fallout of the Credit crunch.

  • Comment number 55.

    There does seem to be a little anti british attitude from obama but then the last load of (BBC wouldnt allow) who were running this country were shifting away from the US to the (so many more words BBC wont allow) EU.

    I hope the US population are not turning against the britain because we had a good relationship. We even went to war in the middle east while europe were looking for the map.

  • Comment number 56.

    Anti-Americanism in the UK is usually restricted to the masses; outbursts from those in political or economic power occurs seldom, if ever. What's different here is that anti British feeling is being whipped up by some of the most myopic, self serving political buffoons that the USA has ever produced. It plays to the gallery in the US quite well and even well respected US journalists have been caught up in the hype. Should lay the ghost of the claptrap that there is a "special relationship" once and for all.

  • Comment number 57.

    I think this is a very difficult thing for Britain to respond to, firstly its not a British owned company its a multi-national so do we have the moral right to interfere? Secondly, it may be just me but there seems to be something very personal in Obama's attacks on 'British Petroleum' so it may be better to keep quiet and let everyone cool down before responding in a calm and measured approach.

    I do think this vitirol is mostly political and if Britain responds i think it should be in a calm measured approach, but in some way that bring home to the US that Britain is supposed to be an ally.

    There are a couple of things we could do that would be very politically embarassing the Obama; some very public comments about shutting down all US bases in the UK & UK overseas territories would be one.

    But i think a more quiet word from the PM to Obama would be wiser at this point in time; with maybe a subtle threat of immediately pulling out of Afganistan.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    As a born cynic, one of the main reasons to artificially deflate a share price is to create a buying opportunity.
    What odds that the White House end up insisting on taking a stake in BP at the deflated prices "in order to ensure the problem doesn't happen again"?.
    It would then only take a small bit of well placed White House rhetoric to drive the share price north again!.

  • Comment number 60.

    BP hasn't damaged Britain's reputation, Obarma has with his British bashing. He clearing has a very large racial chip on his shoulders. BP has tried to get on with stopping the leak, while putting up with constant hatrad from the American government, its interesting that they haven't made any comments regarding the American contractor's running the rig. It's just not British to join in slagging matches. The media in the UK hasnt helped either.

  • Comment number 61.

    Is the US using the British history of BP for political motives?

    Yes of course, it's a common thing for the foreigner to get the blame and use his nationality to somehow add to his guilt. I suspect we would be doing the same thing if a non-British company had wrecked part of our shoreline and had been doing it for a month.

    Has the oil spill made you think differently about Britain?

    No it does make you realise how much profit the oil companies can make that despite this and the cost of cleaning it up, BP will still make billions of pounds profits this year.

    Does the history of a multi-national matter?

    Not really capitalism has no borders hence the multi-national aspect. Having said that the culture of a company can affect it's business dealings hence Japanese multi-naturals tend to have a different employment culture, than US or British ones.

    How should Britain respond?

    Not sure why Britain has to respond. It's important for the world that lessons are learnt from this disaster and the same penalties are imposed on whatever the nationality of the next company this happens to.

  • Comment number 62.

    Could someone explain to me why it is that BP are being held solely responsible for the oil spill? As I understand it, the oil rig was owned and operated by Transocean and BP were leasing it. If the accident was the result of equipment failure (equipment owned by Transocean) why aren't Transocean at least partly responsible.
    As an analogy, if I lease a car from XYZ Rentals and I'm involved in an accident caused by brake failure while driving legally, why should I be held solely responsible and not XYZ Rentals for renting me a car with defects. I realise that this may be a little simplistic but surely the logic is the same or nearly the same.
    I think there is a lot of information around this whole matter that needs to come out in the open.

  • Comment number 63.

    Americans should know what it is to be in the frontier. They have had a lot of experience being in the front. Like wise BP has this deep horizon well in the frontier and the problems they are facing are the frontier probs. Of course the remarks made by Mr. Hayward did not help but keep flogging some one who is trying his/her best is not the politics or even humanity. Lay off for some time and let them work. If BP doesn't pay for damages, then you would be right to flog them in public.

  • Comment number 64.

    Tell Obama to get on with the business of organising the clean up himself. Apparently a Dutch firm offered to help soon after the explosion and HE turned them down!!!

    He is well known for being something of a Brit hater, and his venomous rhetoric merely reinforces this fact.

    Fortunately the mid-term elections are to take place in November in the US, so Obama might just end up with more than just egg on his face...

  • Comment number 65.

    There is no anti-British rhetoric in the US. Obama (a politician) is the loudest voice of criticism of BP, which a company (not a nation).

    It's funny; a year ago most of Europe considered him a messiah. Now those same people are treating him with the same disdain as they did George Bush. Even funnier, GWB was a supporter of "big oil" and would have been a better friend to BP.

    You got what you wanted with Obama, now you’ve got to live with it (as do we in the US).

  • Comment number 66.

    I'm an ex-pat, and I can tell you, I have not heard ONE word "anti-British" from anyone I work with or friends.

    Ticked off at BP and everyone else involved, including Americans and sad about what has happened, but absolutely no anti across the board.

    Regular people keep things in perspective, forget about the s**t stirrers, they'll always get front page!

  • Comment number 67.

    It's no wonder that the Americans are so loved all over the world! They just cannot help themselves. If only the American media, the White House and the US Justice Department had acted with vigour when the Union Carbide plant blew up then then perhaps the people of Bhopal might have got some real justice rather than a poxy fine and a couple of short term jail sentences for those culpable of the world's worst industrial accident that has resulted in so many have deaths and deformaties.

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    Let us remember this was an accident and BP are doing all they can to sort this out.

    Obama is just trying to save face from a demanding US public.

    However the consequences to BP and to all of us for our pension funds are dire. If the dividend is held back, why don't we pull out of the US War in Afghanistan immediately at least that would be one way to redeem what we could lose from all this!

  • Comment number 70.

    No it hasn't though you could be excused thinking it with all the anti Brit hype going around which amazes me considering two of the partners working alongside BP are American. Especially the rig and faulty equipment owners. All will out when the enquiry has been held and if I were BP I would see if I could sue the backsides off the companies that let it down with faulty equipment

  • Comment number 71.

    From the outset BP stepped up to the plate and took responsibility rather than hide behind a $75m cap on liability. I think that is the mark of a great company with great leadership. If that damages Britain then global morals have slipped considerably. The American company responsible for many deaths at Bopal has finally settled some claims - 26 years after that incident...

    It is a matter of recored that Mr. Hayward was in the Gulf within days of the initial incident, despite claims by Mr Obama that he was there a month before any "talking heads" showed up. With no idea about the technical challenge Obama has told us he is responsible, but all he has done is talk and distract the key effort of sorting the problem by launching legal investigations before any official investigation of the root cause has been completed. For a country with 3% of global reserves and 25% usage (quoted by a US politician), with significant dependence on oil, and wealth generated by Oil and associated companies over the past century, the persistant and biased attack on BP is so short sighted that one has to wonder who is advising the US administration.

    The investigation, when it comes, will surely show a timeline involving a company applying every expert, technology and resource that can be applied to the problem, side tracked by a government more interested in political buck passing than actually helping. To BP's credit it continues to acknowledge and thank the genuine support and cooperation of Adm. Allen and the other agencies and companies seeking to get this resolved. However, even Adm. Allen has been forced to distance himself it seems, now sending letters to Mr. Hayward - all the US administration has succeeded in doing, publically at least is drive a wedge between parties working hard to limit the damage and the leak.

    As for an ineffective claims process, has anyone independent actually tested the process? On CNN it highlights that part of the problem is local fishermen cannont prove income because they don't have tax reciepts - what is BP then supposed to do if US citizens cannot prove legal employment?

    The slide in share price is unjustified. Does examination of the last year's trading accounts look that bleak? Gearing is, what, less than 20%? And all other assets are operating well. Without doubt Mr. Cameron should discuss this with Mr. Obama, but I doubt that he has any intention of listening. Despite significant investment and employment in the US, the administration continues to posture. Suggestions of seizure of assets must worry many BP employees about their futures: I don't know how many fishermen there are that don't pay tax, but all BP US employees must do.

    Without question this is a very serious incident; we should not forget that sadly 11 people lost their lives, and worries many people who's livelihood will be affected, but how does destabilising one of the few companies actually capable of dealing with the leak make it better?

  • Comment number 72.

    London's Major, Boris Johnson has said "there's something slightly worrying about the anti-British rhetoric that seems to be permeating from America". Mr. Johnson needs to learn that if there is anyway to
    - pass the buck,
    - share the buck, or
    - kick the buck in the ass,
    American politicians will find the way to do it.
    I think the fact that President Obama and other US politicians have repeatedly referred to BP as "British Petroleum" speaks for itself. I mean “British Petroleum: is even harder to say than BP; so, someone (at the top level) has introduced this speech policy against America’s good friend and ally – the UK.
    Without a doubt, BP is an Anglo-American company. BP is the UK's largest corporation, with its headquarters in St James's, City of Westminster, London.
    BP America's headquarters is in the One Westlake Park in the Energy Corridor of Houston, Texas.
    Imagine a telephone conversation with President Obama being necessary to stop the subliminal passage of "British Petroleum" guilting the UK.
    What did the UK have to do with anything? It didn't, did it?
    Are you kidding me?
    Robert Talbut, of Royal London Asset Management, may feel BP shares are undervalued but does he know something the rest of us don’t, like the real extent of the leak(s) and how much damage will be done? I can't believe that even the Chinese would want BP, at least not until this catastrophy comes to a conclusion.
    Is the US using the British history of BP for political motives?
    Yes, it’s called spread the blame, deflect blame from the US.
    Has the oil spill made you think differently about Britain?
    Nope, never thought about it till this HYS. Now I'm wondering if some managerial-type decision(s) were not made in the UK.
    Does the history of a multi-national matter?
    What matters is who did what and when. Who was responsible?
    How should Britain respond?
    Tell the Americans to knock it off (politically speaking), and stop giving publicity to such muck...unless there is some element of truth to this British Petroleum subliminal accusation; then, I would suggest that whoever needs to come clean, please do so - the sooner the better.

  • Comment number 73.

    I agree with Boris Johnson, there appears to be a concerted "knock BP" campaign being orchestrated in the USA.

    To me it seems it is lead by President Obama - has he an ulterior motive, is he inadvertently working with American investors hoping to drive BP's value down for a takeover? Where is the American head of BP? Why is he keeping a low profile? Where is Transocean who were operating the rig that blew up and sank killing 11 oilworkers? Where is Haliburton who supplied oil rig equipment - we all know who headed Haliburton.

    For all that I generally like Americans, there is a nasty vicious streak in their international dealings, this is best illustrated by their weaseling out of their responsibilities for the American owned company Bhopal chemical company disaster that killed at least 10,000 in India, and the North Sea Piper Alpha oilrig disaster that killed 167 oilworkers.

    It would not surprise me in the least that the USA administration is seeking to gain from this event, much like it profiteered from WWII when the USA government demanded that Britain give up its shares in big American corporations for a measly pittance, and then charged top dollar under the terms of LendLease for rusty out of date naval hulks sitting abandoned in dockyards, a case of kick the dog when its down. The only thing special about the "Special Relationship" is that we get screwed financially every time.

  • Comment number 74.

    I always thought Obama would be a poor president who would achieve nothing.All he can do is point his finger to try and divert opinion away from his complete inadequacy.

  • Comment number 75.

    Mr Obama has very much displayed an incredible lack of statesmanship and leadership that will have done much to damage the reputation of America throughout the world. Hurling sticks and stone prior to the facts being established is not the act of a responsible figurehead; let's hope the American voting public are able to remeber this come voting time.
    His ranting at the absence of a "miracle fix" contributes nothing to the solution to this problem.

  • Comment number 76.

    Though anger over the oil spill is understandable, BP has made good faith efforts to contain and curtail the oil leaking from beneath 5,000 feet of water. The American media stokes anger over the problem in the interest of ratings, and the US president makes speeches about his anger and outrage hoping the blame for the continuing problem doesn't land on him.

    BP has lost at least half its value during the oil spill crisis, and the US president's suggestion that BP cover pay for the salaries of rig workers laid off during the sixth month moratorium on deep water drilling is outrageous. Obama talks hope and change but then proves he's as human as the rest of us, making demands that could bring BP to the point of collapse.

  • Comment number 77.

    The Americans have obviously forgotten Enron and the most recent US led catastrophe, the credit crunch, both of which seriously screwed up the entire world. Oh I forgot to mention the invasion of Iraq that failed to find any weapons of mass destruction and....

    Really, I do not feel it has damaged the UK's reputation. Why should it, BP is a global company and no sensible individual would come to that conclusion - but then are the Americans sensible.

  • Comment number 78.

    What BAm Bam forgets is that if over half of the US didn't drive big fat fuel guzzling SUV's and cars, their dependence on oil, foreign or other, would be less and the need for drilling deep might be lowered.

    PS please move in and push BP aside and then come back and grovel as you don't have the expertise to do half of what BP is trying to do

  • Comment number 79.

    Interesting to see how this situation fits the old adage "those that can do, just get on with it, those that can't, just talk and whinge about it..."
    Reminds me of the old Monty Python sketch; "You Americans, you just talk and talk, but you have no ba..."!

  • Comment number 80.

    It's at times like this that you realise the truth of Britain's so-called "special relationship" with the US. When push comes to shove, the Americans really don't care about Britain as long we continue to provide the manpower for their pointless wars. The phrase "special relationship" is something you will never hear an American politician utter.

    The US has a history of protectionism and will, it seems, stop at nothing to sabotage foreign businesses where there is a conflict of interest with American industrial concerns. Another example was the hysteria whipped up by the American media over the recent problems with Toyota cars.

  • Comment number 81.

    Dear David Cameron,

    The special relationship is dead if it ever existed, now please get our heads out the US backside, and get our troops back on British soil, let the US pay for its own mistakes.

    I am sick to the heavens of our constant lap dog behaviour, oh and by the way, what on earth is Fox doing hiring a US former soldier to work at the MOD, could he not just possibly find a former UK Soldier ? or does he really think our guys are not that good when compared to his US buddy.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    The US attack is very unattractive but no great surprise. By contrast what about Piper Alpha? Did the UK blame the US? No. The engineering that BP is doing is utterly fantastic and the US ought to get behind it rather than seeking to destroy everything. The company immediately accepted responsibility and has already paid out enormous compensation. As a parallel, where is the US in accepting their responsibility for the far greater Bhopal disaster? Nowhere to be seen. However, the disgraceful behaviour of the US over the Dubai Ports take-over of the P&O Ports interests shows how utterly xenophobic they are. The US empire is slowly coming to an end and it will be very uncomfortable for a country that thinks in such a nationalistic and arrogant way. Their behaviour is very serious for BP and may well end up with the US losing control of yet more of the oil that they use so insatiably. Shame really, I thought better of Obama.

  • Comment number 84.

    I have been surprised at how unprofessional and undiplomatic Obama's comments have been. They seem like someone playing to the home media rather than someone who is actually in charge of the largest economy in the world. First order of the day is to deal with the crises. Once thats done then investigate causes, responsibilities and what can be done to ensure it doesn't happen again. Talking about grabbing Bp's assets and shareholder dividends is not good in a jittery market place and is probably illegal.
    As to the name of the company. If Bp are found to be guilty of serious safety failings then the UK Government has the power to remove the word 'British' from their name. Then they can be known as P.
    In the end I think that most of the empty rhetoric from the USA will prove to be just that and little will change.

  • Comment number 85.

    'Has BP damaged Britain's reputation'? is the HYS question. The sub-text of this HYS question is equally confusing too?

    Therefore, considering the fact that the Gulf of Mexico deep sea drilling was deregulated by last administration under G W Bush and, in fact, was seriously considered by President Obama too to reduce American dependence on oil imports. Understandable.

    However, this explosion, operated under American contractors, could have happened to any company currently operating in the Gulf of Mexico?

    In other words - President Obama should be pro-active and not re-active?

    Senator Obama won the Presidential election on his calm and measured persona; his strong political and emotional intelligence; education and logical reason.

    Therefore, the most disturbing aspect of President Obama's public comments on BP., and other issues too, is that he may be badly advised and might want to rethink his inner-circle of staff advisors? Also, examine the ancient possibility of trojan horses?

    Do more President Obama: say less, and never, ever rise to the bait your enemies set for you? But you know this already?

  • Comment number 86.

    All is not lost, there is SOME support in the US - from Republicans that is. This is an extract from a post on a US website...

    Why are no so called "patriots" not standing up for BP against barry (Barack Obama) and crew and hammering home (i.e. kicking his azz) relevant important factual info such as praising BP for the work they have accomplished thus far all the while being hammered by the TTTT party (turmoil, taxation, treason and tyranny) - such as accountability, accessibility, responsiveness, FULL and expeditious reimbursement to those who have experienced actual wage/revenue loss (within the bounds of practicality). This is by no means a ringing endorsement of praise for BP. Nay far from it Yet IMO they are "going the extra mile" w/o the necessity of barry saying he is kicking azz---------- how about he hold his tongue (oops that's asking too much right there) until AFTER the facts are in - oh right -to do so would be to be fair and objective.

    So there we have it, some support at least, and no reference to BP as British Petroleum. Some Americans have sense, unlike their President...

  • Comment number 87.

    I think most of the anger in the Gulf region is focused on BP and the US government rather than Britain. As for Obama and other US politicians constantly referring to BP as "British Petroleum", this probably has more to do with domestic politics and deflecting attention from their own failures than any anger towards Britain.

    People everywhere are becoming increasingly upset with the way government panders to big business interests (lax regulations and enforcement, controversial decisions, such as drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, etc.), so on those occasions when the merde hits the fan, the politicians want to be seen to be acting in the public interest. The same thing happened during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

  • Comment number 88.

    I can only assume that the anti-British rhetoric plays extremely well in the US which is exactly why Obama does it.

    All that Tony Hayward or David Cameron has to do is just appear on the US media and, in detail, spell out the facts:

    1. British Petroleum ceased to be and changed its name to BP when it became a multi-national company.

    2. If this part of the Gulf is environmentally sensitive then why does the US grant licences for Offshore drilling here? Isn't this where the true accountability begins and ends?

    3. Why was Obama all in favour of offshore drilling before the accident? Is he flip flopping? Is he still in favour of Offshore Drilling?

    4. If an investigation finds that Transocean's (the rig operator) incompetence led to the explosion and Halliburton's cementing of the well was done badly (and on the cheap) and contributed to the explosion and the leak - will he be taking these companies to task with the same vitriol and demands for compensation?

    If they were to do this then this would leave Obama with no more room to blame the Evil British and thus his presidential impotence in the face of an environmental disaster will be exposed for all to see.

    May be Tony Hayward or David Cameron should follow Norman Tebbits very fine lead:

    "The whole might of American wealth and technology is displayed as utterly unable to deal with the disastrous spill – so what more natural than a crude, bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan political presidential petulance against a multinational company?"

    "It is time that our American friends were reminded that they sang a different tune when the American company Union Carbide killed many thousands of Indians at Bhopal. Not to mention when the American company Occidental killed 167 people on a North Sea oil rig in 1988.

    At the very least, the president might acknowledge that the company directly responsible for the Gulf disaster was American, not British."

  • Comment number 89.

    BP should Immediately change its Registered name to Walt Disney Florida Ford Environmental Protection Corp, with an Eagle eating an apple Pie as its mascot. Just watch how popular they will become.

  • Comment number 90.

    Obama is quite obviously trying to channel public anger away from himself and on to the UK (on a nation to nation level). He has instructed his followers to emphasise British in BP. This gives the americans especially right wingers to vent at some body else. We should remind them that BP is a private company and is not controlled by our state...yet.. the UK is not at fault in any way shape or form. Kind of like Iceland and its Volcano. Blaming its countries people is a laughable concept.

  • Comment number 91.

    As the oil rig was American owned and crewed and was hired by an American sub-contractor the the U.S. should take part, or most, of the responsability for this accident. But they wont, they will do what Americans always do; blame someone else. Union Carbide, 'friendly fire etc. Perhaps the relatives of all British soldiers killed by a gung-ho American in a 'friendly fire ' incedent should take out a class action against the U.S. military and government.
    The main problem with the oil leak is that Obama is completely out of his depth. George Bush, an oil man, would, instead of whinging, threw every available U.S. recource into solving the problem.
    It has to be said that if Obama was white he would not have been elected to President.

  • Comment number 92.

    Maybe we could do some kind of apropriate chant at the England v USA match on Saurday.


    Possibly to the tune of 'God Save the Queen'.

  • Comment number 93.

    It's easy for Obama to attack BP and it diverts the US media's attention away from his own lack of action. What could be easier than to bash the brits, rather than having to face his own critics.

  • Comment number 94.

    The facts are as stated>

    Halliburton (American company)
    The cement slurry Halliburton was pumping into the drill hole prior to the Horizon’s explosion may have in fact been at fault.

    BP (Half British, Half American)

    Cutting Corners to make profit, but atleast they are holding up their hands and admitting their failure's.

    American Government (Bush & Obama)

    Typical isnt it that the Americans like to shift the blame, again,n just like the global financial crisis, their none existant regulations, and its check and balances. When the brown stuff hits the fan they go all out to blame others for their own incompetence.

    Who is to blame in all of this, pure greed is to blame.

    Please keep blaming the British, then we the British can pull out ALL of our troops from your typical American wars and you need for bloodshed and addiction to OIL!

    And lets not forget who is the biggest polluter on the planet.. yes its the Americans.

    Keep it up Obama.

  • Comment number 95.

    So much for our "special relationship"...Obama plays to US audience and forgets everything the Brits have done to support the USA over the last years (Iraq, Afghanistan etc for instance).

    Maybe Britain should start looking elsewhere for its friends if this sort of friendship is all about "Only when it suits us".....

    The Brit bashing and BP bashing is going to have a long term impact on relationships and perceptions if the US are not careful and Hague as our FS should get a grip quickly.

  • Comment number 96.

    I have been looking at the pro's and cons of Britains reputation being hurt by this and so far have only really come up with one con - fewer Wilbur's and Myrtle's on our streets, or is that a pro?

    Someone needs to have a quiet word in Obamas ear and tell him to sit down and shut up as all he is doing is making himself look like an even bigger fool by talking about a company that no longer exists.

    As for what we in Britain should do, simple start to boycott all American companies until this tirade ends, and this lame duck president does something useful - could be a long boycott!

  • Comment number 97.

    Let's have some American doing the PR.

    I think people (the Americans) need to make the connection between the oil we need and the big cars they drive and the internal flights they make.

    Oil makes petrol, diesel, kerosene / aviation fuel.

    No oil = no America

  • Comment number 98.

    HOLD ON, folks. As an American -- married to a British national here in the U.S. -- I will tell you PLAINLY that our problem with BP is NOT that it's a British company. The entire premise of these posts are incorrect. Consider three things going on here in the U.S. and you'll have your answer:
    1) The Gulf Coast was hit hard by Katrina; it's another disaster for those residents, most of whom are barely make a living.
    2) BP's Hayward has made some highly ridiculous statements that are insulting to ANYONE's intelligence, not just us Americans'.
    3) The political tension over the care of the environment is HUGE here, MUCH larger than any nationalist interest or anti-foreign interest (unless you're Mexico; now THAT would be a problem -- if it was "MP"!)
    4) There also is tremendous political tension over "big business" vs. "big government." That's where the core of the frustration at BP lies; it WOULD be the same if it were Marathon Oil or Exxon or Chevron, etc.

    WE DO NOT HAVE ANY TENSIONS HERE AGAINST THE BRITISH. IT'S JUST NOT TRUE! I am quite plugged in to news commentary; anti-British sentiment does NOT exist.

  • Comment number 99.

    This is probably the time to mention Bopal and Union Carbide.
    The CEO was taken out of India and was never allowed to return.
    The amount of compensation was derisory and the American attitude was diabolical.
    I think they, the American people should be reminded of this.

  • Comment number 100.

    Has Britain's reputation been damaged? No, of course not.

    Intelligent Americans will understand just as well as the rest of us that a global multi-national corporation such as BP can't really be classed as "British" in any meaningful sense of the word.

    The more stupid members of the American public won't, of course, and will quite likely jump on this as a good way to blame somebody/something other than "America" for the catastrophe.

    But then, this sort of people generally hates anybody or anything outside of America anyway. They already thought we were worthless for the simple fact that we're not American - so this incident won't change anything in their opinions.

    I think the British Public (and our politicans) could use this wake-up call, though; the Americans are not our friends. Or rather, they're our friends only so long as we unequivocally support their interests. The minute it becomes politically/economically convenient for us to become "The Enemy", that's exactly what we will be.

    Stop pandering to this arrogant, second-rate nation. Start treating them like so many of them treat everybody else - i.e., as basically a bunch of pointless foreigners who can either serve our interests in whatever way we tell them to, or else get lost.


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