Will Straw is associate director for Economic Growth at the Center for American Progress. He writes regularly on American and British politics for Comment is Free, ProgressOnline, and LabourList. This article is adapted from The Change We Need: What Britain Can Learn from Obama's Victory, edited with Nick Anstead and available from www.fabians.org.uk.
The Obamas' visit to Britain has caused a stir at Britain's fanciest addresses. On Downing Street, Barack Obama boosted Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spirits by referring to Brown by his first name. Later, in Buckingham palace, Queen Elizabeth II and Michelle Obama broke protocol by embracing each other at an evening reception.
The freshman leader has expressed admiration for Brown's mastery of global finance, but it is Brown who looks on with appreciation at Obama's historic campaign. The British general election due at some point in the next year will be a tough fight, and British progressives are keen to learn everything they can from the U.S.