NYTimes Article By Warren Hoge – Published: November 6, 2003

LONDON, Nov. 5 – President Bush, who has been shielded from protests in recent travels, arrives in Britain on a state visit in two weeks, and the police here are weighing how to control promised street demonstrations without resorting to crowd control measures that could be seen as curbing free expression.

“There will be substantial demonstrations over President Bush’s visit – as much as 50,000 to 60,000 people,” Sir John Stevens, the Scotland Yard chief, told the Police Complaints Authority. “Apart from ensuring his safety, which is our primary concern, we have to ensure the demonstrations are allowed to take place in the normal way we do in this democracy.” Mr. Bush is the least popular American president in memory with Britons, and Prime Minister Tony Blair has been castigated by critics as the president’s poodle” for being Mr. Bush’s loyal ally and fighting an unpopular United States-led war in Iraq.

“A central problem for Bush in Britain is that while he is greeted with wary respect at 10 Downing Street, his unilateralism and folksy Texas style don’t go down well with the chattering classes, who regard him as exceedingly dangerous and something of a buffoon,” said Anthony King, professor of government at Essex University.

Mr. King said that while Mr. Bush profits from appearing with Mr. Blair, the president’s presence is a liability for Mr. Blair.

“Bush’s visit will remind people, and not just the members of the chattering classes, of what Blair has done that they dislike most,” he said, “namely, joining the United States in the war in Iraq.”

On his recent visit to Australia, another ally of the United States during the Iraqi war, Mr. Bush left after 21 hours and was whisked down roads clear of ordinary people. He avoided Sydney, where tens of thousands had come out to protest the war earlier this year, in favor of Canberra, the less contentious capital city.

The visit to London is certain to meet protests from militants representing a wide range of causes, who are expected to congregate here. “Many groups and activists are uniting to make London inhospitable for Bush,” the Web site for Global Resistance predicts. “We need to make the place as unwelcome as possible.”

The London police were harshly criticized in 1999 when they cracked down on actions against the visiting Chinese president, Jiang Zemin, and a Scotland Yard spokesman said that in light of that episode, the police were now being counseled to make sure policing was “appropriate, relevant and proportionate”

Ghada Razuki, spokeswoman for the Stop the War Coalition, said that while the police were restricting access to the government center, they were raising no objections to plans for large street protests and a demonstration in London’s traditional forum of dissent, Trafalgar Square. “The police have said to us directly that it is our democratic right to march, and that they want to uphold that,” Ms. Razuki said. During Mr. Bush’s trip to Asia in October, both the agenda and the security arrangements assured that he saw few protesters. He met Indonesian leaders on Bali, a Hindu-dominated resort island where anti-American feeling does not run as high as in Jakarta, the capital of what is the world’s most populous Muslim nation. In Manila, demonstrators were kept far from Mr. Bush and his arrival at the Philippine Congress was delayed until a large crowd could be dispersed.

In Britain, Mr. Bush will travel by helicopter and limousine and is unlikely to confront protesters personally, but their presence will be far more visible than on his Asian swing.

“We want to make sure that the biggest photo opportunities are ones of streets filled with protesters,” Ms. Razuki said.

Mr. Bush will arrive in London the evening of Nov. 18 and begin the public part of his state visit the next morning with a formal reception followed by a speech in an as yet undisclosed public hall in London before an audience of dignitaries. The queen will give a banquet in his honor at Buckingham Palace that night. He will leave on Nov. 21 after meetings with Mr. Blair.