Monday, 14 November 2016

Trumped

Already I'm tired of hearing about Donald Trump and what he may achieve. And what his style will turn out to be.

But it all has to be faced. It's reality. And so I will look on him and his words and actions coolly and steadily. What's done is done.

Besides, there are parallels with our own Brixit. It would be inconsistent of me to vote Brexit (as I did firmly and with conviction, mostly on the sovereignty issue) and yet moan and groan at what has happened in the United States of America - which is an equally seismic event, and not necessarily a catastrophe.

Although we are not Americans, all British people are affected by what America does. Whether we like it or not, we are pulled along by American policies. If there is a 'partnership' in any real sense, then Britain is most definitely the junior partner. Yes, there is something in that notion of a 'special relationship' between the two countries. I think most Americans, if it came to it, would squirm with anguish and shame if their own government proposed letting Britain down in a crisis. It would be so contrary to the easily-outraged though defiantly-decent values of Small Town America. (Think of the typical characters played by John Wayne, James Stewart, or Spencer Tracy in a 1950s film) But I'm nevertheless pretty sure that 'America First' means what it says, and Britannia had better arm herself against aggressive positioning (economic or military, overt, covert, or potential) while she can.

Meanwhile everybody's talking about Mr Trump and what he intends to do, and can now actually do, knowing that he has Republicans in a majority in both Houses, who (in theory) will support his ideas on radical law-making. It's already clear that he has shifted from the strident, simplistic, calculated soundbites made to gain electoral success to the more subtle and nuanced words of the businessman and negotiator. In which case, other businessmen (and hopefully businesswomen) who speak the same language will be able to understand him and strike deals with him.

That does however make it difficult for idealistic socialist leaders around the world, and indeed anybody who has other values and a different outlook - which may of course include millions in America itself.

And what is Mrs May here in Britain going to do? Across the English Channel the EU has already taken the view that Britain is a lost cause, halfway out of the door, and once gone will never come back. And yet Britain will, awkwardly, remain in NATO. For now. I'd be surprised if NATO survives in its present form for much longer. It would make sense in many European heads for Europe (led by Germany and France) to organise their own defence, leaving Britain and America - those two unreliable and restless allies - out of the picture. Does Mrs May see this happening pretty soon, and is she beefing up her plans to cope?

What indeed are her plans and priorities in general? I am looking forward to the upcoming Autumn Statement on 23rd November - which is likely to be a full-blown, comprehensive Budget - in the expectation that the new Chancellor's announcements will give the first really clear news on where we are going. I anticipate measures that will make Britain more of a world player, measures that will invite investment, and measures designed to make the country distinctly more self-sufficient in security, energy, food production, and defence. A range of things we might never have seen if there had been no EU in-out referendum, and no Brexit.

Personally, I think it's prudent not to be too reliant on political alliances, trading agreements and other networks. You do need to foster international co-operation, especially on global issues, so links need to be built and kept in good repair, but any country that is wrong-footed or wobbles if a so-called 'friend' has fresh ideas is a vulnerable country.

I've come to see Brexit as just one of a series of ballot-box revolutions around the world, where, given the chance to demand change, a majority of people have gone for it. It's going too far to suggest that Brexit had such an unsettling and unbalancing effect that it helped America elect Donald Trump. I doubt for instance whether his core supporters knew much (or cared about) what Britain found frustrating with the EU. They would have heard though that Britain had 'broken away' and was 'going it alone' and 'would be running its own affairs again' and 'wanted to find an important new role on the world stage' - and they might have reasoned that Donald Trump was the right person to deliver this for America. And definitely not 'untrustworthy' and 'old-school' Hillary Clinton. I would have very much liked to see Mrs Clinton become the first female President of the USA, but the mood was against her. She was decisively Trumped.

1 comment:

  1. Fingers crossed that the more level headed, decent American citizens will be able to keep those that want to drag the country kicking and screaming back into the 1950s in check.

    Brexit and Trump are just going to be the start as people in other countries start forcing their own governments to listen to them more. I was reading yesterday how France is talking about moving border controls from Calais back to the UK because French people are concerned about immigration. Moving border controls isn't going to alleviate those concerns because it will still mean that lots of immigrants and refuges find their way to France. Dealing with those concerns and the problem has to mean doing something other than trying to shift the problem to somewhere else. Especially if by doing that it means that people are going to die as they try to make their way across, or under the English Channel.

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Lucy Melford