Now that Pablo Numbnuts has been installed as the new leader of UKIP, perhaps Nigel Farage can get on with the process of emigrating up Donald Trump’s backside. Alas, even if the ‘anti-establishment’ ex-commodities broker does fulfill his wish, it is doubtful we will have seen the last of him. But what of his successor?
Up until now, the only real impact UKIP has had in Scotland, is the extent to which we must suffer the inexplicable, inexcusably disproportionate air time given over to the comical calamity that is David Coburn. Scotland has been, for the most part, all but immune, to the malady that is the UK Independence Party.
You might point to Brexit, but I would argue that festering euroscepticism within the Conservative Party, and David Cameron’s desire to lance that particular boil, had more to do with the former Prime Minister’s (retrospectively?) self-destructive decision to call the referendum, than any threat posed by UKIP.
We know there is little, or nothing, to distinguish those on the eurosceptic right of the Tory Party, from members of UKIP. In fact, defections from the Tories to UKIP, might almost be described as commonplace, with Douglas Carswell and Neil Hamilton being the amongst the most prominent to do so.
In a departure from his predecessors, Mr Numbnuts has ideas that would affect Scotland, beyond maintaining her place in the Union. He thinks it is a good idea to “get rid of the Barnett Formula”, something I would wager, terrifies the self-loathing Scots, who are already railing against the prospect of a second independence referendum, lest it succeed, and leave them twa’ groats per annum, or whatever, worse off.
Dispensing with the Barnett Formula, and letting Scotland “get on with funding their own services”, as Numbnuts puts it, is not necessarily a bad thing. Provided, that is, it coincides with Scottish independence.
The new Kipper-in-Command, has also said that whilst he and his party “believe in the United Kingdom” they will nonetheless “champion a fair devolution deal for England” and “promote the English”. Nothing wrong with any of that, as long as it is not to the detriment of Scotland-which it almost inevitably would be.
Whilst it is not in itself, a bad thing, that Numbnuts recognizes that the UK’s archaic institutions are in dire need of reform, he has come to this conclusion, for all the wrong reasons. He believes there needs to be change, not because it is the right thing to do, but because as he sees it, England is getting a raw deal.
For example, Mr Numbnuts thinks it unfair, that “Scots should vote on English-only matters”, which, if we give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he meant Scottish MP’s (rather than all Scot’s, including those who serve English constituencies), is not altogether unreasonable.
I, and many others, have long argued that there needs to be an English Parliament. The House of Commons is NOT the English Parliament, despite the fact that it many ways, it effectively has to double up as such, due to the UK’s haphazard constitutional arrangements.
The solution offered up by the new UKIP leader, is one that Broon the Bampot would be proud of-federalism. Of a sort. In simple terms, the Scots, Northern Irish and Welsh would be evicted from the House of Commons, which would then become the English Parliament (along the lines of Holyrood presumably). Meanwhile, the House of Turds would give way to an elected Senate, comprising of members from the four nations, becoming the UK Parliament.
How, you might ask, is any of this relevant, since it is highly unlikely that UKIP will ever be in a position, to bring any of it about. But is that so, can we be sure about it? Who knows where we will be, by the time the next general election comes around. If by then, Brexit has still not happened, or is seen to have been botched, anything is possible.
Yet again, Scotland would be powerless to resist, whatever it is that our larger neighbour decides for us. It is unlikely that Pablo Numbnuts ‘federal’ UK would be a union of equals. Besides, fiscal autonomy and federalism are no longer enough. The only way Scotland can be sure to be free from ever more right wing government, is to give the English what they deserve. We must give England her own Parliament and we do it by seizing our independence,
here to edit.
My relationship, if it can be described as such, with the BBC’s Question Time, is becoming not entirely dissimilar to the one I have with the Daily Mail. To say I loathe Viscount Rothermere’s repellent, rabid, right-wing rag, and everything it stands for, with every fibre of my being, would not be an exaggeration. And yet, every day, without fail, I find myself taking a peek at the Mail’s website, knowing full well, that there is every likelihood that something, if not everything I find there, will disgust, and, or infuriate me.
It is increasingly the same, with Question Time. Well, I say the same, but in truth, I am far more likely to be bored, than disgusted or infuriated, though the former and the later, are not unheard of. Last night’s broadcast was the perfect example. It did not move me to rage, or despair, but it did, just about bore me to death. It may be my imagination, but to my mind, the quality of the panellists, and of the debate, or discussion, has gotten progressively poorer, in recent years.
None of this, has been helped in any way, shape or form by Brexit. Every week, since the referendum, it is the same. The hour is taken up, almost in it’s entirety, by Brexiteer’s angrily insisting that Brexit means Brexit, while the Bremoaner’s bleat on, about there being no majority for hard Brexit. It is all so very banal. Will things improve, when the Government actually gets its act together, and there is actually something to discuss? I fear not.
I must admit, though I am no fan of his, much of what Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, had to say on Question Time, made sense. What he, and those who agree with him, need to be mindful of, is coming across as, or being made out to be, attempting to reverse the result of the referendum. At the same time, they must not let the Brexiteer’s run amok, someone needs be the voice of reason. In this instance, that voice should most definitely be Parliament.
Again, you are unlikely to hear me extolling his virtues (has he any?), but Tony Blair’s intervention in the Brexit debate, though not altogether welcome, is just about worth hearing. As is that, of Mr Blair’s immediate predecessor, John Major. It is not unreasonable, that should the Brexit negotiations fail to yield sufficient gains, so as to ameliorate the inevitable pain, that the British people may, as Mr Blair suggests, wish to reconsider. If a referendum was good enough, to bring about Brexit, then surely, it is “perfectly credible”, to use Mr Major’s words, to have a second referendum to accept, or reject, the terms on which we leave.
There remains the possibility, that the consent of the Scottish Parliament, may be required to trigger Article 50. Imagine! The Express and the Mail would be apoplectic. As for the headlines, I suspect the “Enemies of the People” used to describe the high court judges recently, would seem positively restrained in comparison.
Seriously though, the First Minister is not stupid, far from it. It is unlikely, that the Scottish Government, will risk a second independence referendum, or seek to block Brexit, via the Scottish Parliament-should the option be available, if concerns about access to the single market are addressed. Even if these concerns are not addressed, it might be, that whatever is on offer, is put to Scots, via a UK referendum on the terms of Brexit.
I could go on, for there are permutations aplenty. The only thing, that anyone can say with any certainty, is that nothing is certain. Frustrating though it is, we shall simply have to wait and see. In the meantime, though it bores me rigid, I will probably continue to tune in to Question Time, in the off chance I stumble across a rare gem.
Who is Philip Hammond anyway? That is the question I ask myself, every time I see, or hear the man on the television, or radio. The answer, based on what I have read on him, is, no one in particular. Or, if you prefer, Mr Hammond is just another very wealthy Tory. He also happens to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer, something I had almost forgotten, until yesterday’s Autumn Statement.
Not that I watched it. I am unsure exactly, when it was that all things budgetary, began to bore me. I do know, that they became more boring still, when Gordon parted company with Prudence, and all but unbearable, when I parted company with the scotch and the cigarettes. Besides, it can take a day or two, before the devil in the detail, becomes clear.
I wonder, if Ragin’ Ruth might have something of an admirer, in Mr Hammond, given that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. For some time now, Ms Davidson has been kidding herself on, that her Tories, are somehow not quite the same as those at Westminster. Now, in a similar way, Mr Hammond would like to pretend that economic uncertainty in Scotland, has little to do with Brexit, and everything to do with the possibility of a second independence referendum. Risible, is it not?
As is the Chancellor’s feeble offering of a few sweeties (enough to pay for renovations at two royal palaces), in an attempt to mollify any Scots, who might now be wondering, if the Union is all it is cracked up to be. Staggeringly, Mr Hammond expects the Scottish Government, to use the sweeties, which are to last five years, to breathe new life into the Scottish economy. Perhaps the sweeties, are not in fact sweeties, but magic beans.
Speaking of magic beans, that great pantomime dame, Mrs Doubtfire, the Secretary of State for Scotland, also seems to believe that £800 million, over five years, is a panacea, if only the Scottish Government will “step up”. If only he would step down. Instead of representing Scotland in Cabinet, Mr Mundell represents the Cabinet in Scotland. Everyone knows, that his is a non-job, which is probably just as well. I was about to write, that he might well be the most ineffectual Scots politician there is. Which brings me on, quite neatly, to Kezia Dugdale.
It is just as well, that there is no ‘Official Opposition’ at Holyrood, because if there were, Kezia and Scottish Labour, would not be it. In her inimitable, whining tone, Ms Dugdale said something entirely unoriginal about “the same old Tory mantra – cut, cut and cut again”. No doubt, she will continue to claim, that the Scottish Government could raise more sweeties (or is it magic beans?), via a modest hike in income tax. I note, that this is in contrast to the Shadow Chancellor, who has said he does not intend to raise taxes. Can we assume, that like Mr Hammond, Wee Whiny, has taken a leaf out of Ragin’ Ruth’s book, by trying create the illusion, that her branch office, is anything other than that.
In addition to the sweeties, carrots were dangled, in the form of City Deals. They are little more, than a cheap, cynical attempt at perpetuating the myth, that Scotland is somehow dependent on England, for her very survival. Not so cheap, that enough Scots will see through it, though. There are plenty who believe, that without the United Kingdom, there would be no more sweeties, or magic beans, or carrots for Stirling or anywhere else in Scotland. It is a myth we need to dispel.
With the festive season all but upon us, it occurred to me that 2016 has been something of a pantomime, politically speaking. A pantomime, as imagined by Tim Burton, or Stephen King. The plot, is far-fetched, and the characters scarcely believable.
Act one would be Brexit. I would be lying, if I claimed that Brexit did not shock me, but it was of no surprise to me. I long suspected, that England’s seething resentment of Germany’s economic superiority, and her inability to domineer and dominate the EU, as is her way with the UK, would ultimately lead to her dragging us out.
Still, you have to wonder, how any campaign fronted by the likes of Farage and Gove and Johnson, could possibly have succeeded. With all three of them, it is as if they are a caricature of themselves, each his own Spitting Image puppet come alive. It’s the same with Rees-Mogg. There are others too.
For a time, I tried in vain, to fathom who voted for people like that, and then it dawned on me. People ‘like that’, vote for people like that. Even so, it still staggers me that Boris Johnson has, at various times, been described as “Britain’s most popular politician”. I cannot pretend to understand his appeal.
When Johnson talks of “piccaninnies” and “watermelon” smiles, we are told it is just good old Boris joshing. Anyone who is offended, is the living embodiment, of political correctness gone mad. It is alright for Boris to say such things, because he is joking, and he is English.
When someone else, say for example, an American presidential candidate, says something similar, it is because he is a racist. Does anyone else, find it, as I do, utterly bizarre that we “British” feel we are in a position to criticise the election of Donald J. Trump, when Brexit was won in a similar fashion?
Not content with success in the EU referendum, Nigel Farage then had to then make a gloating spectacle of himself, and of us, before to his fellow MEP’s. If that were not enough, he felt compelled to insult them as well, all for no apparent reason. The perfect ambassador then. At least in the strange universe of the President-elect.
After the spectacular self-immolation, of the twisted hobbit Gove, and the emergence from the flames, of Prime Minister Theresa May, we hoped, briefly, that the looney tunes, might have had their day. It was not to be. Britain’s buffoon of choice, Boris Johnson, was to be Foreign Secretary. The world gasped, in collective horror, whilst those of us here, who see Johnson for what he is, cringed in embarrassment.
Which brings us to act two. Not to be outdone by Brexit, the American’s had to go one better. They gave us the spectacular freak show, that was first the primaries, and then the presidential election proper. I do not know that I would describe Hillary Clinton is a caricature, but her lack of charisma was almost a relief, if it were not for her trying to force that which is not hers, by nature.
There is very little to say about Donald J. Trump, that has not already been said. He is every bit the caricature, with his comedy haircut, tangoed complexion and peculiar hand gestures. It does not seem worth bothering to ask, who votes for someone like Trump. Like Boris, the appeal of the President-elect escapes me. Everyone knows, that neither will be able to deliver, even half of what they promised. Do they not?
We are now, well into act three. Presently, we are forced to endure the unedifying love in, between the High Priest of Zoomery, Trump, and his new apprentice, Farage. The on-again, off-again UKIP leader, appears to have developed something akin to a schoolboy crush, for the President-elect. For his part, Trump is returning the adoration. Creepy, or what?
As I have watched, impotent and in horror, as Trump assembles a cast of undesirables, for the horror show that will be his presidency, I ask myself, from time to time, how much worse can it get? And then I hear, that Tony ‘The Messiah’ Blair, is to make a return of sorts, to the front line of British politics.
I imagine he has gone the way of Maggie Thatcher, who in so many way, he aspired to be. I imagine he has come to believe he is indispensable, It is nothing, if not tragic, and oh so damned undignified. For reasons known only to himself, Blair has chosen the very epitome of political failure, Jim Murphy, to assist him in his latest crusade. Remember him?
Why can’t Blair do what John Major did, and go away for a very long time, only returning when we have forgotten, just how much we despised him. He will not, of course, for he cannot see that he is part of the problem, not the solution.
What, if anything else, will 2016 throw at us, before the curtain comes down, I wonder. Next year, should see Trump take the keys to the White House, and (barring a judicial spanner in the works) the triggering of Article 50. What with all that, and Tony Blair threatening to save the world , all over again, 2017 should be nothing, if not interesting.
There is no such thing as Scotland. At least, that appears to be the view, of a great many self-loathing Scots. I’ve lost count, of the number of times I’ve heard it said, “Scotland voted to remain in the UK, and the UK voted to leave the EU”, as if this, and the speakers’ exasperated tone, will finally, make me see sense.
There is, a limited degree of simplistic logic, to this. But, it belongs to a more simplistic age. The United Kingdom, may still be a unitary state, but by devolving power, it can no longer lay claim, to a single ‘British’ consciousness.
It shouldn’t need repeating, but alas, the self-loathing Scot needs to be told, Scotland is a nation. A nation, with her own culture, history and politics. A nation, with her own, distinct national ‘Scottish’ consciousness.
That the UK, voted as a whole, to leave the EU, is not in question. What is, is the extent to which the UK Government, should take into account, and try to accommodate, the hard fact that two of the four nations that make up the UK, voted to remain.
The Scottish Government, for it’s part, has accepted that the UK will leave the EU. That does not, and should not mean, that they should stop seeking the best deal possible, for Scotland. Yet, the self-loathing Scot, ever the submissive sadomasochist, seems to believe that is exactly what they should do.
Another favourite line, of the self-loathing Scot, and of his close relation, the BritNat, is “they champion democracy, until they don’t like the result”, as if democracy were an event, not a process. The UK, as a whole, elected a majority Tory government, if only by way of an archaic electoral system, just last year. Does that mean, that everyone who did not, should simply stop voting, or that there should never be another general election? No, it does not. Who would be stupid enough, to say, that it does?
In the same way, the SNP, and the rest of us who yearn to be free from the suffocating embrace of Westminster, should not, and will not, stop advocating independence. Just because, we’ve lost the a battle, we’re not about to give up the war.
I can only shake my head, furiously, every time I hear a BritNat insist that “we were promised that the referendum was once-in-a-generation”.
No, actually, you weren’t. So stop saying it. All things being equal, the 2014 independence referendum, would have been a once-in-a-generation event. All things, however, are no longer equal. Brexit changed all that.
However flawed, the EU referendum was, the result must be respected. That being said, what that result entails, other that leaving the EU, is entirely open to question. Where was the preparation? Where were the plans, to cover every eventuality? Where was the White Paper, as there was in the Scottish independence referendum? There were none.
Such was the arrogance, the ineptitude and mediocrity, of our former Prime Minister, that he failed to factor in, the distinct possibility, that he might lose. And, such was the arrogance, ineptitude and mediocrity of ‘Project Fear2’, that they did lose. So, if there is to be, not a neverendum, but an avoidable, second independence referendum, it will be because the Tory Government has failed. Repeatedly.
They failed to win the EU referendum. If they wish to avoid IndyRef2, they must not fail, to protect the best interests of Scotland. And it will be for Scotland, yes, Scotland, that fierce and proud nation in the North, to decide whether or not the Tories, the UK Government, have succeeded, or failed in doing so.
It occurred to me, quite some time ago, that there a good number of well meaning, but deluded souls, in Scotland, who are holding out for the British left to come riding to their rescue. If I’m honest, I didn’t give it any great thought, that is, until now. The march of the hard right, exemplified by Brexit, fuelled by xenophobia, and the election of a grotesque, racist, homophobic misogynist as President of the United States, has brought the state of the British left, to the front of my mind.
A friend, just last night, commented on social media, that he thought “we are due a strong swing back to the left soon”. Back to the left?, The United Kingdom, hasn’t put a party of the left into government, since the 1970’s. Or was my friend, perhaps kidding himself, that New Labour were of the left? Does anyone still pretend that was the case? And just when, exactly, is soon? It’s been forty years, for goodness sake.
My friend’s comment, was in reply to me speculating, that if, as he had previously suggested, Theresa May saw sense, and abandoned Brexit, there was every likelihood, that we would see Nigel Farage in Ten Downing Street. As I mused, on what he had said, I came to realise, that a good deal more of my friends, and acquaintances, hold the view, that all will be well with the UK, if only the left will return to power. They say as much, on social media, and often.
This is, in my view, a perfectly honorable aspiration. But I find myself asking, what left? Long-standing lefties, like Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, may be calling the shots in the Labour Party, for now, but they are a minority in the Parliamentary Labour Party. And if they fail, come the next general election, they will very quickly go the way of British Coal and of British Steel.
There are dozens, dozens of Labour MP’s, who would have been just at home in Cameron’s Conservative Party. I shan’t do them a disservice, and suggest that they have a great deal in common, with the UKIPish element, that currently holds sway there. What it means, however, is that there is no realistic prospect, of the left gaining power, at a UK level, any time soon.
If the left, is indeed, to finally get itself together, and to rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes, I fear things will have to get a whole lot worse first. It is deeply depressing, that rather than put a little belief in their own country, so many in Scotland, are willing to endure whatever hardships the UK imposes upon them, in the hope that salvation, lies just around the corner.
The Tory Party’s long dormant, hard right, who have more in common with Farage, than Cameron, are now very much awake, buoyed by Brexit. Austerity was just the beginning. Just how far, is Scotland willing to allow the Tories, to abuse, and abase her, before she wakens up to herself?
Who will say, that we are still better together? How is demonising the poor and disabled, better? How is hate crime, better? The hard right, have taken Brexit, and Trumpism, as permission to peddle their hateful, fascist ideology with impunity. Views, that were once beyond the pale, will now get you to the highest offices in the land. What is better about that?
The British left, isn’t coming to rescue you, people. You are going to have to, rescue yourselves. That means embracing independence. The United Kingdom, is on a dark path, a path Scotland doesn’t want to be taken down. We don’t have to follow their path. Things can be different. If, when things get really bad (and they will), we still haven’t done what is necessary, we will have only ourselves to blame.
As I lie here, unable to sleep, for reasons unbeknown to me, I find my thoughts lingering on an uncertain future. Uncertain, because of Brexit, and what it means for Scotland's relationship with the EU and indeed, the UK.
I'm thinking about it, because try as I might, I just cannot understand why, three supposedly Scottish political parties, put the maintenance of the Union above everything else.
By everything else, I mean Scotland, her people and their prosperity and wellbeing, in years to come. Sure, Ruth, Kezia and Willie will tell us earnestly, that they are safeguarding Scotland's future, by protecting her place in the United Kingdom. But what if, Scotland's best interests, lie out with the UK. What then?
Well, now we know. Even in the face of Brexit, they won't even accept it's a possibility. It's the UK, come what may. What possesses, ostensibly rational, intelligent people, to unthinkingly adhere to a principle, even if that principle might just be to their detriment, and to the detriment of Scotland and her people?
Rather than vote with the Scottish Government, to back a motion for Scotland to remain in the single market, the Tories and Liberal Democrats voted against it. Labour abstained. How typically weak of them. Why would they do this, were they not in broad agreement, that it would be best if the UK, and Scotland, were to remain in the single market?
They were, but it didn't matter. Because for the parties of the Union, perpetuating the UK is paramount. They claim, that they voted the way the did, because to do otherwise, might somehow facilitate, the SNP's overriding aim of independence. And they won't entertain that. Even if it's what's best for Scotland. Remember that.
It seems to me, that the Unionist parties in Scotland, will accept whatever the UK Government manages to put together, even if that means a raw deal for Scots.
Unionists claim, that the SNP are distracted, by their preoccupation with breaking up the UK. And the Unionists might have a point, if it were not for the fact that they too are blinkered. Blinkered by their preoccupation with keeping the UK together. At all costs.
The results, of this years Scottish Parliamentary election, would suggest that most folk are wise to the fact, that Ruth, Kezia and Willie won't put Scotland first. Where there is a divergence, between the interests of the rest of the UK, and Scotland, they'll pick the latter every time.
Knowing that Unionists, and the UK, won't do what's best for Scotland, unless it happens to coincide with what they want for themselves, is all fine and well. But when will people take the next step? When will they follow things through to their natural conclusion? If their faith in the parties of the Union has gone, why won't they place their faith in Scotland?
The more I think about it, the less I like the term ‘nationalist’. This is as much for the negative connotations attached to it, as for the presumed support for, or affiliation with, the SNP, that it often, wrongly suggests. Nor for that matter, am I particularly fond of the term ‘independence’, as it rather perversely, gives credence to the lie, that Scotland is somehow dependent upon England, for her very survival.
I prefer to think, and say, that I support self-determination for Scotland. Where self-determination is taken to mean "the process by which a group of people, usually possessing a certain degree of national consciousness, form their own state and choose their own government", and "the state of being free from the control or power of another".
You might believe, that words are unimportant, that it all amounts to the same thing. And you would be at once, right and wrong. Right in so far as, Scottish Nationalists, believe in self-determination for Scotland, expressed through independence from England. You would also be wrong, because words, and wording, can be critical, when framing a question, for say, a poll, or indeed, a referendum. This is beyond dispute.
Would the idea, of self-determination, be more or less appealing, to someone who voted no in 2014, than independence? Who knows? But there are, undoubtedly many in Scotland, for whom their aversion to Scottish nationalism, and therefore independence, is best explained by their irrational hatred of the SNP. This is a serious problem for the Yes campaign. I myself, had to set aside the fact, that Alex Salmond has an effect on me, not unlike that of nails running down a blackboard. It’s probably unintentional, but he always looks, and sounds, so damned pleased with himself. Self-determination for Scotland, is not about, nor does it belong to the SNP. That they are currently it’s driving force, is something of an issue, nevertheless.
If only, one or more of the other main parties, in Scotland, could bring themselves to shake off the shackles of Unionism. Then we’d really be getting somewhere. Sadly, despite being in favour of self-determination for Scotland, as thing stand, the Greens, don’t command sufficient support, to make a significant difference to the cause. We can of course, discount the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, the name, after all, says it all. It is however, interesting, that Scots Tory toffs, like Burnett of Leys, who would once have given the Scottish Parliament a wide berth, seeing it as decidedly second class, are now infiltrating it’s ranks. Could it be, that they are starting to accept, that the writing is on the wall?
There is, I would suggest, perhaps a little more hope, for Scottish Labour. Despite being saddled, with a third rate leader, who might have passed muster in Holyrood’s infancy, but who is most definitely now, out of her depth, never mind, stuck in the mud, there are promising omens, Perhaps, the only hope Kezia Dugdale’s branch office has, of escaping the mire it has haplessly landed itself in, is to recognize, as Alex Rowley does, that the status quo, just won’t do, any longer.
As for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, what are they for anyway? Does anyone know anymore? Could they themselves, even answer that question? Once upon a time, they were a breath of fresh air, looking to bring about change. They were a modern alternative to the creaking dinosaurs that are the two main UK parties. Now, they are just the same. Just this weekend, they rather pathetically, passed up the opportunity to reinvent themselves. By embracing a conference motion to support independence, they might have once again, stood apart, by standing for something. Something that isn’t broken, Brexit-Britannia. Instead, they opted for business as usual. More of the same. The same as Scottish Labour, and the Tories.
I believe I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I could understand attachment to the UK, if it were great, but it isn’t. Far from it. What will it take, I wonder, for enough of the fifty-five (or is it fifty-two now?), to believe Scotland can succeed, where the UK has failed? The rest of the UK, specifically England, has charted a course, that is arguably further from Scotland’s desired destination, than ever before. It beggars belief, that three parties who claim to want what’s best for Scotland, continue to unthinkingly place their faith in a Union that clearly, does not.
As a rule, I sleep with ear-buds in, my iPod tuned into Radio Scotland. I’ve done this, ever since I discovered it to be a rather pleasant way to drift off to sleep, and then, some hours later, to gently, gradually awaken. Last night, Radio Scotland was supplanted by the BBC’s television coverage of the US presidential election, via the iPlayer app, which though playing on screen, I opted to listen to, eyes closed, rather than watch. After half an hour or so, I must have drifted asleep, as I’d thought, and indeed hoped I would. A few hours later, at 3am, I slowly come to, just as I’d intended (what a marvelous thing, our internal alarm clock!).
By then, it was already clear, that the momentum, if she ever truly had it, had shifted away from the former Secretary of State. Now, it was with the tangoed snake oil salesman, real estate mogul and former reality television personality I like to call the Trumpet. The seasoned, stalwart, presenters and pundits expressed their astonishment, that against all the odds, the self-professed anti-establishment crusader, could be about to vanquish the combined forces of the political class, the corporates, the majority of the mass media and countless other vested interests, to deny the Bush-Clinton dynasty the succession, to which they’ve come to believe they are entitled.
At the outset of their coverage, Andrew Neil, Katty Kay, and the wider BBC team, together with their many esteemed and expert guests, repeated what we’ve been being told for months. They told us, nay, reassured us, that the Trumpet’s path to the White House, was a narrow one indeed. They were wrong, for just a few hours, and in my case, some shut-eye later, we were being told just the opposite. It was, Hillary ‘crooked’ Clinton, the very embodiment of the establishment, who’s path was the narrow one. So narrow, it transpired, that it led only to defeat and despair.
Was it a surprise, or a shock? I’m not so sure it was. Those who say, that a number of people must have been less than honest, when asked by pollsters, about their voting intentions, may have been right. But what about those, off the radar, as it were, who weren’t asked? Or the quiet ones? For some time, I had had a sneaking suspicion that, like the Scottish independence and EU referendums, where a significant number chose to remain silent about their intentions to vote no, and leave, there were a good many shy Trumpeters.
A curious coalition saw the Trumpet emerge victorious. The following, is by no means exhaustive, but aims to paint a broad picture. Firstly, there were the died in the wool Republican’s who, when push came to shove, and though many were repulsed by their candidate, simply couldn’t bring themselves to vote any other way. Secondly, there were those who, relatively speaking, are doing just fine, but harbour an over-inflated sense of grievance, fueled by avarice, misogyny, racism and xenophobia. Together, those two multifarious groups, who are, by and large, at home on the right, wouldn’t have been enough to take Donald Trump all the way. Which brings us to a third group. Last, but by no means least, there were the dispossessed, the disgusted and the disillusioned. Those who feel let down and abandoned by the elite. It was arguably they, who carried their would be champion, the rest of the way to the White House.
Shamelessly, Trump was selling the same snake oil offered up by Nigel Farage and his fellow Brexiteers, during the EU referendum. And enough people swallowed it. His plagiaristic battle cry “Make America Great Again”, reminiscent of the Brexiteer’s equally vacuous “take back control”, was similarly simple, but effective. Like his new best friend, Farage, Donald Trump made claims that were both fantastical and frightening. Put bluntly, he made promises, he himself, those advising him, and many of those who voted for him, must know he won’t be able to keep. Yet, enough people, so disenchanted are they, with the great and the good on Capitol Hill, that they were willing to put this inconvenient truth to one side, and make Mr Trump their President.
People’s disdain of the American establishment, came to be personified, in their deep dislike, and distrust of Hillary Clinton. How much of that, is down to her considerable political baggage and how much of it is down to straightforward sexism, is not important here. Both factors, undoubtedly played their part, and the Trumpet played them for all they were worth. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it was probably a mistake for the Democratic Party to select her as their candidate. You might ask, if they felt she wasn’t the best bet in 2008, why would it be any different in 2016? Did the Democrats feel they owed her? Possibly. Would Bernie Sanders have defeated the Trumpet? Probably.
For better, or worse, Donald Trump is now the USA’s President-elect. And for what it’s worth, when making his victory speech, he chose to reach out, as the American’s like to say. He was calm, conciliatory and consensual, when he could have chosen to crow. He was even, shock, horror, respectful if not reverential towards his erstwhile rival. It was, just a little strange, after nearly a year and a half of bellicose, belligerence and bile. When Mr Trump said “I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all of Americans”, let us hope he meant it. Many of us, will find it difficult to set aside his anti-immigrant apoplexy, the racist remarks, demeaning the disabled and appearing to boast of having sexually assaulted women, amongst other things. We can only hope, for example, that “The Great Wall of Mexico”, goes the way of the NHS’s £350million a week.
Like Brexit here, I very much doubt that Trump’s “Brexit plus, plus, plus” will come anywhere near providing anything like a panacea for all America’s ills. Time will tell, if now that the circus of the campaign is consigned to history, President Trump proves far more serious, stable, sane and sober that the ranting and raving demagogue, that blundered, belittled and bashed his way to the White House.
The 45th President of the United States, will be, a megalomaniac, money worshipping, mendacious misogynist, or he will be, Donald J Trump. Do not be surprised, if it is the latter. There is every possibility, that the same anti-establishment fervour, that brought about Brexit, hands the keys for the White House, to the cartoonish clown with the crazy comb-over. Many wish to resist this, insisting that if the choice facing American’s, is indeed, selecting the lesser of two evils, then it has to be Hillary. The alternative, they’ll tell you, would be too catastrophic to comprehend. Some would say, if Hillary Clinton is the problem, Donald J Trump is most definitely not, the solution.
How it came to this, is a question for another day. A more pressing concern, is whether or not, whoever wins, will prove to be as disastrous a President as their detractors, would have us believe. Somewhere, when you strip away the public persona, peoples perceptions and exchange the heat of the campaign for the cold light of day, there are two real, flesh and blood human beings. Are there not? The question is then, just how close the characters of the two human beings in question, are to their caricatures?
Can Hillary Clinton, really be as cold, calculating, corrupt and crooked as her countless critics say she is? Or is it, that subtle sexism, is seeing to it that she held to a higher standard than her male opponent? Love her, or loathe her, it does appear as if the last forty, or even fifty years, have for her, all been about this moment. But why, should such ruthless, single mindedness, be held against her? In that way, she is no different from her husband, or Tony Blair, or any other career politician, successful or otherwise, for that matter. Surely, Presidents and Prime Ministers need a certain steeliness, to see them through?
Similarly, could it be, that for all his bullish bravado, and offensive oafishness, Donald Trump is simply saying what he thinks needs to be said, if he is to get elected? Might President Trump, be more of a pragmatist? Does he really intend to build a wall, and have the Mexicans pay for it, and even if he does, is it at all practicable? If he becomes President, Trump might well seek, to shake up the establishment. He can expect to be met, with no less than intransigence and inertia. If the United States’ system of checks and balances, ensures that none of the three branches of government, has too much power, it also often robs them of enough power, to get anything meaningful done at all.
To state the obvious, there are Republicans who will never, ever vote for Hillary Clinton, and there are probably just as many Democrats who will just not vote for Donald Trump. To do so, rightly or wrongly, goes against every fibre of their being. Partisanship, will play it’s part. It will not however, make the difference. It is perhaps those Republican’s who cannot bring themselves to vote For Trump, and those Democrats that will not vote for Clinton, who ultimately decide the outcome of this election.
In a weeks time, the rhetoric will give way to reality. All the stupid, distasteful things, the next President of the United States did, or said, in the past, will become ever so slightly less important than that, which they do or say, in the future.