Tag Archives: donald trump

The unstoppable Rise and Fall of “Tony” or “Pony” Johnson

Will the Dutch Mark Rutte stay on being the only European Prime Minister who, sitting alongside President Trump during an official White House visit, dared to loudly and unambiguously contradict The Infallible Donald, and on US-EU trade relations no less? The Women’s Football World Championship showed that resisting (longer than others) an American onslaught is a Dutch speciality, but we would like some allies.

The British political reactions to the affair of the ambassadors leaked email comments about the Trump White House showed outsider Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt standing up for the ambassador sending his candid “long telegrams” just as George Kennan did in 1946, while Boris Johnson continued appeasing Trumps tender ego, the ITV debate being the clearest demonstration (see the Guardian and the BBC). Boris even almost-supported Trump disqualifying a British prime minister. Hopefully the discrete Mr. Johnson will do the same when he is PM; Trump spares no ally whatsoever when doing his early morning twitter fusillades.

If that doesn’t remind the British electorate of Tony Blair playing the “Iraq poodle” to president Bush junior (with foreign minister John Bolton pushing the WMD myth), the fact that Boris & Raab like Charles I and Buckingham still see proroguing Parliament as a normal way to push through European policies, should reinforce that analogy. In his Guardian interview about creating an “Boothroyd parallel parliament”, Rory “Realist Tory” Stewart reminds us that when Blair wanted to evade a vote on starting the disastrous Iraq War by prorogation, MP’s threatened to reconvene in Church House to demonstrate their opinion that a “War Powers vote” (my term) was obligatory.

The only difference between the Blair-Bush and Johnson-Trump relationship is that Boris, in his liberal mayorial affectation in 2015/6, was more forceful in disqualifying presidential candidate Trump, than Blair ever was about Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign.

Boris will absolutely hate being identified as a second Blair (wanting to put the UK “at the heart of Europe”, after defending the 1983 eurosceptic Labour platform); all the more reason to start calling him “Tony Johnson”.

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8 July 2019 – today’s press releases

Two today, with two more embargoed until after midnight (we’ll publish them in the morning)…

Labour heads towards another Brexit fudge

Responding to the latest potential shift in Labour Brexit policy, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

The unions seem to have moved to a position to support Liberal Democrat policy to stop a Tory Brexit. However, a Labour Brexit would be no better. Labour must rule out their Brexit-supporting leader negotiating their own Brexit deal.

Liberal Democrats have been clear for three years on our policy for Brexit. We will keep fighting to stop Brexit.

Even now, after millions of remainers have deserted

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Was the diplomatic leak part of a plot to make Nigel Farage UK ambassador to the US?


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There was a very interesting discussion on Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, last night, concerning the leaking of memos from the UK ambassador to the USA, Sir Kim Darroch.

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The NHS is not for sale

If you had still had any illusions that our NHS would survive Brexit, these will have been dispelled by the statement of Trump’s ambassador that, “The US will want business access to the NHS in any trade deal”. Indeed, some have speculated that access to the NHS, along with the rest of the economy, is the real reason behind Trump’s visit.

This should come as no surprise, for the “Stronger In” campaign always warned that the country could have Brexit or the NHS, but not both.

The NHS has long been admired by many Americans for its efficiency compared to their own expensive system, at the same time as our own politicians paradoxically sought to emulate the US model by introducing market forces and business practices.

The problem posed by copying Trump’s way of doing things is that we risk losing the close cooperation with Europe that has brought us so much success. A huge threat to both the staffing of the health service and Britain’s leading role in research, is the abolition of free movement. Free movement has been the catalyst for medical advance, enabling the sharing of experience and knowledge as researchers move seamlessly between countries. And on hospital wards all over the country, skilled nurses from many European countries have played a vital role.

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Vince: Trump is damaging our traditional alliance with America

I’m proud of Vince for not going to the State Banquet in honour of Donald Trump tonight.  I am horrified that the biggest welcome our country has is being given to this racist misogynist who has the absolute nerve to slag off London’s mayor as he comes in to land. Trump is an utterly graceless individual.

Vince Cable set out why he opposes Trump’s visit in an interview with BBC News.

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Vince Cable declines invitation to State Banquet for Trump

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Vince Cable has today declined an invitation to a state banquet with Donald Trump.

In a letter to Palace staff organising the impending state visit in June, Mr Cable said:

I have taken the view that as a party leader I should not support state visits where the government of the day has issued invitations inappropriately.

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A Liberal Democrat perspective on Trump’s State of the Union

Last night, Mr Trump presented his State of the Union to the American People and the watching world. I stayed up late and caught a live stream of it, as well as the Democratic Party response delivered by Stacey Abrams.

It was an uninspiring jumble of falsehoods, empty promises, and rhetoric. The highlight of the evening was Congress singing “Happy Birthday” to Holocaust and Pittsburgh shooting survivor Judah Samet, who turned 81.  

The evening began with Presidential hypocrisy as Trump praised three “incredible heroes” who participated in D-Day, yet in November he cancelled his Armistice Day visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial simply because it was raining.

Like Nixon before him, Trump tried to use his State of the Union Address to oppose the ongoing investigation in him and his team, referring to investigations as “partisan” and “ridiculous”. Trump then moved on to praise his “success” with Tax reform – that didn’t pay for itself; he criticised antisemitism – despite his rhetoric directly contributing to a rise in the abuse of Jewish people and communities. He continued his tirade against a woman’s right to have control of her body, he rallied against legal asylum and pushed again for his racist southern border wall.

In one of the stranger twists, Donald Trump told us that he is meeting Kim Jong-Un later this months and that the US has held “constructive” negotiations with the Taliban, and then in the next breath went on to criticise Iran calling them “Bad bad people”. He praised the US Armed Forces; “Our economy is the envy of the world, our military is the most powerful on earth, and America is winning each and every day,” ignoring the fact his recent discriminatory trans ban, will weaken the US Military.

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Puzzling and concerning events in the USA which mark, perhaps, a watershed

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One has to ask what has been achieved by the longest partial government shut-down in US history. Thousands of devoted federal workers had a grim Christmas and January, many of them resorting to food-banks and second jobs.

And now it is over – Donald Trump has hoisted the white flag. His stalwart supporter Lou Dobbs observed that Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, “has just whipped the president of the United States”.

It has all been complete madness. The video below shows Senator Michael Bennet (Democrat – Colorado) making perhaps the most passionate speech I have ever seen. It is worth listening to at least the first ten minutes. It perfectly captures the insanity of the Donald Trump’s shutdown. It is such a brilliant speech that the video has now had more than 11 million hits and is the most watched congressional speech in the entire 40 year history of C-Span!

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Even through bleary eyes, I can see a blue wave

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Well, I’ve stayed up, clicking refresh like a hyper-ventilated gerbil for the last six hours, so you didn’t have to….

The Democrats have comfortably won control of the House. The Republicans have gained ground in the Senate. The Democrats have so far flipped four governor’s mansions, including in Kansas, where Laura Kelly beat Kris Kobach.

Is it is a Blue wave? Taegan Goddard of Political Wire says it is, quoting some convincing figures. The New York Times estimates the Democrat vote margin, based on nationwide House votes, as +7.6%. These last elections were considered “waves”:

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Book review: “Fear” by Bob Woodward


“Fear” by Bob Woodward traces Donald Trump’s campaign to be US President from March 2010, then follows his Presidency until March 2018.

This is a very readable book. The text is set out with plenty of space between the lines, so that it feels like an “easy read”. The chapters are organised by subject, often looking at policy areas in turn. It is skilfully concise. I found it a “page turner”.

It is a serious book. Scores of “deep background” interviews of White House insiders were carefully transcribed and used. There are 28 pages of sources quoted. As Clive James once quipped:

Woodward checks his facts until they weep with boredom.

This is not a rag-bag collection of tales told out of school about Trump. It is a sober record of Trump’s campaign and the first fifteen months of his presidency. Woodward describes the White House process of policy evolution in such depth that the reader emerges with a better understanding of the Trump presidency.

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Reporting Trump’s first year – fascinating insight into journalists on the ropes

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I have a guilty secret.

Every so often, I retreat to Greggs for a Steak Slice, sausage roll, cup of tea and a read of last Saturday’s New York Times.

I get quite excited by the Anglo-American mixture of it all.

Why last Saturday’s New York Times? – I don’t hear you cry.

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Trump; explaining the inexplicable

President Trump’s erratic and contradictory ‘negotiation’ behaviour over NATO, EU and the UK sends British officials off in a frenzy of textual analysis.

It might be more productive for UK policymaking however, to assess the underlying motives of, and domestic pressures on, Trump.

Trump’s core aim is to address US government debt, and close off a series of related economic vulnerabilities; potentially catastrophic for general US global negotiating strength.

Why?

US aggregate debt is likely to exceed 106% of GDP in 2018 according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). A level not seen since WW2. This …

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WATCH: Christine Jardine speaks to anti Trump demo

It was a fine day at the Trump protest yesterday. The photo shows some of the Scottish Lib Dem contingent before we went to the pub to watch sports and drank ridiculous amounts of Prosecco.

My favourite banner was so rude that I definitely can’trepeat it here. To paraphrase, it suggested a name we might like to call the President if only he had warmth and depth.

Our speaker at the demo was Christine Jardine, MP for Edinburgh West. Here she is quoting Bobby Kennedy saying that we don’t need division and hatred but wisdom, compassion and love.

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Why I’m one of the many #libdemsagainstTrump today

I asked on Twitter this morning what the worst thing about Donald Trump was. Many of the replies I got were variations on the theme of “everything.”

It is rare that you find a human being with so little empathy for others and so few saving graces. When that person has so much global power and influence, it’s utterly terrifying.

It’s not just about his racism which leads him to ban people of a certain religion and decry Mexicans as rapists and slag off the most prominent Muslim politician in the UK. It’s not just about the ingrained misogyny which leads him to boast about sexually assaulting women. It’s not just that he is more comfortable with the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un than he is with Justin Trudeau. It’s not just that he is stitching up the Supreme Court and with it threatening human, reproductive, workers’ rights for generations. (Let’s not forget that his current nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who spent the 1990s persecuting  Bill Clinton, now thinks that no sitting President should be subject to criminal investigation). It’s not just that he brags about separating children from their parents and detaining them in soulless camps on the Mexican borders. It’s not just that he is doing the work of a deeply unpleasant Russian dictator for him. Who wins if Europe, the EU and NATO are destabilised? Putin, of course. And I’ll just leave here the news that you may have missed amid yesterday’s trail of chaos and destruction the entirely unrelated news that 12 Russians were indicted for interference in the election that Trump so narrowly won.

Any single one of these things is enough of a reason to protest. Together they are compelling.

How good would it have been yesterday if Theresa May had channelled Hugh Grant from Love Actually and ripped Trump a new one in the Chequers press conference? It was never going to happen, because our position in the world is so weakened because of Brexit, but someone has to stand up to the very real danger he poses to every civilised value that we have until now taken for granted.

But what is the point in protesting? It’s not going to change anything, is it?

Well, sitting at home while this appalling man takes a sledgehammer to the values I hold dear isn’t an option for me. Of course he’s not going to change his ways just because a few hundred thousand of the people he can’t stand take to the streets.

I hope that the coverage of the demonstrations gives some comfort to his targets, though. That they will know that people thousands of miles away stand with them.

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Come and join Jo Swinson at the Liberal Democrat anti-Trump protest tomorrow at 2pm #LibDemsAgainstTrump

The party’s website carries this invite to an anti-Trump protest tomorrow:

The Government has made the right decision to cancel Trump’s state visit, but this scaled down trip must not be met with scaled down protests.

Protesting against a man with dangerous, misogynistic and racist views is our responsibility. It is our opportunity to stand in solidarity with all the people he has abused and denigrated.

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Help our MPs choose their Commons debate – last chance to have your say

Lib Dem MPs have a relatively rare opposition day debate this week. They are approaching it a bit differently by giving you a chance to decide the subject.

What’s particularly brilliant is that you get to vote preferentially too. That’ll be useful for next year’s Ashdown Prize organisers to note.

An email from Alistair Carmichael landed the other day:

On Tuesday 10th July, our MPs have an opposition day debate in Parliament.

This means that we can pick one topic and have MPs debate and vote on it in Westminster.

And we want to hear what you think MPs should be

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Trump’s awful, but we need to put our own house in order

We expect President Trump to turn our long-held values on their head. Whether it’s banning Muslims or building a wall against Mexican migrants, withdrawing from the world’s agreement on limiting climate change, cosying up to Russia’s President Putin and doubting if NATO is still valuable, Trump’s Presidency seems like a bad dream from which we, and America, will only awake when his term ends.

But that will be years hence, Meantime he will visiting Britain next week. Has America changed so much that this presidency is not an aberration but a consistency?

Britain has to stand strong against that fear with Europe, with the EU and with our NATO allies. Our rocky, deplorable government has to be made by the progressive forces to stand up for our national values and our continued security.

So, when we hear that the government is to give ‘careful consideration’ to calls for a renewed judge-led inquiry into our country’s involvement in human rights abuses after the Iraq invasion, Liberal Democrats must assert the necessity for that enquiry until it is granted.

The necessity arises from the two reports published by Parliament’s intelligence and security committee. They show a shameful slippage of our own intelligence services’ values when assisting American operations in Iraq after the 9/11 attacks. It is reported that the UK had planned, agreed or financed 31 rendition operations. In addition, on 15 occasions, British intelligence consented to or witnessed torture, and there  were 232 occasions when the intelligence agencies supplied questions to be put to detainees whom they knew or suspected were being mistreated.

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US needs a birthday present 

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine has called on the Conservative Government to give the American people a “proper birthday present” by standing up to President Trump on human rights.

Ms Jardine made her plea as the US celebrates Independence Day on the 4th of July. The Liberal Democrat MP wants the Conservative Government to use President Trump’s visit to the UK next Friday to “promote the shared values between British and American people” and “condemn Trump’s treatment of migrant families and his comments on torture.”

Ms Jardine said: 

“The British and American people have a long history of shared values. Among the

Posted in LDVUSA, News and Op-eds | 12 Comments

A dose of reality in the heart of one of the states that swung it for Trump in 2016

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Last year I had the privilege of boarding the Amtrak Hiawatha special from Chicago, Illinois to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to enjoy a visit to friends there. “Don’t mention politics” warned my host beforehand “My husband voted for Trump”. A lovely time ensued with only a tangential mention of Bernie Sanders, followed by a hasty subject change onto the safe topic of the excellence of Milwaukee’s many and varied beers.

But, of course, my host’s husband was not alone in Wisconsin. Whereas Obama won the Badger State by a handsome 205,204 votes in 2012, Clinton lost its ten juicy electoral college seats to Trump by 22,748 votes.

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Observations of an ex pat: Iranian ripples

Donald Trump has dropped a massive boulder in the world’s diplomatic pond. Its ripples will be felt in every corner of the globe and in some cases the ripples could quickly grow  to tsunami proportions.

Let’s start with the epicentre– the Middle East. The region is already peppered with smouldering short fuses: The Arab-Israeli conflict; Syrian civil war; Yemeni civil war; Turks v. Kurd; Qataris v Saudis and Emirates; Saudis v. Iran; The Russian presence; threatened American withdrawal; Hezbollah… .

The Iran Nuclear Accord (aka Joint Consultative Plan of Action) was one of the region’s few diplomatic success stories—albeit a limited one.

Since President Trump announced American withdrawal from the Accord, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini has announced that his country will resume work on building a nuclear weapon.

In return, Israel has bombed an Iranian base outside Damascus; announced the preparation of bomb shelters; called up reservists for air defence, intelligence and home front command units and deployed missile defence batteries in Northern Israel.

Iran’s Army Chief of Staff, Major General Mohamed Bagheri, warned: “If the enemy casts a covetous eye on our interests or conducts even a slight act of aggression, the Islamic Republic will give an appropriate response at an appropriate time.”

Back in Washington they are celebrating. Not the problems in the Middle East, but the release of three American citizens from North Korean prison.  President Trump hailed the release as a diplomatic triumph for his administration and the best of auguries for his forthcoming summit with Pyongyang’s Kim Jong-un.

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Tom Brake: Trump “reckless and short-sighted” on Iran nuclear deal

Even Boris Johnson can see the sense in sticking with the Iran nuclear deal.

Unfortunately, his tv diplomacy over the weekend seems to have come to nought as Trump has decided to withdraw the US from it. This news is not going to come as the biggest surprise we’ve ever had but it still makes the world just a bit more unstable.

Tom Brake called the decision short-sighted and reckless, and looks to the EU for leadership, saying:

Trump’s decision to scrap US participation in the Iran nuclear deal is reckless and short-sighted. The deal is far from perfect, but

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Jo Swinson: I’ll take my baby in a sling to protest Trump

When Donald Trump visits the UK on Friday 13th July, many Liberal Democrats will take to the streets to protest against the racist, misogynist, transphobic, views he holds and the actions he has taken in Government to undermine human rights.

On today’s Peston on Sunday, Lib Dem Deputy Leader Jo Swinson said that, if she’s able, she’ll be among them, just as she was on the Women’s March last year the day after the inauguration.

Her baby will be just weeks old at that time and she says that she’ll take the wee one to the march in a sling because he is anathema to British values of respect for others.

She also talked about our prospects in the local elections. Vince had been quite modest about it on Marr and Jo continued in the same vein. She said that we were looking to get a foothold back in areas where we had been wiped out four years ago. She added what we are all experiencing – that our reception on the doorsteps is much friendlier and enthusiastic than it was then.

On Amber Rudd, she was clear that if the Home Secretary had misled Parliament, then she would need to go. She also said that Cabinet Ministers don’t see every memo and what we really needed to do was to have a positive debate on the benefits of immigration.

She was on Sunday Politics later on with Brexiteer Bernard Jenkin talking about the customs union.

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How should Liberals respond to Trump’s visit?

I don’t agree with a lot of what Donald Trump says. That’s shocking, I know. Additionally, I must admit that my gut reaction to the news that good old Donald was coming to visit was a negative one. However, after giving a little more thought and discussing it with people who follow other political ideals, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a little more nuanced.

Trump may be controversial, but he is still the leader of one of the world’s most powerful countries, and one of the UK’s best allies, and in the current international climate, we most definitely need allies, and being allied to the world’s largest military would be useful.

Another argument is that he wouldn’t nearly be the worst world leader to be hosted by the UK government, with the Queen having hosted dubious figures such as Bashar al-Assad and Robert Mugabe in the past. Personally, I don’t give this idea much credence, as using the mistakes of the past to justify what could be a mistake of the future doesn’t make much sense at all. It is accepted that the UK has played host to some controversial figures, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Trump is on the same level as the man who was recently alleged to have used chemical weapons on his own citizens.

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What the Lib Dems can learn about economics from Donald Trump

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wwarby/4860335535/in/photolist-8puuqx-nH9KhK-x5gkW-a2Yx4D-8putCp-a32qpS-a2YbjP-9kJJvt-7b8177-8puprR-6SKbQG-6SKbZG-oKCWvp-dkaUyr-v2EDLi-r1tFvY-r1tFHm-9kNUaq-4Mph7K-ChcB23-8puqfH-8pxBCE-8pxDRo-9kJHqK-aWwhx4-9VBBzN-5WEQZB-a2Ybz8-9kJLQR-9kP8co-4icUAV-9kMMvL-9kMSBb-9kMNwd-bYafLo-8purhr-9kKZfe-nzKQ2n-yNYtG-8pup2p-8purRn-hKv96Z-8pupSi-8pust2-bZPiEm-9kP7hq-a32p7J-8upwDg-5MSyss-9kMKy9Not least among my irritating habits is that I often take the opposite side of the argument to whatever the consensus is at any one time, not because I necessarily believe it, but rather to test my knowledge of my own point of view.

But there are times when even my ability to agitate for an unpopular cause runs aground. Donald Trump’s presidency is one where the well of mischief runs dry.

But there is a lesson for liberals in Mr Trump’s economic policies, as his actions reveal the failings of trickle-down economics …

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Can you name these three animals? Congratulations! Your cognitive skills could be up there with the US President


I said the other day that the “Fire and Fury” book has lowered expectations about Donald Trump:

When you read of the dysfunction and chaos in his White House, it then comes as a pleasant surprise when you hear Donald Trump stringing a basic, reasonably coherent sentence together without falling over the furniture and dribbling.

Well, this week the results of Trump’s annual medical tests were released. There seems to be considerable relief that his tests, at least according to the lead medic, Dr Ronny Jackson, gave good results. As far as Mr Trump’s cognitive abilities are concerned, Dr Jackson said:

The president is mentally very sharp, very intact.

Posted in Humour | 5 Comments

Book review: Fire, fury and landmark transparency in the White House


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There’s a queue for the doorstopper version of “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff. So on the day of the book’s release last week, I got the Kindle version. I then decided to make my life easier by opting for a free trial of “Audible“. So, I have listened to two-thirds of the audio version of the book, read beautifully by the author and Holter Graham. I am sorry that I have not yet finished the book but I admit I am finding the latter half of it rather heavy going.

There’s no doubt though, that this book is a good read. Or in my case a good listen.

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The better angels of our nature

The US state of Alabama went to the polls this week in an election that can hardly have been more polarised.

In what is normally rock solid Republican territory, the GOP candidate Roy Moore faced Democrat Doug Jones. Mr Moore, a right winger opposes abortion in all circumstances, thinks homosexuality is a sin and believes Muslims should not be allowed to hold government jobs.

However Moore’s political views were not what made this race competitive.

The surfacing of allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour was the issue that dogged him during the campaign. It made his principle opponent a contender in a state that the Democrats hadn’t won for decades.

Jones, who has never held office, but is well known in the state for his involvement in a high profile prosecution of Klansmen, was sneeringly described by President Trump as a liberal Democrat in a statement endorsing Moore.

This from a man who with every passing day reminds the Stephen King fans amongst us of the megalomaniac politician, Greg Stillson, from the Dead Zone.

That said these days most Republicans are pretty scary.

You have to go back a long way to find a GOP liberal of the Rockerfeller variety.

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Vince: Trump is racist and evil

Don’t you just wish Vince would just say what he thinks and not hold back?

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Jo Swinson tells Trump to delete his Twitter account

I’m sure most of us will have had slightly awkward conversations with friends and relatives who, say, saw a nice picture of a field of poppies and a union jack and shared it on Facebook not realising that they were sharing the work of the horribly racist and islamophobic Britain First.

I always point it out to people and most of the time they are utterly mortified and swear to be more vigilant next time.

There is no such embarrassment from the President of the US. No pretending he was hacked. No apology. No regret. This isn’t your auntie sharing something inadvertently. …

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Backlash against Trump in US elections


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Here’s a few stories about the encouraging elections in the USA last Tuesday.

Politico summarised the news:

This one was for Donald Trump. Exit polls revealed an unmistakable anti-Trump backlash Tuesday, as Democrats won resounding victories in governors races in Virginia and New Jersey. Majorities of voters in both states disapproved of the job Trump is doing as president, with significant numbers of voters in each state saying Trump was a reason for their vote. And far more of those voters said they made their choice to oppose Trump than to support him.

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  • User AvatarTim13 21st Jul - 4:47pm
    John Marriott Just add: ...and west of Reading to your last sentence! I agree with David Evans and disagree profoundly with Laurence Cox. There MUST...
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    Well said, John. Like my old friend I'd love to know what experience Mr Pugh and Michael 1 have of being candidates, of fighting and...
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    Michael BG, Why do you ask such extremely loaded questions? David and John are talking about local government by-elections where no leaflets and little effort...
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    Laurence Cox, Bearing in mind that equality is one of our three fundamental values, I can't understand why you are suggesting a version of local...
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    John Marriott, I am surprised that in North Kestevan it was possible to get someone elected for us without putting out any leaflets. In 1994...
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    Brecon and Radnorshire is a beautiful area with lots of friendly people. I hope lots more Lib Dem’s will come down to help get Jane...
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