Tag Archives: donald trump

Donald Trump is the most dangerous threat to western democracy this century…but not for the reasons you may think

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Donald Trump is a dangerous President.

That’s not an especially controversial statement to make outside of his own social media support bubble. In fact, Donald Trump is so obviously ineffective, anti-intellectual and corrupt that the fact he managed to get elected to the highest office in the democratic world is something of an impressive achievement.

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Observations of an expat: The end of Trump?

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It has been a bad June for President Donald Trump – and the month has just begun.

The death of African-American George Floyd at the hands (or, if you prefer, knee) of a Minneapolis policeman has sparked demonstrations and riots across America and the wider world.

The president’s plan to wrap his proposed military clampdown in a religious cloak badly backfired when he was condemned by mainstream American religious leaders for using the Bible as a political prop.

It looks as if the president is about to lose another Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper. And his first and most popular Defence Secretary, Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis has finally ended his long self-imposed silence and denounced Trump as “divisive”, “immature” and “incompetent”.

But it gets better, or worse if you are Trump or one of his supporters. The president’s decision to withdraw from the World Health Organisation has met with universal condemnation from world leaders. They largely accept the American premise that China delayed passing on vital information about coronavirus, but reject Trump’s sinophobic and UNphobic assertion that the WHO colluded with Beijing.

Then there is the forthcoming G7 summit which Trump wants to expand to re-admit Russia and include India, South Korea and Brazil. Basically he is trying to stack the deck in his favour after being snubbed at the two previous G7 meetings. This has gone down like the proverbial lead balloon in the foreign ministries of the existing G7 countries, and could easily spell the end of the G7.

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30-31 May 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Govt must follow the science when it comes to easing lockdown
  • Govt must rethink plans to shut down virtual Parliament
  • Govt must issue “crystal clear” guidance for those returning to sport
  • Ministers must explain evidence behind decision to ease lockdown
  • Foreign Secretary’s silence on Trump tweets is shameful
  • Govt decision to press on with reopening schools “deeply worrying”
  • Govt must urgently scrap Vagrancy Act as part of plan to end rough sleeping

Govt must follow the science when it comes to easing lockdown

Responding to reports that several members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group have warned of the risk of easing the lockdown in England on Monday 1 June, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The decision by key members of SAGE to go public with their concerns shows that Ministers are no longer following the science.

The test, trace, isolate system that we need to keep people safe is not yet fully functional. The NHSX app is delayed for an unknown period. For seven days straight the Government has been unable to provide even basic data about the number of people tested. On top of these failings, public health messaging has been badly undermined as people see it’s one rule for the Tory elite and another for everyone else.

Given this chaos, measures to lift lockdown appear premature. At every stage the Liberal Democrats have been clear that the Government must listen to the experts and follow the science. Protecting public health and tackling the spread of the virus must always be the Government’s number one priority – many are questioning whether this remains the case.

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Observations of an expat: Sino-American Covid diplomacy

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It is difficult to tell who is winning the Sino-American Coronavirus diplomatic battle. Two weeks ago I would have put the US in the lead. They had successfully poured ice water on Chinese claims to have successfully suppressed the spread of the virus in China. It is now generally accepted that the Chinese statistics are extremely dubious.

This week the pendulum has swung the other way. The reason is the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly which – unsurprisingly – was dominated by the pandemic.

The pendulum received a gentle push from the European Union which successfully proposed a full and independent investigation into the causes, spread, handling and consequences of coronavirus as well as a report into how best to deal with a repeat crisis.

On the surface, this would appear to be a victory for the Trump Administration who have been loud on their accusations – despite all evidence to the contrary – that Covid-19 originated in a Wuhan virology lab from whence it reached the community by accident or intent. The Chinese have been even more outrageous with their leading conspiracy theory: America developed the virus and despatched US military personnel to Wuhan to spread a Covid-19 paste on hundreds of Chinese door knobs.

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Observations of an expat: Coronavirus exploitation

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A pandemic is a perfect excuse for politicians to exploit public fear for their own political advantage—and many of them are doing just that.

Let’s start with Trumpland where the administration’s mishandling of the pandemic means that the country is fast heading for a world-beating 100,000-plus deaths. Trump is using coronavirus to stoke the fires of Sinophobia. China has been the US administration’s chief bogey since 2016 when advisers such as Steve Bannon were warning that a Sino-American war was inevitable. The anti-Chinese stand is also proving popular with the voters in an election year with 70 percent of the electorate critical of China.

China’s President Xi Ji-ping is just as bad. Between Beijing and Washington an increasing number of outrageous conspiracy theories have been launched by both sides. The Chinese have also used the pandemic to boost military operations in the South China Sea and is selectively dispatching its medical equipment to countries where it thinks it can establish a stronger foothold. It has also used Covid-19 to crackdown on Hong Kong dissidents and is claiming in capitals around the world that its relatively successful handling of the pandemic demonstrates the superiority of the country’s political system. The latter claim is a leaky bucket as increasing doubt is poured on Beijing’s death statistics.

One of the most blatant pandemic power grabs is in Hungary. President Viktor Orban has managed to persuade his parliament that the danger of the pandemic means he should rule by decree for an unlimited period. As a result, the already sycophantic press has been further muzzled and public protests have been banned and in some cases criminalised.

In Turkey, President Erdogan, released thousands of prisoners from jail—except the political prisoners. He has also blocked fundraising efforts by opposition city councils in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir.

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Observations of an expat: American guinea pigs

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Thank you America for volunteering your citizens as coronavirus guinea pigs. To be more specific, thank you President Trump and the governors of Florida, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Minnesota, Vermont, Ohio, Idaho, North Dakota, Montana, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

They have decided that the first duty of government is the protection of the almighty dollar rather than the protection of human life. Dan Patrick, Lieutenant Governor of Texas, has gone further and proposed that elderly Americans should offer to die to protect the economy.

Because public health and safety is the responsibility of state governments, anti-lockdown measures vary from state to state. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have been the hardest hit and are trying to ease back towards normality with a suck and see approach.

Georgia is more dramatic. The Governor still advocates social distancing but is reopening restaurants, hair salons, bowling alleys and — my personal favourite — cinemas. Just how hormonal teenagers will manage back row gropes while sitting six feet apart is a mystery waiting to be solved.

South Carolina is reopening its beaches and non-essential retail outlets and Tennessee’s Governor Bill Lee has more or less said to hell with it and opened everything.

Meanwhile the anti-lockdown protests continue, spurred on by commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity dubbing coronavirus a “pandumbic.” The first and biggest demonstration was in Wisconsin. An estimated 2,500 people, many of them wielding guns and pro-Trump banners, gathered outside the governor’s mansion in Lansing. The Democratic Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, had angered them by imposing a strict state-wide lockdown.  On Thursday it was announced that seven of the demonstrators had been diagnosed with coronavirus.

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Observations of an expat: The political vacuum

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The coronavirus pandemic is a global problem. It requires cooperation at the local, regional, national and international level. Political point scoring, unilateralism and nationalism have no place in defeating Covid-19. Pandemics are no respecters of bank balances, social position and especially not borders.

Unfortunately, the leaders of the Western democracies are failing to rise to the occasion, and the result could very likely be long term damage to our political system.

Ever since World War Two, the world has looked to the United States for leadership in times of crisis. Not this time. Nearly four years’ experience of Donald Trump’s isolationist unilateralism has taught us that he is congenitally incapable of forging the international consensus that is called for. Trump’s arsenal of political tactics is limited to attack, mockery and denigration. He has no strategy and the concepts of compromise and cooperation are totally absent at the personal, national and international level.

So far Trump has managed to damage the prospect of essential bipartisanship by referring to coronavirus as the Democrats’ “new hoax”. In any national crisis it is essential to have the media on board as the vital channel of communication. The president has denounced them as peddlers of fake news and “sensationalism.” European allies were estranged by Trump’s unilateral decision to close American borders to their citizens.

But perhaps worst of all, has been the president’s treatment of China. By repeatedly referring to Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus” he has alienated the one government whose experience of the pandemic could prove invaluable in stopping it.

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Observations of an Expat: Viral Trump

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Up until the Second World War the United States was an isolationist country. It stayed out of the European-led  imperial carve-up to concentrate on developing its own contiguous empire. The country briefly emerged from its shell in World War, and then promptly pulled up the drawbridge, lowered the portcullis and retreated back into a continental shell protected by two ocean moats.

After World War Two, US involvement in world affairs was essential for holding off the Soviet Union and world stability. Then came Donald Trump. It was not clear at first whether the New York property mogul and his “America First” policy was an isolationist or unilateralist,  or a bit of both. Coronavirus has helped to answer the question.

But before that, it must be made clear that Donald Trump’s major concern is not America’s national interest or world stability. It is, quite simply, Donald Trump. At the moment that means winning a second White House tenancy agreement in November 2020.

That is why in the early days of coronavirus  he was keen to minimise the dangers. He had a “hunch” that it was going to be OK. People should continue going to work even if they had Covid-19 symptoms. Flu, said Trump, was more dangerous than Coronavirus. He claimed there were plenty of testing kits when his scientific experts said the opposite.

There was a purpose to these  irresponsibly dangerous and false statements:  to keep the stock market indices as high as possible.  Trump’s best chance of winning a second term is a continuation of the booming market that has marked his first three years.  Trump once famously said that if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue his supporters would still vote for him. Perhaps, but will they vote for Trump if their pensions are destroyed; meagre savings wiped out and jobs and homes lost?

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We need to find ways of stimulating people to debate inequality

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Donald Trump has pulled off a masterstroke of marketing for the film Parasite. I would probably have gone to see it anyway, but once I’d heard his sniffy “Can we get Gone With The Wind back?” I was duty-bound to see it.

Having now seen it, I’m not its greatest fan.

It’s certainly original, but I can’t help feeling its missed a trick. It does make for uncomfortable viewing at times. For Trump, that discomfort probably comes from the massive differences in wealth between the two central families in the film, and the beautifully ambiguous meaning of the title leaves you asking “Who is sucking the blood out of whom?” – a level of self-reflection the 45th president is probably not used to.

We need films that force us to discuss inequality in today’s world. The differences between the richest and poorest even within a single company are at times obscene, and it’s not just liberals who reach the point where they wonder how far the disparity between the wealthiest and the poorest can get before it indicates a dysfunctional society, if not the pre-conditions for social revolution.

As a good liberal, I believe in equality of opportunity. I realise that won’t lead to equality of outcome, and I’m OK with that as long as earned wealth doesn’t tamper with the basic rights of everyone in society (eg. we are all equal under the law, we are all of equal human value even if some have different economic values compared with others, etc). I know wealth currently does buy privileges it shouldn’t (look at the law!) but I’m talking about the society we should be striving for.

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Why Bernie Sanders is our best hope

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With Super Tuesday done we’re now in a two-horse race between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination with Joe Biden now the frontrunner. Many Liberal Democrats welcome this shift which I think is short-sighted. We need Donald Trump removed from office and a clear-eyed analysis suggests that Sanders has a better shot at this than Biden.

Many US moderates believe that Sanders, as a self-described socialist in the land of the rugged individual, cannot win. But the data shows that he can. Sanders can take advantage of increasing numbers of younger voters, as well as votes lost in 2016 by Hillary Clinton to Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, in the crucial swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin to flip them back. He’s also got much greater appeal to independents than other Democrats, who will be crucial in November. So the ‘Sanders can’t win’ line is not rooted in actual evidence.

Conversely anyone who see Biden as a safe bet needs to take a much closer look. He is a legacy candidate whose success so far has been through trading on his name recognition and association with Barack Obama. Watching the Biden of just four years ago (here explaining Sanders’ appeal) underlines how much he has declined since then. Only this week he called it ‘Super Thursday’ and confused his wife with his sister at a rally. Perhaps most significantly the corruption allegations against Biden’s son Hunter – still to be fully ramped up by the Republicans- give Trump an easy reprise of the ‘Crooked Hillary’ line and will neutralise any Democrat attacks on this corrupt presidency.

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Observations of an ex pat: Stuck in a car

I have just spent two days in a cramped Vauxhall Astra chauffering my brother, his wife, her sister and her brother-in-law. It was an interesting experience. They are from the Bible Belt states of North Carolina and Georgia respectively and dyed-in-the-wool Republican Trump supporters. They regard me as a beyond redemption loony liberal.

The first day they were recovering from jet lag and weren’t up to political battle. But as we drove out to Oxford on the second day swords were crossed. The group’s champion was brother-in-law, Paul, a Christian missionary with a political science degree. We disagreed, but the disagreements were illuminating.

As expected, the discussion focused on Trump. Here are a couple of highlights:

Trump and the rule of law – I maintained that Trump is riding roughshod over the American constitution and the rule of law as evidenced by his refusal to allow White House staff to testify in the Senate Impeachment trial.

Paul’s response – The Democrats in the House of Representatives had their chance to call staff. They could have gone through the courts and forced the White House to respect the subpoenas. They chose not to, so they have lost the right to complain

Myself – If they had pursued the issue through the courts it would have taken months, perhaps even years.

Paul – That is the way the legal system works. You can’t complain that Trump is riding roughshod over the law and then deny him access to due process.

Myself – Hmm…

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Observations of a ex pat: Goodbye democracy?

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It has become a political fact of life that democracy on both sides of the Atlantic is under severe threat.

The latest proof of this danger is the Senate acquittal of Donald Trump in a judicial exercise that makes Stalin’s Moscow show trials look like paragons of legal transparency and justice. The Conservative British government is going in the same direction, albeit by a different route.

The root of the problem is respect —or lack of respect— for the rule of law. For democracy to work it needs clear legal parameters and elected political leaders who accept that their responsibility is to represent their constituents within a legally binding constitutional framework.

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The response to Trump’s peace plan should be – recognise Palestine now

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As we leave the EU, we need to show that we are not Trump’s poodle. Britain must therefore publicly be seen to reject the wholesale attack on the rule of international law that is unfortunately an important element in Trump’s so-called “deal of the century”, his plan for peace between Israel and Palestine.

Although the “deal” contains positive elements, such as aspects of its vision for cooperation in economic development, nothing can hide the fact that it contains a diktat to be imposed on the Palestinians that deprives them of their right of self-determination (whilst brazenly maintaining that the contrary is true), as well as the territorial integrity of the Palestinian land that Israel occupied in 1967.

The “deal” has understandably already been described as creating “disconnected Bantustans” rather than a Palestinian State. If it is successfully implemented in the form in which it is published, it is likely to mean the end of the two State solution and become the focal point for a struggle for equal rights for Arab and Jew between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. It also has the regrettable appearance of trying “to buy” the Palestinians so as to induce them not to insist on their rights. That is creating anger far beyond Palestine.

The plan claims to recognise the realities on the ground. This assertion must be called out.

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Observations of an ex pat: Who’s on trial?

It is not just Donald John Trump who is on trial in the US Senate. In the dock before the court of world opinion are 100 senators, the American justice system, the rule of law and democratic institutions in the United States and in every other country which follows its lead in promoting liberal democratic ideals.

Like it or not, America has been historically viewed as the world’s leading exponent of the interlocking values of democracy, judicial transparency and the rule of law. It likes to think of itself—as the Puritans and President Ronald Reagan said—as “the shining city upon the hill.” The light has been dimmed by the current administration, but it is still spluttering away. But if the Republican-controlled Senate block the calling of witnesses in the trial of President Trump it will be pouring a bucket of water over that light.

American law is based on English common law. And one of the basic tenets of English common law is that everyone – regardless of their position in society– is entitled to a free and fair trial. The obvious question is: How can you have a fair trial without witnesses? How can you determine a person’s innocence or guilt until all the evidence has been heard and the witnesses have been interrogated and cross-examined?

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Is being bullied by Donald Trump the future for British foreign policy?

The news, as broken by the Washington Post, that the Trump Administration threatened to levy a 25% tariff on British car exports to the US unless Britain warned Iran of violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a deal in which Iran would accept strict rules and oversight of its nuclear activity in exchange for being allowed back into the international community, should concern us all.

Of course, it wasn’t just Britain – the French and Germans were threatened too.

But the difference between us and them is that the French and Germans are part of a bigger group, and …

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Observations of an Expat – New Year, Bad Start

2020 was never going to be a good year. A veritable armoury of Damocles swords hangs over us – Brexit, Ukraine, impeachment, tariffs, the cohesion of the Western Alliance, US presidential elections and, of course, that perennial headache, the Middle East.

Donald Trump’s killing of General Qassem Soleimani almost completely severed the threat suspending the Middle Eastern sword. Frantic efforts are being made to retreat from disaster. Hopefully they will be successful, but serious damage has already been done and governments around the world are reassessing their positions in light of the New Year developments.

At the heart of the issue is …

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3 January 2020 – today’s press release

Lib Dems respond to Iran Crisis

Responding to reports of the death of General Qasem Soleimani by a US Air Strike, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

Iran is governed by a brutal regime which has been openly hostile to the west.

Donald Trump has yet again radically and recklessly escalated tensions in an area where peace-keeping was already on a knife edge.

There is a real danger this will stoke further conflict, undermining peace and stability in the region. Given the severity of the crisis, the Prime Minister must make a statement about the UK’s position immediately.

The UK should

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4 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Trump and Johnson are two peas in a pod
  • Lib Dems: Tory Gower candidate should be removed
  • Blocking intelligence report undermines the democratic process

Trump and Johnson are two peas in a pod

Responding to President Trump’s comments that Boris Johnson was “the right man for the time” and he should “come together” with Nigel Farage, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Chuka Umana said:

Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are just two peas in a pod. They have the same old right wing, nationalist politics. No wonder the President is falling over himself to find an opportunity to endorse Johnson.

With his desperation to please

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31 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Stop Brexit. Build a brighter future.
  • Brexit hinders growth in green, clean cars
  • Davey: Labour’s spending plans “can’t be squared with the cost of Brexit”
  • Self-harm and assaults in prisons preventing rehabilitation
  • Lib Dems: Donald Trump and Boris Johnson both unfit for office

Stop Brexit. Build a brighter future.

Today, Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats are launching their slogan for the General Election campaign: Stop Brexit. Build a brighter future, alongside a campaign poster launch.

This election is a once in a generation opportunity to reshape our politics, and give hope to the millions of people who want a fairer, brighter future.

The Liberal Democrats’ slogan reflects a positive …

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On politicians and TV

Dorothy Byrne is Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4. She was invited to give the annual MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh Festival, and she grasped the opportunity to say some pretty pertinent things about politicians.

You can read her funny and very pointed speech in full here, but we can give some extracts:

On trust and politicians:

Don’t believe politicians when they say that the public doesn’t trust the so-called mainstream media in the UK. They trust TV. Remember, terrestrial television has huge levels of trust:  71 percent. 

It’s politicians who are not trusted – they have a trust rate of 19 per cent  And news on the internet – the medium  politicians are increasingly using to bypass us – has, according recent Reuters Institute figures,  a trust level of only 22 percent with a mere 10 percent for news on social. 

But in recent years, there has been a dramatic fall in politicians holding themselves up to proper scrutiny on TV and in recent months and even weeks, that decline has, in my view, become critical for our democracy. 

We have a new Prime Minister who hasn’t held one major press conference or given one major television interview since he came to power. 

That cannot be right. And we have a leader of the opposition who similarly fails to give significant interviews on terrestrial TV. We may be heading for an election very soon. 

What are they going to do then? I genuinely fear that in the next election campaign there will be too little proper democratic debate and scrutiny to enable voters to make informed decisions.  

On TV interviews:

During the 1987 election, Thatcher and Kinnock chaired daily press conferences and gave several full-length interviews. Even more recently, Miliband and Cameron also did extensive interviews in election campaigns.

However, Theresa May, when she was leader, and Corbyn, failed to hold themselves to account in the same way. In the 2017 election, May and Corbyn did only one or two events a day. 

Outside of election periods, and setting aside some interviews with Andrew Marr, Theresa May’s PR people generally said she would do interviews of only four minutes, maybe six if you were lucky. 

Throughout her time as PM, May’s longest interview with Channel Four News was seven minutes. How do you delve into the complex problems of our times in a few minutes. Jeremy Corbyn sometimes permits only one question, and then doesn’t answer it!

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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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