Archive for the 'Donald Trump' Category


The French Presidency, Manchester Gorton & how long will Trump last – latest betting market round-up

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Macron remains the strong odds-on favourite in France

LAB eases a touch in Gorton but still very strong favourite

Punters think Trump’s got a 50% chance of NOT completing first term

Mike Smithson


Main polling headlines from the US and in the UK

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Trump slumps to historic approval rating low less than a month after becoming President

CON lead over LAB up 6% with Opinium


Cyclefree on invitations to address Parliament and the latest PB cartoon

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Cartoons by Helen Cochrane and Nicholas Leonard.

In June 2012, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, gave an address to both Houses of Parliament, with the Speaker of the Commons, one John Bercow, giving a welcoming address.  Nothing very surprising there and surely nothing controversial about such an invitation or speaker.  But even Nobel Peace Prize winners can be criticised and Miss Suu Kyi has, for her reluctance to use her undoubted moral authority within Burma to speak up for the persecuted Rohingya minority or against those attacking them.  The Rohingya are Muslims, have lived in Burma for many many years, are being denied Burmese citizenship and there are credible accounts of their persecution (including rape, murder, burning down of mosques and ethnic cleansing) by the Burmese state and Burmese nationalists.  The Rohingya are now refugees living in abject conditions in the borderlands of Burma and its neighbours.

In November 2012 the Emir of Kuwait was invited to make a speech to both Houses of Parliament while on his state visit.  The Speaker gave a welcoming address.  Kuwait is not an example of a state which places much value on the principles of equality. Foreign workers and stateless Arabs (called ‘bidoon’) as well as women face legal discrimination.  Free speech is constrained.  It is not the worst Middle Eastern state for lack of human rights is the best that can be said.

In 2015 the Chinese President was accorded a state visit to Britain and a speech to Parliament with, once again, the Speaker making a welcoming speech.  China is hardly in the gold star class when it comes to human rights.  A list of its failings would swamp this post.  But to take two examples: baby girls have been routinely aborted (in many cases against the mother’s wishes) or abandoned at birth with the connivance or active encouragement of the Chinese authorities.

Despite this long-standing practice (arguably, whatever one’s views about abortion, believing that female infants should not live or be abandoned is about as sexist a view of female worth as it is possible to have) the UN felt able to hold its Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in September 1995, an event at which a Mrs Clinton made a well-received speech about women’s rights which, curiously, did not mention what happened to female babies or their mothers in the host country.  The Chinese state also mistreats its separatist Uighur (and Muslim) minority, going so far as to seek to prevent fasting during Ramadan, something which would provoke outrage if attempted by any Western government.

Well, one could go on.  But the point is obvious.

What might we learn from these examples?

  1. Realpolitik requires us to sup with all sorts of unpleasant regimes or ones where we may disagree with some of their policies or with people who are less than perfect.
  2. Muslims are mistreated in many countries, often by fellow Muslims. Demonisation of Muslims is not a Western speciality.
  3. Pointing out the hypocrisy of the Speaker is unlikely to shame someone shameless enough to broadcast his own virtue quite so loudly and publicly.
  4. If you’re going to make a virtue of your own principles, it might be worth examining how much you have in fact followed them. Otherwise others might think that those principles are no more important to you than a fashionable coat, to be discarded when fashions change.  Principles these days appear to be like the Access card of old – “Your flexible friend”.
  5. However bad these countries are, we hold – and should hold – ourselves and countries like the USA to higher standards. Even so, it is excessive hyperbole to suggest that the USA or Trump are so very much worse than, say, the King of Saudi Arabia or the Chinese President or their respective countries.
  6. It used to be said that “the personal is political”. It sometimes appears these days that the political is only personal, political imperatives to be determined only by personal character, who is one’s friend and who one hates the most.  This is the politics of a playground full of teenage girls.  If one is a friend,  all  can be excused.  If one is not, nothing can.  Oh dear.

Whatever else Trump may or may not achieve as President, he has already joined the ranks of those few politicians who induce a sort of mental derangement in their opponents.  Mrs Thatcher was one, Nixon another and in earlier times, FDR, seen by some – certainly at the start of his Presidency – as a traitor to his class.  Only time will tell whether Trump will achieve anything remotely comparable to what those politicians achieved.  Something more than anger and a gift for using Twitter is required.



Tonight’s cartoon on Trump

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Cartoons by Helen Cochrane and Nicholas Leonard.


John Bercow says he will block Trump from addressing Parliament during the President’s State Visit

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Does President Trump really have the temperament not to respond to this intervention for the Speaker of the House of Commons? I think not, keep your eyes of Trump’s twitter account.

Blimey, this sounds like good news for those of betting on Trump not visiting the UK in 2017. If I were you Mr President, I wouldn’t stand for this insult. I guess Theresa May is going to be very annoyed at Speaker Bercow, and Her Majesty might also find herself in an invidious position.

This is the latest betting from William Hill on whether the State Visit will happen or not. If I was betting afresh, I’d take the 9/4.



More data from today’s Trump visit YouGov polling

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017


First polling on Trump’s UK visit has 49% supporting and 36% opposing

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

In spite of the massive petition against it and the huge furore and demonstrations within the last 48 hours new UK polling this morning finds that 49% telling a YouGov Times poll that the visit should go ahead with 36% saying it shouldn’t.

That means that public appeared to be backing Theresa Mays line on the controversial invitation.

I suspect that if it’s felt that the security issues would be so great a polite way of postponing the visit would be created. You can see one of the parties having a minor illness or something of that nature which means that it is postponed.

Whatever the gloss from what at first appeared like triumphal visit to Washington last week by the PM has fallen away following the executive orders from the White House on refugees, Muslims, and immigration.

Mike Smithson


The lack of options for Brexit Britain

Monday, January 30th, 2017


Since the Brexit vote, British politics has been curiously alternativeless.  The government rules without any effective opposition.  The Prime Minister was installed by her party as the only imaginable choice once the other would-be contenders had been properly scrutinised.  Theresa May was not particularly inspiring.  But what else could the Conservative party have done?

The Prime Minister has spent some months reviewing her options, only to find that she has none.  She has rightly concluded that controls on immigration are a non-negotiable feature of any Brexit deal, given the basis of the referendum campaign.  So, making a virtue out of necessity, Theresa May has announced that Britain will not be seeking continued membership of the single market (knowing that it was not on offer if Britain insisted on controlling immigration from the EU).  She is looking for a swift agreement on limited terms, accepting that a more comprehensive agreement is in practice impossible.  But what else could she have done?

Having burned its bridges with the rest of the EU, Britain must find new friends – or rely more heavily on existing ones.  And as Thucydides said over 2000 years ago, “It is the habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do not desire”.  So Theresa May concluded that despite disagreeing strongly with Donald Trump on many matters, including the importance of NATO, the appropriate response to Russia and tariff-free trade, she needed to get as close to the incoming administration in Washington as possible.  There were obvious risks given the new president’s apparent waywardness, his loose relationship with the truth, his past boorishness towards many women and a smorgasbord of troubling policy positions.  Britain had to proceed on the basis that those could be contained or sidestepped.  From that point, the British government’s foreign policy in relation to the USA was founded on hope.  But what else could she have done?

The Foreign Office secured the undoubted coup of getting Theresa May to meet Donald Trump first of all the world leaders.  And she gave a serious and thoughtful speech to assembled Republicans in which she announced that “The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over”.  Once again, the Prime Minister made a virtue of necessity, given the new president’s own clearly-expressed views on the subject.  This marks a sharp break from the liberal interventionist consensus of the last two decades.  But what else could she have done?

No one can accuse Theresa May have being underprepared for her meeting with Donald Trump.  She seems to have taken to heart Thucydides’ words that “It is a general rule of human nature that people despise those who treat them well, and look up to those who make no concessions.”  With firmness she publicly declared on his behalf that he was fully committed to NATO.  He was charmed sufficiently to guide her through a colonnade.  From that point on the two of them will be forever inextricably associated in the public’s eyes as being hand in hand.  That was a hostage to fortune that Theresa May must have regretted from the very moment that she felt his paw grasp her.  But what else could she have done?

When the Prime Minister left the USA, the consensus was that she had added to her stature.  It unravelled all too quickly as Donald Trump signed an executive order on Holocaust Memorial Day to ban those born in seven countries from entering the USA.  (The president seems unaware that the approved way of interpreting his words was seriously but not literally and seems dead set on being taken seriously and literally.)  This caused outrage in Britain well beyond the usual sources, with a series of Conservative MPs queuing up to condemn it.  A petition to deny Donald Trump the state visit that Theresa May had promised him has accumulated signatures at a record-breaking pace, soaring far past the million mark in a day.  As I write, she seems trapped between wanting to recognise the undoubtedly real disgust that many Britons feel about this policy that affects prominent Brits, including Sir Mo Farah, and not wanting to offend Donald Trump, whose goodwill she so desperately needs.  She looks simultaneously venal and feeble.  But what else can she do?

The contrast is starkly made with other European leaders.  Angela Merkel, for example, has felt no need to rush to Donald Trump’s side.  She has been able to set her own course and has felt uninhibited in condemning this policy.  She is able to do this because she has more options, options that are derived in large part from Germany being in the EU.  Britain, it is becoming painfully clear, is out of options.

Does this mean that Britain should backtrack on Brexit?  No, that ship has sailed.  But the limits of the control taken back are becoming painfully apparent.  That man Thucydides first recorded the view that “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”  Britain is getting a crash course in the truth of this dictum right now.  Ancient history has never seemed more modern.  Expect Britain to have to suffer much more in the coming years.

Alastair Meeks