Archive for the 'Donald Trump' Category


Trump the Time magazine “Person of the Year” – it is hard to disagree

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Notice that’s he’s described as President of the “Divided States of America”


The PB/Polling Matters podcast: Now two years old and heading for 1m+ downloads

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Big Ben

The best analysis & insight on the latest political polling

With this latest PB/Polling Matters podcast the development, pioneered by pollster Keiran Pedley, is two years old during which time there have been more than 900k downloads with the million mark not that far off.

PB began collaborating with Keiran a few months after the launch and since then this has become a key part in the overall site offerings.

On this week’s anniversary edition Keiran is joined by regular contributor Rob Vance and US Democratic Pollster (and one half of ‘The Pollsters’ podcast) Margie Omero.

Keiran, Rob and Margie look again at the US presidential election, Trump’s latest tweets and who to watch out for on the Democrat side looking ahead to 2020.

Later in the show Keiran and Rob talk about Paul Nuttall’s election as leader of UKIP and Keiran looks at today’s ICM poll and explains why Labour focusing on the threat from UKIP may be missing the point.

Follow today’s guests at: @keiranpedley, @robvance, @MargieOmero

Mike Smithson


Why Populism Trumps the Status Quo

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

A bird’s-eye view, from over the pond by Julian Glassford

The political earthquake that the Republican Party’s president-elect has sparked is bigger than the United States of America, and bigger, even, than the ego of “braggadocios” Donald Trump. With tremors still being felt right around the globe, the shock outcome has taken virtually everyone by surprise and left not just the Democratic Party but also donkeys in the media looking rather jolted, dazed, and confused. Meanwhile, the call goes out for relevant conjecture on the part of those of us with experience of life both inside and outside the all important ‘enlightened’ metropolitan bubble at the centre of this, the mother of all plot twists.

Mr. Trump’s victory had a lot to do with the (impossible) promise of economic revitalisation, shared prosperity, and renewed national pride: The American Dream meets Back to the Future Mercantilism, on Viagra. It also amounts to a rejection of the ignominious corrupt, fraudulent, and bloody interventionist machinations of the British/American establishment and associated special interests, plus neoliberal globalism more generally. Presented with a choice between negative, state-sponsored propaganda that directly demeaned and ostensibly threatened anyone who dared think outside the box (‘Project Fear’) and faintly nostalgic utopian visions of a simpler, more united land of opportunity, hope, and glory, voters in their tens of millions chose the later, on both sides of the Atlantic. For better or worse, the UK got its #Brexit and, true to the ‘special relationship’, paved the way for our cousins over the water to get their #BrexitPlusPlusPlus.

However, what most commentators fail to appreciate, or perhaps daren’t say, is that the protest vote goes deeper than the much parroted axioms that people are uninspired by the same old insipid political ‘suits’, fed up with the malfeasance of the elite, have been economically ‘left behind’, or are simply “deplorable” ‘angry white men’. From the rednecks of the Rust Belt to the Sioux of Standing Rock, folks feel that they themselves, their kith and kin, or their kind, have lost or risk losing their place, and way, in life. They have had their sense of communitarian belonging, conviviality, and constancy – the very stock of neighbourhoods and, not to mention, natural environments – decimated by the steady march of the faceless foot soldiers of capitalistic ‘human progress’. What we are seeing, in the rise of populism, is an appeal to a population who are not simply divided along socioeconomic lines, or even in terms of the left-right political spectrum, but as a reflection of differential psycho-philosophical responses to largely unmandated societal transformation.

Households have been destabilised, yes, by structural economic issues like inequality, job insecurity, and financial volatility vs. the rising cost of living and credit constraints, but also by a host of sociological factors in this, The Age of Anxious Individualism. Numbered among these are: the post-Christian ethical, communal, and life-structuring institutional void (with little besides insidious hyperconsumerism to fill it), increasingly transient/volatile romantic and parental relationships, work/life imbalance, and #DigitalDisconnect. In other words, moral, vocational, aspirational, technological, and interpersonal abstraction, uncertainty, and insecurity weigh heavily – albeit often chiefly at the subconscious level.

In view of the above, it doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to fathom why, then, the counter-culture anarchy of occupy ‘hacktivism’ and flip-side demagoguery of the ‘Dark Enlightenment’ are on the rise, from Main Street to Moscow. As The Spectator succinctly put it: “the success of a candidate as grotesque as Donald Trump speaks to the depth of the despair felt in the country”. Ultimately, it’s about trust, which is fast disappearing at every level of society, and with the perception that the system is rotten from the top down and those behind the wheel determined to drive us off a cliff, our bought-off bureaucracy’s vehicles of progress, and even our direction of travel, are now in question. Received wisdom and authority appear evermore dubious, progressive norms are under threat, and social contract itself is potentially at stake.

The Republicans won not because of, but in spite of, the mainstream media, who, it’s fair to say, put their money where their mouth is i.e. manifestly skewed both their political donations and election coverage in favour of Clinton. Truly, it was a triumph of grass roots politics and the Digital Age political weapons of mass destruction: social and alternative media. In this new media environment, when compared with the unfiltered authenticity of ‘The Donald’ and Grand Master: Nigel Farage, the politics of spin and ‘perception management’ are looking increasingly like a busted flush. What the established order must quickly comprehend, therefore, is that it would be wise to get to grips with the inconvenient truth outlined above – as opposed to directing surreptitious and punitive measures against critical outfits like WikiLeaks and RT, in increasingly vain and hypocritical attempts to maintain the status quo.

Focussing on promoting the hypernomalisation of suboptimal social conditions and of cultural norms and practices not conductive to the public good, along with smearing, sanctioning, and silencing eccentric critics, like Farage and Trump, demonstrably only appears to cement suspicions, fuel resentment, and make up the minds of the undecided. Instead, now is the time to pursue more pluralistic, open, and transparent modes of public discourse and politics, across all institutions. The democratic deficit must be meaningfully addressed and, more fundamentally, we need to continue the conversation – sparked by the likes of Professor Richard Wilkinson – about how best to ensure that human endeavour produces equitable outcomes that truly enhance the human condition. ‘Trickle-down’ is in dire need of a reboot.

Such an imperative necessitates structural change, including the root and branch removal of money from politics and, relatedly, space for serious electoral/media/financial sector/regulatory reform and disentanglement – as indicated by a string of recent public enquiries. What the disaffected masses of the West hunger for is the restoration of, and respect for, their heritage, values, and identity, combined with recourse to renewed social conscientiousness, moral courage, and gritty pragmatism, engendered and imbued by our leaders – the Lincolns and Churchills of tomorrow. They long for the politics not of deceit or calculating compromise, but of genuine representation, consensus building, and common consent; “of the people, by the people, for the people”. Anything short of this Cultural Revolution will likely result in Geert Wilders’ “Patriotic Spring”, and we all know what that is a euphemism for, and where it leads.

Along with a number of other European political leaders, Theresa May has rushed to reposition the Conservative Party in recent months. Such moves represent a conspicuous attempt to steal a march on the likes of the UK Independence Party and France’s Front National, sensing the nascent populist paradigm shift that Brexit indicated and the US presidential election has confirmed. Interestingly, here in the UK the Labour Party arguably has the most to lose or gain by ignoring or observing the take home message from recent developments, as it sets out its vision of ‘21st Century Socialism’. However, it remains to be seen to what extent the bubbling heat of discontent – that rallying cries like #MAGA and #TakeControl tapped into – will continue to cause political climate change, in strange and mysterious new ways, going forward. What does seem certain is that the USA needs now to come together, buckle up, knuckle down, and focus on turning adversity into opportunity, as is the American way.

Bio: Julian Glassford is a UK-based social, political, and economic commentator.



Extraordinary. Trump wants Farage to be Britain’s Ambassador to the United States

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016


What does Theresa May do about this?

Perhaps the most extraordinary development of Trump’s victory in British terms is the Tweet, from the President-elect, giving his view on who he wants as Britain’s man in Washington.

I can’t see this being looked at favourably at Number 10 but it does put the the PM in a quandary. It is vital for so many reasons that Britain has a good relationship with the new administration but having Farage there would be extremely difficult.

It would also be politically humiliating for Mrs May to follow this course.

What’s also extraordinary is how Twitter is being used. In days gone by there would be all sorts of discreet soundings in both London and Washington over who would take on this job but the idea of this being carried out on social media is a graphic example of the new world we are in.

There’s a form of blackmail in Trump’s Tweet. If May doesn’t agree then the implication is that Britain will have far less influence and certainly less knowledge about the thinking of the Trump administration.

    Whatever you’ve got to admire the chutzpah of Nigel Farage in all of this. His link with the incoming President is going to be a constant irritant to ministers.

It will be interesting to see how the bookies price this one. Expect some betting markets to be announced this morning.

Mike Smithson


The PB/Polling Matters Podcast: Why Trump won and what’ll he do in his first 100 days

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016


On this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast Keiran is joined once more by White House Correspondent and US political analyst Jon-Christopher Bua.

Jon-Christopher gives his verdict on why Trump won, what went wrong for the Clinton campaign and what happens next with a specific focus on President Trump’s first 100 days.

Later in the show Keiran gives his perspective on what happened with the polls and where pundits went wrong.

Follow Keiran at @keiranpedley and Jon-Christopher at @JCBua


Trump card. Shuffling the deck on Brexit

Monday, November 14th, 2016


Picture: Raheem Kassam’s twitter feed.

The tectonic plates are moving, so John Prescott once told us.  Boy have they moved this year: we have seen the most almighty earthquake storm.  What reverberations can we expect for Brexit from the election of Donald Trump?  Is it good news or bad news for Britain?

For decades Britain has had a strategy of being a bridge between Europe and the US, through its trading and political links to the EU and its military and foreign policy closeness to the USA.  Voting to leave the EU burned that bridge, with the UK opting out of the current level of political engagement with the rest of the EU.  Britain’s negotiations with the EU were shaping up on the basis that the EU would be forming more direct links with the US, while Britain sought to engage with each primarily on a trade level (plus military cooperation where required).

If Hillary Clinton had won the US election, we would have seen no immediate change to international machtpolitik.   NATO would have looked secure come what may and the current cold peace with Russia would continue.  The US administration would have continued to pay homage to free trade, in theory if not in practice.  The EU would have felt relatively geopolitically secure, able to regroup after the shock of Brexit and liable to downplay or disregard the non-trading aspects of Britain’s contribution to the region.  This would have been tough terrain for Britain to conduct its negotiations with the rest of the EU for exit, with the prospects for a favourable settlement likely to prove dim.

We shall never know, because Donald Trump was hired.  What this means is at present wholly unclear.  It may be that NATO will continue much as it has to date.  It may be that Russia’s ambitions continue to be kept within their present bounds.  It may be that the US administration will prove no more protectionist than in the recent past.  Right now, however, none of this is at all certain.  With Donald Trump not only thinking the unthinkable and saying the unsayable but also seeming erratic, only the brave will predict with confidence what will come next.

The result was received with utter horror in most of Europe.  The European diplomatic response has so far proven woeful.  Angela Merkel issued a statement, presumably designed more with an eye to her domestic elections next year than to furthering international relations, that pointedly made a close working relationship contingent on the common values that she identified Germany and America as sharing (and which President-elect Trump has not to date obviously demonstrated).  Jean-Claude Juncker went one step further, stating that Donald Trump’s election risks upsetting EU ties with the US “fundamentally and structurally”.  He loftily pronounced that “We will need to teach the president-elect what Europe is and how it works” and predicted that two years would be wasted while Mr Trump “tours a world he doesn’t know”.  Perhaps they catch flies with vinegar in Berlin and Luxembourg.

The news that Nigel Farage was the first foreign politician to meet Donald Trump made things worse.  If Donald Trump wanted to wind up the Eurocrats, the stunt was judged to perfection, complete with a gaudily opulent photo-opportunity.  The EU’s foreign ministers gathered to show unity, a gathering undermined by the absence of both Britain and France, the EU’s major military powers.  It is hard to disagree with the assessment of the also-absent Hungarian foreign minister that the response was hysterical.

The new dynamics offer both positives and negatives for Britain in their Brexit negotiations.  Let’s look at the positives first.  With the USA’s status as guarantor of Europe’s security in serious question, the position of the region’s military powers assumes more importance than previously.  A cool-headed negotiator on the other side would recognise the need to keep a major military power engaged and supportive.  On the other side of the Atlantic, Donald Trump would no doubt welcome a foreign policy success and building one off the back of Brexit would be natural given the way in which he has positioned that in the mythology of his own campaign.  This could give Britain the opportunity to forge a new bridge between Europe and the USA, this time through trading and political links to the USA and military and foreign policy closeness to the EU.

However, there is no evidence that the EU is going to be a cool-headed negotiator: quite the contrary. The idea of an EU army is likely to gain much more momentum and Britain will need to take great care not to be additionally stigmatised by the Brussels hierarchy as part of an axis of evil with the USA.  Nigel Farage has evidently softened his own objections to unelected bureaucrats (so long as he is the unelected bureaucrat) but having the UKIP leader as the face of UK/US relations would emphatically not help on this front.  Theresa May must hope that Donald Trump has a spare gilded cage for Nigel Farage.

Nor is it at all clear that the glittering prize of a comprehensive trade deal with the USA is available to the UK.  Donald Trump has run a protectionist campaign and seems set to raise tariffs against other countries.  His principles seem quite flexible enough to allow him to lend a hand to Britain but whether he wishes to spend the time and political capital doing so must be open to severe question.

So the election of Donald Trump has introduced an unexpected dynamism into Brexit negotiations.  With luck and good judgement, Theresa May might secure a better deal than we were heading for.  Handled badly, Britain’s geopolitical status post-Brexit might be still worse than it would otherwise have been.

Is the British government adroit enough to change European perceptions of it post-Brexit in the changed circumstances?  With a foreign secretary who has offended the new president and with whom the German foreign minister reportedly can barely bear to be in the same room, the signs are not encouraging.  The stakes have just got considerably higher.

Alastair Meeks



It’s not neo-fascism, it’s the classic variety

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

Never mind if he meant it or not, Trump campaigned on it

Fascist. It’s a word that could have been designed to be spat out as an insult. The first syllable invites you to screw up your face and the second is little more than a glorified hiss. And a very good insult it is, one that’s easily thrown at anyone seeking to implement liberty-curtailing or discriminatory policies.

The problem is that’s it’s been so readily used as an insult for so long that it’s easy to miss the real thing when it rears its ugly head. And in America, it has reared its ugly head. Donald Trump won his election with a platform and behaviour that was essentially classically fascist.

Some will of course bridle at this. It’s one thing to laugh at him; it’s another make such a comment in earnest. After all, if we’re serious in that analysis, what does that sat about the electorate that picked him? Were they taken in? Did they not notice? Or did the dark side of the Land of the Free reassert itself in a spiritual echo of the Jim Crow laws, McCarthyism and the genocide of the Native Americans?

But facts are facts. Among the key aspects of fascism are a leadership cult; an intolerance of liberalism, legal process and democracy; the myth of the nation’s special destiny, that destiny being under threat and the leader as saviour; the identification of enemy groups, within and without, as hostile to the concept of the nation, and the demonization of those groups; an intolerance of the traditional elite and a courting of the working and lower-middle classes in opposition to them, emphasising the victim status of the ordinary man and woman and encouraging their anger; and a tolerance for and at times advocacy of the legitimacy of violence to solve problems.

Trump’s language and statements during the presidential campaign ticks pretty much every box. What marked him out as distinct from other presidential candidates past and present was his lack of restraint and his apparent lack of concern for the potential consequences of statements which were at best pandering to bigotry and at worst dog-whistles to violence.

Two objections might be levelled at this point. The first is easily dealt with, which is to the objection that he can’t be racist or sexist because he’s worked with women, blacks and others. But he’s also tarred the majority of Mexican immigrants as rapists and of muslims (and only muslims) as potential terrorists. It’s no more a defence that he works with some minorities than a skinhead football fan from the 1980s claiming that he can’t be racist because he supported Frank Bruno.

The second objection is that Trump was only playing electoral games and will govern more consensually, as indicated by his victory speech and his comments after meeting Obama. The speech and the comments were indeed conciliatory but the objection misses two points. Firstly, if there is a moderate side to him, we cannot yet know whether that is his authentic one and which side he’s been displaying for effect or popularity. But secondly, a pivot to the centre now cannot undo what he was willing to do and say during the campaign. We know his lack of restraint because it’s been on show for the last year and more. Just because he was able to control himself this week, it doesn’t mean that he’s turned over a new leaf or that what went before was fake.

And therein lies one of the biggest risks to his actions: he has stoked the fires of resentment and those who bought in to his saviour myth will want results. What happens if he cannot deliver – or if he doesn’t want to. Having legitimised behaviours and views seen previously as beyond the pale, the genie cannot easily be coaxed back into the bottle. Those who are angry now will still feel that their pain was legitimate, only that now they’ve been betrayed yet again.

Which is where it gets really dangerous, not just in the US but in Europe too because Trump’s victory again not only legitimising the far right but proves its potential electoral appeal. Next month, Austria goes back to the polls in their own presidential election. The neo-fascist FPÖ might well win. Next March, the Dutch hold their own elections, where the anti-Islam PVV looks set to make significant gains and may finish first. And then there’s the next big one, the French presidential election, where Marine Le Pen could top the first round vote. Could she win? After this last year, it would be foolish to write her chances off; her main opponents all bear Hillaryesque similarities. Further east, but for the leadership cult, Putin is defining the modern fascist template. Mussolini would approve.

Fortunately, the one big disadvantage that this generation’s fascists face that their predecessors in the 1920s and 30s didn’t is their inability to remould the state as a dictatorship. Trump might head a movement and talk the talk of locking his opponent up but his movement is without a body – the Republicans in the states and in congress are not necessarily with him, and the Supreme Court remains as a check on his power. There will be no American dictatorship any time soon.

Even so, since his election, the world has politely turned a blind eye to Trump’s campaign record, presumably out of respect for the office and its power. That’s a mistake. He should be called out for what he is.

David Herdson


If Clinton does win the popular vote then it’ll make the polling look a tad less bad

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016


Whatever this is going to go down as a massive polling miss

This is becoming a bit of a pattern. A massive election in which the pollsters are seen to have performed badly.

We haven’t got the final national vote shares yet but it is likely that Hillary Clinton will have topped Trump so the deviations for many in the RCP list above will be within the margins of error. Unfortunately for her it is state Electoral College Votes that matter not the popular vote.

Some of the state polling, though, was out by quite some margin.

Inevitably this is going to undermine confidence in polling generally in many different countries and my guess is that we’ll see far fewer surveys being commissioned. That’s what happened in the UK post the GE2015 polling fail where the number of surveys is nothing like what it was in the 2010-2015 parliament,

But there’ll always be a need to take a snapshot of public opinion and polling will continue in some form.

As for the betting I feel that I’ve had a lucky escape. I had bought Clinton at 302 ECVs on the spreads and would have had a massive liability if I’d stuck with the bet. Fortunately I got out at a nice profit at the weekend.

Mike Smithson