President Trump is in Britain this week. He is being carefully steered from golf course to country mansion to avoid the crowds, as dozens of events are planned up and down the land to protest against his presence. I’m not someone who turns out for protests very often, but I will be joining the London march today.
Donald Trump represents almost everything I oppose: extreme inequality, climate change, rapacious greed, racism, misogyny, militarism, protectionism. He is an obstacle to practically every cause I support. He represents the past that will not go quietly.
Trump’s Republican administration has already alienated allies, started a trade war, destabilised the Middle East, set the climate agenda back by years, and appalled the world with its cruelty at the borders. In all of this Trump appears to have no conscience, no concept of truth, and no regard for anyone but himself. He is an agent of chaos, and thrives on the outrage that he provokes. We are only 18 months into his time in office. Things can get a lot worse before his four years are out, let alone a second term.
And yet, today Donald Trump will spend the day being flattered by the British government and the royal family. Red carpets will be rolled out, silver will be polished. Fawning speeches will be made about the special relationship.
Theresa May can’t say what she really thinks. She has diplomatic ties to maintain, however much we may dislike it. That’s why the rest of us need to make it clear what we think: that these are not our values. We reject Trump’s fear, hatred and greed. These views and policies, whoever holds them, are unwelcome in Britain. We will stand for peace, cooperation, and the common good.
I’m not taking a placard with me this afternoon. I won’t be burning effigies or chanting obscenities. We shouldn’t meet hatred with hatred, and one of the reasons that I’m going along is that it’s important to have moderate voices present too.
I suspect that Trump won’t notice the protests, and that he’ll take to Twitter to declare how much Britain loves him. But our own government knows about the demonstrations and has already had to fit its plans around them. The more people turn out, the more clearly we can communicate that we won’t stand by and do nothing while hatred, greed and division are treated as normal.
- For details of demos near you, see stoptrump.org.uk