Monday, 11 December 2017

Business and circuses

The early invitation by May for Trump to make a State Visit to the UK looked pretty silly at the time.  The more time passes, the more reason he gives people for demanding that it be cancelled.  If I thought that anything he said was thought out before he pressed finger to keyboard, I’d almost be tempted to suggest that it was entirely deliberate – he wants it to be cancelled.  Not only would that spare him the prospect of protests against his presence, it would also fuel his claim to be willing to stand up for America in the light of all criticism.
It seems unlikely that the invitation will actually be rescinded, though.  It’s more likely to sit behind the clock on the White House mantelpiece gathering dust in the vain hope that all concerned will simply forget about it.  The UK Government responds to every call for the visit to be cancelled with a resounding ‘no’.  Whether the messages being delivered privately by diplomats are any different is another question, but I doubt it for two reasons.  The first is that if any different message had been passed on quietly, Trump would surely have tweeted about it.  He struggles to keep quiet about anything, and certainly not any suggestion of a slight to himself.  And secondly, there is the long history of the UK according official state visits to a succession of tyrants, dictators, and crooks.
There are reasons aplenty to withdraw Trump’s invite; I don’t think I even need to spell them out.  But can it really be said that he is a less worthy invitee than many of those already on the list?  Turning the issue into a question of whether or not one person should come is to avoid the real underlying issue, which is the willingness of the UK state to welcome all manner of undesirables to these shores in the hope of economic advantage, lavishing them with honour in the process.  The best way to stop Trump’s visit is to abolish the whole business of state visits, which are anachronistic and irrelevant, a throwback to a Ruritanian past.
Economically and politically, we have little choice but to deal with the world as it is, and that sometimes means dealing with some very unpleasant people whose values few of us share.  But we don’t have to fete them in the process.

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