Yesterday evening, thousands gathered in cities across the country to protest once more against Trump, against his reactionary programme, and against Theresa May’s Tory government, which has cosied up to the new US President in the hope of a post-Brexit trade deal. The message was loud and clear: Donald Trump is not welcome here!
Yesterday evening, thousands gathered in cities across the country to protest once more against Donald Trump, against his reactionary and racist programme, and against Theresa May’s Tory government, which has cosied up to the new US President in the hope of a post-Brexit trade deal. The message from those demonstrating was loud and clear: Donald Trump is not welcome here!
In London, as MPs – in response to a two-million strong petition – debated whether or not to allow Trump a state visit, several thousand gathered outside Parliament to demonstrate against the US President and his racist policies. Speakers such as Diane Abbott, John McDonnell, and Caroline Lucas all spoke from the platform to rebuke not only Trump, but also Prime Minister May, admonishing the Tory leader for her decision to remain silent in the face of Trump’s “Muslim ban” – all in the hope of renewing the “special relationship” between America and Britain.
There is an understandable and genuine fury amongst ordinary people at how May and the Tories are throwing themselves at the feet of a racist, sexist, anti-working class bigot. It’s clear to everyone that this cringeworthy fawning and bootlicking is all because the British ruling class is desperate for a trade deal with the USA in the wake of Brexit.
Like Brexit, the Trump presidency is the product of misdirected rage against the establishment. It was only possible because of the lack of a left-wing alternative. As the Tories continue to prostrate themselves before the US administration, more and more people will join demonstrations and draw the conclusion that the only way forward is with anti-establishment politics from the left – only a bold socialist programme can beat Trump.
The 1.8 million signatures gathered by the petition opposing Trump’s state visit are an indication of the strength of opposition to Trump’s politics, as are the tens of thousands who have protested against the new occupant of the Oval Office and his court of reactionaries and racists.
But the petition was mild in the extreme, to put it lightly. The argument against Trump’s state visit, used both in the petition and by many of the MPs who spoke in yesterday’s debate, was that it would embarrass the Queen. For some reason, all the Muslims, immigrants, women and other millions of people that Trump has insulted and attacked weren’t considered worthy of mention by the authors of the petition or by many of “our” own MPs.
These MPs didn’t seem to mind so much when the Queen met Bashar al-Assad on his trip to Britain for talks with Tony Blair, nor when she met Robert Mugabe in 1994 and awarded him a knighthood. The list of despots and dictators who have been granted royal audiences is lengthy, but never before has such a fuss been kicked up in Parliament. A cynic might be forgiven for thinking that all the apparent outrage and moral indignation conjured up by MPs in the Commons last night was just for show; a chance for MPs to grandstand because this time their constituents are watching.
Clearly most of these politicians lack the ability and will to fight Trump’s politics. They’re more interested in saving the Queen from “embarrassment” and feigning moral concern than in mounting a serious fight against the Right.
Many Labour MPs spoke against Trump’s visit. For those of them who are serious about this, they should be working now with trade union leaders to prepare for a general strike on the day of Trump’s visit – a mass protest of workers and youth, the poor and the oppressed, to bring together on the streets all those fighting against the same rotten system, and to show Trump and the Tories where the real power in society lies.
Now is the time for deeds, not just words. The leaders of the labour movement need to put an end to the shameless sycophancy of the Tories towards the US administration by linking the call for a general strike to a political strategy: to bring down the Tory government and fight Trump with socialism.