She may hold his hand. I prefer to kick him in the wallet!!
I’ve been involved in all sorts of campaigns over the 50 years that I have been in politics. My first ever picket was outside a Barclays Bank to encourage them not to invest in the Cabbora Bassa dam project which financially bled Mozambique dry for decades. I campaigned to “Stop the 70s Tour” when we objected to a racist team being selected to play cricket in England for South Africa. In both those cases I have thought that the best thing to do at the time was to draw, in so far as I could, a boundary between the UK and some other country. I hoped and was certainly proved right in the 70s tour case that what we did in the UK did eventually affect for the better what happened in another Country.
I don’t always take that view. In the past few years I have been to places like Russia and China. I do not approve of many of the things that happen in those Countries but decided that the best way forward was to engage with them. This was particularly because I was predominantly working with Mayors and Councillors who were doing the same sort of job as me and just as frequently chafed at the dictates of central government.
This brings me to my latest soul searching. What should my approach as an individual be to what is happening in the USA under its veil President, Donald Trump. The language I am using here is important to me. I have never railed against other Republican Presidents in the same way. The Bush father and son and Ronald Reagan were people with whom I disagreed but could so respectfully recognising that they had been elected and that the cultures of their country was different to mine.
I cannot speak or behave the same way with an America that has chosen, albeit by a minority of voters, Donald Trump as its President. Firstly I object to him as a person. His views on women seems to be a species of meat with legs and sexual parts. “You can grab pussy, if you rich you can do anything”, might be locker room talk to him but it was never talk like that for me many years when I occasionally used locker rooms. He vilifies religions; he offends nations throughout the World; he forces the poor of his country into poverty for health reasons, he ……. Well I’ll stop there but I could go on.
Everyone hoped that all these things would be suppressed when he took office. It appears, however that the reverse is the case. He believes that now he is the President he can do what he likes in these regards. I said during the election that one of the most disgusting things I had heard in that election was Trump saying, “If I saw a Syrian child I’d look them in the eye and tell them to go home”. As we all know now he means what he says. The richest nation in the world (just) has put up the barriers to children and asylum seekers from the Middle East. Not all the Middle East, of course, just the parts of the Middle East where Trump doesn’t trade!
Trump’s views on climate change, refugees, trade barriers, education and health will affect us all directly. Indirectly we can see in places like Greece that his election has given a false legitimacy to fascists and fascist leaning parties. “If it’s good enough for the ‘Leader of the Western World, it’s good enough for me”, say the Golden Dawn fascists.
Well he isn’t my leader and I intend to do what I can politically to limit the damage he is doing to the World. But that is not enough. I have now declined an offer to speak at a Conference in New York in the summer. I have made it clear to political colleagues what I am doing and why I am doing it. The trouble with this being, of course, that most of them agree with me!
The real way to hit Trump is in his pocket which is why I will be boycotting, in so far as I can any product or company with an American HQ.
If we all took that view we could really make a difference.
- I will not be buying an Apple smart phone of pad when my current ones grind to obsolescence in the near future.
- I will not go to the USA on holiday
- I will not consider a Ford car when my car needs replacing
- I will not shop in ASDA.
- Some decisions are very easy for me. I never drink Coca-Cola or eat in McDonalds on health grounds anyway. BUT I do love Cadbury’s Chocolate. No more. It’s Fairtrade chocolate only for me from now on.
In fact I will now look closely at whatever I buy and choose to find alternatives to American products whenever I can.
This may sound like a small gesture. If it’s just me it would be. But what if all the 1,000 people who turned up at St George’s Square in Liverpool last week it would have a bigger impact. What if all the 200,000 people who also demonstrated throughout the UK also took that view. It would have quite an impact. What if all the 1,500,000+ people who have signed the Trump visit petition took this line. The impact would be clearly visible across the Pond.
Of course other people may legitimately take a different view of this. Fair enough. My concern, however, is that many of the people who came out for a demo think that this is enough. They shy away from thinking through what they can really do and possibly shy away even more from something that will inconvenience them.
Believe me folks if I can give up Cadburys Chocolate after 64 years all of us can give something up and hit Trump where it hurts most – in his wallet!