BY JAMIE FOSTER
Owen Jones caused the viewers of Good Morning Britain consternation when he announced he was protesting President Trump’s state visit on behalf of the majority of the country. Viewers quickly took to Twitter to point out Jones was arrogant and delusional and did not speak for them.
The controversial columnist seemed to have misjudged the mood of the country when he decided to elect himself champion of those who wish to protest Donald Trump. It may be timing that he has got so very wrong. When Trump was first elected there was far more call for people to protest his election. As time has gone by this appetite has dropped away. Now he is simply seen as the leader of the richest country in the world and our biggest ally. People wish to have cordial relations with the US and do not see mass protests against Donald Trump as a way of achieving that. While there will always be a number of die-hard anti American lefties out there who will want people like Owen Jones to stir up protest, these people are not in the majority by a stretch of the imagination.
Something else has happened in the intervening time since Donald Trump became US President. He has had a number of successes. The most recent is in relation to North Korea. It is clear that the North’s willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue is, at least in part, due to Trump’s presence on the world stage. His upcoming summit with Kim Jong Un is unprecedented. No other US president has brought a North Korean leader to the negotiating table. It is simply going well. Similarly at home unemployment is down and the economy is doing nicely under a Trump presidency. It is not the unprecedented disaster commentators were declaring it would be when he was elected. None of this is lost on the British public. Trump may be a bit of a buffoon who is liable to intemperate tweets but as far as President goes he is not making a hash of it in the way he was predicted to. As a result we recognise that those wishing to protest his visit to this country have their own agendas. We do not all wish to be represented by such protests.
When people like Jones talk about protests it isn’t against anything tangible. It is about Trump’s racism and sexism, which we are supposed to believe are obvious to any right-thinking observer. Trump is demonised with all the usual calling cards the left uses when it wishes to create a hate figure. They ignore the fact that a non white American is far more likely to have a job under Trump than under his predecessors. This sort of fact is not conducive to denouncing him and his presidency as racist to the core.
Trump, like Brexit, has a strange effect on otherwise rational liberal commentators. He causes them to lose all sense of perspective and use language that is entirely inappropriate to the circumstances they are describing. Rather than calmly and rationally analysing the situation before them they shoot off into a sea of hyperbole describing the monster that they see Trump as. He is to be shunned, protested against and eschewed by all right thinking people in the same way that Brexit is to be wept over as a giant tragedy rather than judged on its own merits.
I have to put my cards on the table. I am no Trumpophile. I find him slightly embarrassing, insincere and thin-skinned. I am not drawn to his type of showmanship which is lowest common denominator. Nonetheless I am aware of the people who voted for him. They are people who felt let down by politics as usual and as if they had no voice. Suddenly Trump spoke for them in a way no-one had spoken for them before. Those people are strongly in favour of Trump and what he does.
When Owen Jones talks about protesting Donald Trump he is also protesting those people and their aspirations. Ironically the closest we have in this country to describing those people is Chavs, a group Owen Jones likes to think he knows something about.
In the end the best we can do is to offer President Trump our hospitality on his visit and hope that we maintain the good relationship that he clearly wants. Those who wish to protest him should do some much deeper thinking about themselves and what they hope to achieve.