If we put aside all the goings on over Brexit and just look at the overall structure of some of the worlds key leaders of governance, are you left with feelings of confidence or even dread ?
Let’s start in Trumpland. Emboldened by getting his tax reforms legislated upon, el Trumpo has again taken to beating the ‘America First’ drum. Now the principle of putting your own country at the forefront is not entirely unappealing - we could even do with a bit of that here in Britain - but like all things it becomes a question of proportionality. With Trump, his pendulum swings only to extremes, there is no middle ground, no recognition of being a good neighbour, no understanding of the impact on others that certain US policies will have. And much of this stems from his very early presidential outbursts on NATO, his theme being that America is paying to protect the rest of the free world and that that must stop and everyone should dig deep in their pockets and shoulder the burden more equitably. Not an unreasonable theme, albeit delivered by a semi-illiterate President. But he has taken that theme of ‘ungrateful foreigners’ as his central platform - the Mexican Wall, more extreme import tariffs, racial immigration limitations, vetoes on foreign products and so on and on the list goes. The noise of all this is very reminiscent of American isolationism a century ago, only blunted then and now by the desire or need for the rest of the world to buy American products in times of crisis. So here we have a leader, admittedly one with enormous economic and military power, telling the world that it’ll be darn expensive to get your goods into the US but we’ll bombard you with our goods till you let ‘em into your country real cheap. And as the key rider to that, if you get invaded by unpleasant Russians, you’ll have to have your national credit card swiped first before we might consider giving you a helping hand. That’s how to make international friends, isn’t it !
In Britain let’s consider what we’ve got. Not a lot, some might say when you look at Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, neither of whom engender any sense of confidence or faith in governmental leadership. A PM who tells the electorate that she’s stoically getting on with the job but actually handing out freebies to the EU in our name and largely ignoring the multitude of domestic issues challenging the country, an Opposition leader who has been virtually invisible throughout the First Phase of Brexit whilst favouring rants on future nationalisation and money galore for everyone. Splendid stuff ! What better could we expect ? And therein lies part of the British problem - a lazy acceptance of what we have rather than a dynamic push for real change that can benefit every segment of the population. The adage that we get what we deserve is probably quite true in present day Britain as far as our governance goes.
Now what’s happening to our closest neighbour, Monsieur Macron over there in France ? Actually, not a lot. Still plagued by trades union disagreements which hamper his youthful style of government he is discovering that running a bit of a bolshy country isn’t that straightforward. I’m quietly in support of a bit of bolshyism - again, we Brits could do well to up the ante a bit when government behaves stupidly - and the French, of course, invented the concept in the first place and are the first to run out on the streets with their megaphones, banners and collections of strange people when their government does something they disagree with (that’s every second week excepting Lent).
And what’s happened to Mrs Merkel ? How quiet she has become since her fragile election win in September. Coalitions of like minded folk are a rarity these days (ask Theresa May that one too) and the German volk have seen a once powerful and resolute leader look vaguely unsettled in her Chancellor’s seat as she has, by default, had to team up with her best friend, Martin Schultz. The result has been relative whimpering from the Reichstag, quiet, unobtrusive, softly, softly tactics that have left the rest of us wondering what’s the matter. The powerhouse of Europe has somehow lost a head of steam for the present and that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the Continent.
As for the EU, what can be said ? They have masterfully outwitted we simple Brits on Brexit matters and made it extremely difficult for our little island to achieve a satisfactory exit deal. However, that’s not dulled our government’s enthusiasm one little bit - after all, our PM is ‘getting on with the job’. Whilst I’m not that keen on any EU personalities, I think they have most certainly won Round 1 of the Brexit saga. I wonder what they’ll do next....certainly they won’t be playing cricket by English rules (neither did our Ashes team come to think of it).