Yesterday I further challenged the widely quoted assertion that the US was Britain’s best friend and ally and today, my long standing rejection of that status is reinforced. It would be fair to start by saying that the Trump administration (is that the right word for describing the most bizarre US government in history ?) has focussed a good deal of thought and even hostility on this topic whereas previous administrations have, in varying degrees of amity, at least tried to exhibit some form of pan-Atlantic comradeship. Now we see a curious mixture of American euphoria over actually passing some legislation on tax reductions, further revelations over the former director of the NSA’s links with Russia, a nasty and public spat between President and Secretary of State all combined with vitriolic finger pointing at anyone else who dares to challenge Trump’s twitter assertions. That leads me to think about Fraser Nelson’s recent Telegraph article at how astute Trump is being in controlling the political dialogue he wants via his twittering. That’s not to concede Trump’s agenda is right - far from it - but it is interesting as a dynamic to see that the process of twittering can be used quite effectively to steer shallow public opinion and draw the debate into subjects that Trump himself wants. That he has something near to 45 million twitter followers is testimony to an ability to cut through the normalness of political jousting and bring a staccato, often illiterate and accusatory style to work in his favour. Is that a talent or is it just the way his unpleasant personality displays itself, I wonder ?
Over here we are reminded that it is a full half century ago that General de Gaulle blocked Britain’s first attempt to join the then Common Market with the explanation that Britain neither was then nor ever had been a committed participant in Europe, digging his knife in further by adding that Britain would always favour an American strategy over a European one. Now was he entirely wrong in that claim ? At the risk of sounding as though I dislike a disproportionate number of folk, de Gaulle must surely rank as one of Britain’s biggest critics (which marks him as a baddie in my little black book) - which is surprising given his even greater dislike of the US. In ways very different to Trump, de Gaulle exhibited an arrogance and confidence in himself and his country, almost despising with great vehemence the fact that both Britain and America had come to France’s aid in two world wars. Yet in spite of this ungrateful attitude, he read Britain’s unique geographical position quite accurately. We never have been part of Continental Europe, being more of a small offshore annex to it with interests scattered worldwide throughout our then empire which kept us distant, even disconnected and economically and politically very different. The very fact that we are struggling now with the very thought of a controlled border with Ireland is alien to Britain - we’ve never had any real experience of land borders with anyone (at least borders that anyone thought was a border) whereas Europe is ringed and riddled with borders everywhere. And perhaps that more than anything else has marked us as being different to the rest of Europe, that defining strip of water that only came into existence about 4,500 years ago, separates us from the whole. So is Brexit really a bad course to follow ? We will never belong nor wish to belong to that Continental bloc of ideology, culture and interdependence.
Lastly, I see David Davis has declared he’ll resign his ministerial post if Damian Green is prosecuted for alleged pornography viewing on his Westminster computer. Is that a way of quitting the Brexit negotiation lead as well we might ask. But that apart, this is a story that has been magnified in the public eye way beyond reason. As far as I can see there is no evidence whatever that Green downloaded, stored and watched pornographic images on his Westminster computer. The only ‘evidence’ is that the material is there (and in the Westminster environment that could have been placed there by countless people), but it seems crazy beyond all imagining that a savvy, senior politician would actually put this stuff on a work computer and leave it there even if he had that inclination and especially in the light of all the furore over sex and abuse allegations that has bedevilled Westminster for the last decade. I have no especial feeling of support for Mr Green politically but I am firmly against witch-hunts and scapegoating when there is no concrete evidence to besmirch him. Would the inhabitants of Westminster or indeed this country as a whole wish to follow the sordid and petty pathways that Donald Trump has made the norm in Washington ? I sincerely hope not.