by Robert Harris
It was eminently predictable that a war of words would erupt with US President Donald Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom. On the 22nd of May, the Labour Party’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, in an interview with Piers Morgan on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, asserted that she, if selected as Foreign Secretary, would not have any dealings with Donald Trump but would instead do business by going through intermediaries. Yet she was adamant that a British Labour government could maintain a good relationship with the US.
However, the force of Labour’s conduct is rather surprising. Not only did they refuse to attend the State Dinner, the Party leadership would in fact participate in the mass demonstration against Trump’s visit, with Labourite luminaries providing the speeches! Thornberry adopted the nonsensical line is that it is OK to attend State visits involving the Chinese leadership but that they should adopt a critical line with their friends – Thornberry claims (rather patronisingly for the US electorate) that her party is actually being “pro-American” in adopting such a stance despite being unable to point to any positive remarks her leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has made about the United States!
Labour’s snub has been most considerable for several reasons. Hypocrisy. They cite a rejection of a supposedly-authoritarian quality in Trump when it is acceptable to honour some of the world’s noted dictatorships. They cite a war-like mentality, and an inhumane deportation policy, when former president Barack Obama was welcomed after presiding over military interventions, greatly inflated the use of drone strikes, and deported an unprecedented number of illegal migrants. The animus against Trump seems to have become personally vindictive, for example, Sadiq Kahn actually over-ruled a council decision not to fly the Trump-as-an-infant blimp during the prior visit, and has given the go-ahead with the same, and other exhibits of an unnecessarily personal nature.
Could it be that the animated dislike of Trump is largely to do with what he represents as a person – a keen representation of American wealth and masculinity so detested by the Left, one that is not afraid to sound off, and criticise their cherished values such as Islam, the media, and the double standards that many feminists espouse. Whether or not Trump’s criticisms are justified, and whether or not his own personal conduct, such as his views on women, ought to be a subject of concern, where were Corbyn, et al, when a host of other leaders, with highly problematic records on human rights, came to visit?
Labour’s stance was all the more remarkable because President Trump, as the head representative of the American nation, came to commemorate one of the most pivotal moments in the 20th Century – the D-Day landings, when both nations made a united and definitive strike against the barbarity of NAZI Germany. Despite waxing lyrical on the sacrifice of American men in the defence of Europe, Labour’s divisive reaction to the visit can not have more striking, and leads to further concern about the party’s extremism, despite a concerted effort to smooth out Corbyn’s rough edges since his selection in 2015.
Given the recent crushing results of the Tory Party in the European elections, Labour is set to take the seat of government in the short or medium term. Even if Trump is broadly and somewhat unfairly derided in the UK, the Labour leadership’s rather distinctive hysteria to Trump’s visit will be worrying to many moderate English voters, particularly when it seems that Britain may face a No-Deal Brexit, and be reliant on forging trade deals with the rest of the world. Causing such a fuss when Trump is visiting to do little other than celebrate D-Day, is perhaps indicative of the Labour’s inability to put their nation above their cherished ideological beliefs, even at this most sensitive time.
Labour’s own failures over foreign policy are exemplified by the leadership’s distinctively soft stance on terrorism, which is grounded firmly in a hard-left ideological stance, and an obvious lack of experience in the seat of power. Thornberry, for example, has shown herself to be surprisingly ignorant of the basics of her role, while Corbyn began his tenure as leader by publicly claiming that he would never use nuclear weapons, and is opposed to the maintenance of the UK’s Trident nuclear defence system. More recently, Corbyn refined his stance by claiming that he would never use the nuclear weapons under any circumstances for a first strike, without making any distinction for a pre-emptive or initiatory strike. By rather overt inference, Corbyn also appears to have rejected the idea of Trident’s use in circumstances where the UK has already been subjected to a nuclear attack, by answering, for example, that if the UK “did use it [defensively], millions would die”, and that he would await a decision on whether to retaliate in the circumstance of an attack. In keeping with his life-long opposition to their usage, Corbyn has repeated that “any use of nuclear weapons is a disaster for the whole world” in all such instances.
Even though Corbyn has continued to evade addressing his policy on such defensive measures controversy, Thornberry insisted (in her May 22nd interview with Piers Morgan) that her leader would not be take the principle of nuclear deterrent off the table, and that a decision would be made at the time of an ensuing circumstance. Certainly, a scenario where the United Kingdom, isolated from the United States, could face a renewed dimension of international threat and hostility, especially from a resurgent Russian Federation, with Corbyn’s statements signalling a very high reluctance to retaliate.
A British Labour regime would be too pro-Islamist to be trusted as a military ally of the US, just as Turkey is no longer a reliable ally.