We must keep resisting to stop Britain becoming Donald Trump's America
PUBLISHED: 14:27 07 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:48 07 February 2020
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MITCH BENN ponders if the UK is willing to sit by and watch the country become Trump's Britain.
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Well I don't know about you but I feel freer already.
Seriously though, is it just me or does post-'Got Brexit Done' Britain thus far feel a lot like pre-'Got Brexit Done' Britain did? As if nothing had actually been 'got done' at all, and we were still mired in the same sort of mock 'negotiations' (ie. alternating bluster and capitulation) we've been wearily trudging through for the past three years? As if the nation, rather than being 'healed' was more divided than ever (and who knew that telling at least half the population to go screw itself wouldn't work as 'healing')?
But sure, fine, whatever, you 'got it done'. Leaving the question you've been dodging since June 2016 still very much on the 'dodge' pile: so now what?
A couple of things have become clear already: firstly; much as the model for Trump's America has been Putin's Russia, so the model for Johnson's Britain will be Trump's America. And secondly; if we resist now and keep the resistance up, this may not work.
Putin stands like a beacon, an aspirational icon to autocratic leaders everywhere; he's the one they all dream of being, because in Putin's Russia, there is only one source of ultimate power.
In most states, there's a conflict between the various sources of power which sometimes come into conflict and cancel each other out. But not under Putin.
This is why, despite the fact that president Trump does literally everything he would be doing if he were being controlled by Putin, it isn't necessary to assume that such control exists.
Trump doesn't have to be taking orders from Putin; he fulfils Putin's wishes because he idolises him and dreams of being him.
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And he's getting pretty close, as the recent charade in the senate has proven. As long as Republican senators fear Trump's Twitter scorn (and the fact that this might lead to being primaried and losing their jobs) more than they respect the Constitution, it's apparent that Trump can do whatever he wants without consequence.
Except, theoretically, at the ballot box, of course, but as I've said before, if you think this year's presidential election will be entirely free, fair and un-interfered with, you really haven't been paying attention.
Now, in our own country, we have a leader who gazes in envy at Trump's unaccountability and refusal even to acknowledge, let alone engage with criticism. And why not after all; since our antiquated electoral system has granted Boris Johnson what certainly looks like an unassailable majority for the next few years, I'm sure he feels like he can indeed do whatever he wants without any need to explain or justify himself to the little people.
Even before the election, he'd already decided that the trick to not being caught out by reporters was simply not to talk to them unless absolutely unavoidable, and now he's boss for the foreseeable future, it's almost never unavoidable.
The only question now is whether we, and by we I mean both the country in general and the media in particular, are going to sit idly by and let him get away with this.
There have been two encouraging developments in this regard: firstly, the continuing efforts of the Led By Donkeys campaign, as exemplified by their projections onto Big Ben and the White Cliffs on Brexit night. We're going to need these guys, and similar 'pirate journalism' efforts, to flag up this government's lies and ineptitude whenever possible because our confidence in the mainstream news industry to do so is waning.
But even there, there's hope: on Monday, upon discovering that Number 10 had sought to hand-pick which reporters would - and would not - be admitted to a Brexit press briefing, the assembled journalists, even the 'approved' ones, walked out en masse and boycotted the event.
Maybe this sudden burst of integrity is a case of 'too little too late', but it's a case of something, and something right now is better than nothing. One wonders if this principled stand will be a one-off or the first of many: perhaps some encouraging and laudatory emails to the reporters in question might be in order to encourage them to stick to their guns.
America is not yet Putin's Russia; Britain is not yet Trump's America.
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