If you find yourself afflicted by a sudden urge to destroy the BBC, I have the ideal remedy: spend some time in the United States. A few hours flicking between Fox News and MSNBC should soon see you right. The more time you give it, the more effective it’ll be – and not necessarily for the reasons you’d expect.
Published by: BBC
The trial of Donald Trump, which opens in earnest on Tuesday, is the third presidential impeachment in US history – and the most legitimate. For the first time, an American president will face the ultimate sanction not because he walked into a legal trap set by his opponents, or because of some broader, underlying rift in society, but because of the actual “high crimes and misdemeanors” on the charge sheet. Legally, the Senate has never confronted a stronger case for the removal of a sitting president than the one it is about to hear.
If you think remain is a lost cause, you should try republicanism. Anyone who ever believed the Windsors might be easily prised from the public imagination, that Britons would be relaxed about dumping the royal family in favour of an elected head of state, has surely been divested of that delusion this week. Since Wednesday’s announcement that Prince Harry and Meghan plan to “step back” from frontline royal duties, the media coverage has been wall-to-wall – you had to reach page 17 of Friday’s Daily Mail to read about anything else – and it’s been a staple of conversation across the country. Remember, this is a move that has no constitutional implications, involving a man who is only sixth in line to the throne. And yet it has swept aside almost every other concern.
Is there any point looking for logic or consistency in the words and deeds of Donald Trump? It can seem a futile task. And yet for at least another year – and perhaps five more – he wields the power of life and death, able on a whim to plunge the world into war. Which means we are obliged at least to try to divine some thread of reason in his actions and statements, if only to prepare ourselves for what could be their lethal consequences.
There’s a hard truth for anyone who stands on the left side of the political divide, a truth demonstrated again in recent days. Put starkly, the left usually loses. In the UK, Labour has governed for just 30 of the last 85 years. Of the eight men who have been president of the French fifth republic, only two have been socialists. In the postwar tally of US presidents, Republicans outnumber Democrats.
A 1970s hard-left clique led the party into a dead end – and it’s the poor and vulnerable who will pay the price
Whatever happens next Thursday, an act of reconciliation will be necessary. Not between the winning and losing parties, but within one of them – bridging a divide that separates their supporters, both former and current, from each other. This gulf is not so much ideological as it is cultural or even tribal. The divide I have in mind is among the millions of people who either used to, or still do, identify themselves with Labour.
Arsenal’s fans anticipated this as soon as Arsène Wenger left with fears of a repeat of the Manchester United experience
A moment from the 2016 campaign came back to me this week. Not the EU referendum, though that decision hovers over every aspect of this election, but rather the US presidential contest that same year. I was in Cleveland, Ohio, speaking to a proud member of Bikers4Trump, all in leather save for the stars and stripes bandana. What exactly was it about Donald Trump that appealed? “He’s honest,” came the reply.
I have never trusted opinion polls less than I do now. Part of that is bitter experience, after polls proved their fallibility in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Part of it is a more specific lesson taught by the US presidential election three years ago, when Hillary Clinton learned to her cost that a hefty national poll lead means nothing in a contest that is settled one state at a time. This logic applies in spades to a UK election, which is not won nationally but seat by seat by seat.