How did Donald Trump get elected?
Most of the reaction to Donald Trump mirrors that of someone who accidentally finds they’ve stepped in dog shit. They’re not so much angry with the shit itself as angry with whatever succession of events led it to being left there in the first place.
Was it the GOP’s fault? What if Sanders had ran? Explaining his rise is difficult, but in the current political chaos, it’s weird no one’s bothered to find out what Kilroy thinks.
After all, when you think about it, it was really Robert Kilroy-Silk, former UKIP leader and presenter of day-time TV show, Kilroy, that got us here. Starting out as a Labour MP, Kilroy reportedly got into a “scuffle” with Jeremy Corbyn in 1985 (he denies this), then moved to UKIP, before quitting politics altogether.
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Labour, then UKIP, then disillusionment. Remove the stint as a day-time chat-show presenter and that’s basically the same journey taken by a key section of the electorate in the build-up to Brexit. He’s a one-man, walking allegory.
Even Donald Trump owes Kilroy thanks. Leaving aside the obvious journey from Kilroy-to-Farage-to-Brexit-to-Trump, Kilroy also showed that being a national joke is no impediment to running for office.
Yet it is precisely Trump’s journey from reality TV creep to political creep that has made things so tricky for mainstream politicians, given what they’ve said about him in the past.
The President-elect has faced criticism, in part because of allegations of sexism, racism, fascism, climate-change denial, homophobia, misogyny, that he mocked a disabled reporter and sexually assaulted women over several decades. Also, he has no experience of government.
The mistake mainstream politicians made, it seems, was noticing any of that. Which is not to say Trump won’t mellow in office, in fact, he has already suggested some of his wall with Mexico may be composed of fencing – which is apparently a far more conciliatory form of architecture than a wall.
But politicians are still fumbling around for an appropriate response. Congratulating Trump on his success, Nicola Sturgeon reminded the President-elect that “bonds of family and friendship, and our close economic ties, mean that the USA is one of Scotland’s most valued partners”.
This marked a change of tack, with the FM having previously criticised Trump for “undoubtedly racist” comments. And so of course her statement seemed a bit forced, but then, what would you expect? How does one go about paying tribute to someone like Trump appropriately? Punch a baby seal? Frack a puppy?
Theresa May too seems to have softened her tone, using a recent speech to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet to congratulate him, while trying to make sense of the post-Brexit, post-Trump world in which we find ourselves.
“A year ago,” she said, “few among us would have predicted the events ahead. A clear, determined decision to leave the European Union and forge a bold, new, confident future for ourselves in the world. And, of course, a new President-elect in the US who defied the polls and the pundits all the way up to election day itself.”
Explaining the shift, she said: “The forces of liberalism and globalisation which have held sway in Britain, America and across the Western world for years have left too many people behind.”
Which is probably true, and it might be good to help those left behind, although it’s worth pointing out the speech began with May running through greetings to her Lord Mayor, late Lord Mayor, her Grace, her Lord Chancellor, their Excellencies, her Lords, Aldermen and Sheriffs, and someone called a ‘Chief Commoner’. It’s hard to begin a speech like that then maintain the anti-establishment rhetoric. At least there was a senior commoner there.
And so UKIP is now the only British political party which looks genuinely pleased, and Nigel Farage has arguably been the most influential British politician of 2016 – which, in itself, tells you quite a bit about the nature of 2016 so far.
If Farage is the answer, you are probably asking a pretty scary question. And now he wants to act as some sort of UK-US diplomat.
Making his pitch, he said: “Can you imagine if we were a business here, looking at Trump as somebody that we thought it was very important to form a close relationship with. What would you do? You would find somebody who had connections.”
It sounded plausible, though if ‘connections’ were your main concern, you’d be better going to the mafia. Or whoever runs LinkedIn. Or a train line. Or the national grid. Or a multi-plug adapter.
David Coburn followed Farage’s lead, despite having previously told Holyrood that Trump “makes the film Doctor Strangelove seem like a documentary”.
But then that’s pretty standard stuff from Coburn, who took a break from his analysis of US politics to claim “Scottish Labour created me in Glasgow as a boy”, adding, “I am their Frankenstein”.
Huge, if true. And, aside from confusion over the basic plot of Frankenstein, the idea Coburn was created in some sort of dark lab experiment really raised questions about Labour’s strategy in recent years. It was that or he escaped from some Jumanji-style magic board game.
The only comfort is that, clearly, Farage will not get a job as a diplomat, and maybe things will calm down soon. Someone should ask Kilroy.