#ThinkingAllowed: When politics goes bananas

#ThinkingAllowed: When politics goes bananas

I am still in shock!  It is now just over a week since Donald Trump swept to victory in the US election.  As the world watched him deliver his victory speech something very strange happened.  It was a surreal moment. Just like Brexit.

The upset Mr Trump caused was such that people even started to talk to each other on my underground carriage on the tube.

As I escaped from the bitter London cold, that has been hitting the country, into the overcrowded tube where everyday no-one looks at or talks to anyone, but where everyone has the unique skill of finding a gap between two rubbing shoulders to turn the page of their newspaper, I was struck by the second surprise of the day.

“Trump has won, can you believe it?” asked one passenger to another sitting next to him.

“Unbelievable” came back the reply, and then a US tourist quickly pitched in – “try living there”, and added, “I obviously voted for Clinton”, just in case his tone had left anyone in any doubt.

I smile at them, thinking this brief interaction will not last, but it does and would continue beyond my stop at Farringdon.

So, has the world really gone bananas?  We are quite used to the often ‘Punch and Judy’ politics of our own Gibraltar parliament but this is something else.

Why did he win… how? That has been the question on many lips. Was it, the FBI investigation into Hilary Clinton, the vote of minorities or the fact people are fed up with ‘the system’?

Pundits do not seem to have figured it out, just yet.  So, since I’m a bit late for the party, I am not going to even try. No one has the answer.

But… there is a fact, and that is that half of the voters in the US have put Donald Trump in the White House (even if Hilary Clinton did win the popular vote and received more votes than he did), this is the American system, and a democratic decision which must be respected.

The people of America have spoken just like the people of the UK did with Brexit.  Just like Gibraltar does at every general election. The people decide.

You may agree or disagree, you may complain or not but in a democracy you rightly give people the power – if it goes the other way, tough luck really.

It has not taken Mr Trump long to climb down from some of his promises or comments during the campaign.  He has now said the wall he pledged to build along the Mexican border could be “a fence” in certain areas.  It is like the £350M that was going to go to the NHS if the UK voted ‘out’ of the European Union.

It is a bit like being in opposition. It is easier to say things, harder to deliver them when in power.

Another concept – the vowing to be a leader for “all people.”  It is a common phrase used by politicians on winning an election.

Commendable you may think, but, what does it really mean – to be a leader for all?  A political leader for all should be, I think, someone who does what is right – even if the outcome means some (or part of the electorate) losing out.

But then, these groups will argue that they have been excluded by the administration.

Take our Taxi system as an example. The service needs a huge shake up and the Government could solve it probably overnight (and in the process upsetting every taxi driver in Gibraltar). But, would that equal being a leader for all?

Perhaps it is possible, maybe it is impossible.

I suspect the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, like others before him, knows all too well that keeping everyone happy is impossible, especially if the job is to be carried out properly.

Politics is not Reality TV, nor a popularity contest. For this we already have Ed Balls on Strictly Come Dancing providing the ‘Laugh Out Loud’ moments and if you have not seen him dance yet (or attempting to do so) don’t miss him this Saturday when the show goes to Blackpool.  Just when you thought politics was all serious business – it really is all a bit bananas!

mm
James Neish
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