Tipping Point, The Chase, and Donald Trump!

Donald Trump. Picture courtesy Wikipedia

Donald Trump. Picture courtesy Wikipedia

Just over a week ago, I settled down on a Friday afternoon in front of the TV, ready for my usual afternoon dose of Tipping Point and the Chase, only to find normal programmes had been suspended in favour of the Presidential Inauguration. When I say Presidential, I’m of course referring to President Trump of the USA so it was surprising to find the event televised live in the UK on BBC1, ITV and all the usual news stations. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the French or German elections given this much coverage, or any other foreign election or inauguration for that matter. If you have followed the election on TV you might be forgiven for thinking this had been a two-way fight between Republican Trump and Democrat Hilary Clinton. Absolutely not, in fact there were a huge number of presidential hopefuls as you can see by clicking here. Not one of them was involved in the televised presidential debates because the media, well certainly the British media, only seemed to focus on the Democrat and Republican contenders. Unless a third candidate could somehow muscle himself in onto the TV debates or somehow get some national coverage then he or she would have no chance of competing with the top two.

Anyway, Donald Trump was declared the victor in the election and duly became the Chief Executive and Commander in Chief of the United States on January 20th and all seemed to go fairly smoothly. The chap who introduced the proceedings -I’m afraid I can’t remember his name- commented on the inaugural speech of President Ronald Reagan which I quote here:
“To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion, and yet in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every 4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.”

Reagan touched on the whole essence of democracy in that speech which is essentially this, that of the leader of a nation voluntarily handing over power to the new leader, the victor of the election process. In the news the same day was a story about The Gambia’s long-term leader Yahya Jammeh who has, until now, refused to accept that Adama Barrow had defeated him in the election last December. It seems he has finally decided to hand over power as threats from other West African nations have forced him to concede defeat. It would have been interesting if Barack Obama had said, ‘sorry, no, I’m not stepping down, I’m not ready yet!’ The last President who had to be forced from office was Richard Nixon who finally accepted that the Watergate scandal had destroyed his presidency in 1973 and resigned, handing over to Vice-president Gerald Ford.

In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe has hung onto power since 1980 despite an abysmal record of leadership in the country. In the 2013 elections he was again victorious although Pedzisai Ruhanya, from the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, a Harare-based think tank, had this to say; “When Mugabe used violence in 2008, he lost legitimacy, so he had to find other ways to win. What we have seen is a masterclass in electoral fraud. It is chicanery, organised theft and electoral authoritarianism.” Mugabe is now well into his nineties but can a dictator ever relinquish his power? I doubt it. Stalin continued as leader of the Soviet Union until his death in 1953 at the age of 73. When he did not arise from his bedroom one morning at his dacha in Kuntsevo, just outside Moscow, his guards were too nervous to enquire if he was alright. When they finally entered the room they found he had collapsed and assumed he was suffering from a bout of heavy drinking the previous night. The guards made him comfortable on a couch and then withdrew. When he was found unable to speak the following day, only then were the doctors summoned. Seen in that light, the events in the USA are, as Ronald Reagan said, nothing less than a miracle.

A US president can only serve two terms as the US senate, perhaps resentful of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s three terms in office, voted to limit a president to only two four-year terms. Eight years, not much time to change the world, is it?

The USA however seems a much more democratic place than the UK. Our current leader, Theresa May has taken over as Prime Minister without a single vote made by us, the citizens of the UK. Granted, Conservative MP’s have had their say but members of the Conservative party have not been consulted, nor has the country in general. The next general election in the United Kingdom is scheduled to be held on Thursday 7 May 2020, in line with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011; it may be held at an earlier date in the event of a vote of no confidence or other exceptional circumstances. How Theresa May will fare with the people then, is anybody’s guess but then who would have thought Donald Trump would have been elected president?

Oh and one more thing. I had to wait until Monday for another edition of Tipping Point and The Chase. I was not happy!


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The Brexit Blues

Brexit BluesI suppose I must be a little bit naïve regarding politics because I thought the referendum about the EU had been and gone, was done and dusted and that was that. Before the results appeared, I thought the whole thing was pretty simple: either we would leave the EU or stay in it. Oh well, how wrong I was!

The referendum result has triggered all sorts of things. Firstly the Prime Minister has decided he will stand down and rightly so I suppose. He campaigned hard to stay in the EU so how can he be expected to manage our exit from the EU?

Secondly, and rather strangely, the referendum has also triggered a Labour party leadership election. Not sure why that is but it seems to be a case of Labour somehow ‘lost’ the referendum so now we need a new leader. This is the 21st Century version of political hari-kari. No longer do politicians live to fight another day, now they must fall on their sword, drop by the wayside and give way to a newer leader. Jeremy Corbyn did win a leadership vote by a whopping 60% in 2015 but of course in modern fast moving politics, that no longer matters!

Here are the latest developments- as they happened!

Tuesday.
Jeremy Corbyn has lost a vote of no confidence, Nigel Farage has been booed in the European Parliament (he did tell the European Parliament that basically they are a waste of time and are in denial) and Nicola Sturgeon is already planning to force a new referendum about the Scots leaving the UK. No wonder somebody once said a week is a long time in politics. If you look at the Scottish results as a purely first past the post result, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU. Looking at the actual returns, over a million Scots voted to leave and a million and half wanted to stay, hardly overwhelming was it? Certainly not a mandate for leaving the UK in my book but then Nicola Sturgeon is clearly reading a different book.

Wednesday.
Nicola Sturgeon flies to Brussels for meetings with EU leaders. Although the Scottish MEP Alyn Smith got quite an ovation in the European parliament when he announced that ‘Scotland hasn’t let you down’, Miss or Mrs Sturgeon didn’t quite get the welcome she anticipated. Various individuals urged Jeremy Corbyn to stand down, including former leader Ed Milliband. Corbyn steadfastly refused to bow to the attempted leadership ‘coup’. Good on him I say.

Thursday.
Boris Johnson decides not to try for the Conservative leadership and guaranteed Prime Ministership. (Bit of a surprise, that one.) Michael Gove throws his hat into the ring as did pro leave Home Secretary Theresa May. Interesting: Surely the next PM must be pro Brexit? Jeremy Corbyn is looking more secure as Angela Eagle (any relation to Eddie I wonder) decided to postpone her challenge for the Labour leadership.

Friday.
Angela Eagle is still considering a leadership challenge as is ex-shadow minister Owen Smith but they are still waiting for Jeremy Corbyn to ‘do the right thing!’ Jeremy Corbyn says he does not want to betray the labour members who elected him last year by resigning.
The Daily Mail described Thursday’s events – during which Michael Gove surprisingly announced he was standing for the Tory leadership, rather than supporting Boris Johnson’s campaign – as the party’s “most savage blood-letting since the fall of Thatcher. On a day of extraordinary bitterness, Michael Gove knifed Boris Johnson in the back – ending the former London mayor’s dream of becoming prime minister.”
Some conservatives are now suggesting that Michael Gove should stand down and let Theresa May run unopposed into the leadership of both the country and the Conservative Party. (That’s the same Theresa May that was part of the remain group, like the soon to resign David Cameron, isn’t it? ) Dear me, what has the referendum done to democracy?

One thing that has really surprised me in this referendum is the emergence of two distinctive campaigns, the Remain camp and the Brexit camp. I had thought that politicians would come forward and declare themselves for or against EU membership but I would never have guessed that fully fledged campaigns would emerge, each with their own publicity, leaflets, PR events and even their own ‘battlebuses’. Who paid for these campaigns I wonder?

Acklams Coaches, Beverley E14 ACK Boris Johnson’s Brexit Battle Bus on the sea front in Weston Super Mare. | by Gobbiner

Boris Johnson’s Brexit Battle Bus on the sea front in Weston Super Mare. | by Gobbiner @ Flickr.com

The strange thing is that even in the media there have been calls for the Brexit campaign to come forward with plans for a post EU exit UK. Do people not realise Brexit is not actually a political party? They haven’t won an election, they will not be running the country, in fact nothing has really changed because the same people who ran the country prior to the referendum are still running it!

The other thing that’s interesting is the talk of another referendum, as if we didn’t get the first one right so now we have to have another one! Don’t people understand that there is always a loser in a democracy?

The vote was pretty close, 15 million want to leave and 14 million want to stay, that’s 51.9% against 48.1% but even if it was 70/30 that would still mean 30% of people would be disappointed. Either way, we’ve had the referendum and we voted out, just like the one in Scotland where they voted to stay in the UK.

The previous election didn’t quite go the way I wanted it to but that’s the way of elections. There will always be winners and always be losers. Only a dictator gets all the votes, all the time. After all, everyone voted for Stalin.


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