Trump’s July visit by the US president will be opposed by the majority of people in Britain, writes Ken Livingstone.
It was recently confirmed that President Donald Trump is coming to Britain in July on a ‘working visit’ prior to a NATO summit in Europe.
Our response to this visit must be widespread opposition to Trump’s divisive and reactionary agenda, and protests are already being planned.
Since becoming president Trump has scapegoated migrants, Muslims and refugees at home — providing a distraction from his Wall Street-dominated economic policies that are failing millions in the US — while pursuing an aggressive and provocative foreign policy.
Trump originally accepted the invitation to travel to Britain on a state visit when Theresa May visited Washington last January.
Since then, the Tory government has refused to listen to the multitude of voices that have expressed opposition to him being given such an honour, and some media are reporting he will get the honour of a state visit in addition to this summer’s working visit.
The likely (un)popularity level of such a visit was illustrated last autumn by a YouGov poll showing that only one in three Brits would accept an offer to meet Trump at the White House.
A further poll following his disgraceful retweeting of Britain First posts showed a clear majority of Britons opposed the state visit.
And of course in 2017, prior to the general election, over 1.8million people from across Britain signed a petition against a state visit for arguably the most reactionary president in US history, and certainly the worst president in my life time.
If he comes, the labour movement, women’s and community groups, peace campaigners, anti-racist organisations and many others will need to be united in expressing as loudly as possible the huge opposition to his divisive agenda and saying that any visit is not in our name.
The truth is that there will never be a good time for a Trump visit so long as he, in the words of Jeremy Corbyn, “continues to propagate his anti-women, anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican policies.”
From his disgraceful equating of the far-right with anti-fascist campaigners in Charlottesville to his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, he has again and again provided endless reasons for being denied any kind of warm welcome.
It’s also important to see how his stances negatively impact on the people of Britain.
To give one example, ripping up international agreements on the need for co-operation to tackle climate change puts the very future of our planet at risk and will have a devastating impact here in the decades to come.
Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that the world’s climate is changing, Trump has long been on the side of the deniers and he announced in June that the US will be withdrawing from the historic Paris agreement on climate change which over 190 countries signed up to in 2016.
The impact of this will be disastrous. The US is the second-leading emitter of greenhouse gases and having it on board is essential to meeting the goal of keeping future increase in global temperatures below 2°C.
The difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees warming, for example, is the difference between life and death for millions of people, mostly in developing countries.
To give another example, ripping up international treaties and commitments concerning nuclear proliferation make us all less safe.
This is all the more dangerous when considered in the context of the growing evidence that Trump will be a president for war and US-imposed “regime changes” and that May will most likely go along with such adventurism.
Furthermore, the “Trump factor” internationally is undoubtedly legitimising intolerant and discriminatory views and as such can lead to hate crime and division here as well as in the US — his retweet of opinions by a leading figure in Britain First gave that group a prominence they could never have otherwise hoped for.
Like his “Muslim ban,” these retweets gave oxygen to Islamophobes across the globe.
But we also need to be clear that there is an alternative. Opposition to Trump is growing in the US and around the world, including here in Britain, on a range of issues on a daily basis.
In contrast to the reactionary Trump administration, Britain needs to be working for peace and co-operation in the world and I believe a Jeremy Corbyn-led government in Westminster could be a beacon for international justice and action on climate change.
As Jeremy Corbyn said during the general election campaign, we “deserve better than simply outsourcing our country’s security and prosperity to the whims of the Trump White House” and, in practice, this means “no more hand-holding with Trump” but instead working collaboratively with the international community.
A Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government can set the opposite course to Trump — action on climate change, working for equality for all, against racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination and promoting peace and co-operation.
As well as having the biggest possible protests against Trump’s visit, we must also use the opportunity to keep arguing for a positive alternative. We need to get the Tories out and win a Labour government for the many not the few.
First published on WriteYou.co.uk