NOTES FROM A LOUSY SUMMER

SummerRain didn’t stop play in the month that ended yesterday; July gave the nation its warmest spell of the year, even if the nation itself, like much of the world beyond Britannia’s borders, isn’t exactly basking in any sort of warm glow. A chill seems to be blowing around the globe that is considerably icier than your average summer breeze. Appalling acts of brutality committed in the name of Allah on European soil have complemented ongoing barbarous behaviour in the Middle East, whereas America appears to be engaged in a mini-Civil War, both on the streets and on the hustings.

Britain remains caught in an uncertain cycle of post-Brexit paranoia, whereby an increase in recorded ‘hate crime’ is being blamed on the Leave vote whilst the bad losers continue to stamp their feet to a petulant beat because they didn’t get the result they wanted. As an intended antidote to the daily diet of despair, tabloids and online news sites are concocting an abundance of ‘who-gives-a-shit’ celebrity stories that are phenomenally banal even for the silly season, whereas the electronic baby’s dummy that is the Smartphone has encouraged its most extreme fanatics to take idiocy to an unprecedented level as they participate in a mass treasure hunt for the chronically stupid.

The Commons may have officially gone on a summer holiday, but ‘no more worries for a week or two’ is hardly applicable where the two main parties are concerned. As the honeymoon draws to its inevitable close, Theresa May’s in-tray will keep her busy during the break; and having taken a scythe to the Notting Hill Tories, banishment to the backbenches will not silence the likes of Michael Gove, with or without prominent Brexiteers being entrusted with the task of extricating the country from the EU. Labour, of course, have internal concerns to contend with as the ugly battle between the Parliamentary Party and the membership is poised to climax with September’s leadership contest. North of the Border, Nicola Sturgeon is tentatively drumming up support for a replay of 2014’s Independence Referendum, whilst Northern Ireland’s border with Eire is once again a worry in the wake of showing Brussels the back-door.

The Welsh impressed at Euro 2016, even if their semi-final defeat showered the team in the usual patronising plaudits that accompany a national side punching above its weight (’They’ve made lots of friends’ etc.); meanwhile, England’s dismal performance at the tournament has led to the unexpected appointment of Sam Allardyce, a man none of the preening prima donnas promoting shampoo and clogging up the team would want to meet down a dark alley, let alone in a changing room at halftime. At least Brits can cheer Andy Murray as the sporting standard-bearer yet again, following his second singles title at Wimbledon; and though not quite a household name equal, Chris Froome’s third triumph in the Tour de France should ensure his place amongst the greats of Kenyan…er, sorry…British cycling. With the Olympics imminent – Russian participation or no – and an England Vs Pakistan test series evenly balanced, the back pages still possess the prospect of national morale-boosting.

Now that school is out for summer, there will be an unwelcome increase in brats wherever members of the public are forced to congregate; that they are permanently chaperoned these days means they’re harder to avoid than they used to be, and I confess I do harbour some sympathy for the parents faced with no option but to keep them entertained in ways their own parents didn’t have to. Staying indoors will be the default comfort zone for many children, even if it won’t help obesity levels as their tablets transfix them. Mind you, try to get the kids of today to watch ‘The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe’ or ‘The Flashing Blade’ in daily rationed instalments and they’ll look at you like you’re an idiot. Probably.

At least there’s always the Proms – a cultured refuge from the madness. As a child, I was only ever exposed to the Last Night, imagining that jingoistic celebration of the chinless constituted the entire institution. Ironically, the household contained numerous Classical LPs, including Holst’s ‘The Planets’, with ‘Mars’ being a favourite soundtrack for battles between toy soldiers. And I owe my love of the Proms to that same suite, a televised 1999 performance of which prompted me to catch the festival earlier than its trumpeted finale for the first time. Since then, the opportunity to escape to the Albert Hall via the cathode ray tube (or whatever lurks behind the TV screen these days) is one I’ve enthusiastically embraced every summer. I actually applauded at the end of Beethoven’s Ninth when Daniel Barenboim concluded his memorable season in 2012, conducting all of Ludwig Van’s symphonies; it was the next best thing to being there, and long may it stay that way.

I admit summer isn’t really my favourite time of the year, and this summer has been especially traumatic. As a child of autumn, I actually relish the changing of the clocks and the transformation of greenery into orangery; I welcome the first switching-on of the fire and the drawing-in of the nights; night should resemble night, not an extended afternoon. Cold is something you can keep at bay by wrapping up, whereas even shedding clothes can’t defeat heat; the resumption of slumber uninterrupted by horrible humidity is something that can’t come soon enough for me – though I do appreciate I’m in a minority, a minority that couldn’t care less about Hiddleston or Middleton or Pokémon Go.

© The Editor

THE FIRST LADY

Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton’s hard-fought slog to secure the Democratic nomination for November’s US Presidential Election was all-but confirmed this week, despite the stubborn refusal of the persistent thorn-in-her side Bernie Sanders to throw the towel in. Perhaps due to the ill-tempered nature of the campaign and the Pythonesque freak show of the simultaneous Republican circus, the history that will be made when Mrs Clinton goes head-to-hair with Mr Trump has been somewhat downplayed; but it’s still historic, all the same.

If any woman in American political history was ever going to have the guts, gall and gumption to make it all the way to the Presidency, Hillary Clinton is the one. Like Margaret Thatcher, Clinton is something of an aberration; if she achieves her aim, it’s hard to see it being replicated by another woman in the future, if ever. Love her or loathe her – and that’s just the American public – Hillary is the most expertly qualified mistress of Washington Dark Arts ever to have pushed herself forward for the top job. First Lady for eight years, New York Senator for a further eight and Secretary of State for four, Clinton’s experience of the highest offices the USA can boast is one few men, never mind women, could match. This is, of course, her second attempt to gain the Democratic White House ticket, having lost out to Obama in 2008; but the fact that she decided to run again even after history was snatched from her grasp eight years ago is testament to her inexhaustible political ambition.

Whereas Donald Trump is primarily known for being a businessman, TV celebrity and professional gobshite, his Democrat opponent is possibly the most experienced political animal to aim for the Presidency since Richard Nixon in 1968. Like Nixon when he gained the Republican nomination, Clinton has been a familiar face to the US public for a good couple of decades, giving them more than enough time to form a solid opinion of her both as a politician and as a person; also like Nixon, she divides the electorate like few other political figures in a country that has produced its fair share of divisive political figures.

2016 finds America in a strange place – or should that be a stranger place than usual. This is a moment in its history when political experience is viewed with suspicion and almost regarded as a hindrance to high office. Blue Collar America wants somebody with no experience whatsoever, somebody untarnished by association with what it perceives as Washington establishment elitism; that it should have honed in on an egomaniacal multi-millionaire whose clear contempt for anyone who doesn’t share his black & white worldview is odd on paper. But devoid of our own archaic social hierarchy, America is a country where even a man whose vast wealth sets him far apart from the street-sweeper can be regarded as ‘one of the guys’ simply because money hasn’t bought him any class. And in mistaking brash barroom bluster for ‘calling a spade a spade’ common sense, Blue Collar America has found its ideal hero, its very own Archie Bunker as the potential leader of the western world.

This places Hillary Clinton in a uniquely difficult position. Not only is she up against the ceaseless scrutiny of her lengthy and controversial career as a public servant – something Donald Trump is spared; she also has to calculate the best way to attack a man who has already shown he has no qualms over uttering outrageous statements that would ordinarily serve as valuable ammunition for an opponent, the kind that seasoned politicians would do their best to bury before facing the electorate. Trump would have to do so much backtracking over the sheer volume of ridiculous ideas and insults he’s aired during the past six months if he wanted to deny them that he may as well practice walking backwards for Christmas.

There are many Democrats who would rather have anyone as their candidate other than Hillary Clinton, which is why Bernie Sanders has been so successful at stealing her thunder during numerous primaries, and why the relatively inexperienced Obama derailed her expected smooth ride to the White House in 2008. The legacy of her husband’s secrets and lies, not to mention the dodgy moments from her own political past, have contributed towards the mistrust those within her own party feel towards her, and that’s not even taking into account the intense dislike of her that Republicans harbour.

It takes a tough nut to weather the kind of slings and arrows heading the way of Hillary Clinton over the coming months; but if there’s one hardened campaigner who can handle them, it’s the 68-year-old from Chicago who is determined to become America’s first female President. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes and does it.

© The Editor

21st CENTURY BOY

ObamaRemember that night back in November 2008, when the eight-year reign of George II came to an end? That itself would have been something to prompt half of the world’s population into doing spontaneous cartwheels, but look what he was replaced by – a black man! In the White House! America was cool again! It had a dude for President! Civil Rights veterans from the 60s took to the streets, some with tears in their eyes, hardly believing they’d ever live to see the day. Considering the lengthy history of racial turmoil the US has experienced, it remains quite an achievement, even now. The colour of Barack Obama’s skin almost felt like that was enough as a selling point. The Nobel Prize panel were swept up in the euphoria as well, awarding Obama the Peace gong when he’d barely switched on the central heating in the Oval Office.

Seems a long time ago, though, doesn’t it – the momentary usurping of American political dynasties in order for a politician virtually unknown outside of Chicago a couple of years previously to go where no African-American had gone before. It seems especially distant now, when the USA is reverting to type by backing a right-wing lunatic to take over the Washington tenancy of the man who is counting down the days before moving out. And as Obama enters his final months in the top job, it’s extremely hard not to think of his Presidency with a gnawing sense of frustration as something that should have been so much better than it has.

In the television age, American Presidents have often left their mark with a specific powerful image – Kennedy’s brains being blown-out in the Dallas motorcade, Nixon announcing his resignation, Reagan’s historic love-in with Gorbachev, even Bush’s expression as events on 9/11 are whispered into his ear while he sits before a group of oblivious schoolchildren. With Obama, the images that are evoked as his tenure as leader of the free world draws to a close seem annoyingly trivial: his endless appearances on US chat shows; acting as a straight man to comedians in skits; dancing with Michelle; singing at showbizzy White House bashes; posing for a selfie alongside David Cameron and the Danish PM at Nelson Mandela’s funeral – all very twenty-first century in their abundance of style and absence of substance. Is that really how Obama wants to be remembered? Wasn’t he supposed to be a great intellectual – or did he merely appear to be on account of the man he succeeded?

Though America was clearly ready for him – he received the highest number of votes for a Presidential candidate in history – Obama certainly didn’t come to power while the nation was enjoying a period of satisfied contentment, winning the Presidential Election just months after the worst global financial crash since 1929, and at a time when his country was still involved in not one, but two unpopular foreign wars. He regarded the economy as his first priority, but also stated his desire to end the detainment of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Although he eventually presided over the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and gave the go-ahead for the mission that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden, the rise of ISIS has served to hamper Obama’s hopes of ending military involvement in the Middle East, and his reckless reliance on drones to do the dirty work hasn’t endeared him to the Muslim world. At least he could point to the resumption of diplomatic relations with Cuba as a foreign policy success, if not quite matching the international significance of Nixon’s olive branch to China.

On the home front, an initial economic improvement stalled, while Obama’s proposals for healthcare reforms were not helped by the capture of the House of Representatives by the Republicans in 2010 and the widespread publicity afforded the grass-roots Tea Party movement. Obama’s attempts at arresting increasing racial violence and finally doing something about antiquated gun laws in the face of continuing massacres also appeared to achieve very little, with the latter stymied by the Republicans gaining control of the Senate in 2014. One cannot but feel Obama has reached for greatness, yet has always found it ultimately elusive. Whether that is a failing of the man or the American political system is open to debate.

With Barack Obama still resident in the White House, it’s far too early to judge how his Presidency will rank alongside those that are still talked about with awe. It wouldn’t be much of a substantial legacy if the only aspect of eight years in office that will mark him out in history forever simply centres on the unique factor that made him seem such a breath of fresh air in 2008 – the colour of his skin.

SIR GEORGE MARTIN (1926-2016)

BeatlesThe revelation in the recently published letters of the late novelist Iris Murdoch that she attended Rolling Stones concerts and reckoned The Beatles should have been made Poets Laureate shouldn’t really come as a great surprise. By the mid-60s, it was patently obvious Britain was undergoing something entirely without precedence, and some ahead of the generation on the rise recognised this. The Beatles and the Stones were not Cliff Richard or Adam Faith; they transcended what had been viewed as disposable teenage discharge and elevated it to a new plateau altogether, creating the cultural touchstone for the remainder of the twentieth century; and the older intelligentsia had picked up on this relatively quickly. As early as the end of 1963, Lennon and McCartney’s songwriting skills were being compared to Schubert in highbrow broadsheets, Cecil Beaton drooled over Mick Jagger’s androgyny, George Melly eulogised the pop revolution in lucid prose, and John Lennon publishing a book of surreal poetry brought him into contact with leading literary figures such as Kingsley Amis and Elizabeth Jane Howard.

Breaking free of the basic constraints of rock ‘n’ roll and eager to absorb sounds that had never before graced music aimed at an adolescent audience, The Beatles had an invaluable ally in George Martin, who has passed away at the age of 90. In one of those curious coincidences that constantly recur in the Beatles story, Martin’s teenage oboe tutor was the mother of Jane Asher, future girlfriend of Paul McCartney; it was living at the Asher household that introduced Macca to classical music, elements of which he was able to incorporate into the fab four’s records from ‘Yesterday’ onwards; and the man who facilitated Lennon and McCartney’s appetite for innovation was George Martin.

Had Martin been a producer whose experience had been limited to the manufactured Elvis imitators from Larry Parnes’ stable, perhaps he wouldn’t have been so receptive to the adventurous ambition of his star clients; but Martin had become accustomed to creating eccentric collages of strange sounds via his past work with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. He saw the same wit and desire to spurn convention in The Beatles, and it’s hard to conceive the band could have progressed from ‘Please Please Me’ to ‘Revolver’ in the space of just three years without the invaluable assistance of the man at the console.

After eventually being ousted by Phil Spector during the drawn-out project that became ‘Let it Be’, Martin signed off the 60s with the fitting finale of ‘Abbey Road’, and in the 70s he left EMI to set up his own AIR studios in both London and on the Caribbean haven of Montseratt, a destination for many an 80s big-gun from The Police to Duran Duran. But it is his intimate association with John, Paul, George and Ringo for which he will be rightly remembered; if anyone told them ‘it can’t be done’, they wanted to do it more, and so did he. He was the right man for the job and he got it done alright.

© The Editor

IT’S ONLY WORDS

1984So many are so incensed by the increased policing of the English language that they often rally round those who delight in calling a spade a spade for all the wrong reasons. Whether Donald Trump, Jeremy Clarkson or Tyson Fury, it’s a measure of how oversensitive the arbiters of what can and can’t be said in public have become that some react to the latest linguistic directive by cheering on a professional gobshite whose relish in causing offence has no point beyond the causing of offence. One would struggle to find the poetic vitriol in a column by, say, Kelvin McKenzie that was once the trademark of Ian Nairn, the late great architectural critic who offended all the right people with eloquence and wit because his anger came from the heart and was motivated by a deep desire to make the world a better place rather than craving a self-promoting platform to point a gesticulating finger.

It was announced the other day that Salford Council plan to introduce on-the-spot fines for anyone caught using ‘foul and abusive language’ in the area of Salford Quays, a slick and soulless neighbourhood that contains luxury apartment blocks as well as the BBC’s very own ‘Northern Powerhouse’, Mediocre City UK. Liberty have written to Salford Council to clarify what they would constitute as foul and abusive, including inquiring if a foul and abusive word being uttered would count as a criminal offence if there was nobody else present to hear it. Should someone bang their shin on an inanimate object whilst passing through the Quays, unleashing a simple expletive to verbally articulate pain when reciting a Shakespeare soliloquy just won’t do, have they then broken the law?

Salford Council claims this monitoring of ‘speech crime’ is a response to complaints from residents of the Quays regarding antisocial behaviour. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Salford Quays does not consist of sheltered housing for the elderly, the demographic within society that traditionally have a problem with fruity vocabularies. Besides, Salford Council’s own account of these complaints mentions uprooting wheelie bins from their prominent and aesthetically appealing positions on the pavement; did whoever threw the bins into the Manchester Ship Canal issue a series of rude words as they did so? F*** knows. A Public Space Protection Order has been utilised in order to enforce this unenforceable law, and calling Salford Quays a public space is something of a misnomer if the public are to be policed in such a manner. At least be honest and refer to it as a private space – or perhaps a ‘safe space’, those newfangled wombs specially designed for the most easily offended group of the moment, university students, to flee to when their delicate little sensibilities are thrown into turmoil as someone says something contradictory to their manual of what is and isn’t acceptable.

The most vocal monitors of the English language have made it clear they won’t tolerate half of the words in the dictionary over the last few months, censoring and hectoring veteran advocates of free speech such as Germaine Greer and Peter Tatchell and issuing evermore ludicrous decrees that we disobey at our peril. Swearing doesn’t seem to have come under the radar of the Stepford Students yet, though I suspect those words that are perceived as insulting to the anatomy of the shrinking violet probably have – cunt, fanny, twat etc. I would imagine bollocks, knackers, dickhead, knobhead, wanker et al are probably still acceptable in that they refer to the naughty bits of men, and these naughty bits can of course constitute a dangerous arsenal if not belittled by insults.

It goes without saying that someone whose every other word is fuck or fucking can quickly become tedious, not so much by using those particular words but just by the endless repetition of any words; I find those who pepper their sentences with ‘like’ or ‘y’know’ as irritating as anyone who substitutes these words with profanities. However, there are certain social situations in which constant recourse to swearing suggests a lack of general etiquette. I wouldn’t, for example, reply to an old lady making an innocent inquiry in a supermarket queue by showering her in a stream of four-letter words, nor would I adopt the tactics of the infuriatingly oblivious self-centred tosser conducting a loud sweary conversation on his mobile in the same environment, treating his local branch of Sainsbury’s as though it were a taproom. And there’s nothing worse than a parent effing and blinding at their small children as he or she waits impatiently to buy their scratch-card. I don’t swear in front of my mother or my nine-year-old niece because I’m conscious they’re not the right audience; but with friends, it’s different. Perhaps because I’m not in love with the sound of my own voice, I doubt I’d offend any residents of Salford Quays, anyway, on account of speaking at a level intended solely for the ears of the person I’m speaking to.

This week, Donald Trump marked his Super Tuesday success by making penis jokes during a live televised debate with one of his Republican rivals; yes, it was just like Kennedy and Nixon all over again. One feels the only way the brakes could be applied to the Trump juggernaut would be if he were caught saying ‘nigger’ within range of a TV microphone. Even then, however, there would still be a large section of the huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ American public applauding his perceived rejection of PC politeness by not being afraid to speak his mind.

And that in a way is the danger of policing language to such an extreme that nobody seems to know what is or isn’t acceptable to say in public; more and more become weary of these endless rewritings of verbal intercourse and many instinctively flock to those who deliberately flout the new rules, finding them a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, these tend not to be fiercely intelligent individuals such as the much-missed Christopher Hitchens, who would support their spurning of speech crime enforcers with a superlative counter-argument that utterly trashes the agents of serial censorship, but those who have nothing else in their armoury other than a playground insult. And my dick’s bigger than yours.

© The Editor

BERNIE IN?

SandersSome call it ‘the New Politics’, others ‘Anti-Politics’. Whichever name the media decides on this week, it’s hardly as ridiculous as the continuing dispute over what to call ISIS; every movement needs a name, as survivors of the New Romantic generation will recall with a shudder. The term has been coined to describe the worldwide shift away from conventional politicians and political parties ever since the financial crash of 2008. Nordic Europe and Greece have led the way in this shift, though the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader last year showed this country is not immune to disillusionment manifested as fanatical devotion to an outsider-as-saviour either. Now it would seem it is the turn of America.

When President Obama announced his plans to reform America’s healthcare system during his first term in office, the most common cry from Republican heartlands was ‘Socialism!’ Obama was at pains to distance himself from the tarnished term, though as a politician the incumbent President is to the right of a past resident of the White House such as Richard Nixon, let alone Franklin D Roosevelt, whose own demonisation came posthumously. This was during the McCarthy era of the early 1950s, long after the deceased President had successfully instigated essentially ‘socialist’ policies to get his country through the Great Depression. It would appear Roosevelt’s assertion that his countrymen and women have nothing to fear but fear itself still has a ring of truth about it.

As anyone with a television set will have noticed, the US is currently deciding which contenders will take each other on in November’s Presidential Election. Last week, round one in the contest – the Iowa Caucuses – saw long-time favourite and expected victor Hillary Clinton emerge as a narrow winner for the Democrats. The former First Lady seems to have been around forever; even in 2008, when she was forced to concede victory to Obama during her first shot at becoming America’s first female President, she was part of the political wallpaper. Perhaps her time has come and gone; familiarity breeds contempt, so they say, and Hillary certainly has her critics.

The prospect of another American dynasty, following the Bush family and the Kennedys, is not something every US voter is comfortable with. Besides, there is now a generation blessed with an especially horrible name, Millennials, that owes no allegiance to a particular political party or politician, and that generation has entered the electorate. Curiously, however, as happened here with Corbyn and his online army, rather than flocking around a young contender sharing their twenty-first century genes, they have instead focused their idealistic ambitions on a veteran outsider.

This week, round two took place in the shape of the New Hampshire Primary, traditionally a pointer to who will eventually end up in the White House, and Hillary Clinton was trounced by Bernie Sanders. His margin of victory was 20%, one of the most convincing for decades – since 1984, as a matter of fact, when Gary Hart (remember him?) crushed Walter Mondale. What are called ‘insurgent candidates’ rarely defeat party favourites, so Hillary’s loss at the hands of a man unknown to most outside of the States could be perceived as quite a setback in her long-held aim to step out of her husband’s shadow. But who the hell is Bernie Sanders?

To call Sanders ‘America’s Jeremy Corbyn’ is not too way off the mark. Both men regard themselves as Democratic Socialists – yes, Sanders is not afraid to use the S word; both men were born in the 1940s, albeit at opposite ends of that distant decade, and both men have spent their political careers inhabiting the fringes, probably never expecting to be in a position where the sentiments of a generation young enough to be their grandchildren would collide with their own. Whilst Corbyn has been a card-carrying Labour man virtually all his life, however, Sanders was an independent for most of his time in politics, only officially joining the Democrats last year. Perhaps sensing he belatedly needed to attach himself to a major party in order to make the biggest splash, Sanders has shrewdly capitalised on the disenchantment of the nation with the so-called Washington elite and now stands as the one candidate who could derail Hillary Clinton’s all-powerful bandwagon, a scenario few foresaw when he finally joined the Democratic ranks in 2015.

The three-time Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Sanders had been a Congressman since 1990, but became an American household name in 2010, four years after being elected to the Senate, when he instigated a notorious filibuster against the extension of President Bush’s tax-cuts. A native of Brooklyn, New York and a graduate of the University of Chicago, Sanders was a Civil Rights activist in his youth and still holds what many Americans would consider ‘radical’ beliefs, ones that have found a receptive audience in non-Republicans who have a deep mistrust of mainstream candidates who promise the earth and then fail to deliver once elected to office.

Like Corbyn, Sanders is only an outsider in the sense that he has never been part of government. After all, he’s been in Washington for 26 years, whilst Corbyn has been in Westminster for 33. Both men sat on the sidelines for decades until their implausible calling came and they went for it. Corbyn succeeded, and it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Sanders could follow suit. If he does indeed win the Democratic nomination, chances are he could be running against another unexpected contender in the divisive figure of Donald Trump. The current drawn-out drag of a contest may test the patience of most Americans, not to mention those of us who have no say or vote; but November might well turn out to be an entertaining month for the naive new recruits to the political scene as the mighty continue to fall and the unlikeliest of survivors emerge from the wreckage.

© The Editor

TOP TRUMPS

TrumpWhy did it take so long for the world to realise Donald Trump was a prick? Wasn’t it evident from day one? Clearly not to whoever made the rentagob Republican a business ambassador for Scotland – now withdrawn by Nicola Sturgeon; and clearly not to whoever at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University awarded Trump an honorary degree – now revoked. The bullish Presidential wannabe with the wacky hair has been issuing deliberately provocative statements ever since he announced his decision to run for the nomination; but did anybody really expect him to do otherwise?

His appeal in the US is not dissimilar to that of Nigel Farage here; he pitches himself as an outsider from the political elite, a man who calls a spade a spade, who says what he thinks and who hasn’t had the personality squeezed out of him by being spun into a sound-bite-spouting automaton. Politicians who have suffered the latter fate believe they are telling the moderate majority of the public what they want to hear by successfully suppressing any unfashionable opinions that might cost them votes; but Trump is also telling the public what they want to hear, albeit a specific section of that public.

By airing armchair ignorance under the media spotlight, Trump is enabling every ill-informed bigot in America to feel his neglected prejudices are not exclusive to him. He’s as thick as they are, and they’re sick of someone with a brain renting the White House. Didn’t the Founding Fathers specify all men were supposed to be born equal?

In a way, it doesn’t really matter what stupid statement Trump makes next; he knows the more he is written off, the stronger his outsider status. And he may have a point. After all, nobody gave Jeremy Corbyn a cat in hell’s chance of becoming Labour leader a few months ago, and look what happened. Corbyn also capitalised on a widespread dissatisfaction with mainstream politics and its practitioners; by selling himself as an alternative – and, lest we forget, by having the good fortune to be running against such a lame bunch of no-hopers as well – Comrade Jezza exploited the hunger for change. Trump is hardly confronted by anyone within the Republican Party possessing the clout and experience of the Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton, so he too is in an unexpectedly strong position.

Even though not a single Brit can cast a vote for Trump, his eventful campaign has received a good deal of coverage over here; a bit like when Bernard Manning used to be dragged onto any TV debate about racism in the hope he’d say something controversial to push up the viewing figures, Trump’s bizarre one-man show is unarguably entertaining for some in the same way a ‘Jungle’ or ‘Big Brother’ is when a group of disparate nonentities are plied with booze to get them at each other’s throats. For some reason, however, despite everything he’s had to say about Mexicans and the Menstrual Cycle, it was Trump’s comments about banning any further Muslims from setting foot on American soil that has sparked the UK Puritans into action.

Not content with attempting to exclude the equally obnoxious Tyson Fury from the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist, the professional prohibitionists of the online petition have now turned their attention to Trump and have begun a cyber campaign to call for him to be banned from Britain. Over 370,000 signatories agree with the motion, as do (surprise, surprise) several honourable members. It must be an incredibly busy life organising petitions; imagine spending most of one’s day monitoring the news in search of an offensive comment by somebody famous in the hope it will be offensive enough to warrant drumming up support for a ban.

Is there a ratings system, a scale by which one can judge the level of offence such a comment might potentially cause? If so, I envisage it as being akin to the old ‘clapometer’ on ITV’s Hughie Green-hosted 1970s talent show, ‘Opportunity Knocks’, which used to drift across the bottom of the screen, slowly moving up or down depending on the loudness of the studio audience’s applause to every act looking for a lucky break. Perhaps a comment has to rise above a particular point before the inevitable petition is unleashed?

Regardless of how big a dick Donald Trump is, by trying to ban him from visiting America’s oldest ally, it simply reinforces his outsider status and he can again point to how ‘the elite’ are attempting to silence him. As in the old days, whenever Radio 1 or ‘Top of the Pops’ took it upon themselves to scrub a hit single off the playlist, the record invariably shot to the top of the charts, whether ‘Je T’Aime’, ‘God Save the Queen’ or ‘Relax’. Preventing Trump from crossing the Atlantic plays entirely into his hands; it will only make him seem more important than he is and will only serve to encourage more recruits to his cause – just as his anti-Muslim policy would do the business for ISIS if implemented.

Go ahead; ban him – if you want him to become President.

© The Editor