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How did those Anti-Trump and Pro-Trump petitions do? What (if anything) can we learn from them?

February 11, 2017

These have both calmed down now, and barring some fresh impetus, nearly everybody who was going to sign either of these has signed them by now.

The Anti-Trump one has about 1,850,000 signatures and the Pro-Trump one has about 310,000 names.  Unless something suddenly arrives to stir the pot, these numbers will not shift much.  The Anti-Trump petition will not make it to 2 million and the Pro-Trump one will not make it to half a million.

As it happens, I have three brothers living in the UK and looking at the map,  each of them lives in the three reddest blobs denoting the highest percentage of anti Trump state visit signatories.  Yes, they live in North London, Brighton and Bristol.  These three blobs also contain the highest percentages of “Remain” voters, not very co-incidentally.   The fact that my ties to these three blobs are so strong just reinforces by sane conviction that I do indeed live in a bubble of self-reinforcing progressive opinion.   An echo chamber of left-liberal self righteousness.  But then again, where else would you want to live?  Each of these blobs can claim about 10% of their entire eligible constituency voting to block the official state visit of Donald Trump.

Here’s the blurb…

Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom.

Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.


Donald Trump’s well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales. Therefore during the term of his presidency Donald Trump should not be invited to the United Kingdom for an official State Visit.

It’s an odd petition in many ways.  I’ll be honest and say that “not embarrassing the Queen” is not my most urgent political imperative.  And to be even more honest, anybody who has been living with Prince Philip for seventy years must have learned how to handle embarrassment by now.  Along with misogyny and vulgarity.  My more sincere concern is that granting Trump a state visit within a few days of his inauguration breaks with all historical precedent – thereby giving an unprecedented statement of support to someone who every sane individual I know recognises as a mentally deranged, abusive, treacherous,  truth-defying, sex criminal.   The speed of this invitation, coming on the same day as Trump’s internationally reviled Muslim ban, ensures that Britain becomes globally identified as the willing ally of extreme horribleness.

This is about Theresa May making an unprecedented political intervention in support of Donald Trump.  And not all US Presidents get official State Visits.  Eisenhower didn’t. Kennedy didn’t.  Nixon didn’t.  Carter didn’t.

In response to this petition, a rival Pro-Trump petition was launched.  Angels and ministers of grace defend us – here’s the prefatory blurb for it…

Donald Trump should make a State Visit to the United Kingdom.

Donald Trump should be invited to make an official State Visit because he is the leader of a free world and U.K. is a country that supports free speech and does not believe that people that appose our point of view should be gagged.

Yes, that’s actually the text of the petition.  The actual uncorrected text.  It’s not difficult to spot the habitual illiteracy that goes with the xenophobic Extreme Right in this petition.  A visceral contempt for the English language and a willingness to torture it, has long been a hallmark of the fringes of English nationalism.  “Appose our point of view”?   “Leader of a free world?”   The fact that more that 300,000 people in a medium sized polity can put their names under such sub-literacy is just one of very many reasons why Britain is doomed as a polity.

More bizarre and disturbing still is the idea that unless you receive an official state visit you are somehow being “gagged”.   I’ve never been wined and dined and Buckingham Palace, and nor will I ever be, but I don’t feel “gagged” as a consequence.

I’m not aware that Trump has ever been gagged, or ever lacked the ability to communicate the first (and last thing) on his mind to the world at a moment’s notice.  There are many many people in the world whose freedom of speech is curtailed – but Trump is assuredly not one of them.  Horrifically, there are more than 300,000 people who believe that there is something oppressive about not grovelling in front of a race-baiting sexual predator.  Apparently if you do not spend millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money telling Donald Trump how wonderful he is and flattering his gargantuan ego, then you are oppressing him and “gagging” him.

An official state visit is not about taking part in a debate, or a free exchange of views.   It’s about being told how completely wonderful you are – over and over and over again.  As a hereditary oligarch, Trump has spent his entire long life being told how completely wonderful he is – an experience which has helped make him the vicious creature that he is.

There’s a further absurdity about this petition which is bound up with the whole purpose of the petitioning process.  The petitions are there to sponsor a parliamentary debate.  In other words, by getting more than 100,000 names, the petitioners have secured exactly the same outcome as the Anti-Trump petition – a debate in parliament about whether or not a state visit should take place.  I could sponsor a petition saying “We all think Trump is lovely!” – and, presuming enough names were accumulated under it, Trump’s loveliness would then be subject to detailed parliamentary scrutiny.


The sad reality is that only six times as many people signed the Anti-Trump petition as the Pro-Trump petition.  Only six times as many.  Shameful.  And of course there are the 58 million people who haven’t signed either petition, many of whom, logically, aren’t that bothered.  And much of that “not that botheredness”must translate into casual acquiescence with the idea of a state visit.

Trump, it seems, has many fans in Britain, people who sincerely feel that despite Theresa May’s best efforts, Britain is an insufficiently stupid and hateful place, and needs the additional impetus that a full State visit from Donald Trump might provide, in order to accelerate Britain’s  race towards terminal toxicity.

The the state visit will be debated.  And it will go ahead. And though many will protest, there will be plenty of pro-hatred, pro-fear, and pro-rape people to welcome him with joyous tears in their eyes.  It will of course, be the last state visit by any US President, as no Britain  will be left for any of his successors to see, whether officially or unofficially.



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