May Theresa Play the Trump Card?
By Tom Aitken in London
Soon after I first suggested to KIN that I might write something about Trump and Theresa May I started collecting articles from the press.
The result, in no time at all, was a study floor covered with piles of pages from The Times, The London Evening Standard, Private Eye, The Oldie, The Spectator, The New Statesman, and so on and on.
Eventually, in order to save my sanity and be able to move about in my workplace, I decided to do some sweeping summarising of events and the ideas and political drives which lie behind them.
The Big Issue
Up first is an article that comes from a slightly surprising source, namely The Big Issue.
This is the weekly news magazine sold by homeless persons on the streets of Britain.
It has long standing now as a scheme for making such people able to earn some money. They buy their copies from the publisher and sell then on a fixed price that is double what they paid per copy. This gives them a sense that they are earning money, not living off hand-outs and also enables them to develop friendships with some at least of their customers.
It is therefore wondrously appropriate that I should derive criticism of Trump from this source, since he would find it totally contemptible and irritating.
The Language they use
Thus: John Blakey, a chief executive officer coach, and author of The Trusted Executive, has written an article called ‘How to Learn the Language of Trust’, which examines Trump’s behaviour in linguistic terms.
He begins with Trump’s motto: America First. It is, he remarks accurately, ‘short, emotive and focused specifically on the cares and concerns of his followers.’ His intention to ‘drain the swamp’ which American politics has in his opinion become, is the kind of phrase which made one voter comment that ‘Donald Trump talks like we talk around our kitchen table. He is ‘one of us’, that’s why I voted for him.’
He notes that ‘Whereas in the past we wanted leaders to be distant, cold bastions of authority, we now prefer them to be like us––simple, human and imperfect… We’ve seen far too many emperors with far too little clothing.’
An Academy of Executive Coaching survey found that 83% of people were more likely to trust simple language than complicated wording, and 57% were more
likely to trust short, concise answers than those going into detail. Some common phrases were found to arouse suspicion, among them ‘if I’m honest’, ‘let me be clear’, ‘let me be very clear’ and ‘let me be absolutely clear (one of David Cameron’s favourites, as Blakey notes).
Leaders using ‘complex, sophisticated language’ may be trusted ‘if this is consistent with their authentic selves. We don’t think they have grafted an additional layer of polished, slick political spin on top of their real personalities… Donald Trump’s language hits the mark. He is often blunt, outspoken, spontaneous and ignorant of key data, yet he is now President of the United States’.
It would appear to be the case that amongst those who have been won over by Trump is still––but perhaps to a lesser extent than was earlier the case-–British Prime Minister Teresa May.
Unfortunately for her, this trust has to a considerable extent backfired. Many people in Britain are outraged by her invitation to Trump to come to England and meet the Queen during his first year. Presidents have in the past been granted a royal reception only in their second or third years.
Throwing spanners in the banners
Mrs May has lost some popularity over this question. Protestors gathered outside Downing Street a fortnight ago carrying banners proclaiming ‘Theresa the Appeaser’.
One solitary banner had neither rhyme nor wit (although it does have some degree of truth): ‘No one asked for you, Theresa, you hatchet-faced old bitch.’
Against all this rage, it has been argued that America is a democracy and an ally of long-standing, and the Queen has, after all, had to meet a number of foreign leaders of hostile powers, at least two of whom were nastier even than Trump: think Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Bashar Al-Assad (Syria), and Vladimir Putin (who kept her waiting!).
‘Keeping Calm and Smiling Through’
So the chances are that Queen will be able to keep smiling through a meeting with Donald Trump.
But one of the difficulties Trump has created for Prime Minister May herself is perhaps more of a stinker for her to deal with. She has been obliged to urge her European Union counterparts to be patient with him.
She has defended her decision to seek a close relationship with the Trump administration, stressing that she had secured his commitment to the NATO alliance. (But, as with many arrangements made verbally by Trump, he may have cancelled this with another side of his multi-sided brain.)
European Leaders have warned that they would not let Trump ‘trample’ on their values. They pooh-pooh the idea that Theresa May could operate as a reconciler between the EU and US.
And they rather more than pooh-pooh the idea that post-Brexit Britain will be able to trade (as May hopes) with both the European Union and the United States. That is something up with which the European Union will not put.
And, should Britain end up with a situation in which it maintains trade with neither Europe nor America, what then?
Shall we sink beneath rather than rule the waves?
We can but await developments.