Written by Hannah Dunleavy

In The News

Donkeys and Elephants

Has anyone ever seen Donald Trump and Boris Johnson in the same room together? These two political animals certainly appear to be eating from the same trough, says Hannah Dunleavy.

What a bell- er, beginning: Boris Johnson at the NASDAQ opening bell ceremony in 2009. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

What a bell- er, beginning: Boris Johnson at the NASDAQ opening bell ceremony in 2009. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Over the weekend I saw someone who reminded me that the last time I’d seen her – around six months ago – I’d announced with absolute certainty that the wheels would eventually fall off the Trump campaign.

“Now Han,” she said, with a mix of admonition and trepidation, “you promised me it wouldn’t get this far.” I felt that same rush of guilt and self-doubt I did when my nephew reminded me, shortly after we’d narrowly avoided being stampeded in the usually peaceful confines of Grantchester Meadows, that I had, just moments before, confidently assured him there was no reason to be scared of cows.

So, it seems I know as much about the thought process of your average Trump supporter as I do that of a bovine herd. I’m going to spare you all a long list of reasons they are similar, but needless to say I know which I’d rather have a pint with.

With his rivals – John Kasich and Ted Cruz – entering into an unprecedented electoral pact, which will see them alternately step aside for each other in states they know they have no chance of winning, Trump’s got even more to moan about. The election is corrupt. The media* is corrupt**. The whole damn system’s corrupt.

* I watched a documentary on the Cultural Revolution this week (hey, I don’t tell you how to spend your rainy Sundays) and was reminded that whinging about the media was a favourite pastime of Chairman Mao. Given Trump’s absolute love of capitalism, absolute hatred of the Chinese and propensity to get worked up at the taking of his name in vain, I briefly considered getting busy on Photoshop and setting up a Chairman Trump Twitter account.

** I’m aware it’s not a great week to be defending the media. Some journalists are, without doubt, cunts. A huge proportion aren’t.

“Brexit flag-waver Johnson railed that Obama was only thinking about US interests, not British interests. Suggesting to me that he sees them as mutually exclusive: the sort of isolationist thinking Trump would love.”

If Trump’s having a bad week in America, he can perhaps take heart from the fact that, regardless of whether he wins or loses, his style of politics with its ability to grab a headline is starting to have an obvious impact on politicians on this side of the Atlantic. Most notably on Boris Johnson. Albeit not always successfully.

One of the criticisms levelled at former Republican candidate Senator Mark Rubio was that spending so much time campaigning meant he was neglecting the people of Florida that he was being paid to represent in the Senate.

I’ve not seen any such criticism in this country of Boris Johnson, who is both the London Mayor and the MP for Uxbridge, which seems to be both a potential conflict of interests and too many jobs for any one person to be able to do well. And yet the man still finds time to write in The Sun. What a trooper.

I’ve long espoused my belief that Trump and Johnson are basically the same political animal: a rich-since-birth right-winger, whose confrontational style and success at a certain sort of TV has gone some way to masking a half-arsed performance almost everywhere else. Also the hair.

This week English Trump drew inspiration from American Johnson, lashing out at Barack Obama after the outgoing President cautioned against leaving the EU. Which he has as much right to say as David Cameron has to comment on the outcome of the US election. The world would function a lot better if we sought a wider range of opinions on decisions that will fundamentally affect how our nations operate.*

*I know, never going to happen.

Writing in The Sun, Brexit flag-waver Johnson railed that Obama was only thinking about US interests, not British interests. Suggesting to me that he sees them as mutually exclusive: the sort of isolationist thinking Trump would love.

Then, in a broadside straight out of Trump’s Birther movement cannon, he raised something that was contested SEVEN years ago when it first happened: the return to the British Embassy of a bust of Churchill, previously housed in the Oval Office. Because no single anecdote tells you more about the effect of the combined experience of seven years at the helm of a superpower on a person’s ability to make a decision about Europe than something that allegedly happened in the first weeks of their presidency.

Boris_Johnson_July_2015The bit that got everyone agitated – and by everyone, I mostly mean Twitter, although he has also been No Platformed (a sort of left-wing version of Nixon’s Enemies List) – was this: “Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire.”

Which is true, as far as it goes. A couple of national newspapers said just that at the time. But it’s also not the full picture. Some also said, “How do you know his ancestral dislike of the British empire doesn’t come from America? Bell-end.”

The White House came back with a statement about the current whereabouts of the bust of Churchill. Which, it transpires, is the White House.

But like Trump, Boris is unbowed. Writing in The Telegraph (where does he find the time?) he pulled a political move that Trump has very much made his own in the last few months: citing an unverifiable source who says exactly the thing you need them to in this situation.

Which, in this situation, was: “One senior public servant – a man of no political party, and who had previously been on the fence – texted me after the US intervention and said he had been so outraged at President Obama’s ‘back of the queue’ remark that he had instantly decided to vote Leave.”

Next stop: Boris threatens to bill France for the cost of filling in the Channel Tunnel. See you then.

Read all of Hannah’s Donkeys and Elephants here.

@thatdunleavy

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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.