The five things you need to know on Monday June 13, 2016…
1) RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Donald Trump has built his political career out of ignoring the usual rules of decorum and good taste. And his latest reaction to the Orlando shootings sums up both why he’s loathed by many, yet popular with a certain strand of American public opinion.
In tweeting that he appreciated ‘the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism’, so quickly after the massacre, Trump plunged himself where he loves to be: in the deep end of another controversy, proclaiming that ‘political correctness’ should not stop ‘action’ against terrorism. Of course, his ‘political incorrectness’ is as political - and incorrect - as anything you’ll hear on a campaign stump.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign have already dubbed him a ‘narcissist’ for his remarks. But Trump’s bigger problem is that his ban on Muslims arriving in the US would not have stopped a ‘lone wolf’ and ‘home-grown’ extremist from killing so many. What may have helped stem the death toll was action on Americans’ ability to get assault weapons so easily. But it looks like the gun lobby’s hold over Congress makes that pretty difficult right now.
Meanwhile, after five days of reviewing his position, Bernie Sanders looks close to backing Hillary. He yesterday dodged the question of whether he was still an ‘active candidate’. Bernie is due to meet his rival tomorrow and after Obama’s endorsement for her, the field could be cleared for those Trump attack ads. But will anyone wait until the Orlando dead are buried…?
2) BY ECK, X-FM
Alex Salmond is one of the few British politicians ever to have had extensive contacts with The Donald. And in a joint interview with me and the Telegraph’s Chris Hope (ahead of our Tel-HuffPost-YouTube EU debate tomorrow), the former First Minister reveals that Trump used to send him “green ink” missives, in CAPITAL LETTERS, and attached press cuttings, of the type that many MPs and reporters are sadly used to getting from slightly obsessive members of the public (of course, the green-inkers have Twitter these days, as Trump proves).
But Salmond has a serious point, and one that is raised again by his Orlando shootings response: that Trump just lacks the ‘temperament’, never mind judgement, to hold high office. “This is someone who in the course of a telephone call can go from pleading to bullying to cameraderie, to threatening, up and down..” Salmond says.
The pair of them have of course had a long-running feud ever since the Scottish government dared to back a wind farm near a Trump golf course. “What The Donald has needed for years is somebody to say ‘No’ to him. If it had happened much earlier then we would all be in a better place,” says Salmond.
He also urges all Scots Americans (5 million in total) not to vote Trump - and suggests that Trump has misled the world about his ow mother’s arrival in the US. Salmond says she was an ‘economic migrant’ and not ‘on holiday’ in New York when she met Trump’s father.
3) BROWNIAN MOTION
Salmond also had some interesting words on the idea of a second EU referendum, saying Brexiteers would be ‘justified’ in seeking one if they could get a Parliamentary majority. He also said that the real reason Cameron’s Project Fear was not working was because unlike the Scots indyref and the 2015 election, the newspapers were not playing ball this time. And Cameron’s referendum was also an attempt to keep the status quo, whereas most were called to effect change.
The House magazine this morning has an interview with ex Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler, warning that Cameron’s “position as prime minister would be untenable if we vote to leave…I think he would go and fairly quickly”.
But it’s a former PM, Gordon Brown, who is being allowed by the Remain camp aka No.10 to seek the headlines today. Vote Leave seized on the fact that this was a Labour ‘fightback’ that sounded like another admission of a ‘relaunch’. Labour MPs complain that Jeremy Corbyn only appeals to the converted Corbynistas on the stump, and not the wider working class voters needed to win the referendum. Hilary Benn has a big speech today setting out Labour's case.
Brown is trying to make the ‘positive’ case for Europe, saying the completion of the Single Market will create half a million new jobs and drive down energy prices, that common EU action can tackle tax avoidance and release more money for immigration impacts.
But this is the same Gordon Brown who loves a bit of Project Fear in Scotland. And it's the same Gordon Brown who for years returned from his ‘battles in Brussels’ trumpeting some British victory or other, rather than hailing common EU action. New Labour, as much as the Tories, has as much blame when it comes to painting Brussels as the enemy, not the UK’s friend. Will anyone remind him?
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR…
Watch some sheep go gently on the rampage after a Spanish shepherd fell asleep. Local cops had to deal with it.
4) DYE ANOTHER DAY
It sounded like a great scoop yesterday when Tim Shipman seemed to coax out of Boris (in a superb interview - and his read on Cameron's troubles is invaluable too) that he’d dyed his hair to keep it blond. When asked in the photo shoot if he applied some colour, the ex Mayor replied ‘Yes’.
But it may be sometime in the future, if ever, Bojo opts for the Grecian2000. Sister Rachel was quick onto The Twitter to say the Sunday Times's Political Editor was ‘in big trouble’. For it turns out Bozza was joking. Tim quoted him yesterday saying: "I do remember saying ‘yes’ in what was a satirical voice. I remember thinking 'God I hope he doesn't take that seriously’.”
And Marina Wheeler, Boris's wife, adds she would "stake my life on it and that of my children" that Bojo does not dye his hair. At least, having wound up Tim, they had the decency to tell him the truth. But it does all show the perils of Boris’ ‘satirical voice’.
5) BIG SIR COASTS
Sir Philip Green is famous for his massive yacht and often coasts his way through controversy. But is he cruising for a bruising in Parliament over his defiance of the inquiry into BHS’s collapse?
The billionaire is like many bosses in thinking Select Committees just want to grandstand and point the finger at their failures rather than understand their business. But not many of the boss class actively call for the resignation of committee chairmen, as Green did of Frank Field last week. “I am not prepared to participate in a process which has not even the pretence of fairness and objectivity and which has as its primary objective the destruction of my reputation,” the tycoon said.
Now the Guardian reports that MPs are preparing a list of sanctions ranging from Green being found in contempt of Parliament or to facing a Commons vote on whether he is a “fit and proper” person to be running a business.
Oh, and there are those cross-party moves for the forfeiture committee to strip him of his knighthood. Tim Farron became the first party leader to call for the move yesterday. And Sir John Collins, a former chairman of Dixons who headed the Whitehall honours committee that proposed Green’s ennoblement, has also said the tycoon should be stripped of the honour - if his BHS dealings were found to have lacked integrity. Tomorrow's meeting of the committees will tell us more.
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