The Waugh Zone November 10, 2016

The five things you need to know on Thursday, November 10, 2016…


Soon after she took office as PM, there were plenty of claims that Theresa May was the UK’s equivalent of Angela Merkel. A no-nonsense, female leader who preferred deeds to mere words. But after yesterday’s very different responses to Donald Trump’s victory, the ‘Mrs Maykel’ idea looks less credible.

May sent a warm letter of congratulations to Trump. And when asked by a report whether the President-Elect was a "fit person to hold this office”, ducked the question. In a stark contrast, Merkel gave a short speech in which she gave Trump her heavily qualified support and pointedly failed to congratulate him on his victory.

"Germany and America are connected by common values: democracy, freedom, respect for the laws and for human dignity irrespective of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political conviction. On the basis of these values, I offer the future president of America, Donald Trump, a close working relationship." Those words were greeted with delight by many Brits (our site almost went into meltdown) who wanted our own PM to be as robust.

It may just be a reflection of Merkel’s greater self-confidence and experience in the top job. And Germany has just as much, if not more, trade with the US at stake as we do. But May’s response was more about a desperate desire not to burn bridges at a time when she is keen to build them post-Brexit vote. Trump said we would be at the front of the queue in any bilateral trade deal, so she will want to capitalise on that.

What won’t please No.10 so much is Nigel Farage’s offer to act as an intermediary (he sounded like he was serious when asked about a possible job in the Trump team): "If I can do anything to help the relationship between the UK and America, via Donald Trump, I will do that."

Merkel’s forthrightness follows her own bold call on offering sanctuary to Syrian refugees (another policy area where she differs markedly from May). She’s trimmed since then following a public backlash, and is polling badly ahead of next year’s elections. My German HuffPost colleagues remind me that the far-right AfD are now polling 11% and could get as much as 18%.

And in France, the Trump trumpet has been heard too. Marine Le Pen yesterday said: “A new world is emerging, global equilibriums are being redefined because of Trump's election". Is it time to think the unthinkable of a Le Pen Presidency, along with a Trump one?


Obama meets Trump at the White House today and all traces of the Donald’s racist birther claims will be quietly forgotten. Never forget that the US President is the head of state and the office of President is so sacrosanct to most Americans that they will try to ensure Trump gets a fair wind.

Last night there were street protests in New York, but they seemed as pointless and impotent as the infamous march on No.10 the day after Cameron won the 2015 general election, defying all the polls and alternative Twitterverse/Milifandom view of the world.

Newsnight had historian Simon Schama saying it’s 'no time to be calm' over Trump, but Obama is trying to make it as smooth a transition as possible.

And my colleagues on HuffPost in the US have decided it’s time to “clean the slate”, at least for now. Our founder and former editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington told us last night that she too wanted to give Trump a chance to prove all his critics wrong and be a unifying President.

And in the US, our famous “Editor’s Note” has been dropped. For months every story about Trump came with the following note at the bottom of the article: "Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S."

Our Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim said: “He’s now president and we’re going to start with a clean slate. This would be giving respect to the office of the presidency which Trump and his backers never did." But there's a kicker: "If he governs in a racist, misogynistic way, we reserve the right to add it back on."

Meanwhile, Trump is busy drafting his incoming White House team. Talk of private sector staffers replacing experienced Government officials will worry some. Just as worrying are reports that neocon John Bolton could be his Secretary of State and creationist Ben Carson his Education Secretary. We live in interesting times..


Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the Trump victory summed up his and his supporters’ attempt to balance the downside with the upside. The election result was "an unmistakable rejection of a political establishment and an economic system that simply isn’t working for most people", the Labour leader said. For good measure, he added that it was “a rejection of a failed economic consensus and a governing elite that has been seen not to have listened”.

Of course, Corbyn wanted to stress that Trump’s answers were wrong. "I have no doubt, however, that the decency and common sense of the American people will prevail, and we send our solidarity to a nation of migrants, innovators and democrats." Yet the overall message was clear: the alarm bells that have been ringing from the public from Greece to Italy to Spain, and in the UK’s Brexit vote, are finally being heard in the US too.

If you want an insight into the way team Corbyn thinks, his increasingly influential young aide Sam Tarry tweeted a pic showing how Bernie Sanders had been polling earlier this year against Trump: with much bigger leads than Hillary’s. As for Labour MPs, some will be familiar with the feelings of all those moderate Republicans having to forget their previous criticism of their candidate and get ready to take jobs in his administration.

Yanis Varoufakis, who has impressed Corbyn, told the Today prog: "Trump often is partly right... but this is the problem”.

Meanwhile Wikileaks has mocked the Democrats for their loss. Assange was also hailed as a hero by white supremacist David Duke. Yet another reason for Corbyn to more clearly distance himself from the online anarchists?


Watch a new world record set for solving a Rubik’s Cube. Makes Ed Miliband look lame.


Trump’s campaign against globalisation and free trade is one of the key reasons his pitch resonated with working class voters. And with five million US manufacturing jobs lost since 2000, you can see why.

The US-EU trade deal aka TTIP, which was already in intensive care, now looks like it will have its life support machine switched off by a Trump presidency. "TTIP is history," Bernd Lange, chair of the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade, told online magazine vorwaerts.de yesterday. EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said it was too early to go that far but added that a break in talks was inevitable whoever had won.

So who is left to speak up for globalisation, the creed so heartily endorsed as an orthodoxy on the mainstream Right but also the ‘third way’ Left from Bill Cinton to Tony Blair?

Step forward Jim O’Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist who coined the phrase BRICS and who served as a Treasury minister under Cameron and briefly May. Lord O’Neill told the Today prog’s business section that free trade deals were “as close to a free lunch as it gets”, with rising prosperity for all parties involved.

“There’s a danger that globalisation is an easy thing for politicians to blame,” he said. The bigger culprits may be countries’ failure to equip the countries to cope with global technology, “the dramatic reduction of the power of trade unions and their bargaining power”.

Like a lot of people, O’Neill also wondered just how Trump can carry out his pledges to bring back so many manufacturing jobs. “The dollar would have to be a lot weaker, the US labour market would have to become a lot cheaper…you can’t just magically create manufacturing jobs…it’s a bit of a fantasy.” Better instead to export value added goods to China, which has seen its own currency and wages rise in recent years, he said.


I know we don’t trust polls, but exit polls tend to be more accurate. And they threw up this nugget last night: white millennials (18-29 year-olds) voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by 48% to 43%. Minority millennials overwhelmingly backed Hillary, with 71% of Latinos and 83% of African-American millennials on her side.

That racial breakdown of the stats stands in contrast to message tweeted out by YouTuber Jon Cozart that if only millennials had voted, Hillary would have won a 504 to 23 landslide in the electoral college. Young whites get blamed for a lot of things but this is a new one. Maybe the Snapchat, Instagram, cat video generation are more conservative than many thought.

As for the minority ethnic turnout, one of the most under-reported stories of the 2016 campaign has been the unprecedented voter restrictions in a raft of key swing states, including crucial Wisconsin and Michigan. With margins so tight, that –rather than the FBI email stuff – may have had more impact on the entire outcome.

One other interesting breakdown of the exit polls shows that the poorest definitely voted for Hillary. The margin was 53% to 41%, for those earning less than $30k, and 51% to 42%, for those earning $30k-$49k. Trump’s success as in getting into the 40 per cent bracket among low earners. And don’t forget that among all higher income groups, Trump was their choice (even if only by 1% among those earning $200-$249k, for example).

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