No Matter The Office, May Should Never Have Honoured A Man Like Trump

Trade unionism's core principle is that the strong help the weak - Trumpism's is that the strong should trample the weak
GEOFF PUGH via Getty Images

Dear Prime Minister,

President Trump isn’t welcome in the UK. And here’s why.

We should all be disturbed by the growth of the far-right globally. President Trump gives a platform to people in the US and around the world who promote hatred and division.

That’s why, on Friday, thousands of trade unionists will be marching against Donald Trump, the self-styled poster boy of the alt-right. You may choose to look the other way but unions have a long history of standing up to bullies and bigots.

You shouldn’t need reminding that this is a US president who criticised anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville. Who has repeatedly taken the side of white supremacists, neo-fascists and women-haters.

Trump has demeaned and disparaged women, immigrants, African Americans, disabled people and countless others. He has seriously undermined workers’ rights and women’s rights by appointing Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. And in recent months, he has overseen a policy of brutally separating children from their parents at the U.S. border.

To make matters worse, Trump claims to act in the name of ordinary working people, exploiting economic injustice and political disillusionment to spread hatred and distrust.

The British government should never honour someone like Trump, no matter how powerful they are or what office they hold.

As we approach Brexit, working people in Britain deserve to know what kind of country we’ll be after leaving the EU.

Will our government jump into bed with any leader who promises a trade deal? Even if the leader is a toxic bigot and the deal on offer does nothing to protect the jobs and rights of British workers?

Or will we continue, outside the EU, to stand up for our values, showing leadership in the international fight against hatred and neo-fascism?

This question couldn’t be more important right now, as we watch the far-right grasp for power in the US, across Europe, and even in our communities here in Britain. Just this week, six alleged members of a neo-nazi group – National Action – have stood trial in London, accused of plotting to murder one of your parliamentary colleagues, Rosie Cooper MP. We are just two years on from the murder of another MP, Jo Cox.

We must tackle far-right extremism on every possible front. That means challenging and closing down violent groups like National Action and the Football Lads Alliance.

But it also means working with the communities your government has abandoned. Those communities where there are few decent jobs, where public services are in crisis, and where trust in one another and civic pride are fading.

And crucially, we must stand up to international leaders who allow antisemitism, misogyny, racism and bigotry to thrive. That’s where you come in, prime minister. As you meet with Trump, you must make it clear that Britain will not stand for this kind of politics.

Trump won’t be happy about it. He might throw a tantrum on Twitter. But what do you have to lose?

Even when your government bends over backwards to appease Trump, he still shows no regard for British jobs and livelihoods. Just look at his punitive tariffs on British steel, which actively undermine good jobs in one of our key strategic industries.

But ultimately, this is about more than just Britain. It’s about building a more equal, prosperous and stable international community, working together with our friends and allies to drive out the forces of division and hatred.

The core principle of trade unionism is that the strong help the weak. But the core principle of Trumpism seems to be that the strong should trample the weak.

We won’t stand for that. And you shouldn’t either.

Frances O’Grady is general secretary of the TUC


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