07 March 2017

The U.K. parliament debates a state visit by Trump

I communicate frequently with people in Scandinavia and Great Britain, and on occasion have offered my apologies for our country having placed Donald Trump in a position of authority.  One correspondent in England wrote back to note that he had signed the petition opposing a state visit by Trump.  He was kind enough to send me a link to the fulltext of the parliamentary debate, from which I excerpt the following:

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab)
I beg to move, That this House has considered e-petitions 171928 and 178844 relating to a state visit by President Donald Trump...

I thank the Petitions Committee for allowing me to introduce the petitions. There has been a great deal of misunderstanding about their nature. One of them, which has been signed by more than 300,000 people, states:
“Donald Trump should be invited to make an official State Visit because he is the leader of a free world and U.K. is a country that supports free speech and does not believe that people that oppose our point of view should be gagged.”
The other petition, which has gained the remarkable total of 1,850,000 signatures in a few days and which has been much misunderstood, states:
“Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.”
That is a fascinating prospect. The first petition suggests that cancelling the state visit would in some way deprive President Trump of his ability to speak freely, when in recent days we have had a ceaseless incontinence of free speech from him—the man is everywhere, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The other petition is saying not that he should not come here—he should come here, on business or other matters—but that he should not be accorded the rare privilege of a state visit. Only two Presidents of the United States have been granted a state visit since 1952, yet we are in the extraordinary and completely unprecedented position in which, seven days into his presidency, President Trump has been invited to have the full panoply of a state visit..
Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con)
I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s response to Mr Trump’s perhaps ill considered phraseology, but what complaint did he make when Emperor Hirohito, who was responsible for the rape of Nanking, came here?
Paul Flynn
Many people have come here who have been less welcome than others; that is absolutely true. We have had people here who were very unsavoury characters—not from the United States, as it happens—but we certainly should not try to imitate the errors of the past. We should set an example by making sure that we do not make those mistakes again... It is extraordinary that Trump, from the cavernous depths of his scientific ignorance, is prepared to challenge the conclusions of 97% of the world experts on this matter. He makes a bad science conspiracy theory conclusion when, apart from the nuclear issue, climate change is the most important issue of our time. On the nuclear issue, Trump is almost unique in that he believes in nuclear proliferation. He is trying to persuade countries such as South Korea and Japan to acquire their own nuclear weapons. We know that the danger of nuclear war exists not because of the malice of nations but because of the likelihood that it will come by accident—by human error, or by a technical ​failure similar to the one that happened when one of our missiles headed in the wrong direction towards the United States in a recent test. The more nations that have nuclear weapons, the more likely it is that that problem will emerge and we could be plunged into a nuclear war.
Mr Adam Holloway (Gravesham) (Con)
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, although the proposed ban is clearly completely absurd, there is something quite refreshing about a politician actually doing what they said they would do before they were elected? The [immigration] ban is ridiculous, but it is a reaction to the chaos caused in the middle east by previous generations of politicians, which in my view is far worse than anything that Trump has done, and for which many of the people in this Chamber voted. Where is the hon. Gentleman’s respect for the will of the American people?
Alex Salmond (Gordon) (SNP)
...the Prime Minister’s holding-hands-across-the-ocean visit would be difficult to match as an example of fawning subservience, but to do it in the name of shared values was stomach-churning. What exactly are the shared values that this House and this country would hope to have with President Trump? Exemplifying what shared values are is a process that is fraught with danger, but the Prime Minister tried it when she was Home Secretary. She said that they were: “Things like democracy…a belief in the rule of law, a belief in tolerance for other people, equality, an acceptance of other people’s faiths and religions.” Which of those values, as outlined by the Prime Minister, has President Trump exemplified in his first 30 days in office?
Tulip Siddiq (Hampstead and Kilburn) (Lab)
Barack Obama waited two and a half years before he was invited on a state visit. George W. Bush waited three years. Nixon and George Bush Senior were never given a state visit. My question is what Donald Trump has done. In my opinion, all he has done since he has been President is insult the press, champion economic protectionism and try to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Are those reasons to grant him a state visit to our country?​ Secondly, a state visit is meant to be a celebratory event for people. However, millions of people have signed a petition to say they do not want Donald Trump to be given a state visit. Thousands have marched along Whitehall, in addition to the people across the country who say they would not welcome it. If we listen carefully we can hear the thousands of people outside the House right now, saying they do not want Donald Trump to come to this country on a royal state visit. We have a duty to listen to those people and give them a voice. If people from the Trump Administration are listening, I would say to them that that is not fake news. The people protesting outside are not alternative facts. The protests are real ones, by British people who do not want to give him a royal visit.
Paul Flynn
I will make just one more point. I believe that the debate went off the rails when some hon. Members suggested that the petitioners were asking for a ban on President Trump. Not one of the 2 million people is asking for a ban. In the largest petition, people are asking for the visit to be downgraded from a state visit. That is the whole point, namely that by giving this rare accolade of a state visit to President Trump the implication is that we approve of him and his policies. It is fine to have the President here and it is fine to have a visit on business—there is no objection to that—but this marvellous debate that we have had shows that we are reacting to the voice of the people, and to the anger and fear outside. It is a good day for Parliament.
Much more from the three-hour debate at this link


  1. It would seem to me that it would be in virtually any nation's interest to get on good terms with Trump. Not because they fear him, but because they might be able to influence him for the better.

    He is not an evil person, even if we might think him unwise. But to add yet another insulting voice will do nothing but provoke him. The media has been unrelenting...when they could have been admonishing, they instead have went with a scorched earth policy. Does anyone actually think that Trump is going to say, "Oh, my...I have offended the liberal media...I must change my ways"?

    No. He will do as before, and double down. But if we can RESPECTFULLY speak--if not for him, then respect for the office--we might find that indeed we can do more with honey than with haberneros.

    1. A man that does evil things when "provoked" is an evil man.

    2. Are you talking about the man who publicly attempted to ridicule a person with disabilities, are you talking about the person who said he would pay the legal bills of those who resorted to violence in his support, are you talking about the very same person who casually joked about grabbing women by their privates? The same said person who was going to prove that Obama was a foreigner, that kept Blacks form living in his apartment building, that swore repeatedly that there was a video of thousands of Muslims on a rooftop in NJ rejoicing on 9/11? Is that the person you are claiming we should treat... "RESPECTFULLY?"

      If you are proud of, delighted by, and in agreement with that proven pattern of a lifetime of behavior (and can't wait for more), then by all means- you are more than free to do so. For anyone with a more discretionary eye, we should do all we possibly can to remove him from said office- out of respect for said office.

  2. So, Eternal Hope, your plan is that other countries should try to suck up to a racist, bigoted, immoral bully? You believe might makes right? That hateful behavior should be rewarded? So you think the US should have eagerly sought to get on Hitler's good side?

    I cannot see how anyone of any sense or sense of pride in what our nation claims to represent could wish this to be our stance with the world from here on in.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...