It is awful of me, I know, but I confess I have been slightly amused by the reactions of British journalists, politicians and contributors to social media to Mr Trump’s election as the 45th president of the USA.
What struck me was the fact that almost all of them are horrified by the result for reasons which, or so it seems to me, are not really any of our business.
Let me make it clear. I, too, am concerned by the result. I worry that Mr Trump’s opposition to NATO, his support for President Putin’s Russia and his desire to bring an end to international free trade might be turned into official policy. Were that to happen, we in Britain would have very good cause to fear.
What seems odd to me is that almost all the, sometimes hysterical, comments I have seen have been directed to quite different matters altogether. Hardly anyone seems to share my worries. What distresses them are a whole lot of things which have nothing to do with us. They are cross, no, furious, because Mr Trump is boorish to women, horrid to Mexicans and Muslims, desperately and quite unjustifiably pleased with himself and has no experience of politics beyond offering himself as President. If I were an American I might well make all those criticisms of him. But I am not an American. I am British. I live in Britain. I will not be in the slightest affected by any of those faults of Mr Trump. If half the people of America want a President who has Mr Trump’s disagreeable approach to domestic policy, I have no right to complain.
Of course, the result was a shock. I went to bed last night assuming the polls would be right and Mrs Clinton would be elected. I woke this morning to hear Sarah Montague on the Today programme announcing, in tones one would expect from a BBC presenter reporting the death of the Queen, that it appeared Mr Trump had won. About a quarter of an hour later we were told, in the illiterate way of the BBC and most journalists, that Mrs Clinton had conceded “defeat” to Mr Trump. But I wasn’t confused, I knew they meant she had conceded victory. I was astounded. Yes, all those thoughts went through my mind: how on earth could the American people have voted for such an unutterable vulgarian?
But it didn’t take me long to get over the shock and to acknowledge the point I am making: it was none of my business. If the people of America were to flood the Face Book and the Twitter with furious denunciations of the British electorate for electing a Prime Minister they didn’t like, I think I might be a little put out,even if I agreed with their criticisms.
None of that is to say we shouldn’t be worried. But we should be worried about Mr Trump’s foreign policies, not the domestic ones. And that means that we should hold our noses and do our utmost to befriend him as we try to persuade him that he should not desert NATO, that he should not give moral support to President Putin’s desire to invade eastern Europe and that he should drop his isolationist economic policies.
So, now we’ve all expressed our moral indignation, let’s calm down and, just as Trump wants to put America first, put Britain first.