2016: Annus Horribilis?

2016 isn’t over yet and it has already been a tumultuous and frightening year. The world of European and American of politics have been dominated by Brexit and the US elections. Donald Trump’s performances in the Presidential Debates were inept and petulant. His claim that the election is being rigged by the media is the snivelling cry of a spoilt brat. The suggestion that if he is to lose, he’ll refuse to accept the result, shows his profound lack of respect for the democratic process. The sexual assault claims suggest that Trump may have been hoisted by his own, misogynistic, sticky fingered petard. However, it’s not over until it’s over and he still could get in.

Over the last few months, the fires of discrimination and xenophobia have been stoked by Trump and Nigel Farage. Some of Trump’s supporters, and UK citizens who voted to leave the EU, have suffered great hardship during the last decade or so. Many feel ignored by the political elite, and have voted for who they regard as the straight talking outsider. Like blood sucking parasites, Messrs Trump and Farage fed off this deprivation in order to further their own dubious causes. Historically, whenever a nation suffers economically, bigotry and discord rear their ugly heads. This isn’t to suggest that everyone who voted out of the EU is racist, but one can’t deny the use of xenophobia as a PR tool in the campaign. It’s all very well to blame the politicians, however these public figures are a reflection of the population that supports them – we get the leaders we deserve.

The recent coverage of the admission of unaccompanied child refugees is typical of the current mood. Headlines have been dominated by a few men trying to get in to the UK, pretending to be teenagers, stirring up yet more xenophobia and fear. The vast majority of in-coming people are vulnerable children who have family in the UK, entitling them to a legal right to be here. The right wing press have also conveniently forgotten that our foreign policy in Iraq that contributed to the desperate conditions that created crisis in the first place.

Of course, Katie Hopkins was calling refugees ‘cockroaches’ in The Sun a year before Brexit. Her suggestion of using warships to gun down boatloads of humans fleeing war zones, beheadings and persecution was met with widespread disgust and condemnation. The UN attacked The Sun for publishing the article, stating that Hopkins’ offensive rhetoric was reminiscent of anti-Semitic, Nazi propaganda. Historically, whenever humans have been likened to vermin, mass murder is never far behind. However, I’m sure there were many who secretly agreed with Hopkins, who now feel like it’s permissible say so openly. Unsurprisingly, Katie Hopkins has showed unequivocal support for Donald Trump. The likes of Hopkins and Farage make me embarrassed to be British.

What I despise about the likes of Trump and Farage is their assertion that they are tackling the ‘tough issues’, like immigration, head on. They insist they say the things that everyone is thinking, but are afraid to speak allowed. In actual fact, they appeal to the lowest common denominator and exploit the public’s fear. It’s understandable that the nation has concerns about immigration, but scapegoating ‘the other’ has always been dangerous. If Hillary Clinton is elected, common sense will win the day in the US. I don’t have much faith that Clinton will address the issues that gave Trump the opportunity to come to prominence. But she is the only rational choice. Heaven help us if Trump is allowed access to America’s nuclear codes. Hopefully, 2016 will end on a more optimistic note, with an experienced, qualified politician in one of the most powerful positions in the world.

  • Steve Wheeler

    Spot on, Brexit and the xenophobia ,racism and bigotry it has unearthed has made me ashamed and fear for our country. We no longer seem to be a caring welcoming place to come to.

    Trump or Clinton, what a dreadful choice for the US and the world either has the potential to be a disaster. Bernie S would have at least offered some hope.

    Would like to think the UK will see the truth and reverse the road we travel and turn back before it’s too late. I won’t be holding my breath.