… you can’t play politics with people’s jobs and with people’s services or with their homes.”
That was Neil Kinnock at the Labour Party Conference in 1985. I remember it well. It was one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen a politician do. For those that have forgotten or weren’t here, he was taking the Militant Tendency head on. They had been running Liverpool City Council, had been in dispute with the government and ended up deliberately making their workforce redundant just to make a political point. Kinnock went after them bigly, a huge risk at the time, but got a thunderous standing ovation from the majority of his party.
Kinnock had a very serious point to make. A person elected to government has a serious responsibility towards those who invest their lives in providing services to the taxpayer. These people are never to be used as pawns in a game of political chess or become the victims of grandstanding. Unfortunately, this is a lesson that Trump and his lickspittles need to learn. That, and the fact that he is not a dictator.
American politicians are jealous of the British Parliament because, by their standards, it’s easy to get legislation passed. Some in the UK would say it’s too easy and we end up with one day of democracy followed by five years of elected dictatorship. But the American system of federal government was designed the way it is so that power is not concentrated in one place – in other words you need to build a consensus if you are going to make major changes. If he ever understood this Trump has now completely lost sight of it.
The President makes a huge fuss about the country desperately wanting the wall – you know – the one he said Mexico would pay for? But just because he thinks it doesn’t make it so. Well, firstly he didn’t get a majority at the polls, Hillary did, and he’s only President because of that weird-arse electoral college which is a hangover from the horse and cart days. Secondly, there’s the mid-terms and the massive change in the lower house. If that wasn’t a verdict on him and his bloody wall then nothing is. The Emperor is suddenly looking rather naked.
Trump may still genuinely believe that the wall is needed, although he makes a complete pig’s breakfast of producing any convincing or credible evidence. What he hasn’t got and never did have is any kind of mandate to build the bloody thing and much less to land the American taxpayer with the bill it.
More to the point he doesn’t have the right to play politics with people’s jobs the way he is. Both he and the Republican Senators who refuse to reopen the departments currently shut down are showing us what a bunch of cruel and uncaring bastards they really are. That they are so cavalier about the livelihoods of so many public servants is a national disgrace and they should hang their heads in shame. But I really don’t think they have any.