The same anti establishment roar of anger that is taking Britain out of the EU has now landed us with President Trump.

The comparisons between the two seismic events are uncanny. Donald Trump in particular, and Nigel Farage to a lesser extent, broke the conventional rules and became “the bloke at the bar” to get past the elite and appeal to the “left behind”. The same tactics of flirting with racism and wild exaggeration were used by both men. Millions of Turks were due to settle in Britain according to Farage. Turkey is not even close to EU membership. Trump is pledged to deport two million illegal criminal immigrants. There are 178,000.

UKIP has indulged in endless infighting, Trump made lewd remarks about women. None of it mattered. Indeed the unseemly behaviour seems to add to the “authenticity” of Trump and Farage. The establishment right in the UK and America have been unable to handle the disruption. David Cameron was forced to concede a referendum which destroyed his career. Donald Trump, not a real Republican at all, managed to see off 15 rivals in the primaries.

And one more similarity, the polls. This is now the third time in 18 months they have got it wrong. Last year we were heading for a hung parliament, last June we were voting to Remain, last weekend Hillary Clinton was going to win the White House. The polls didn’t pick up shy Tories and enough pro Leavers. With Trump you had the classic candidate where people would hide their intention to vote for such a man.


Hillary Clinton is the latest victim of the collapse of the centre left in European and American politics. They have no answer to the problems of the world where a refugee crisis is fuelled by terrorism and globalisation has left millions behind. Extremists want to polarise us and they are succeeding in a frightening way. Watch out for the German and French elections next year.

Clinton would have made a good President but had accumulated too much political baggage over three decades in the public eye. She never fully won over the Bernie Sanders radicals. She was sabotaged by the FBI over her emails and she couldn’t defy history. Only once since the Second World War has the White House been won by the same party three times on the run.


Trump has made a large number of dangerous promises. Will he actually build that wall on the Mexican border? It will be compared to the Berlin Wall and America will be shamed. Will be try and ban all Moslems? That will delight ISIS and violate the constitution. Will he repudiate the NATO pledge that an attack on one is an attack on all? Conscription is back in Lithuania. And will he tear up all those foreign trade treaties?

You can see where we’re going. In the UK and the US we’re pulling up the drawbridges, turning in on ourselves, allowing racists to feel a sense of legitimacy.

One final thought, The Donald will have the nuclear weapons codes. Dark times indeed.

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History is my passion so my thoughts are constantly going back to what people were thinking and doing as the summer of 1914 started.

They certainly weren’t thinking that an a world war would be under way before the leaves fell. The conflict they were worried about was in Ulster where the loyalists were threatening rebellion over Irish independence. At home the suffragettes battle for the vote commanded the headlines.

Very few saw the danger presented by an interlocking series of treaties between the Great Powers. There hadn’t been a general war for a hundred years since Napoleon’s time.

Now let’s come forward to this summer. Once again there is tension in a part of Europe most people know little about. We are focused on the economic recovery, the rise of UKIP or just running our lives. We have had peace for 70 years, partly because of NATO, an interlocking treaty that guarantees mutual support for the Baltic States and Poland should they be attacked.

Where is our Gavrilo Princip, the obscure Serb who’s assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne triggered the huge conflict? He may be found amongst the pro Russian militias currently destabilising East Ukraine. One of them bragged on TV the other day about not only taking East Ukraine but eventually taking Brussels.

A foolish and ludicrous piece of bravura of course but it made me wonder if we are fully aware of the potential danger we are in a hundred summers on from 1914.

Russia wouldn’t be reckless enough to invade East Ukraine would it? Well don’t be so sure. The Ukrainian army is showing signs of getting off its knees. If it inflicts serious casualties on the pro Russian militias, will Russia stand back?

Well Vladimir Putin has already annexed the Ukraine and lost his place at the table of the G8 world leaders.

Most significantly of all he is leading a country that is relying on military shows of strength to mask economic weakness at home. It is the classic formula for recklessness.

So suppose he seized East Ukraine. NATO would not react because Ukraine is not a member. What might well happen is a destabilisation of the Baltic States. Russian minorities in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia could well start clamouring to be reunited with Mother Russia. What happens if those revolts are put down by force. Would Putin be deterred from intervening by the fact that they are members of NATO? Probably, but only if America, Britain and France made it clear we would be prepared to start World War 3. Would our politicians have the mandate from the people to make such a threat? Can you see St Peter’s Square in Manchester or St George’s Plateau in Liverpool full of people singing “We don’t want to fight them, but by jingo if we do?”

No, me neither. After all this is 2014 the age of the computer, social media and comfortable living. The army does our fighting. The days of mass mobilisation are over. But if Putin truly believes this, then we would be in great peril. The dangers of miscalculation that were present in that summer a hundred years ago are present this summer.