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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I have always believed throughout my journalistic career that the vast majority of MPs and councillors go into public life to do good. Jo Cox was indeed one of them. My sympathy to her lovely family and the many Labour MPs who were close friends and are bitterly grieving at this time.


We are on the brink of voting to leave the European Union. Sunday’s polls show a stemming of the Remain advance, but it remains likely we will vote to leave.

The immigration issue is overwhelming the very strong economic arguments to stay in. So what needs to be done to avoid this disastrous result? Increasingly lurid threats about emergency austerity budgets probably won’t do it. An appeal to solid Labour voters in the North of England will help. They hold the key to next Thursday’s vote. So let’s put the Remain case to Labour voters who feel their jobs and neighbourhoods are threatened by “uncontrolled” immigration from the EU.

It is not actually uncontrolled. We do deport EU migrants who break our laws. The Prime Minister has negotiated that they won’t get unemployment benefit. If they haven’t got a job in six months they will can be asked to leave and it will be a full four years before they can claim full benefits in the future. The “pull” factor of being able to get £10,000 a year benefits on arrival is going. All that said most EU immigrants staff the NHS, pick the fruit, pay their taxes and add to our diverse culture as they have done since the Anglo Saxons enforced free movement on the indigenous Celts.

Another “pull” factor is also diminishing. One of the reasons for the large influx of EU workers has been the disparity between the UK economy which has been doing well and the poor performance of the Euro zone. That is now reversing with the latest figures indicating that the Euro zone is doing better than the UK economy which has been hit by all the uncertainty of the referendum.

Turkey will not be joining the EU for years, and we have a veto anyway. It is the case that more immigrants come here from outside the EU.

Finally I have no doubt that if by any chance we narrowly vote to stay in, the politicians and Commissioners of the EU will have got the message that something has to be done about free movement in the Single Market. Senior Labour figures are already indicating they support this.

Other messages to northern Labour voters are these.

Most major employers are urging a Remain vote. Jobs and investment is at risk. Also some Tory Brexiteers have their eye on scrapping workers rights provided by the EU.


If we vote to leave, there is no going back, no second thoughts. The whole complex and expensive process of detaching ourselves from forty years of engagement with our former friends will begin. It will be carried out against a background of economic downturn and turmoil. Just look at what has been happening to the pound and the markets as the likelihood of a Brexit vote has loomed.

The lie about us paying £350m a week remains on the Brexit bus. It is half that and the EU has funded projects in the north of England that Whitehall would never have done as our MD Frank McKenna argues powerfully in his blog.

The Brexiteers have no answer about what is going to happen to the Northern Ireland border with the Republic crossed by 200 roads.

The EU has ensured 70 years of peace after a thousand years of conflict in Europe. Vladimir Putin wants a Brexit vote to destabilise the EU.

This is not a referendum on a David Cameron, a here today gone tomorrow Prime Minister. It is about the future of this country in Europe and the world for the rest of this century. Let us maintain our role of leadership in Europe and respect from the rest of the world by voting to Remain.




It is understandable that when our stricken ally, France, calls for our help, that the Prime Minister wants to respond. It is also understandable that when the crimes of Daesh are carried out on the streets of Paris, Beirut and elsewhere that we want to lash out.

Although understandable we should not think that our joining in the bombing of Daesh in Syria will bring peace any nearer. We would be better concentrating on stopping the financing of Daesh, stopping or countering its poisonous message on the internet. Then there is Daesh’s oil sales with rumours that Turkey is a customer. If true we cannot take seriously Ankara’s desire to be a member of the EU.

Turkey isn’t the only big power with a complex agenda in the Syrian crisis. David Cameron has failed to give an answer to these complexities and therefore cannot claim to have a long term strategy. He refers to talks in Vienna but look at the agendas countries will bring to the table. Russia is currently committed to propping up Bashar al-Assad, the leader of Syria. There is talk that President Putin will look for a more acceptable alternative. There is little sign of it. Russia wants to send out a message to the world that it supports its friends. The retention of Assad, even in the short term is totally unacceptable to the “seventy thousand” armed opponents that David Cameron thinks are going to abandon fighting Assad to fight Daesh.

This is a major flaw in Cameron’s strategy. There is no prospect of any nation or group of nations putting enough effective boots on the ground to conduct a land war and conquer Daesh’s headquarters in Raqqa. The West doesn’t want to get burned again and most of the Arab armies are understandably terrified of Daesh brutality. Most Arab countries are not even conducting air strikes. Their rivalries and interests are too complex for them to become effectively involved it seems.

So what is going to happen? I called this blog “Into The Black Hole”, because that is where we are headed I fear. We will join France and the USA in bombing Daesh targets. The terrorists will get a propaganda boost from it. Sooner or later they will commit a major atrocity on British streets and what will we do then with our “no boots on the ground” policy?

There should be a solution to such terrible wars, the United Nations. Soon after it was first set up, the Korean War was ended by UN action. It has passed a resolution calling for military action against Daesh now but there is no UN army or the sort of leadership of a group of armies that prevailed in Korea. The UN is hobbled by lack of funding and often the self interested vetos of members of the Security Council.

Syria is a lethal cocktail of violence, frustration, big power self interest and regional rivalry. I wish I could see a way out of the black hole but I can’t at the moment.