Lib Dem London Mayoral hopeful Siobhan Benita vows to protest against 'Islamophobic' Trump

Written by Siobhan Benita on 4 June 2019 in Opinion

Donald Trump should not be given the red-carpet treatment, writes Siobhan Benita

His presidency has been defined by the dangerous rhetoric of division and by policy decisions that undo years of progress on environmental and human rights.

He has shown himself to be a misogynist, an Islamophobe, a man who mocks people with disabilities and a climate change denier with complete disregard for the security and concerns of future generations.  He has sanctioned the separation of children from their parents at the Mexican border.

Some people say that the office of the President should not be confused with the President himself.   But Trump is the one who's blurring that very distinction.  He has turned this visit into an extended family jamboree, made undiplomatic interventions in our (already strained) Brexit negotiations as well as the Tory leadership contest and he has launched a highly personal attack on London’s Sadiq Khan.

When President Obama was invited to the UK for a state visit he was well into his second term.   Even if you think that Trump does warrant a state visit, it was a shameful error of judgement by Theresa May to offer it to him at this stage in his first term.  Trump can – and will - now use our Royal Family as political pawns in his campaign for re-election.  This formal visit, full of the pomp and ceremony that many Americans adore, will provide him with a huge boost back in the States and a stack of royal images that will no doubt secure him thousands of republican votes.

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the D-day landings, which were all about defeating fascism.  Many, many soldiers tragically lost their lives fighting for that noble cause.  At this moment in history, we absolutely should not be honouring a world leader who peddles hatred, enables the far-right and shuns the liberal values that we now hold so dear.  

I was extremely proud of the Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable when he was the first politician to decline the Trump state banquet invitation.  He was absolutely correct to do so.  If I were Mayor of London I wouldn’t attend either.

Our capital celebrates its diversity.  It is a liberal, tolerant and progressive city.    It is everything that Trump is not.     We can’t, unfortunately, stop this state visit from happening.    But we can protest, we can demonstrate and in so doing we can show our utter disdain for it.  

Today I will stand proudly alongside thousands of other Londoners to do exactly that.

Siobhan Benita is the Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor

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