Only 15 per cent think he will be a good presidentby / November 25, 2016 / Leave a comment
When polled by Comres, two-thirds of Britons feared that President Trump “makes the world a more dangerous place.”
Ariana Grande cried, the Dalai Lama declared he had “no worries,” and Piers Morgan congratulated his “friend” on his victory. While the world comes to terms with Donald Trump’s election, the President-Elect is appointing his top team. He has, perhaps predictably, tapped several multi-billionaires, but has also set about making his peace with Republicans who criticised him during the campaign, doling out senior cabinet roles to several of them.
The British Government has experienced an uncharacteristically rocky start to it all. Former David Cameron aide Steve Hilton described Trump’s victory as “a giant middle finger to Hillary Clinton’s sneering liberal elite supporters”—but that medial digit has felt as much aimed at Theresa May as it was the Democratic Presidential candidate. That the Foreign Office, and Downing Street, failed to take seriously the outsider’s chances of pulling off a win, however unlikely, and to build links with the Trump team, shows stunning complacency. The public suggestion that Nigel Farage could be Her Majesty’s next Washington Ambassador shows how little the UK can take for granted from the new administration.
The British public is worried too. ComRes polled immediately after the result was announced. As well as finding two-thirds of Britons feared President Trump “makes the world a more dangerous place,” More than half, 53 per cent, expect him to be a bad president while only 15 per cent think he will be a good one.
There has been much speculation over the parallels between Brexit and the Trump victory and there is some evidence that the same societal divisions that plucked referendum defeat for David Cameron were at work in Trump’s victory.
Those divisions, though, go much deeper than disagreement over membership of the European Union, American jobs, or even Virginia’s transgender bathrooms. Michael Ashcroft back in June presented British referendum voters, and more recently US Presidential electors, with different “isms” and asked whether they thought them a force for good or ill. The polling revealed some striking similarities between the attitudes of both “Leave” and Republican voters, and between “Remain” voters and Democrats.
On every measure, Leavers and Republicans were more negative than Remainers and Democrats. A sizeable proportion of the voting public in the UK and US regard feminism, social liberalism, the green movement, globalisation and immigration as a force for ill.
Percentage who said “Force for good”:
There is, on both sides of the Atlantic, a yawning social chasm between the “liberal elite” (members of which are generally more highly educated and wealthier) and a disgruntled voter base of people who feel that they are ignored by the political class and who believe that life has not improved for them for decades.
Surprisingly, the age group most alarmed at the rebels threatening the status quo is aged 18 to 24. Seven in ten of them fear that Trump’s victory “sets a dangerous precedent for future elections,” a level of negativity unrepeated across any other age group. A baby boomer uprising is, it turns out, frightening the living daylights out of millennials.
If we can find a crumb of comfort in the public reaction to Trump, it is that British voters are more sanguine about his impact on the UK. In the ComRes poll, a minority (40 per cent) said they expect his presidency to be bad for the UK’s relationship with the USA, while only around a third think he will make it harder for the UK to get a favourable trade deal with the UK. Perhaps unsurprisingly, UKIP voters are by far the most positive towards Trump across every measure tested. But the polling generally points to a widespread view that while Trump may cause a headache for some, he could turn out ok for Britain.
During the 2010 General Election campaign Ukip, then led by Malcolm Pearson, unveiled a poster which showed pictures of the three main party leaders with the slogan “Sod the Lot.” It might have taken a bit longer than anticipated, but that sentiment has most definitely hit home.
Whatever President Trump does, the underlying rage against political correctness and feeling taken for granted will not disappear quickly. Whether the Establishment learns from this and acts differently as a result remains to be seen. It is hard to be optimistic about that in light of the calls from Nick Clegg and Tony Blair for a second referendum. Trying to override the will of the people will not neutralise that rage but fuel it.
Andrew Hawkins is founder and chairman of ComRes