UK Trump Fans Gathered to 'Make Britain Great Again'
Hanging out with the weirdos welcoming Trump.
(Photos by Gavin Haynes)
Donald Trump. Barlely-human mega-monster dredged up from the collective unconscious of the Western world and shat back at us in man form? Or just a barely human mega-nice guy; servant of the voters of our closest ally, keeper of continuity with Woodrow Wilson, FDR, JFK, Ike, Reagan and Obama, motor of the ongoing US economic boom, scratch-handicap golfer, devout Christian, bringer of peace to the Korean Peninsula?
There's only one way to settle this – have two entirely unrelated rallies on opposite sides of London, on different days.
In Whitehall, Friday: the massed ranks of pussy-hat Stormtroopers, ready to shame President Drumpf into resigning with their shrill disapproval, their twee gadzooks placards about tea and "this sort of thing".
On the other side of the Thames, Saturday: well, whatever these people are. The thin-lipped, over-tanned, broccoli-phobic, red-hatted, beady-eyed, Aviator-shaded, don't-dare-call-us-gammon-you-reverse-racists pork-flavoured meat products, a decent argument for eugenics both coming back and going away.
Just as with Friday in Westminster, the coalition that has turned out at the US embassy is a rainbow one. There are ethnic Kekistanis – the malnourished human face of 4Chan's /pol boards; bum-fluffed man-boys from Anonymous, de-anonymising themselves as they unmask in the heat; tufty UKIP-ers beyond number, sweating like cheap cheese in their suits. Thick-necked Tommy Robinson casuals. Zionists. A posh woman who "just loves Common Law". Four loveable old Iranian exiles who adore the DT's hardline stance on the Islamic Republic. Something called "Haitians For Trump". And something else called "Make Britain Great Again", run by today's organisers, Luke Nash Jones and Martin Costello: manufacturers of a Facebook page called Redpill Factory – which is exactly what you think it is – and self-proclaimed Chartists, which is far too complicated to go into right now.
Nash Jones and Costello are named on the multiple permission slips they've had to fill in to make the event happen, and the Met are sworn to arrest them if anyone steps out of line. These warnings are to be taken seriously: there are almost more cops than protesters, and no doubt a few more plods with batons stashed in a van or two behind the embassy.
The March For Trump was only permitted on condition that no one would march along the river into Whitehall, where, at 1PM, Tommy Robinson will once again attempt to be freed from a contempt of court sentence by the dubious medium of bellowing Millwall fans lagering-up and hunting down an antifa or two to knee in the cloaca.
The Nine Elms site that is home to the brand new US embassy that Donald Trump has already denounced as horrible – and "in a lousy location" – has quite obviously been chosen, post-Benghazi, for exactly that location. It is awkward to reach, equally far from multiple tube stops. Gridded away in the middle of four roads, it also has a literal moat around it. No doubt the plans would call it a "water feature" – in truth, it's just one electrification away from making croutons of protesters. In fact, the death volts are probably already plumbed-in, just waiting for a consular official to switch on the current.
Here, on a small verge opposite – destined to become iconic when the Britforce Ultra-Police laser dead 33 protesters in 2034 – around 200 have come to tell President Trump exactly what they think of him, i.e. that he's a sound geezer, no real issues.
The speeches vary in quality inversely to the number of Churchill references. The rule seems to be that somewhere between three and nine is acceptable, nine-to-20 is dubious, 170 is probably too many. The Transatlantic Alliance, a few tin hat WWII nods, throw in some name checks to Anglo-American Tea Party fave Thomas Payne, a #showerthought that Thomas Jefferson once scribbled on a restaurant bill, a passing nod to John Locke, and – bam – you got yourself seven minutes of rabble-rousing word-fodder.
The online right loves its classicism, adores its Great Men Theory Of History. Strangely, bar the Commies, the anti-Trump movements seem to lack for intellectual heroes – they’re more at home quoting a poet than a philosopher. Contrast that with Nash Jones, who manages the whole bingo of Payne, Locke and Jefferson, plus, incredibly, both Harold MacMillan's "Winds of Change" call for decolonisation and Empire's number one fan, Rudyard Kipling:
"You and I are not sheep – you are not soft, fluffy and cute – you are British lions…" A cheer. "Salvini in Italy. Orban in Hungary… In the words of Kipling's poem, leave the Saxon alone."
"Yes! Leave the Saxon alone!" chimes the posh common law woman behind me – mystifyingly, as Saxon-badgering is already a crime in Britain under the 1996 Misuse Of Saxons Act.
For the rest, please fill in around your Great Men with a few Twitter-ready talking points:
"Oh, I forgot – Lily Allen and Gary Linker want us to let all and sundry in…"
"We will always welcome high-skilled workers in our hospitals. But we don’t need more people to wash our cars!"
Filling out around the Brits are Avi Yemini, an Australian Zionist libertarian, and the Australian Liberty Alliance's Debbie Robinson. They've both flown in specially: "Americans fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942, and kept the Japanese out of Australia," says Robinson, to cheers. "Now, for what did my relatives fight? Multiculturalism? Mass immigration? Political correctness?"
Unlike the gnashing anti-Trumpers, the March For Trump are in triumphant mood. It's 24 hours since Donald took a dump all over Theresa's EU strategy, and as Brexiteers, they’re on the ropes since May's Chequers deal. Now, it feels like more than ever they’re reaching out to the POTUS to put their case, be their spiritual daddy, just as much as the never-Trumps have a strange misplaced faith in the essential goodness of Juncker's merry pranksters. Donald wants us to be free. Only, no one here seems to have contemplated the possibility that he wants us to be free precisely in order to screw us himself. Would you trust Theresa to sit down and negotiate trade terms against that alligator? Precisely.
"I've got a Tommy Robinson ringtone!! the posh Common Law woman tells me as the speeches finally conclude and everyone wanders off – as individuals, not as a collective – to the Free Tommy event down the road. I nod, and grimace. In a cold sweat, I try to remember when last I met someone with a downloadable ringtone. 2009? Keep smiling and back away.
The full extent of how twinned the two issues are is shown in the fact that today’s banners are reversible – Trump on one side, Robinson on the other. Quite what a British anti-Islam campaigner has to do with the President of America is both deeply obscure and totally obvious – something emblematic of the strange state of politics today, these crepuscular half-unsaid coalitions, often more of a feeling, an us, than an ideology.