Cardiff President Trump’s summer disruption tour of Europe is leaving more scorched earth than the current heat wave across the United Kingdom. At NATO meetings he seems to have delivered a message to US allies to “pay up” or he was pulling out, even while signing agreements to increase military preparedness and continued pushback against Russia on Crimea. Arriving in England, he held hands with Prime Minister May at dinner but, before sitting down to eat, gave an interview to the Sun that seemed to undercut her on Brexit and give props to her opponents within the Conservative Party sending the White House into damage control. He of course took shots at the Muslim mayor of London and par for his course used the opposition to his visit to the UK as an excuse for a golf weekend at his equally controversial resort and clubhouse property in Scotland.
For all of the baloney and ballyhoo involved in his visit, there’s no fake news in Trump’s claim that he is wildly unwelcome in England. More than 100,000 are expected to protest his visit in London. We got a sense of the opposition at a rally of more than 1000 in central Cardiff, Wales that we witnessed ourselves.
Homemade placards and banners roundly criticized one plank in the Trump platform after another. There were papier-mâché puppets that pictured Trump as a whining baby and Prime Minister May as little better for abetting his visit. One woman, who had identified herself as the organizer of the Cardiff version of the “women’s march” after the inaugural, had made a fake four-foot-long fence of sorts with children’s clothes on it to symbolize the incarceration of children and family separation at the border. Others picked up the “resist” slogan. There were banners in the crowd from unions, like Unison, the second largest in the UK. There was a group of ministers with a sign saying simply, “we are Methodists.” The Wales branch of the Labour Party walked under their banner. Muslim women were prominent in the crowd. A young girl held a sign saying “Nasty Woman in Training.” No doubt you get the point.
We listened to the speakers beginning with a member of the Cardiff city council and followed by a line of others from all parts of the progressive community. Women spoke. Members of the LGBT community made their case. Enviros and others took the stage. The message from all of the speakers was overwhelmingly an attempt to communicate to the American people that they needed to take action to maintain the “special relationship” of our countries that Trump was rending.
Even though we discreetly mingled in the rally and march, being Americans, it was hard for us not to take the message personally, as intended. In fact, one of our party had earlier taken a photo of the march call posted on a pole and a random bicycler had pulled over in the street and confronted her on whether she was “for” or “against” Trump.
In the United Kingdom they are taking Trump very personally, and they are hoping we are, too.