The shocking scenes from the US Capitol building on Wednesday night were seen around the world and felt particularly strongly by people with friends in the United States. Here in Bridgwater where the town had only recently revived its historic links with the town of Bridgewater Massachusetts during the Black Lives Matter movement and their historical connection around the cause of anti slavery, events took a particularly poignant turn. Town Council Leader Brian Smedley said “We want to send a message of sympathy, support and solidarity to our friends in the USA. The joy of November when the American people voted to rid themselves of a tyrant turned to shame when that same morbidly self centred individual incited a far-right mob to storm his own countries government. The hollowness of this egocentric populist is visible to all now more than ever, first promising he would be there with them but instead he went home and watched it on the telly. 5 people died as the consequence of his incitement of a mob of glassy eyed conspiracy believers, some wearing Auschwitz t-shirts or flying the racist flag of the Confederacy or bearing the logo ‘6MWE’ (‘6 million wasn’t enough’ referring to the number of Jews murdered by Hitler in ww2.) People like Trump -Populist demagogues -use people for their own ends, stir them up, with lies and rhetoric, let them go then sit back and watch the carnage hoping to reap the rewards for themselves. But They are not on their side. And if any message comes out of this it is just that. ‘Stop being hoodwinked’. The world needs to stop following these dangerous individuals. This is the result”.
Labour Leaders condemn Capitol Attacks
Labour Leader Keir Starmer who said “This is not a protest, it’s an attack on democracy . It’s the culmination of a policy of hate and division and this is where it gets you and it’s a very bad place” was backed by Liam Tucker, Chair of Bridgwater & West Somerset Labour Party, who added “Disgusting and disturbing scenes from America. The shining city on the hill is losing its sheen. It’s deeply concerning and frankly scary, I urge everyone to take the time to reassure those around us that may need a calming and stoic presence in their lives. The eyes of the world are firmly on America, Calmer heads must and will prevail. Look out for one another.”
Cllr Kathy Pearce, Deputy Leader of Bridgwater Town Council said “The scenes from Capitol Hill were shocking and deeply concerning. It’s another warning to us all of the dangers of the mis-use of power, abuse of free speech and the spreading of lies for the purposes of anarchy.”
As the US Government decides whether some action should be taken against Trump, such as invoking the 25th Amendment or starting impeachment proceedings to ensure he never stands for election again, County Councillor and former Mayor Dave Loveridge commented “Trump should be jailed for inciting insurrection. My friends in Texas have said that they are utterly ashamed of the USA and what is occurring in their country.”
Another former Mayor and sitting councillor Graham Granter added “Regarding the problems in the good old USA, nothing surprises me anymore. The world has gone completely mad and we have idiots running riot. All over the world there are big problems with so called democracy and I think they make their own problems in America with the country very much split. I suppose similar to what we experienced with Brexit .”
Right Wing Populists in the Spotlight
In the recent Presidential election the Democrat Joe Biden defeated Republican President Trump in the ‘popular vote’ notching up some 81million votes. However, 74million Americans still voted for Trump, a very narrow 51-46% showing how divided the USA really is. Even more shocking some 45% of Republicans say they supported the attack on the Capitol building this week and although that translates to just 17% of the general public it remains a shocking figure.
In Britain there has been some humble pie served up for our own right wing populist politicians who lauded Trump and the new conservatism (for as long as it suited them). Leader of the ‘populist’ Brexit movement, which so divided British politics, Nigel Farage, was Trumps biggest fan with both laughably describing each other as anti-establishment whilst taking the working class for a ride. Farage turned up at Trumps rallies declaring him ‘the single most resilient and bravest person he’s ever met’ and someone who ‘beat the media’. Well, now he hasn’t as his twitter feed was taken down and he was banned from Facebook. This week even Farage had to say the attack on the capitol was wrong -but failed to directly criticise Trump. Unsurprisingly, when President Trump came out of hiding he too condemned the rioters (for doing exactly what he’d urged them to) but not himself.
Whilst former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, a man of principles, refused to go to a state banquet with Trump the British Establishment couldn’t get enough of him. Prime Minister and bumbling populist Boris Johnson even advocated a Nobel Peace prize for Donald Trump saying “I am increasingly admiring of Donald Trump. I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness”
Labour shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornbery said “Our own British Trump (as the President called him) has behaved like a shameful sycophant.”
Should we be surprised?
Andrew Jeffreys, Bridgwater Labour Branch Secretary and organiser of the Black Lives Matter event in 2020 which linked together Bridgwater,UK and Bridgewater USA, said “I don’t think we should be surprised by what we’ve seen happen at the US Capitol. The far right and actions of the state have been in plain sight, from Charlottesville to the treatment of Mexican migrants to the police and national guard response to Black Lives Matter protests. We must remember that the two dominant approaches of US and UK governments of the last forty years have led to this point. We need to radically change the way our societies work rather than tweaking things as they are.”
To recall the day ,28th June 2020. when the 2 Bridg(e)waters came together in solidarity against racism click here.