Article originally written on the 22nd January 2016
Reviewing this week’s news I am reminded of one of Aesop’s fables:
“A Frog came out of his native marsh and, hopping to the top of a mound of earth, gave out to all the beasts around that he was a great physician, and could heal all manner of diseases. The Fox demanded why, if he was so clever, he did not mend his own blotched and spotted body, his stare eyes, and his lantern jaws.”
– Those who would mend others, should first mend themselves
In the manner of our fabled frog, British MPs decided to act out the farce of debating whether or not to ban Donald Trump from entering the UK in reprimand for his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the Land of The Free. In doing so, MPs succeeded in giving Mr Trump a bigger platform on the global stage, whilst significantly belittling the UK Parliament.
Please do not work under the assumption that I am in favour of Trump’s proposals. Now living in the USA, I cannot help myself from being repulsed by the fanatical, abhorrent, nonsensical and impractical nature of The Donald’s Trumpisms. Nor do I care to slave over the advantages or disadvantages of banning Trump from UK shores (although arguably banning an American Citizens from entering into the UK could inevitably sour relations between two great modern historical allies). My issue is not with what was being debated, but with why such a debate was being held in the first place (especially at the expense of the UK tax payer).
Firstly, MPs do not have the right to ban someone from entering into the UK – such power only resides with the Home Secretary, who sensibly refused to participate. Thus the debate was doomed to be a damp squib from the start as no real decision- making could be made and no power could be enforced. The mere fact that the debate was relegated to Westminster Hall, rather than being held in The House of Commons, is a significant indication of its farcical nature from the outset.
Secondly, such a debate was the first of its kind in UK Political history. One has to ask why Donald Trump was deemed worthy of this inauguration for a theoretical policy that in all likelihood will never see the light of day. Where was the petition and debate to prevent President Xi Jinping’s state visit, or the protests over the frequent visits between British and Saudia Arabian delegations in the past year. Are the realities of human rights infringements in those countries less abhorrent than Trump’s unpleasant theoretical rhtetoric?
More shockingly, where is the impetus aimed at barring returning British citizens who go off to Syria to fight for ISIS, an issue that has seen no petitions nor the sense of British outrage that was witnessed on Monday night. Surely, these individuals pose more of an offense to the values that are held dear to the UK that I was born and raised in than Trump’s comments ever could – yet there is a profound silence.
Trump is entitled to his ludicrous opinions, but that does not mean we have to give credence to them. Not only did British MPs succeed in giving Trump’s opinions a global platform, they also succeeded in revealing the hypocrisy that lies within how and where Parliament chooses to fight its battles. The UK Parliament would have been wise to learn a lesson from the bravado of Aesop’s frog and tend to its own ills, before pontificating on the ills of others and having its hypocrisy exposed by a sly American Fox for the world to see.