Don’t get angry when Donald Trump comes to Britain – get even

Stella Creasy
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">‘Theresa May has been plotting a state visit for him, desperate for some crumbs of a post-Brexit trade deal that makes alienating our neighbours worthwhile.’</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA</span>
‘Theresa May has been plotting a state visit for him, desperate for some crumbs of a post-Brexit trade deal that makes alienating our neighbours worthwhile.’ Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

For the left, there are few bogeymen bigger than Donald Trump. The hatred he whipped up to win the White House. The walls, bans and attacks on human rights organisations his administration have made. His erratic use of Twitter that leaves us all fearing world war three will begin at any moment.

Theresa May has been plotting a state visit for him, desperate for some crumbs of a post-Brexit trade deal that makes alienating our neighbours worthwhile. Having been put off earlier this year following his retweets of far-right group Britain First, Trump is now due to be making an official visit to Britain in July.

As demonstrators prepare to storm Whitehall, its time to ask who really matters here. If we choose, Trump’s arrival could bring the nation together in common cause in the same way the Olympics did – or even a royal baby. In the process, we might achieve far more than we ever could with clever placards.

Going by the pledges already made, Trump’s proposed visit could bring more people out onto the streets than the Iraq war. In his 18 months in office Trump has ignited more passion and indignation on these shores than any other unpalatable foreign ruler’s visit in recent memory. The incredible turnout for the Women’s March in London is an indication of the crowds to come.

Britain must stand up to and speak out on what he represents. Trump and his alt-right ilk preach and fund bigotry that is feeding the backlash against decades of civil rights progress. From abortion and sexual harassment to transgender rights to the treatment of refugees, minorities and Muslims, Trump pits communities and countries against each other.

This rhetoric also reached our shores well before Brexit, and as the shameful treatment of the Windrush generation shows, it has seeped into our mainstream. It thrives in creating “hostile environments” where basic human rights – the right to sanctuary, to decide your own identity, to control what happens to your own body – become problems rather than freedoms. The consequences are all too real. Hate crime has risen dramatically since the EU referendum and shows no sign of abating. We may be “taking back control”, but it’s hard to feel this is of the open, tolerant, Britain for which so many of our predecessors fought.

Yet if Trump is met only with anger then little will change for those who he seeks to exclude. The challenge for the left is to make Trump’s visit about more than “we shall overcomb” jokes and pulling mass moonies at his cavalcade. The truly progressive and positive response to Trump is to give greater power and profile to those working to support people he targets.

Our “TopTrumpTargets” campaign enables us to show those who are the focus of Trump’s hate – women, BAME, LGBTI and refugee communities – that we stand with them, not him. In doing so, it directs the attention Donald Trump so craves away from him, on to those whose work enriches and strengthens our country because they nourish Britain’s diversity rather than seeking to suppress it.

The campaign brings together 14 organisations including Stonewall, Help Refugees and Operation Black Vote, and enables you to show support for them – whether on a march or every day – by donating towards their work or buying their pink-themed merchandise to wear as a protest.

Since the campaign started, thousands of pounds have already been raised for these organisations and backing has come from across public life – but we want to go further. Imagine if the story that Trump’s visit really generated was not of broken windows and violent clashes, but a nation that raised a million pounds to help those working with the people we welcome here and whose rights we want to protect. And that if and when Trump does visit, what he sees is a sea of bright pink showing who really matters to Britain, in a way even he couldn’t avoid tweeting about.

Not only would it be a unique way of responding to Trump. It would leave a legacy of tolerance and inclusivity that demonstrates the very best of Britain. Rage is a short-term emotion. Solidarity is a long-term gain. Now that really is worth marching for.

• Stella Creasy is the Labour and Co-operative MP for Walthamstow

This piece is co-authored with Sophie Livingstone. The writers are co-coordinating the TopTrumpsTarget campaign.

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