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Thursday, January 07, 2021

British Tories fail the democracy test over insurrection in Washington DC

Like so many others I watched on in horror last night as the violence escalated in Washington DC and armed insurrectionist pushed past ineffective police officers to occupy the capital building, and even at one point enter the Senate chamber. The last time I recall seeing an elected chamber taken over by armed rebels in a western democracy was in Spain in 1981, when 200 soldiers and members of the paramilitary Civil Guard stormed the lower house of the Spanish Parliament, the Cortes, firing automatic weapons and shouting orders as part of an abortive right wing coup.

There was no doubt in anybody's mind that this was not a protest, but an insurrection, urged on by the President of the United States himself, who, it is reported, refused to authorise an intervention by the National Guard. Accounts I saw stated it was the Vice President who eventually ordered these troops to try and bring the confrontation to an end.

The last three months have cast doubt on the USA's credentials as a leading democratic state, with the President himself, seeking to undermine the will of the people in an attempt to remain in power. The only saving grace from last night's events is that his actions, which finally got him suspended from Facebook and Twitter, have undermined his support amongst the Republican Party establishment, and have left him isolated, with even key members of staff resigning in disgust.

But we should not be complacent. The right wing, destabilising forces that fuelled Trump's attempted coup are present in the UK as well and helped to stoke up the pro-Brexit protests outside Parliament over the last few years as well as the prevailing intolerance of other views on social media. As many of the current crop of Tory Ministers owe their jobs to this campaign, it was hardly surpising that they were rather muted in condeming the violence surrounding the certification of the US Presidential election by Congress.

As the Independent reports, that despite Boris Johnson and senior members of his Cabinet calling for a peaceful transition of power in the United States, the UK prime minister, foreign secretary and chancellor failed to mention the outgoing US president by name, with home secretary Priti Patel also failing to condemn Mr Trump outright when asked by Sky News on Thursday morning, but eventually telling the BBC that his incendiary comments “directly led” to the violence witnessed in Washington.

Meanwhile, Welsh Conservative MS, Andrew RT Davies, also came under fire for comparing the violent riots with attempts to push for a second Brexit referendum, as he attacked Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s comments decrying the “direct attack on democracy”.

Trump appears to be an addiction that many Conservatives will find it hard to wean themselves off.
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