The chances are, if you’ve paid any attention whatsoever to the London media in the last few days, you’d know that an evangelical Cuban-American (and possibly Canadian) Senator from Texas has cruised past ‘the Donald’ to win the Iowa caucus. For years now, the British media have been documenting every minutiae, every triviality of any development in the runners and riders for the US Presidency. Everything from Hillary Clinton’s emails to Ivanka Trump’s press releases all the way to Marco Rubio’s choice of footwear is tediously and constantly reported by the likes of the Daily Mail, The Times, the Guardian, Sky News and even the BBC. It’s all a bit embarrassing the way we glorify American politics as if it was our own.
Of course, eminent British journalists like Mehdi Hasan and Christopher Hitchens have previously crossed the pond for the excitement and glamour of Washington based politics and rarely ever return, but the obsession isn’t exclusive to the media. Ed Miliband, for example, hired a former Obama “community organiser” to rebuild the Labour Party back in 2011 and spent £224,000 on hiring Obama strategist David Axelrod, despite the former having very few connections with the British political system and the latter barely turning up for work. This deep yearning to be somehow associated with US politics is not only entirely counterproductive for British politicians, but their neediness is symbolic of the so-called ‘Special Relationship’ of ours, undoubtedly perpetuated by the binge watching of The West Wing and the Netflix version of House of Cards.
In fact, it was decided that was absolutely vital that Parliament held a debate in order to comment on Donald Trump’s proposed immigration policy. Honourable members lined up in order condemn the domestic policies of one candidate in one primary 4,000 miles away, for the presumed benefit of a combination of moral grandstanding and the soothing of the egos of backbenchers. While you may initially think that the staffers of the ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign were shaking in their boots at the prospect of their candidate being referred to as a “wazzock” by the MP for Louth and Horncastle, it turns out they didn’t really mind all that much. No doubt, they eagerly anticipate the moment when the delegates of the US Senate deliberate on whether or not to approve of David Cameron’s recent proposal to limit welfare payments to EU immigrations with such ferocity.
Of course, I mock, but there is actually a serious point here. How many readers of York Vision could describe the difference between the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Parliament? How many readers could even name the current Foreign Secretary? Of course, it is exactly that kind of information that is going to be crucial to understanding the forthcoming referendum on our future as an independent nation, yet so much of political discourse, from the media, our own Parliament (and even our own politics seminars) is dominated by issues that have such little bearing on our lives.
Bottom Line: We focus too much on US politics at the expense of our own domestic politics