Ben Bradshaw: I feel genuinely concerned about global order

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I hope this doesn’t sound too apocalyptic, but, for the first time in my life I feel genuinely concerned about the future of our liberal democracy and the rules-based global order that have been our foundation for more than 70 years.

Of course that depends on whether President Trump actually does what he said was going to do. If he does, we’re in for a very rocky period. If he doesn’t, those who voted for him will feel betrayed.

He sounded conciliatory in his acceptance speech, praising Hillary Clinton. But it’s easy to sound conciliatory the morning you’ve won.

What of all the pledges he made during the campaign and before? The deportation of millions of immigrants, the barring of Muslims from visiting America, a huge wall along the border with Mexico, the scrapping of international trade agreements, the dismantling of Nato, the nuclear arming of South Korea and Japan.

Any one of these would be dangerous on their own, taken together, they’d spark a global economic and security crisis such as our generation hasn’t seen.

The markets have given their initial verdict – falling precipitously after the result. And look who’s celebrating – Putin, Le-Pen and Farage.

Even if President Trump is less bad than we fear, he’s unleashed forces he can’t control. Racism and other bigotry has been emboldened.

In Britain, where we were already facing huge uncertainty because of Brexit, we now face another. As we now hold our collective breath, what can we do?

The temptation is to retreat to the private sphere. But that won’t do. As the philosopher Edmund Burke said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

As so often during his Presidency, Barack Obama found the right words in his message after the polls closed and before the result was known.

He said, I paraphrase: “Stay engaged in the democratic process, push ourselves to do better, educate ourselves on the issues and join with our neighbours dealing with the things that occupy our communities.” Good advice for these dark days.

Joining with our neighbours dealing with the things that occupy our community is exactly what Exeter has been doing in the wake of the fire and doing so fantastically well.

People have really rallied round and supported each other. Exeter’s great spirit and sense of civic has helped all of us – but particularly those directly affected – cope with the impact and sense of loss.

That’s why I’m confident we’ll bounce back and that much-loved section of our historic city centre will be restored to its former glory.

These are worrying and uncertain times for those working in the businesses still affected.

So, if you were planning on donating to charity this Christmas, or even if you weren’t, please think about giving generously to the official appeal that’s been set up to support those who’ve been affected by the fire and help make their Christmas a slightly less bleak one.



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