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Hello and welcome to The Stand with Eamon Dunphy. The stand is proudly supported by Tesco at Tesco, our exclusive house for over sixty fives. Family carers and extremely medically vulnerable customers are every weekday, Monday to Friday, up to nine a.m. Health care and emergency services have priority access at all other times now, more than ever, every little helps. Now we live in extraordinary times, in many ways, in frightening times, given the scale of the coronavirus pandemic and its appalling consequences for life and indeed for people's businesses, their jobs and their very future.
And we also live at a time where the United States has, as a president, one of the most venal public figures we have ever seen in high office. And this week at the Republican Party is holding its convention and speaking to the convention on the opening night, a young rising star in the conservative movement, Charlie Kirk, told those watching. And it was all of this was done by Zoome and I quote him, that Donald Trump is the bodyguard of Western civilization.
He was elected to protect our families, our loved ones, from the vengeful mob that wishes to destroy our way of life, our neighborhoods, our schools, our church, and indeed, Mr Fair concluded our values. I'm joined now by Chris Jones, Chris Christie's former chief economist for the Bank of Ireland. He's an outstanding writer who contributes and to the Irish Times every Monday to the business pages. He spends his time between Dublin and London and he joins me now from London.
Chris, as Mr Kirk was speaking about, the guardian of Western civilization in Wisconsin, a young man, 29 years of age, Jacob Blake, was being shot seven times in the back. He will never walk again. His spinal cord has been busted and his three children were in the car. He is an African-American man. And what we saw was doing nothing and was in any way threatening the white police officer who shot him at this Republican convention.
And this idea, the lies that have been told over the past 48 hours, it is really something I don't think we've seen before, certainly not in my lifetime.
The scene from that video, which I, too, have also watched with horror, there clearly is nothing defensible about shooting an unarmed man in the back seven times. And there are no words strong enough to to to condemn that. And the idea that anybody could either directly or indirectly defend such behaviour is is clearly beyond the pale. The idea that the Trump, of course, is defending Western civilization is beyond irony. Irony is dead. I would suggest, if you could utter those sorts of words, that the the thing I would say, though, is that that we only really respond 50 percent of how we are responding to these sorts of things.
And I think condemnation is absolutely appropriate are expressions of horror and outrage or are absolutely right. But I think we all we liberals, lefties, whatever position on the political spectrum, we find ourselves in opposition to these kinds of policies, these kinds of politics, this kind of ideology. We need to also ask, I think, how have we allowed this to happen? How have we given the playing field over to these types in America, but also in the UK as well and perhaps elsewhere?
And I think we need to think very carefully about how we do respond beyond the horror and ask ourselves what else should and could we be doing to stand up to this, to counter it? And I think that on that kind of close examination, we might get some surprising answers. I direct you, for example, to an article in yesterday's New York Times, which I think was absolutely on the right track. What I'm getting at here, which was it actually, you know, The New York Times is the epitome of the embodiment of American liberalism, centrism and not what Trump stands for.
But it actually has a long piece where they went out and talked in a very neutral fashion to typical Trump voters around the country and asked them, what were these values? What are these values that you think Trump stands for? What do you think Trump has done for you? And I think the answers will surprise a lot of people and we'll get a lot of politicians cause to reflect. And the conclusion that I draw this is that we've left the playing field open to those that wish to wage these culture wars.
And the way in which we're responding is that we're playing straight into their hands.
What were the answers? Why did people, particularly in the Midwest where manufacturing has died? Why do they vote for Trump? What is it that he offers them? OK, I'll quote you a short paragraph from that New York Times piece. In lengthy interview over the last several weeks, a cross section of Trump voters said they believed he had succeeded on issues like hardening the southern border. He hasn't done that. That that should be a straight fact check appointing conservative judges.
Yes, he has done that tick, taking on China. Clearly, he's done that. And again, we can observe that. They say he's done what he promised to do. But I think it's important then that the media in particular, people like me and lots of other far more prominent commentators point out that in the way that he's taken on China, whether or not you think it's appropriate in the first place, he's actually made your lives worse by damaging the economy.
And the final thing that they say a lot of them say is and putting America first, many said the president's grievances were their grievance, too. So there's another clue. It's about grievance politics. It's about somebody saying, I share your pain, I share your values. I know what frightens you and it frightens me, too. And I'm going to do something about it. But of course, the subtlety is that the way in which he clings on to power, the way in which he solidifies his base, is that he makes those grievances worse, not better.
And that's one of the ways in which we should be countering it. And we should we should be pointing out how he's making their grievances for us and coming up with policies to deal with people's worries, to deal with people's grievances, instead of saying to them, look stupid for being a Trump voter. That's that's what I'm talking about here. These people believe kneeling during the national anthem was un-American. They were appalled at what they viewed as liberals, minimizing of the violence that at times grew out of the protests over the killing of George Floyd.
Now, you probably disagree with all of that, but instead of recoiling in horror and saying you're wrong, you're an idiot, you need to think of a coherent, rational, proper narrative that actually takes this on and changes people's minds. You won't change all of their minds, but you need to tackle hearts and minds here, which is precisely what Trump and Johnson know how to do. And the lefty liberals both here in the UK and elsewhere in Europe and also perhaps even in Ireland in thinking about our own extremists, but also in the United States.
We do not play by their rules. We don't understand the rules of the game that we're in and we're therefore handing the game to these people.
There is another fact that links Trump to Boris Johnson, and it is a propensity for telling lies, but also kicking civil servants out and placing their own stooges in situ. The head of the British civil service has left since Dominic Cummings moved into Downing Street. And it's clear that there are elements. This is populism that the whole Johnson phenomenon and about Europe, Brexit and let's get Brexit done was the slogan and. Trump similarly bailed out wall, they they don't have policies, they have slogans, but let's look at Britain, Chris, and think about what was representing the more moderate view, Jeremy Corbyn.
Is I is as the first example for the prosecution of liberal left was Jeremy Corbyn. Absolutely.
And we can talk about the Liberal left in the United States as well and whether or not Joe Biden represents the best way possible.
I was going I was going there.
Well, let's park that for the moment and talk about Jeremy Corbyn. He was, of course, the gift that kept on giving to the Conservative Party. We've had a conservative government in the UK now for the last 10 years, and that's in no small part down to the latter half of that period being being the time during which Jeremy Corbyn was was leader of the opposition.
Jeremy Corbyn reminds me very much of growing up politically, at least in the 1970s, Britain in which the left of which that's the era from which he hails, of course, 1970s Marxist type leftist intellectuals. And the key to understanding this aspect of politics, particularly British politics, this is this is a difference between Britain, the United States and Britain elsewhere, is that lefty intellectuals in the United Kingdom place ideological purity above all other things. In fact, they would put the gaining of power, winning elections well down their list of priorities.
They wouldn't admit to this, of course, but the the that their actions speak louder than their words and clinging on to ideological purity in the face of all evidence that it doesn't gain you power, I think was the most awful moral abdication. So you espouse policies, you espouse values that, you know, turn a huge number of voters off. Now, you couldn't you, by all means, disagree with those voters values and beliefs and policies. But your task as a politician is to take them on and to persuade them not to denigrate them, which unfortunately is what an awful lot of these Left-Wing intellectuals actually do.
And you've got that at the moment with this nonsense, overrule Britannia. It's fascinating, fascinating that Johnson Johnson hasn't been seen for weeks. He's been absolutely silent. And then the moment this issue hits the airwaves, there he is on the telly in the media saying thank you very much, opposed lefty liberal opposition. You've given me another million votes. You don't understand that this kind of thing, what it does to people and how it turns them off you.
And I can just say something vaguely supportive of of Rule Britannia, which is a complete nonsense. It's a piece of fluff. And I you know, my standing in the opinion polls, I will get it if there was an election today on the back of this one issue alone. But the broader piece of the culture war. Thank you very much. I've got an even bigger majority.
Well, here's something to think about, Chris. I'm not a nationalist at all. I like the last night of the problems. And I think the moment when they stand up that audience and sing Rule Britannia, the Britannia rules the waves from now. I think that is a very stirring moment. If you really want to understand England in all its diversity really and the essence of Englishness, that moment of the last night of the problems would be a pretty good place to start.
And I think the BBC has completely lost its nerve in the face of harassment from Johnson and his government and in the face of the threat to lose the licence fee from 2027, which I think is going to happen if the Tories remain in power. But the BBC is. It's not sensible, it's cold, it's like it's the kid in the schoolyard who allows himself to be bullied.
Did you want Rule Britannia taken away? Well, first of all, come on, Chris, fess up. It had never occurred to me as an issue and it should never have been an issue. It's a piece of fluff at the end of a concert that some people in Britain watch on the telly. Even fewer actually go to it because the Albert Hall is actually quite small and there are lots of reasons why it shouldn't be an issue. One is that you actually quoted it wrongly because you sang or tried to sing Britannia Rules the waves.
This is actually rule the way, right? Yeah, it's actually rule the waves. And that's important because if you're a historian, you go and say, OK, well, when was this little ditty written? It was actually written in the seventeen hundreds before when any historian would actually say Britain had an empire. It was, it was a naval power. Absolutely. And it had colonies but. But empire. No. And that rule Britannia singular was was an allusion to a direct allusion to a complaint that Spanish traders had kept these British sailors in conditions akin to slavery.
That's what that was about. But as John Wayne once said, once you start to explain, you're losing.
Yeah. Now, why did the BBC feel it necessary to do this? It it's it is a classic example of what they call now woak welcomeness, is it not? Well, again, there are a couple of the BBC themselves, to be fair, are saying it's got nothing to do with welcomeness or political correctness. It was to do with the way in which they're planning to broadcast during a time of coronavirus. And of course, there aren't going to be anybody going to be anybody singing in the Albert Hall.
There won't be anybody there.
And they say they will be singing in their living room. They say they simply thought it appropriate to be broadcasting music rather than singing, because we all know that singing is one of those super spreader activities for for coronavirus. And singing in a crowded room or whole is a big no no. And they claim they were just nodding to that dynamic, which is which is present at the moment. And they've said they'll restore the singing next year. But to have it but to have gone down this road where they are explaining and therefore losing this was a path that they should never have gone down in the first place.
They should have left well alone and had the intelligence and the political nous to realise that this would be a political hot potato and B, give Johnson a gift to give another twist to the culture war, which he loves, loves to wage. And that lack of political nous, that lack of intelligence is a particular small, trivial, almost example of what I was talking about earlier on is that we keep giving these people gifts to scare people to death.
And the way in which both Trump and Johnson keep scaring people is this is precisely that that your grievances look at. Look, just look what the lefty liberals are up to from from the violence, from room to rule Britannia and all points in between. They wish to tear down Western civilization. And it's all nonsense, of course. But the more we play into their hands, the more gifts we keep giving them, the more that they can repeat the mantra.
It might well be false, but we're not dealing with it properly.
We're falling into the trap every single time, OK, to go back to the United States of America and what most people, including Donald Trump, believe is the most important election in the history of the United States and the one that will take place maybe on November the 3rd, unless the Donald can screw up the Postal Service. He says it's the most important election. And I think you'd probably agree. I certainly believe that the stakes are huge. And should Trump win, I think we can count America out of the family of Western nations.
However, how come 77 year old Joe Biden, who was already tried and failed abysmally a number of times, three times to be at the nominee for the Democratic Party, how come he is the opposition to this particular candidate who is going to save the bodyguard of Western civilization?
Well, sadly, I worry that he isn't the man to do that. And, yes, it's the most important election perhaps ever, but certainly in my lifetime. And if any of that, if anything is to be healed, if these divisions that Trump in particular, but also Johnson continue to exploit continue to widen, if they are to stand any chance of being healed, I don't think that Joe Biden is the man nice guy. But if the.
Our politics can come up with is somebody who essentially stands up and says, you know, I think we should all just be nice to each other. The culture war will continue whoever wins the election, and it'll just take take a different form. I'm quite pessimistic about Biden's ability to do the necessary healing to do that thing I spoke about, which is to actually take these people on in a way that changes sufficient numbers of hearts and minds about the culture war and and get a broader understanding that we do actually have more that unites us than divides us.
That old cliche happens to be particularly apposite here at the moment, you know, to to to quote that the center isn't holding. And. And it shows no sign of making a comeback. And I worry that whatever the outcome of the election, that the center will not be rebuilt and that the divisions that have been created on both sides of the Atlantic are just going to widen.
Let me address that question. It's a very important point you make about the center and move on back to Britain and to Jeremy Corbyn, because the man who transformed the British Labour Party forever was Tony Blair. He took power with Gordon Brown and he did something remarkable. He eliminated Clause four, which was the clause about renationalisation, and that was what's known as the clause. For a moment, it transformed the aspirations of the Labour Party, the rules of the Labour Party and the goals of the Labour Party.
Tony Blair, Tony Blair believed, and he was right, that you have to govern from the center. So he ditched all the left baggage and some of the the Michael Foote's Jeremy Corbyn and marched on. Then he met George W. Bush. He went and destroyed Britain, I think, and destroyed and discredited the politics he embraced. He believed clearly in nothing. But it was the beginning of the end for centrist politics in Britain. Yeah, you're absolutely right to identify the Iraq war as Tony Blair's the cause of Tony Blair's demise politically and reputation.
And he is twice continuously to make comebacks. But that was the end of him and that was the end of centrism and it was the end of a particular type of Labour Party.
But it delivered the Labour Party to Corbyn. Yes, I would suggest. Yes. And that's history. All of that. It's indisputable. But there is an element of Tony Blair's politics. He said he believed in nothing. He did. He did have one belief, which he shared with the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party doesn't really have an ideology in the United Kingdom. Yeah, it believes in low taxes and small government and all those sorts of things.
And maybe Thatcherism was a counterexample to what I'm talking about. That was an ism, an ideology. But for the most part, conservatives in this country are people who don't actually believe in any particular ideology apart from one. And that is power is the most important thing to get. And you must do anything to win elections and gain power. And what you do with it is all is secondary to that. We can think about what we do with power, but we must do whatever is necessary to gain power.
And the point about these, the lefty liberals in the UK and also in the United States is that they don't understand that, or at least they behave as if they don't understand that and sometimes they behave as if they don't actually want power.
And that point about Clause four of the Labour Party's historic constitution that you mentioned that goes back an awful long way was a point. It was is precisely the point that I'm making. He did something that was popular. He realised that people wanted this to happen. And yes, it was counter to an awful of Labor's beliefs. It was a fundamental article of Labor's long standing constitution. But in order to gain power, this is what we've got to do.
And, you know, power is a dirty business and you've got to make compromises with your ideology in order to gain it. If you want to change things, if you want to make people's lives better, you've got to make compromises with the people. And perhaps it is a nod to populism, but it is only a nod. It's not a wholehearted it's not the populism that we recognise from Johnson and Trump. But you've got to bring people with you and you've got to get people to vote for you.
And if all you ever do is turn people off, you'll get the result that we got in the UK back in December when the Red War, Labour's red wall of northern England and North Wales crumbled because people were turned off by the offering that Labour was making ideology first. Everything else not not even second.
Yes, but I mean, we have to. And of course, you're right. And the point about Tony Blair is the centre ground that you talked about and invoked there. He governed for ten years in the centre ground, and then he went off on his really tragic adventure with George W. Bush. Another figure that I want to suggest to you is responsible for Trump er would be the Clintons, both of them. And they are a discredited couple. They were on the stage last week at the Democratic Convention and arguably Bill Clinton and er by revoking the Glass-Steagall Act and in the infancy of his presidency, allowing banks to misbehave.
And I'm sure you know the details of that. He also delivered bad stuff in the way that Blair did.
Yeah, the centre ground on both sides of the Atlantic did a lot of bad things.
They did a lot of good, really bad things to corruption around Clinton as well. The cronyism, as you say, the corruption in certain instances and ignoring the grievances that ultimately Trump and Johnson were able to exploit and in some ways causing the grievances. Because there, of course, I would say, this being an economist, that there is a huge economic dimension to all of this politics. And that, of course, is the growing inequality through the period that we're discussing, the 80s, the 90s and this century.
Would you agree with me as someone who is economically literate, that Alan Greenspan, who was at the head of the Federal Reserve, who conspired with Clinton to make this change to an act that Roosevelt, in fact, had brought in, that that was a very important maybe the catalyst for the subsequent banking failure in the United States? I certainly agree. It's one of them and the allowing casino capitalism to let rip in the way that Greenspan and others did clearly.
Was was was wrong and should never have happened, but sometimes these things can be quite dull and boring, the thing that Greenspan never quite got his head around was the way in which mark financial market participants could actually behave in reality. And it's what they did to the housing market in the United States in particular. And other countries did it much in the new neighbor of the United States. Canada didn't really have a financial crisis because it because it simply regulated its banks properly.
Glass-Steagall was the abolition of Glass-Steagall was just an example of poor regulation of banks or the non regulation of banks. And then what happened, happened. So there are some very clear lessons from that time. They are, as I say, sometimes quite dull in the sense that it's a story of banking regulation. One of one of the lessons that we should have learnt, and I don't think we have actually is that you need to keep your foot on the neck of the banks.
And countries like Canada have always understood this. Now, of course, in the United States in particular, the banks are being allowed to let rip again. And there are fears about what might ultimately happen again as a result of the recession that's been induced by the coronavirus. And a lot of the you know, and this is this goes back to what I was saying about addressing of grievances. The the the winner takes all casino capitalism that was unleashed under Bush, Clinton, Blair.
None of that has been addressed. None of that. You know, Trump and Johnson can say all they like about how I feel your pain and I will do something about it. But the simple truth is, of course, they've made it worse. They've not they've not begun to address it. So rather than take them on in terms of ideology, I think hammering away at the fact that you that their constituents lives have been made worse by their policies is something that we should all all be doing.
Instead, we allow them to say, OK, I'm I'm going to scare you to death into voting for me because I'm going to portray the opposition in a way that set traps for them, that will create this narrative about the end of Western civilization that is more important than your economic situation. The fact that I've made your economic situation won't actually figure in the debate because these idiots on the other side don't let it figure.
Just a final point, Chris, watching the proceedings, including Trump's son, Donald Trump, Jr., his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Fox News contributor, screeching that the best was yet to come. I was a bit I was reminded of Orwell and the images that he evoked in 1984. Do you think Trump might win?
Yeah, I do, because I think we keep falling into the trap that he and his cronies set for us. And the you talked about 1984, a slightly more modern book was written by a neocon actually called David Frum, who was was active in the Bush administration, who was he was speechwriter.
And he's written a book about Trump called Trump Ocracy. I'd recommend it to anybody because it's a play on the word kleptocracy, and it's an explainer of why the wider Trump organization decided to become president. And it's got an awful lot to do with economics, has got an awful lot to do with money. And it's got an awful lot to do with Trump's debts. Actually, it's quite it's quite fascinating.
OK, Chris, we're very grateful to you for joining us, as always. And we'll keep our eye on the Donald. We've got two more nights of that convention, but I'd leave everybody I include and I'm sure you'd agree with me, Chris, with the image and the thought of the image of Jacob Blake, a 29 year old man shot seven times in the back as he got into his car where his three children, where it is shocking, every bit as shocking as the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis on May 25th.
That's the world we're living in and that's the world that Donald presides over. Would like to thank Chris. All of you for listening. And, of course, our sponsors, Tesco. And that's all we have time for. Now that officer.