Now that Donald Trump has been confirmed to come to the UK on Friday 13th of July, Sadiq Khan of course had to Tweet to showcase his virtuous credentials, posting: “If he comes to London, President Trump will experience an open and diverse city that has always chosen unity over division and hope over fear. He will also no doubt see that Londoners hold their liberal values of freedom of speech very dear.”
It is an irksome statement in many ways, not least because it is anti-diplomacy.
Khan’s worst offence, though, is his love of ‘liberal’ platitudes; the usual guff we have become accustomed to hearing… “hope over fear”, “unity over division”.
Much of these terms have been said in the wake of terrorist attacks and other violence. They do little to solve either of these dangers, which loom over us all the time. They are a means of suppression, in a sense; a way to delegitimise people’s natural concerns while London goes down the bin.
Khan is currently on track to become one of London’s most hopeless mayors ever, because of his obsession with cheesy soundbites. Too often he sounds like he wants a job at the Guardian, rather than to be a tough London mayor.
As everyone knows, the biggest crisis Khan has to solve is knife crime, which mainly affects young men. To be fair to him, it’s a tough one to fix – mainly born out of socioeconomic circumstances – and the mayor is trying.
Even so, he is so distracted trying to please left-wing feminists, censoring bikini outfits and the rest. All the while, people keep being stabbed to death.
These dangerous times are why Khan is wrong to lecture on “hope over fear”, which he says to divert attention from his lack of ability to solve violence. “Hope” has ultimately become a synonym for “I don’t know what to do”.
Moreover, this idea that we should choose “hope” is utterly daft. Being fearful or hopeful is not some sort of decision; fear is sometimes a reasonable response to an unreasonable situation. It’s an evolutionary reaction that drives us to take action. Were leaders more fearful, perhaps we would have solved the housing crisis, knife crime and much more right now.
There is another flipside to fear, too, which makes Khan wrong to ridicule it. Fear is something that politicians do need to instil at times.
One of the UK’s biggest problems is that our politicians are not strict enough. They sound more like sex therapists – “love not hate”, “let’s hold hands” – than leaders.
The result is that the public becomes unruly and undisciplined. This explains why we have so many protests these days driven by crazy millennials. It may even partially explain rises in violent crime. There is no sense of authority around.
The public has ultimately started to wield power over our politicians, even using Twitter as a democratic tool. They create the fear instead.
I don’t want Kim Jong-Un in charge, incidentally, but we do need firmer leaders. They must act more like the teacher at school you respected; who was strict, but right.(Remember, the teachers who were too nice always got bullied.)
Leaders who continuously spout “hope over fear” messages are ultimately not respected. They are not inspirational, either, because they are not talking at an individual level.
If you ever watch motivational speakers, they say the word “you” a lot. This wakes people up; they think “who, me?!”
But I digress. Khan cannot simply go on spouting cheerful soundbites, and expect this to please the public. Not least because there is no “hope” if you are dead from knife crime, or lying in a hospital bed with a slashed stomach.
Frankly, Khan should look to London’s own problems, instead of lecturing Trump on Twitter.
There are a lot of reasons I can protest the American president. I didn’t like how he pretty much molested Macron last week, for starters.
But because I choose “hope over fear”? No, no. I experience fear.
And until the mayor does something radical, who can say they feel anything otherwise?