Should Donald Trump be barred from entering Croydon?

By - Monday 25th January, 2016

Max Shirley looks at a big story from a local perspective

Should we ban a potential US presidential candidate from entering the UK?

Donald J. Trump is a sixty-nine-year-old American business magnate, billionaire, investor and potential Republican candidate in the 2016 US Presidential Elections. He also has blonde, flowing locks, which I can’t take my eyes off. Trump has been in the news quite a bit lately, after some rather extreme statements in his various speeches. The statement that gained the most traction amongst the media went as follows:

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shut down of Muslims entering the United States, until our country’s representatives can figure out just what the hell is going on”.

After you get over Trump talking about himself in the third person, you can see there are a few problems with this.

I’d invite Trump to London – but I don’t want to expose Londoners to the risk of meeting Trump

Trump only proposed a temporary ban, not a permanent one as some publications stated in their articles. But this makes it no better. Trump has practically placed a badge on all Muslims: he has labelled them potential terrorists. He is blaming religious affiliation alone for atrocities committed by Daesh (described up to now by most media as ‘Islamic State’, ‘so-called Islamic State’, ‘IS’ or ‘ISIL’, along with other militant groups).

One of my favourite quotes surrounding Trump comes from London Mayor Boris Johnson: “I would invite him to come and see the whole of London and take him round the city. Except I wouldn’t want to expose any Londoners to any unnecessary risk of meeting Donald Trump.”

As a result of Trump’s statement a petition was placed on the governmental website declaring that we should bar him from entering the UK. It has received over 570,000 signatures. In response to this a counter-petition went up, asserting that Trump should not be denied entry. This now has over 44,000 signatures.

What’s the view from Croydon’s MPs? I spoke to all three.

Gavin Barwell, Conservative MP for Croydon Central: “I have no time whatsoever for bigots like Donald Trump. His comments about banning Muslims from coming to America, and about other immigrants, are nonsensical and offensive, but personally I think it is better to let him come here and expose him to mockery rather than ban him.” Unusually, this is a view shared with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who stated on the Andrew Marr show: “I’d take Donald Trump to a London mosque”. Both MPs are helping disprove Donald Trump; they are inviting him to see the successful multicultural society we all live in.

Croydon is in a fine position to demonstrate how strong diverse communities are

Chris Philp, Conservative MP for Croydon South: “I do disagree with most of what Donald Trump says. However, I do also believe in free speech. Therefore I would not ban him. People should only be banned from the UK if they are inciting violence, which he isn’t”.

Steve Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North, placed the emphasis differently. Whilst also opposing a ban, he responded: “Last week the government made MPs debate the new housing bill, a very important piece of legislation, in the middle of the night claiming a lack of time to debate it during the day. But they found time to debate Donald Trump in the daytime. Their priorities are wrong“. 

The 570,000 people who signed the call to ban Trump share their view with some senior politicians, however. Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, is pro-Trump-ban. She stated: ”I think it’s reasonable to say that Donald Trump, and the kinds of words we’ve been hearing… would not be good for community cohesion and would not be good for Britain and so it is reasonable to not give him a visa”.

As a Croydonian, I regard Trump’s words as abominable and arrogant but share the view of Croydon’s MPs: I would rather he came here and sat in the centre of Croydon to meet with the mockery of our citizens. Croydon is in a fine position to demonstrate to him how strong diverse communities are. Our town says no to everything that he stands for, if not to the man himself.

Max Shirley

Max Shirley

Max recently finished Sixth Form at a local independent school and will be starting an English Literature degree in the new academic year. Max is a copy-editor at a Croydon-based start-up. Twitter: @max_shirley_

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