I’m sorry to say this, but Donald Trump really doesn’t think much about Britain at all. He may have some sentimental attachment to Scotland, because of his mother, but we’re not nearly as precious to him as we like to think. He may be blowing British minds today with his explosive Sun interview, but he’ll just shrug it off, go play golf, then meet Putin.
But what Trump does have is an unthinking genius for sniffing out weakness, and he’s unthinkingly sniffed it out in Sadiq Khan.
“I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad. I look at cities in Europe, and I can be specific if you’d like. You have a mayor who has done a terrible job in London. He has done a terrible job.
“I think he has not been hospitable to a government that is very important. Now he might not like the current President, but I represent the United States.”
Khan proudly rebuffed Trump on television this morning. The Evening Standard has produced a ‘No, Mr President’ cover. Hell hath no fury like the metropolitan elite scorned! The trouble is, a lot of Londoners know that Trump has a good point. We might bristle at Trump’s bad manners. We might enjoy that frisson of righteousness that comes with expressing wounded pride. But, deep down, we should admit it – he’s right about our mayor.
Look at the polls. Khan’s popularity is dwindling. Now 30 per cent of Londoners think he is doing a bad job. He polls increasingly badly among poor people, who suffer most in a badly managed city.
It’s a bit unfair to blame Khan for terrorism. But Trump is right on crime: knife crime really is a problem, public services are suffering, and Khan is doing nothing about it.
Khan excels at going on telly and writing his own press releases. He’s not so good at managing complex municipal issues. As Andrew Gilligan has pointed out, he’s not lived up to any of promises on social housing, transport fares, and much more.
So, as lifelong Londoner, I’d like to say, Mr President, thank you for pointing out an uncomfortable truth: Sadiq Khan has done a terrible job. Let’s not let our pride get in the way of recognising that.