Diary

Chris Mullin’s diary: The unexpected wisdom of Donald Trump

13 February 2016

9:00 AM

13 February 2016

9:00 AM

While browsing in Barter Books, the wonderful secondhand bookshop in Alnwick that is fast becoming a national institution, I came across a volume of Piers Morgan’s diaries, covering his two years in the United States, judging America’s Got Talent and taking part in Celebrity Apprentice (the Alan Sugar role being played by one Donald Trump). I cannot claim to have been all that keen on Morgan ever since I discovered that in the mid-1990s, when he was an agent of Murdoch, he penned a note to Tony Blair demanding that he silence ‘idiots like Mullin shouting their mouths off about “loathsome tabloids” and my owner’. As you might expect, the Morgan diaries are brash, vulgar and celebrity-obsessed, but (it pains me to admit this) they are also bizarrely addictive. Morgan is amusing, self-deprecating and sound on issues that most civilised people care about — gun control, affordable healthcare and race.

One of the highlights is an interview, in August 2008, with a surprisingly lucid Donald Trump. This is Trump on George W. Bush: ‘I think he’s set back this country 50 years. We were a great country before he became president. A respected country. Whether you like Clinton or you don’t like Clinton, we had no deficit for the first time in many years, and were doing well economically. And then Bush came in and wrecked it.’ And this is Trump on Bush and Iraq: ‘He invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, absolutely zero. He purposely lied and lied badly and his lies got us into a war.’

Could it be that under that ludicrous exterior there lurks an intelligent human being? Or as the American writer and humorist Andy Borowitz put it recently, ‘Say what you will about Trump. He is a smart man with a deep understanding of what stupid people want.’


Hopefully the victory of Ted Cruz in Iowa last week will shed some welcome light on another of the seriously bad men in the running for the Republican nomination, who until now has been eclipsed by the sheer mesmerising awfulness of Donald Trump. Cruz ticks all the boxes: climate- change denier, death-penalty enthusiast, opponent of even the most minimal gun control. After the recent nuclear deal with Iran, he described President Obama as ‘one of the world’s leading financiers of radical Islamic terrorism’. He managed to include a reference to the Nazis in his unrelenting opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

Needless to say, Cruz is in close touch with God, who features regularly in his campaign speeches: ‘I believe that this will be a religious liberty election.’ ‘My prayer is… that the body of Christ rise up to pull America back from the abyss.’ ‘Through prayer the Lord has changed my life.’ And so on. If it comes down to a choice between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, which please God (this God stuff is catching) it won’t, give me Trump any day.

Later this year Parliament will be asked to approve the renewal of the Trident nuclear missile system at a lifetime cost estimated at anywhere from £30 billion to £100 billion. (Given the Ministry of Defence’s record on procurement, my guess is at the higher end of the scale.) Just about everyone who has given any thought to the matter knows it’s bonkers. Trident is not independent, it doesn’t deter and it soaks up badly needed investment in conventional defence. The one benefit it confers is a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. I quietly remarked on this to the Secretary of State for Defence the last time Parliament voted on the issue and he replied, ‘The Foreign Office put that in my brief, but I told them to take it out.’ Of course no Labour government could phase out Trident without mass hysteria but, were the Tories to do so, the fallout would be minimal and in years to come their wisdom would be widely praised.

Sorry to hear that my friend Hilary Benn has ruled himself out of any future contest for the Labour leadership. Since well before That Speech I have regarded him as one of the best and the brightest on the Opposition front bench. He is highly capable, engagingly normal and far too decent to get involved in any scheming and plotting, but four years in politics is a very long time. In the event that a vacancy for the top job were to arise between now and the election, I hope he can be persuaded to reconsider.

I am putting the finishing touches to a little volume of memoirs that I hope to publish in the autumn. It will be called Hinterland, a characteristic that all good politicians are supposed to possess; not all do. I am occasionally asked for advice by some young person hoping for a career in politics. My advice is always the same: do something else first, and then you will be useful if and when you are elected.

Chris Mullin is a former Labour minister and the author of three volumes of diaries.

Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Subscribe – Try a month free


Show comments
  • mikewaller

    Whether or not Trident is under independent control, I do not know. However, I have several times heard lists of criteria a Captain would have to apply in the event all contact being lost with the UK, before discharging his missiles. One such test was whether or not the Today programme could be picked up on the airwaves. If this is true, an ultimate level of independence must be available.

    However, as I understand it, the main reason the US has been prepared to make their technology available to us has been to add another level of risk to the calculations of any common aggressor. For example, if the US came under nuclear attack from China, occupants of the Kremlin might see it as a golden opportunity to start moving West, gambling that the US would not want two nuclear fronts. In such circumstances, uncertainty as to what the British (and French) might do could just be a game changer.

    As for the usual left-wing nonsense about spending on nuclear weapons starving conventional forces of investment, that’s just so much crap. First, left wing governments of the kind wishing to scrap Trident would invariably find far more “deserving” recipients of the available funds (“Scholarships not battleships”) was a cry in the 1930s); and, second, European democracies will never have the political will or support to spend the kind of cash necessary to provide conventional forces capable of stopping Russia in its tracks. Indeed, as I recall it, even at teh hight oif the Cold War, the assumption was usually made that the West would be driven to first use of tactical nuclear weapons as the only way available to it of halting the Russian steamroller.

    As his Diary makes clear, Mullin’s can be pretty smart; why then is he so self-delusional over this?

    • Tom M

      I agree with all of that Mike. Can I add though that here we are reading about how ineffectual Trident is when North Korea has a nuclear weapon, claims to have tested a thermo-nuclear weapon and is actively engaged in developing a ballistic missile capable of reaching long distances. On the other hand Obama has just caved in to Iran continuing to devolp nuclear weapons if they want to.
      Neither North Korea or Iran would be, even in the most optimistic, be ever classed as stable and both make belligerent noises about war with their neighbours.
      Having said all of that and taking your point about Europe’s political will to create sufficient conventional forces it might be beholden on the countries of Europe to subsidise France and the UK’s nuclear capability that they all are sheltering under. Although I imagine the EU would want to have the button in Brussels.

  • LittleRedRidingHood

    Another left-wing imbecile bedwetter.
    ” shed some welcome light on another of the seriously bad men in the running for the Republican nomination, who until now has been eclipsed by the sheer mesmerising awfulness of Donald Trump. Cruz ticks all the boxes: climate- change denier, death-penalty enthusiast, opponent of even the most minimal gun control. After the recent nuclear deal with Iran, he described President Obama as ‘one of the world’s leading financiers of radical Islamic terrorism’.”

    Translates to, he has a different opinion to yours.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      No, you’re not a left winger.

      Your dismissing facts in your “translation” of “he’s not like me, I hate him…”

      • LittleRedRidingHood

        Nope, your missing context, comprehension and any ability enter into meaningful debate.

        • Leon Wolfeson

          Ah, so nothing to do with my post and everything to do with yours.

          As you try and ignore the context, stop those not like you from commenting and frantically try and prevent debate. You’re still a right winger, as you chant “he’s not like me, I hate him” on and on.

          • LittleRedRidingHood

            Like I said co,pretension is not your forte Leon. Maybe you should go back over the comment thread. Do you undnerstans the concept of debate?
            I doubt it if comprehension is such a struggle for you.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Ah yes, you think you can control my mind via your internet magics or similar nonsense.
            I understand you oppose debate.
            You “dount”, in your hate and bigotry towards those with other views…refusing debate…

          • LittleRedRidingHood

            The bigot calling me a bigot.
            That’s right it’s magics on the “internets” Leon.
            “Dount” … Were you trying to spell donut? A true reflection of yourself.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            You call yourself a bigot? k.

            As you think people are pieces of good, as you make excuses for more of your odd fantasies.

          • LittleRedRidingHood

            Your random word generator has got the order wrong again. You need to get that fixed.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            See, unlike you I’m not randomly whining, as you demand I agree with your hates.

          • LittleRedRidingHood

            Make a point relating to the article or previous comment that aren’t your usual tripe and I would be happy discuss.
            Instead I am met with a diatribe of guff.

  • Ingmar Blessing

    On Trident is every penny well spent, it’s the only ultimate security a country has. Just look at Lybia VS North Kora. Who knows what the EU will slip into (including the French bomb). Imagine they turn islamist or something else crazy at one point in the next 20 years.

    Britain without bomb would be as save as Greece is right now from migrants sent by the Turkish sultan: Not at all.

    • Hayekian

      Mullin’s mate, Jack Straw and his French counterpart also did much to ensure that Iran will soon join the nuclear capable nations and will be within striking distance of Europe. The good news is that they are no longer run by religious crazies who believe that the end of the world is coming soon and have been sponsoring terrorism for years… oh no actually they are!
      It will be a miracle if we don’t have a nuclear conflict in the 21st Century.

  • Child_of_Thatcher

    Please, if you are looking for awful politicians who caused problems for which future generations will curse them look no further than Tony Blair. Angela Merkel is doing her best to beat his record though.

    • Hayekian

      Gordon Brown gave him a good run for his money too and our very own David Cameron with debt, massive immigration, the destablization of Libya and his laughable “renegotiation” with the EU is also right up there in the poisoning the well for future generations stakes

  • walstir

    Trump: “Whether you like Clinton or you don’t like Clinton, we had no deficit for the first time in many years, and were doing well economically.”

    The country “doing well economically” is generally known as the DotCom Bubble. The Clinton Administration coincided with the Dot Com Bubble and the collapse of that bubble – a collapse that significantly contributed to the replacement of the Democrats by the Republicans in the next election when Democratic support dropped sharply. The last significant US budget surplus may have occurred during the second Clinton term; but bubbles like Clinton’s Dot Com Bubble only create the illusion of a robust economy and temporary budget surpluses.

    • Norse Notion No.9

      And I believe Clinton’s policies led to massive outsourcing of jobs, for which it took a few years before the negative consequences (unemployment) became noticeable.

  • Patricia

    “… humorist Andy Borowitz put it recently, ‘Say what you will about Trump. He is a smart man with a deep understanding of what stupid people want.’ ”

    Typical of Chris Mullins’ kind to insult by proxy those who don’t agree with him. And what are his great friend Hilary Benn’s achievements ?

    This article is a swipe at the Left’s opponents and a plug for his coming memoirs.

  • WFC

    Thank you, Chris, for giving such a comprehensive view of the modern left wing mindset:

    1) the view that people who don’t subscribe to fashionable pieties (however reasoned their critiques may be) are and must be Bad People ™;

    2) ignorance of history. When the UN Security Council was formed, and permanent memberships determined, only one of them was a nuclear power; and

    3) I have a book I want you all to buy.

  • Caviar luvvie

    The main reason Trump is a force to be reckoned with, is that he has all the correct people’s knickers in a twist.

  • JabbaPapa

    this is Trump on Bush and Iraq: ‘He invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, absolutely zero. He purposely lied and lied badly and his lies got us into a war.’

    I met a father of someone in the US Secret Service in 2014, ex-military himself, and I’m no longer sure that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, particularly as I researched the question later.

    The fact that ISIS was created by ex-Iraqi secret service men is troubling in itself.

    It’s clear of course that the WMD pretext used for the invasion was completely bogus, I’m hardly suggesting that lies weren’t told.

  • The Sceptic

    Another Labour minister looking down his nose at the views of the common folk. Some facts:

    1), There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction. Zero, zilch, none. The pretext that got both countries involved was an untruth, and we all remember which party promoted it hysterically. The chaos has damaged our international standing irreparably.

    2), Bush was deficit spending, just like Gordon Brown, *before* the financial crash had even begun. People recognise the dangers of saddling future generations with astronomical debt; the interest payments are deducted from what ought to be spent on education, defence and others.

    3), Trump is tapping into the notion, just like Farage, that the West is losing its soul from de facto open borders. By 2040, Texas is projected to have an Hispanic majority in the population, with major questions regarding segregation and self-identity. One only has to look at the identity politics played by Cruz and Rubio, each trying to ‘out-Spanish’ the other. Expect more of that as Western politicians pander to unintegrated minorities.

    4), Trump is self-funding. No money from Super PACs or lobbyists. The ‘stupid people’ realise that he can’t be bought or influenced easily, unlike Clinton, Bush and all of the UK national parties, who rely largely upon cash from special interests.

    I, for one, am enjoying the rise of Trump; we desperately need someone similar here.

  • jeffersonian

    ‘ After the recent nuclear deal with Iran, he [Cruz] described President Obama as ‘one of the world’s leading financiers of radical Islamic terrorism’.

    ..sounds about right.

  • Tickertapeguy

    Donald Trump is the only Candidate who has the clout to sue the pants off any other Candidate who lies or tries deceit him and has a massive war chest and a legion of lawyers to deal with counter suits while campaigning.

    Unlike the rest of the Candidates Donald is not a career politician, is not beholden to special interest groups and a self made man

  • Terry Field

    Trump is very clever. His current behaviour attracts the rednecks and the fools
    He will bank them then go after the smarter as he becomes more broad-based and ‘presidential’. He is a natural chameleon and will win. Sanders will be a walk over. but he can bury Madame Clinton.

  • Sid Falco

    Chris Mullin – smug pillock. Wrong about everything.

Close