Ian Swanson: Please do not mention that we kent Donald Trump’s mother

Donald Trump Theresa May at their joint press conference. Picture: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Donald Trump Theresa May at their joint press conference. Picture: Alex Wong/Getty Images
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IF it was anyone else, we would be hearing over and over again about the new American president’s Scottish ancestry and trying to make the most of the connection.

But no-one is falling over themselves to be too close to Donald Trump.

His mother was born in Lewis before emigrating to America and he owns two golf courses here – his new one in Aberdeenshire and the famous Turnberry.

At one stage, long before his presidential ambitions became clear, he was even made a business ambassador for Scotland when he was named a “Global Scot”.

But understandably all this is now viewed more as an embarrassment than anything to be proud of.

Mr Trump’s election as US president – famously anticipated as a laughable storyline in The Simpsons in 2000 – shocked the world and his behaviour since has gone on shocking the world.

Speculation that after a divisive campaign he would use his inauguration speech to build bridges and bring people together turned out to be mistaken. Hopes that once in office he would have to moderate his polices have proved groundless. And the argument that the long-established checks and balances in the American constitution would stop him doing too much damage seems to have been just too optimistic.

In his first ten days he has ordered a start to construction of his promised wall on the US-Mexico border; begun rolling back Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare reforms; allowed two pipeline projects which had been held up because of environmental concerns; and, of course, imposed a temporary ban on refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the US.

Mr Trump has started the way he means to go on – and the next presidential election is not until 2020.

What is the world to do?

Theresa May became the first foreign leader to meet the new president since he took office and at first the occasion seemed to be a success. She survived the joint press conference without Mr Trump insulting the accompanying UK media or making other embarrassing comments.

But then there was the bizarre hand-holding incident; later, Mrs May failed to condemn the arbitrary ban on refugees and immigrants; and it emerged Mr Trump had told her at their meeting that he planned to announce the controversial entry restrictions. The Prime Minister’s apparent triumph quickly unravelled.

She had also – rather inadvisedly - used her meeting with Mr Trump to invite him on a state visit to the UK. Why she felt such a hasty invitation was appropriate is difficult to understand. No other US president has made such a visit in their first year and many have never had one at all.

Mr Trump no doubt leapt at the opportunity. And he has reportedly set out some very specific and bizarre desires about what he would like – including playing golf on the private nine-hole course at Balmoral while the Queen watches. Protesters across the UK – and some senior politicians – want the visit cancelled until the refugee ban is lifted.

No doubt it is difficult for foreign politicians and diplomats to know how to handle the new president. But trying to pretend he is just a normal politician doesn’t seem to be working.

Remember the row about the size of the inauguration crowds. If he behaves so irrationally on so trivial an issue, what happens with the serious stuff?

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com