Editor’s Note: Rob Crilly is a British journalist living in New York. He was The Telegraph’s Afghanistan and Pakistan correspondent and was previously the East Africa correspondent for The Times of London. The opinions in this article are those of the author.
The British government is in crisis, the Prime Minister losing ministers on what feels like a daily basis and the country riven by arguments about how – or even whether – to leave the European Union.
What better time to turn our collective angst outwards, with the delicious distraction of a world leader more ridiculous than our own sorry bunch.
Donald Trump is in for the trolling of a lifetime when he arrives in Britain or at least its environs. The orange baby blimp flying over London will be only the start as my countrymates show off their famous sense of irreverent satire.
There will be no escape. Even if Trump manages to break his TV habit and even if his schedule has been carefully arranged to minimize time in London, he will be unable to miss the jibes.
Already, a social media campaign has helped propel the 2004 Green Day hit “American Idiot” back up the charts. It’s not subtle – “Don’t wanna be an American idiot, Don’t want a nation under the new media” – but when it comes to Trump, well what’s the point of that?
He is the perfect butt of our jokes when our country’s own dysfunction seems just too painful for laughter.
British Prime Minister Theresa May may not be able to hold her Cabinet together, the United Kingdom may be headed for oblivion as a global power and we may be back once again to being contenderless at Wimbledon, but at least our government is not locking up children at the border. Or talking up the prospect of overturning abortion rights.
Trump is the perfect outlet, representing as he does the qualities that so many of us associate with Americans. He’s loud, wealthy and utterly lacking in any sort of class. He is a throwback to the line popular about Yank soldiers in Britain during World War Two: “Oversexed, overpaid and over here.”
Escaping north of the border into Scotland will offer no respite.
That’s the place where Michael Forbes was named Glenfiddich Scotsman of the year in 2012 for refusing to sell his Aberdeenshire farm land to Trump for his golf course. He had his water cut off and an earth wall built around his house, but stuck to his guns.
When an angry Trump demanded a boycott of the whisky brand, the result was a mega trolling in the form of countless selfies of Scots toasting Mr Forbes with a dram of the good stuff.
We’ve been trolling Trump for years you see. Even the BBC, not exactly a haven of partiality, ribbed him on Twitter about the impressive size of the crowds who turned out for the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle – with side-by-side photos of the wedding and the Trump inauguration.
We can go smart – keep an eye on JK Rowling’s Twitter account – or we can go silly.
This week, the lord mayor of Sheffield announced he was “banning” Trump from his city. Magid Magid (who came to the country as a refugee from Somalia) made his announcement while wearing a sombrero.
That balloon may have been similarly silly. But at 20 feet and $24,000 it’s an expensive kind of silly.
This is a not a business just for the media or our politicians. This will not be like the US where the American TV talk shows, with their erudite monologues, seem to take a high-minded view of satire.
This is different. This is one for the people, something we can all get behind. We are a nation that is crying out for a pantomime villain to boo and heckle. In Trump we have the perfect figure.
And Trump, who knows the power of the media and the value of being at the center of the story – any story – might love every second of it.