Coleman at Wimbledon

The Navy at Gay Pride, why the people behind 2012 should be replaced and a few other musings arising

An eclectic mix of the Great and the Good assembled in the Royal Box as guests of the All England Lawn Tennis Club the other Friday. The Club's President, the archetypal Royal Duke of Kent (who no more would host a Pop Concert at Wembley Stadium than streak across Centre Court) was joined by amongst others Senator George Mitchell, Jimmy Tarbuck, Lesley Garrett and Vogue's Anna Wintour.

I sat in the third row, which had a distinctly pink tinge to it what with Lord Browne of Madingley being there. There were two empty seats allocated to the Editor of the "Evening Standard", Veronica Wadley, who presumably had read her own paper's ridiculous story from the previous week that, as the Centre Court was temporarily without a roof, we were all going to be shot by marksman from the top of a nearby block of Merton Council flats!

Wimbledon is the best organised and by far the most civilised sporting event in London, run as it is by a largely voluntary Committee who in my view should replace the highly paid hacks preparing for the London Olympics.

Indeed as the rain began to fall at about 3.30pm we retired for afternoon tea on the Royal Box balcony to see newly elected Committee Member, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King passing round the Bath Buns.

Whilst sipping my perfectly brewed tea I took a surreptitious look at my Blackberry and was therefore able to inform the Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sir Jonathan Band that his predecessor had just been created a life Peer and joined the Government as a Junior Minister at the Home Office.

"Goodness me," remarked the charming Lady Band as the Admiral put down his scone and phoned his office at the MOD for confirmation.

Somewhat less surprised that his successor bar one, Lord Stevens, had taken a Government job was former Met Commissioner, now Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, Lord Imbert who maintains a traditional attitude to police officers (serving and retired) whose ego is boosted by seeing their names in the newspapers.

As the second cup of tea arrived I congratulated Sir Jonathan for allowing serving members of the Royal Navy to march in uniform at the following morning's Gay Pride March and wondered why his two fellow chiefs (Army and Air Force) had refused permission.

Well firstly, he admitted, the Royal Navy could do with some good publicity after the fiasco of the returning kidnapped sailors from Iran and, secondly, the Navy is much more relaxed about these matters than the "hard core" in the Infantry with the Army still not allowing gay couples to share MOD accommodation.

One MOD official has described to me the "born again" Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannett as a "complete zealot". Apparently the Minister concerned allowed the Service Chiefs to take their own decisions on the matter of Gay Pride participation: talk about passing the buck!

One of the Army's objections to servicemen in uniform marching in Gay Pride is that there will be people in "fancy dress" taking part; well that does not stop a considerable Army presence in the Lord Mayor's Show each year! Sadly as the daily toll mounts of young men killed in Iraq and Afghanistan there are still Generals worried about what their troops get up to in the bedroom.

If Gordon Brown wants to bring experts into his government why doesn't he give Sir Jonathan Band a peerage and make him Secretary of State for Defence?

Brian Coleman was first elected to the London Assembly in June 2000. Widely outspoken he is best known for his groundbreaking policy of removing traffic calming measures
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The most terrifying thing about Donald Trump's speech? What he didn't say

No politician uses official speeches to put across their most controversial ideas. But Donald Trump's are not hard to find. 

As Donald Trump took the podium on a cold Washington day to deliver his inauguration speech, the world held its breath. Viewers hunched over televisions or internet streaming services watched Trump mouth “thank you” to the camera, no doubt wondering how he could possibly live up to his deranged late-night Twitter persona. In newsrooms across America, reporters unsure when they might next get access to a president who seems to delight in denying them the right to ask questions got ready to parse his words for any clue as to what was to come. Some, deciding they couldn’t bear to watch, studiously busied themselves with other things.

But when the moment came, Trump’s speech was uncharacteristically professional – at least compared to his previous performances. The fractured, repetitive grammar that marks many of his off-the-cuff statements was missing, and so, too, were most of his most controversial policy ideas.

Trump told the crowd that his presidency would “determine the course of America, and the world, for many, many years to come” before expressing his gratefulness to President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for their “gracious aid” during the transition. “They have been magnificent," Trump said, before leading applause of thanks from the crowd.

If this opening was innocent enough, however, it all changed in the next breath. The new president moved quickly to the “historic movement”, “the likes of which the world has never seen before”, that elected him President. Following the small-state rhetoric of his campaign, Trump promised to take power from the “establishment” and restore it to the American people. “This moment," he told them, “Is your moment. It belongs to you.”

A good deal of the speech was given over to re-iterating his nationalist positions while also making repeated references to the key issues – “Islamic terrorism” and families – that remain points of commonality within the fractured Republican GOP.

The loss of business to overseas producers was blamed for “destroying our jobs”. “Protection," Trump said, “Will lead to great strength." He promised to end what he called the “American carnage” caused by drugs and crime.

“From this day forward," Trump said, “It’s going to be only America first."

There was plenty in the speech, then, that should worry viewers, particularly if you read Trump’s promises to make America “unstoppable” so it can “win” again in light of his recent tweets about China

But it was the things Trump didn't mention that should worry us most. Trump, we know, doesn’t use official channels to communicate his most troubling ideas. From bizarre television interviews to his upsetting and offensive rallies and, of course, the infamous tweets, the new President is inclined to fling his thoughts into the world as and when he sees fit, not on the occasions when he’s required to address the nation (see, also, his anodyne acceptance speech).

It’s important to remember that Trump’s administration wins when it makes itself seem as innocent as possible. During the speech, I was reminded of my colleague Helen Lewis’ recent thoughts on the “gaslighter-in-chief”, reflecting on Trump’s lying claim that he never mocked a disabled reporter. “Now we can see," she wrote, “A false narrative being built in real time, tweet by tweet."

Saying things that are untrue isn’t the only way of lying – it is also possible to lie by omission.

There has been much discussion as to whether Trump will soften after he becomes president. All the things this speech did not mention were designed to keep us guessing about many of the President’s most controversial promises.

Trump did not mention his proposed ban on Muslims entering the US, nor the wall he insists he will erect between America and Mexico (which he maintains the latter will pay for). He maintained a polite coolness towards the former President and avoiding any discussion of alleged cuts to anti-domestic violence programs and abortion regulations. Why? Trump wanted to leave viewers unsure as to whether he actually intends to carry through on his election rhetoric.

To understand what Trump is capable of, therefore, it is best not to look to his speeches on a global stage, but to the promises he makes to his allies. So when the President’s personal website still insists he will build a wall, end catch-and-release, suspend immigration from “terror-prone regions” “where adequate screening cannot occur”; when, despite saying he understands only 3 per cent of Planned Parenthood services relate to abortion and that “millions” of women are helped by their cancer screening, he plans to defund Planned Parenthood; when the president says he will remove gun-free zones around schools “on his first day” - believe him.  

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland