A certain Mr Trump was the subject of the Althing’s February debate. Speaking for the motion “Trump: we got what we deserved” were Donald S. Murray and Thor Holt. Speaking against the motion were Jonathan Wills and Ryan Thomson.
Thor Holt and Ryan Thomson were kind enough to share their post-debate reflections and analysis with Shetland Life. You can read what Jonathan Wills and Donald S. Murray had to say in the print version of the magazine (out on February the 3rd).
Having experienced the Althing for myself, I’m here to tell you that Shetlanders in general, and Althing attendees in particular, are unique. Actually, I was so gratified to have been asked to speak at Althing, which has no equal I’m aware of elsewhere in the UK, that I made the trip North just to get involved.
My argument was based on what I labelled “The Pogues Effect”.
In September 1988, my younger Brother Luke gave me a Pogues album for my fifteenth birthday. The trouble was, I instantly lost it, and while searching the house, found Mum in the Kitchen feeding the unlistened to cassette into our cooking Aga.
“Mum! What are you doing?!
“Thor, I’m sorry, but this music is evil!”
To be fair to Mum, it was called Rum Sodomy and the Lash, so her assumption of unpleasantness was perhaps not without reason. Like many folk these days, by age 15 I was an atheist, so didn’t do “evil”, “the devil” or indeed religion of any kind.
What was the result of the Pogues burning incident? You’ve guessed it. I went out and bought everything I could find by The Pogues, listened to it incessantly, often while drinking. Shane McGowan would have been proud of me.
This reaction by my loving, caring Mother, who was only trying to protect me from something she saw as unpleasant, is exactly why Trump got elected. Allow me to explain…
Three parts of US society; the old legacy media, establishment political dynasties, and the celebrity plus billionaire class had an understandable reaction against ‘The Donald’, who they perceived as unpleasant or even evil. Some of this was for good reason, some for fairly evident self-serving reasons.
However, by so doing, they built up a religious fervour which just made Trump more interesting, and voters all the more likely to listen or “buy into him”. And of course, just like an underage drinker listening to music he’s been told not to, many soon-to-be voters who’d been “ordered” not to vote Trump, didn’t tell pollsters their voting intentions either! “Evil Trump” religious fervour made that too uncomfortable.
There were of course, other crucial factors leading to The Trump win. Truly pivotal were the “speak blunt truth to power” whistleblowers, Wikileaks. The fact is, Hilary was perceived as “damaged goods” and once it was leaked that Bernie never had a fair chance, the rot really set in. Trump, with his willingness to say what many felt they are no longer allowed to, attracted worker votes, including perhaps surprisingly, three times as many Muslim Americans as had voted for Romney in 2012.
With challenges like Brexit, and the migrant crisis, many parts of Europe are becoming increasingly insulated, as individuals only engage online, and won’t select to hear opposing points of view.
Thor Holt is an executive coach, trained actor, and former TEDx speaker who believes everyone should be free to make a bigger impact. In 2011 he founded a communication training business www.thorholt.com to serve the energy, legal, higher education, and entrepreneurial sectors.
When I was asked to speak at the Althing on the topic of Trump, I accepted without thinking twice. I was delighted to have been asked. I also thought, given I am standing for Council for the North Isles ward in May, that the opportunity to practise some public speaking wasn’t something I could pass up. Naturally, not being a Trump fan, I chose to speak against the motion, believing that we did not get what we deserved.
It was a very cleverly written motion, and much of the debate was spent picking through who “we” actually were. The UK? Shetland? The attendees of the Staney Hill Hall that evening? Mankind?
The foundation of my argument was that we could not possibly have deserved Donald Trump, simply because we were not able to vote or affect the vote in any way. We gave warnings to our cousins across the pond and the very highest politicians in the land informed the USA they would not like to see Mr Trump as President.
I gave examples of Mr Trump’s personality, providing evidence through numerous quotations as to the man’s character, touching on the fact he received 3 million less votes then Mrs Clinton thus losing the “popular vote”.
However there was nothing myself or my partner, the experienced Althinger Dr Jonathan Wills could do to persuade the attendees that evening that we did not deserve Mr Trump. Indeed, it was the excellent arguments of the equally experienced Donald Murray and his partner Thor Holt who won over the audience and eventually the debate.
Ryan Thomson is the director of Tagon Stores in Voe. In May this year he will stand as an independent candidate for the North Isles ward.