Donald Trump's proposed official state visit to the UK, including an address to parliament, was debated at Westminster on 20 February 2017. In light of recent events, I looked over what I said in my speech back then. I'll let you judge if it has stood the test of time. Here is the full Hansard record of my speech.
I am sorry that the right hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) is not in his place, because I would like to respond to his arguments, particularly about the post-second world war situation and the need for peace and stability. As a wee boy, on 4 September 1959, I walked with my mother from Maybole to Culzean castle in Ayrshire. I did so on that autumn day to view the coming of the then President of the United States, President Eisenhower, on his visit to Culzean castle. He was well known to the people of the small town of Maybole, where he had been made a freeman in 1946. He had also been given a suite of rooms in Culzean castle, called the Eisenhower suite, by the people of Scotland. As many Members will know, Eisenhower was a five-star general who served as the supreme commander of the allied expeditionary force in Europe. Post-world war two, he became the first ever supreme commander of NATO. He was then President of the United States from 1953 to 1961—a time when the cold war gripped people with the fear that we faced the possibility of a third world war. He famously called Culzean castle his second White House, given that he visited it not only in the positions that he held but with his family on many occasions during his life. However, that great American, who served us so well in the second world war as a supreme commander, who was the first commander of NATO and who became probably the greatest post-second world war Republican President, was only once—in 1959— allowed an informal visit to the United Kingdom. He was never afforded a state reception or the right to address Parliament, and he and the American people never complained once. He was able to engage informally. All we are asking is, if an informal visit was sufficient for that great President, who contributed so much to our society and to the defeat of fascism, why on earth are we rolling out the red carpet for a man who has only spread division and international instability? The first foreign leader to be invited to address this Parliament was the President of France, on 23 March 1939, so it was not as if there was no precedent of having people coming on state visits or speaking to Parliament. We know that only two American Presidents in history have been afforded both a state visit and an invitation to address Parliament: Reagan and Obama. Bill Clinton was invited to address Parliament but did not receive a state visit, and George W. Bush received a state visit but was not invited to address Parliament. Since the beginning of the 20th century, most American Presidents who have come to this country have come on informal visits; it is unusual for us to accord a state visit or the ability to address Parliament to American Presidents. If we do so for this President, who has created such international instability and such social division, we should think very carefully about what makes him deserving of a state visit. I would say that nothing does. This is a grubby and despicable manoeuvre by the Prime Minister. Many years ago, the Scottish poet, Hugh MacDiarmid, said that, when he died, he wanted there to be a two-minute pandemonium. The only good thing I can see coming out of President Trump’s state visit is the opportunity for the citizens and parliamentarians of the nations of the United Kingdom to have a two-minute pandemonium in opposition.