OPINION - The Standard View: Londoners look on aghast at Republican presidential debate

 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

As battles of American ideas go, it was not exactly William F. Buckley versus Gore Vidal. The eight Republican candidates went at it for two hours in Milwaukee and, by the end, it was no more clear that any of them could challenge Donald Trump for the nomination.

The subjects ranged from foreign affairs to social issues, but the winner may have been Joe Biden. The president is no one’s idea of a vigorous candidate of change. But his grip on reality, and adherence to political norms, make him stand out against virtually anyone on stage last night.

As ever, the rest of the world does not get a say in US elections, despite the awesome impact a switch in party would have — particularly on support for Ukraine and Nato. We must simply watch on, at times aghast, before returning to somewhat more quotidian debates over ultra low emission zones and state funding for chess boards.

Ukraine reflects

For a second successive year, Ukraine will mark its independence day while Russian forces occupy swathes of territory, following the launch of its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

It is a day to reflect on what Ukrainians are fighting for: life, democracy and the ability to make their own decisions, not be dominated by an autocratic power next door. And why it is so vital that Britain, alongside our allies, continues to support our Ukrainian friends with arms, cash and diplomatic support.

The death of Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led a failed mutiny against Vladimir Putin, in mysterious yet unsurprising circumstances serves as yet another reminder of the difference between a nation fighting for its sovereignty and the rule of law, versus another where life and death are dictated by one man alone.

Hall’s Ulez gamble

Susan Hall is not backing down — and one would expect nothing less from her. The Tory candidate for mayor is going all out in her opposition to the Ulez extension, most recently calling it a “tax grab” and denouncing Sadiq Khan as holding the city to ransom by his “selfishness”.

Clearly, opposition to the charge will provide a floor of support for Ms Hall and see her sweep votes in the outer boroughs. But will it be enough to win? Not least if she becomes associated with other senior Tories, including the new MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, who are facing criticism for helping to run social media groups celebrating the destruction of Ulez cameras.

We should hope the mayoral debate in London is sharper than that of the Republicans in Milwaukee.