If May teamed up with Macron and Merkel, the three Ms could take on Donald Trump

Trump's madness is a danger to the world - but he can be stopped.

Leaders and influencers react to Donald Trump pulling U.S. from the Paris Climate AgreementNewsweek

If only Theresa May was not so limp, so devoid of the reach and imagination required for global leadership, she would see there is the possibility of a new world order formula developing that would be good for her and good for the country she seeks to lead.

3M > T is how I would begin to explain it. Namely if Europe had the 3Ms of May, Merkel and Macron working in unison they would be more than a match for the dangerous madness that T for Trump is bringing to our world.

If we wanted to cast the formula a little wider we could perhaps develop this to 4M + X > T + P. For on some issues we may find we have greater common cause with Modi of India and Xi of China, and less with the Trump-Putin alliance for which the word unholy is not big enough to capture its ghastliness, and who share a desire, Trump for reasons of ego, Putin to serve the reassertion of Russian power, to weaken the EU.

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Just how far Mrs May is from seeing this, let alone seizing its opportunities, can be told in a tale of two hands and a tale of two reactions to Trump's latest madness, born of his narcissism being more of a driver for him than the survival of the world.

Make Our Planet Great Again, says Macron, a neat, cutting twist on Trump's claim that he is merely delivering on his election promises, and leaving no doubt where the breath-of-fresh-air French President stands. Mrs May, who could have used the Trump announcement as a moment of real leadership and injected a bit of much needed life into her lifeless campaign, instead had a spokesman say she was 'disappointed.' Take that Donald.

As for the tale of two hands, one belonged to the young Macron, aware that Trump sees the handshake as a potent symbol of mano a mano power playing. Macron, a talented musician, used his piano-honed finger strength to make sure the man almost twice his age realised not to mess with him.

Mrs May, on the other hand so to speak, allowed hers to be taken by Trump as she was walked into the Rose Garden for a display of sycophancy to him almost as supine as that of the Cabinet to her in their support of her suicidal hard Brexit. Mrs May offered Trump a State visit. Macron has barely arrived and is already offering both lessons in leadership.

Climate change. Perhaps the biggest crisis facing the world. Yet even with Trump pulling out of the Paris Accord, it has barely figured in what must surely be the most wretched and dispiriting election campaign in our history. When it was raised in the May-less leaders' debate on TV, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas pointed out she had been trying for weeks to get this on the agenda. Without success. President Macron meanwhile appointed one of his most talented ministers to the environment brief and declared the climate crisis top priority.

This is what is most depressing about our election campaign. There are so many big challenges of the future yet we are seeing a battle between two competing visions of the past, May wishing to create a 1950s Little England which turns its back on the world, Jeremy Corbyn with a very traditional tax and spend platform and views that have barely adapted to change since he first entered politics. But where have the arguments been not just about climate change but the impact of technology on jobs, artificial intelligence, what kind of economy the UK and the world should have in the future, how public services will have to reform in the face of enormous demographic change?

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And even Brexit - in fact especially Brexit - is like a gigantic elephant in the election room. Everyone says this election is about Brexit. But nobody wants to talk about it. In The New European today Labour Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer says he has been surprised how little Brexit comes up on the doorstep. That is hardly surprising given how little the politicians are talking about it on air. For May and her Brexit minister David Davis we are not a jot further forward in understanding what post Brexit Britain will be like. For Jeremy Corbyn the approach seems to be anything but Brexit on the agenda.

Mrs May talks the talk on facing up to difficult decisions for the future and tried to do so on social care only to be defeated by utter incompetence in political management, forcing her to becoming the first leader in history to junk a centrepiece manifesto policy before the vote on it had even take place.

But what we are seeing is a joint runaway from the big questions of the future and a retreat into polices and arguments of the past, all creating the sense this is a country moving back not forward, appreciated as much for his tradition and history as for any role we might play in shaping the new world that is being forged.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump walk along The Colonnade of the West Wing at The White House on January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC.Getty Images

Compare and contrast once more Macron's campaign. When he had trade unionists protesting against him on a visit, whipped up by Marine Le Pen, he went out and argued with them for two hours until at least he got his point over. Not for him the preaching to the converted approach that seems to define our campaigns. When he seemed to be losing support both to the hard left of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the hard right of Le Pen over his support for the EU and for decent liberal values, instead of retreating in the face of glib uncosted solutions to problems or the language and rhetoric of hate, he strode out into the hate and the glibness, argued against them with passion and belief and an understanding of where a better future lay, and he was rewarded for his courage.

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We saw the same with Angela Merkel in her handling of the refugee crisis. She knew how difficult it was and how unpopular it would make her in some quarters. She knew the rise of of the populist right was a real threat. But she stuck to what she believed to be right and she too is likely to be rewarded for her real leadership and convictions when she faces the electorate in September.

As Mrs May's campaign stutters from one mis-step to the next I wonder if it has crossed her mind that the real difficulty the public are having with her, or with her stand in Amber Rudd, is that they don't know what to make of someone who can glide so seemingly effortlessly from one side of an argument to another. The soft Remainers turned hard Brexiteers on steroids make people fear they actually stand for nothing.

So now, having called an election she was sure would give her a landslide because Labour was thought to be so weak, she has opened the door to the possibility that Jeremy Corbyn, considered unelectable by so many, could yet be Prime Minister. If he could find a way in these coming days of showing he really understands the challenges of the future, and can escape the politics of the past, he has a chance. And he has Mrs May to thank for it.

Meanwhile as Trump prepares for his next act of disruption, Putin smiling on as he does so, we should lament our declining strength and significance to the world, alas self inflicted, and hope that the two Ms of Macron and Merkel continue to provide proper leadership, rooted in proper values, on the big issues of the day.

Neither will have it easy. Winning a fourth term would be an extraordinary achievement for Merkel. And France is a serially difficult country to govern, its people forever voting for change and then rebelling when they are confronted with the change in practice.

The one thing we know about Merkel already is that she knows who she is and what she stands for, and works effectively and consensually for change she believes in. And the one thing becoming clear about Macron, even in these early stages of his Presidency, is that he has guts by the bucketload to go with the charisma and the energy so lacking in our own M.

As Trump and Putin do their worst, thank God that at least two Ms are there to stand up for what they, and so many others in most of the countries of the world, believe in.


Alastair Campbell is a British strategist and writer, best known for his work as Director of Communications and Strategy for Prime Minister Tony Blair between 1994 and 2003. He is the author of 12 books, the latest of which is Outside Inside, his diaries from 2003-2005. He is Ambassador for mental health campaign Time to Change. Follow : @campbellclaret


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