Is this the most pointless ‘protest’ ever undertaken?
The long-awaited first visit to the UK of Donald Trump as US President last month was overshadowed - quite literally - by the ‘Trump baby’, an inflatable ‘blimp’ which flew in Parliament Square before following him up to Scotland.
The six-metre inflatable was made after crowdfunding raised £16,000 with London mayor Sadiq Khan approving it to ‘fly’.
In the end, the ‘blimp’ was pretty underwhelming, and seemed scarcely believable that it would have actually required any official permissions from anyone, given that it barely got off the ground. Nonetheless, the #trumpbaby dominated headlines, and even reached Trump himself, with the president admitting that it made him feel “unwelcome” - which was, of course, exactly the point.
The blimp has since attracted attention in the States, where several more are being crowdfunded, while the original is set to make a trip over at some stage.
But now comes a response.
28-year-old marketing manager and “free speech advocate” Yanny Bruere has announced that his campaign to fly an inflatable blimp of Sadiq Khan has been successful, and will see his creation fly in Parliament Square this Saturday (1 September) after it was given permission from the mayor’s office.
The crowdfunding campaign has raised £60,000 from 3,400 people with Bruere saying that the aim is to ensure Khan loses his job at the next mayoral election in 2020.
The page reads: “Under Sadiq Khan, we have seen crime sky rocket to unprecedented levels. People in London don’t feel safe and they aren’t safe, 81 murders this year alone! Khan Out.”
However, Bruere also told the Mail: “I was just so irritated that Mr Khan took it upon himself to speak on behalf of the UK over the President’s visit.
“Whatever anyone thinks of Mr Trump, he is still leader of the free world and should be accorded the respect of that position, especially at such a critical time for the UK as we face separation from the EU.
“It feels like the Mayor of London prioritises personal enmity over the good of the country.”
The blimp sees Khan dressed in a yellow bikini, apparently a reference to a decision he made early on in his time as mayor when he banned adverts for a company asking “Are you beach body ready?” which were criticised for promoting an unhealthy body image.
Bruere said: “It’s ridiculous that he talked about the importance of freedom of speech when he gave permission for London to insult the President of the United States while imposing censorship himself upon the lives of ordinary Londoners.
“He would never have given permission for that balloon if it ridiculed Barack Obama.
“It feels like freedom of speech only applies if you have views deemed acceptable by our governing bodies.
“That’s what I wanted to put to the test, as well as providing a voice for those in despair at the crime statistics in the capital since Khan took charge.
“But he couldn’t really turn this down when he’d made such a big deal of Trump.”
A few things, though.
Firstly, there is no suggestion that Khan had any intention of turning down the request - and when Bruere tweeted ’@SadiqKhan had no choice in the end’, well, that’s just a pointless thing to say. Mr Khan’s spokesman said at the time of the Trump Baby, “The mayor supports the right to peaceful protest and understands that this can take many different forms,” so there would be no reason why he would ban the Khan blimp.
Secondly, what has the decision to ban an advert - a decision that most people agreed with, given that it attracted complaints from the public and an enquiry by the Advertising Standards Authority into whether it was offensive, and a move that was a Khan campaign pledge - got to do with anything? It happened two years ago - if Bruere was that bothered, why didn’t he protest then?
Thirdly, if he wants to stop Khan winning in 2020, well, why protest now, when any vote is two years away? Besides which, Khan may not even stand.
Fourthly, Khan actually looks quite cool. They’ve captured his hair really nicely. He pulls off the bikini look well.
If they really wanted to make a difference they could have donated that £60,000 to knife crime charities.