Less than 24 hours after the United States (US) imposed visa restrictions on some individuals aimed at deepening democratic practices in Nigeria, a former United Kingdom (UK) Ambassador in Washington, Kim Darroch, says the Americans must look inwards to avert looming violence in their forthcoming November 3, 2020 presidential election.
According to Darroch, there is a ‘genuine risk’ of violence in the aftermath of a close-run American poll between President Donald Trump of Republican Party and his Democratic Party rival, Joe Biden.
He warned that the crescendo of violence continues to loom large as November vote draws near, especially given rising stakes of a possible close and disputed election in many states.
Addressing the risk of violence on American streets, Darroch said: “I think it’s there. All of us have watched Portland and Kenosha, and it feels like a genuine risk. That 17-year-old who shot the demonstrators and the reaction in alt-right circles is really scary.”
Darroch resigned as ambassador to the US in July last year, after his reporting on the early stages of the Trump era was leaked to the press, in which he highlighted the turmoil inside the administration.
The UK Diplomat expressed concerns about postal voting playing a big part in the exercise, noting that “It’s probably much closer on the ground to the battleground states, and it seems from the polls,”
Darroch said though Joe Biden is maintaining a significant lead nationwide, the margins in some battleground states are shrinking, even as he suggested pollsters could be systematically under counting Donald Trump’s supporters.
With the election just 50 days away, the former UK Envoy said both sides see the contest as an ‘existential struggle’, noting that; “If Biden wins, there is a question whether the Trump base will really support or accept that as the outcome.”
“Equally, if it looks like postal votes have been under counted or there is serious voter suppression you worry about the other side of the argument,” he added.
Darroch said; “It feels very volatile. Whoever wins, you just hope that people will accept the result and take it calmly, though I couldn’t say I’m certain that will be the case.”
Pointing to the recent violence in Portland, Oregon, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the wake of police shooting of unarmed Black Americans, Darroch further said in an interview that the case of Kyle Rittenhous; a fervent police supporter facing homicide charges after a shooting incident in Kenosha that left two people dead; and a third seriously injured are all worrying signals that violence is in the air.
The former Ambassador, now Lord Darroch of Kew, also pointed to the threat of a repeat of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
However, he is sceptical about suspicions that Vladimir Putin has a secret source of leverage on Trump.
“For me, the likeliest theory is that [the Kremlin] really didn’t want Hillary Clinton as president: anyone but her. They knew her well from her time as secretary of state and hadn’t liked what they had seen,” the former ambassador said.
“In part, [they intervened] because they could. Putin’s formative years had been in the KGB. He knew what they could do, and believed in using their skills and capabilities. Once a KGB man, always a KGB man.”
Darroch stressed the threat posed by persistent malign Russian influence in western societies.
“If systematically repeated in future elections around the world, it might discredit democracy for a generation,” he said. – Additional reports from The Guardian