Donald Trump is probably the most divisive American President there has ever been, and when he visited the UK summer 2018, he was welcomed by thousands of protesters in London—as well as a six meter high inflatable depiction of the President as a wailing baby, flying high over Westminster.
At the time Nigel Farage called this act ‘’the biggest ever insult to a sitting president’’. One of Trump Baby’s co-founders, Max Wakefield, said Donald Trump is one of the worlds biggest bullies and you have to stand up to bullies, and good old fashioned British humour is one such method.
Trump Baby was born from a successful crowd funding campaign and has now appeared at numerous protests around the world. Listen in as Max reveals the story behind the birth of the big orange baby.
“The first night I was woken up at 5 o’clock in the morning to riot police charging in. It was the first time I’d seen violence, and the sound of it I still remember—people being bashed with sticks and kicked and thrown on the ground.”
Max started out as an activist at an early age with his concerns about climate change as the phenomenon made its way into the public spotlight. He attended the Climate Camp Movement, an organization that brought together 1-2 thousand people together to shut down new coal station in 2008. Police were on scene with a Section 60 in place to search without due process, and even raided the protester’s camp. It was a formative experience for Max, showing him what was at stake and the lengths authorities will go to quell dissent.
With questions swirling around about what could be done to help stymie climate change, Max works with [10:10] Climate Action, an organization set to give people actions to take on personal, community, and government level scales. Only a broad reaching scope of action will help the world move at the pace needed to combat climate change—so finding ways to inspire and motivate action has been on Max’s mind for years. Enter the Trump Baby Balloon.
“You’re never going to satisfy everyone with your tactics and that’s why a diversity of tactics is always needed.”
You can’t engage Trump in moral critique, because he has no moral compass. You can’t engage him in evidential debate, because he doesn’t believe in facts. The only way to get to Trump is to attack his ego and self-image—which is how the idea of the Trump baby was born. Max tips his hat to Leo Murray, a relentlessly creative campaigner and friend who first came up with the Trump Baby idea. After finalizing the design for the balloon, a successful crowd funding campaign was launched to create the balloon—a project that was completed ahead of Donald Trump’s visit to the UK by several months.
The delay of Trump’s visit coupled with being denied permission to fly actually aided in coverage of the balloon, and when the team finally received permission the media coverage snowballed on an international scale. The balloon now stands as a world-wide icon of America’s controversial figurehead and the project has been replicated across the globe—a decision that ultimately led to the original team giving away creative control of their figurative and literal baby. However, releasing the idea into the world shows just many people out there are willing to stand up for what they believe in public arenas, something that undoubtedly makes Max quite proud.
After a world tour that includes France and Buenos Aires, Max hopes that the Trump Baby will find its final resting place in the Museum of London, where all can come to enjoy its inconsolable grimace and what the balloon stands for.
Your London Legacy – The London Podcast