LAST Friday, something most people thought was unimaginable happened.

I am sure I wasn’t the only one who found myself looking at George W Bush sitting in the audience at the inauguration thinking, “Who would have thought we could ever get a president worse than him?”. Yes, the day most politically conscious people feared occurred – Donald J Trump became the 45th President of the USA.

Trump wasted no time in pushing through his right-wing policies, issuing executive orders as if they were going out of fashion, among them a ban on giving federal money to international non-governmental organisations that perform or provide information about abortions.

This policy also prohibits US taxpayer funding for groups that lobby to legalise abortion or promote it as a family planning method. Unsafe abortions are a major cause of maternal mortality, killing tens of thousands of women every year. Some groups, such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation, have said they will ignore the gag rule imposed by Trump, potentially losing up to $100 million they get from the US.

Trump was surrounded by men as he signed off this executive order affecting women’s rights, just one day after the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v Wade decision that legalised abortion in the US. Many US activists fear that precedent may now be under threat.

It was summed up by Martin Belam who tweeted: “As long as you live, you’ll never see a photograph of seven women signing legislation about what men can do with their reproductive organs”.

Trump’s gagging orders didn’t just stop at abortion advice. He has also tried to ban many US scientific organisations – from NASA to the National Parks – from making any public statements, especially via online resources such as Twitter.

This is incredibly rich given that Trump himself is a prolific tweeter on all matters of policy. It seems that he regards scientific evidence that disagrees with his view of the world as a threat to his reputation. However, this hasn’t stopped many employees from these organisations from setting up alternative Twitter feeds free from Trump’s censorship. He has also used his executive orders to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants. This has resulted in (completely accurate) accusations of xenophobia from human rights groups who fear for the safety of immigrants. They will be used as scapegoats, especially as Trump’s plan doesn’t specify that only illegal immigrants who commit crimes should be on his list. This means that even offences committed by immigrants living in the US legally could be included.

Andrew Stroehlein, Human Rights Watch’s European media director, said: “This is completely consistent with Trump’s xenophobic demonising of immigrants throughout the campaign, of course, but the idea of a public list like this – a kind of weekly hate list – is still shocking in the extreme.”

To make life even worse for immigrants and even refugees, Trump has compiled a list of countries from which the USA will not accept refugees and from where there will be greater scrutiny of any visitors. This list includes many countries which have been bombed back to the dark ages by the US, either directly by their own forces or through selling arms to some of the most despotic regimes in the planet.

Many of these countries would have preferred the US to have left them alone, and not have been devastated by bombs and proxy wars. Of course, similar countries which buy US armaments and are carrying out their own proxy wars – such as Saudi Arabia – don’t find themselves on Trump’s list. Fundamentally, if Trump wishes to see fewer refugees, then his country must stop creating them.

Then, of course, there is the wall, Trump confirming he will build one to keep Mexicans out of the US. The border between the US and Mexico is about 1,900 miles long and traverses all sorts of terrain. Trump claims his wall will cover 1,000 miles, and natural obstacles will take care of the rest. With his usual bluster, he claimed: “I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I build them very inexpensively.”

Trump expects Mexico to pay for this wall but of course it won’t, and this will lead to a trade war between the countries.

Trump’s administration may well soon find difficulties dealing with America’s international policies, especially as it has been reported that the senior management of the State Department (which oversees embassies and foreign affairs) has resigned en masse.

International politics will be interesting under Trump – as long as he stays away from the nuclear launch codes. He has an inflated view of himself and seems to believe those who don’t agree with him are conspiring against him.

The US seems to have a petulant President acting like a five-year-old throwing a strop when you don’t follow his wishes. You only have to look at his reaction to the turnout at his inauguration and the fact he sent his press secretary to lie to the media about the number of people there.

I would be the first to say there are many issues within the media, just as there are in politics. Some of the behaviour we see from both is appalling at times. But this is part of the deal – each works as a mechanism of checks and balances for the other. The media must be allowed to scrutinise but politics must legislate to make sure that scrutiny is legal, ethical, fair and factual. I was part of the first protest outside the BBC offices in Glasgow, to show my feelings on the quality and fairness – or unfairness – of their reporting during the independence campaign in 2014.

However, what Trump and his team are doing is not openly criticising the media in a genuine, factual and constructive way. Instead, he is demonising anyone who dares to look for greater detail or to investigate his policy plans in any shape or form.

In doing so, he is essentially threatening one of the few avenues by which politicians can be scrutinised and the people can become informed.

His team has moved from post-truth politics to using the phrase “alternative facts”. This would be laughable if the man didn’t now occupy one of the most powerful and influential offices in the world.

We can argue over opinions, we can even argue over alternative interpretations of facts, but you cannot have alternative truths. A fact is a fact and anything else is simply a lie, and a dangerous one at that.