Does Ukip know or even understand the difference between political correctness and basic manners?

Posted 20 Dec 2014 by Walaa Idris

Even though I am not a supporter or sympathizer of the UK Independent Party, I am quite impressed by their recent ascend in politics. Looking at their poll ratings, it appears they command the support of a good number of people across all political divide nationwide. Most of who are people tired of political correctness, tip toeing around sensitive issues and bored by the traditional way of doing politics. Of course there are some outcasts who couldn’t fit anywhere and made Ukip their home for now.

However, as someone who thinks political correctness (PC) is disingenuous and is actually suffocating many politicians and masking a lot of their greatness, I think recently Ukip showed they don’t quite understand the difference between being PC and basic decorum, and that is very concerning.

Up to the recent case of Kerry Smith, Ukip did what most political parties would do when a prominent member of their party caused offense to a group of people, and just sacked the offender.

But, not this time. In the case of Kerry Smith, their former parliamentary candidate in Basildon South, the Ukip leader took to the airwaves to defend him. He told LBC radio listeners; “I’m a bit sad, because Kerry Smith is a rough diamond. He’s a council house boy from the East End of London, left school early and talks and speaks in a way that a lot of people from that background do.” Then added – “I feel a bit sorry for Kerry Smith, because I think he’s a genuine fellow.” As if that wasn’t shocking enough he went on to criticise what he called the metropolitan snobbery against people from outside the capital using “colloquial” language.

Besides alienating the gay community, women, most of the black and ethnic community, not to mention anyone who was not born on these shores, now Ukip insulted the Chinese community. We all know there are people who use unsavoury disrespectful language in private and amongst friends, but to come on national radio and defend someone whom you just sacked from representing your party (because they are unfit to represent you) is pure madness.

In this whole episode, what I find dangerously alarming is the lack of understanding, by a party leader, and the man positioning himself to become the next Kingmaker, of the difference between political correctness and basic civility.


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Breastfeeding is healthy, both nutritionally and psychologically, and Nigel Farage is right.

Posted 6 Dec 2014 by Walaa Idris

We know breastfeeding is best for babies. As a mother I nursed both my daughters for six months each. I did it out of belief and conviction that it was the best thing for them heath wise. Breastfeeding boosts babies’ immunity system and strengthens the bond between them and their mothers, plus it’s safe, hygienic and easy.

A natural thing; breastfeeding requires little work and comes easy to most mothers. But it is a private affair, or so it should be. I understand many women have little issues with showing flesh in public, and with the likes of page three and women of all ages walking around half naked, many might be desensitised to exposed breasts. But still some people feel uneasy and nursing still remains and should be a private time between mother and child.

Here is where Farage is right. Nursing mothers should be allowed to feed their babies publicly but it should be done tastefully, discreetly and by agreement.

Most people have no problem knowing if a mother is nursing her chid, but they don’t want to see it happening — just as those mothers who want to nurse publicly ‘have the right to do so’ those who don’t want an exposed breast with a baby suckling on it forced on them, also have the right to not have to see it. Public establishment also have rights, they have the right to decide how to run their business and the freedom to allow mothers to nurse publicly or not.

Rights and freedoms work both ways.

And no, it is not a case of avert your eyes if you don’t want to see, it’s more a matter of respect. Respect for ones’ own self and respect to others and their feelings. Surely that’s a good thing?

Listening to Farage’s LBC radio clip that was exactly what he meant before the media hijacked his comment and turned it into something else.


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Sayeeda Warsi's ill-timed remark will hinder and not help the Palestinian cause.

Posted 19 Nov 2014 by Walaa Idris

Brutally murdering people, particularly while they are praying can never ever be justified no matter what the reasoning for it. What happened yesterday to the worshippers’ of the Jerusalem synagogue is appalling and can never be condoned.

So when Baroness Warsi, the former Foreign Office minister, made a parallel, on reactions and media coverage, between the synagogue killing and the protestors at the holly Al-Aqsa Mosque (one of the holiest sites in Islam) I sensed trouble brewing. And though I wasn’t surprised by her comment, as I understood her comparison and what she was alluding to. But sadly her timing was wrong. As a Muslim who lives in the west, and someone who does not condone aggression, I believe the Palestinian issue can never be resolved by violence and that’s why her comment was ill-timed and tasteless.

Yes, what happened to the Al-Aqsa protestors for days was quietly ignored by western media and commentators. And yes the west is very prejudiced when it comes to all things Israel. But, nonetheless there is a time and a place for everything, and yesterday’s event was neither.

Furthermore, if a few months ago, we criticised Israel for their disproportionate response in Gaza, we can’t possibly think murdering innocent people in a worshipping place is ‘proportionate’ to not receiving enough media coverage or even being frustrated by the amount of attention and interest the issue derives!

As a sympathiser to the Palestinian cause, I see, feel and hear these injustices daily, but rather than agitate opinions, I prefer to slowly change them — as they did during the Gaza bombing a few month ago. Also this way those looking for a reason to paint Palestinian supporters as terror sympathisers don’t get their wish. The West, Israel and their allies are stronger, better financed and more established. Exposing and helping others to see the injustices inflicted on occupied Palestine is a slow and long process and needs both time and patience to achieve it.

Palestine must continue to exist and grow side by side with Israel. Her people must be given back their occupied land. But all of that can only be realized by peacefully exposing the injustices of the occupier, not by offering them and their propaganda masters a way out.

What Sayeeda did is counterproductive. Because now instead of talking about significant issues, such as condemning the Israeli government for their recent heavy handed senseless punishment of demolishing the homes of suspects, she will spent the next coming days explaining what she said and didn’t mean. Thus wasting valuable opportune time to question how is demolishing a flat on the third floor of an apartment complex not pure hateful madness?

Baroness Warsi might not hold a government office but whatever she says still holds weight, even if was negative.


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Budweiser Sweetface Idris-Yousif, April 22nd 2002 – November 10th 2014

Posted 18 Nov 2014 by Walaa Idris

I miss you and our non-verbal conversations. Things like ‘I want to go walkies now’ when you do a downward facing dog stretch and give me that ‘we go!?’ look. Or when you see I’m going shopping (the shopping bags usually give me away) and you give me that ‘can I come and stay in the car’ head tilt, or when you know I am going to be out for longer than an hour and you jump in my bed for a snuggle and a long nap, before I even close the front door.

For twelve years Buddy was a big part of our lives and I desperately miss him.
In April 2002, my eldest, who just became a teenager, announced she wants a dog. My whole family are animal lovers and growing up we always had a pet — actually I don’t remember a time when we didn’t have a house pet. So naturally I did the same with my girls. By that time, but not at the same time, my daughters had fish, a couple of birds, a pair of Albino rats (who within weeks became 18 then 28 — which I have to say was a very practical lesson in sex education) and of course Rachel Karen Green the mad hamster.

So when my eldest ‘dramatically’ told me her life is incomplete without a dog, I knew it was time to graduate the girls to a bigger animal and more responsibilities. To be honest (even though I had cats before) I was relieved she said dog and not cat — the idea of a litterbox in a flat with heating in the winter was not exciting at all.

It didn’t take much to convince them it’s better to give a home to a homeless dog rather than buy a new puppy. We did our research and settled on a Jack Russell for a breed; both the size and temperaments suited our family. So we went to Battersea Dogs and Cats home.

At the home, after the initial interview and filling the necessary adoption papers, we were shown Mia, a black bitch who was very timid, not eager to engage and spent the whole assessment time under the table shaking. Sadly we had to say no to her, as she clearly was traumatised and I wasn’t sure the girls were ready for that. Next we met Buddy who attempted to escape the room by jumping at the door handle. From the second he walked in he won our hearts. He was cheeky, flirty and happy, and we all instantly fell in love with him. He was just a lovely, lovely dog. So delightful, I kept thinking to myself how is he homeless?

On the journey home, we went over duties and the ground rules one more time — just to make sure we’re all on the same page – and agreed on the following:
1) The girls arethe main carers and I will help with everything particularly major stuff such as vet visits.
2) Buddy will only sleep in his bed and will not be allowed in any of our beds.
3) He will not be given peoples’ food, especially when we are at the table.
4) His basket will stay in the living room and that will become ‘his main room’ but of course he is free to go everywhere in the house.
5) And finally, he will be rewarded ONLY with dog treats.

Ten minutes later we were home, I opened the front door and Buddy charged right in, investigating each room in the house, he stopped at my room, went in and jumped in the bed. Then looked at us as if to say ‘come on jump in, there is room for everyone’!

That was the first rule break and the rest quickly followed.

It didn’t take long for my bed to become his daytime nap corner. And even though he never slept with me in it, he was always in my bed. He took all his naps and stayed in my bed more than in his until very recently, when it became too difficult for him to jump on it.

That wasn’t all. On the same day the first rule was broken, Buddy broke a second rule. That evening, at the dinner table he begged and begged and begged until we gave in to him, some did it out of pity and the rest did it just to shut him up.

Hate to admit it, but in a little under two weeks all the rules were broken.

From the start he preferred walking with me and that quickly became the norm, two weeks after adopting him the girls announced they can’t balance their Buddy duties with school and after school activities – and they had a point. So within a fortnight from adopting him, Buddy became my full responsibility and I became his sole carer.

When we picked Buddy, we had no idea how old he really was, nor were we clear on how he became homeless. Battersea was vague on both, but it was expected. Most animals at the home were abandoned by their owners. So we decided to make our own history and had twelve incredible years of love, fun and making beautiful memories.

First we officially renamed him Budweiser Sweetface Idris-Yousif. Budweiser because he was a very wise buddy and Sweetface, speaks for itself – - look at that sweet lovely face! The vet estimated (looking at his teeth) that he was about 2 years old and not as advertised 6 to 18 months old. I honestly didn’t care what age he was, and was just delighted he was healthy and all of us were adjusting well to each other.

Like most healthy energetic dogs, he was inquisitive, said hello to every dog specially the smaller breeds, enjoyed meeting people and lapped up all the attention they give him. He immensely loved his walks and his daily routine. In time we became almost inseparable. He was extremely sensitive and hated being left on his own for long periods, anything over two hours and he would cry. With the exception of my eldest daughter, he would cry even if there was someone else with him in the house –– so it’s a good thing I mostly work from home.

But unlike most dogs, Buddy hardly barked, did not like dogs’ paraphernalia and playing with dog toys, and he hated dog treats. He would not fetch a ball (he might catch a stick but don’t hold your breath), will never ever drink from a puddle or a creek only from his bowl and loved all human food – as long as it’s not spicy and he adored all things chicken. The smell and presence of chicken drove him insane with joy. He was a beggar of the worst kind, relentless and stubborn and never gave up. He hated dog chews and looked at them with disgust but loved raw carrots and Granny Smith apples – the cruncher the better. He was a very private dog. When out, he would cock his leg and do a number one anywhere but always looked for a tucked away semi-private place to do a number two. He loved hugs and cuddles and was mad for belly rubs. Throughout his live he was not a sickly dog and was never ill until eighteen months ago when we discovered he was born with a defective heart and though the years that damaged his liver.

No one will believe this but Buddy loved EastEnders and knew when it was on. At first we thought as a dog he was just a creature of habit and since the show aired more or less around the same time he liked hanging out with us at that time. After getting Sky+ we began recording and watching the show at different times and he would come when he hears the theme tune, how bizarre!

I know everyone thinks their kid is cleverer than other kids, the same with dog owners we all think our dog is the best and cleverest, but Buddy was very clever. He always knew when not to ask to come with me, knew when I had a bad day or something was the matter. The first time he went to my parents’ house after my dad passed away, he spent the whole visit looking for him in every room, and when he was convinced dad wasn’t there he sat watching the front door waiting for him and did not want to leave before he came – he did that for two month. My dad was the person who looked after him whenever I travelled or was out of town – and they developed their own special bond.

Buddy was a singer and enjoyed howling (though I never quite worked out if it was singing or crying). But I am glad we have many videos of him singing his heart out. His singing wasn’t too shabby either and won him second place in the borough dogs’ talent show – he was beat to second place by the late Baroness Ritchie’s singing dog.

When we used to walk in Kensington Park, we gave each path its name, The Albert Memorial path (you can guess where that is), Bike Road, Tourists Way, Ducks Road by the pond and Buddy’s favourite trail Squirrel Lane where the Jack Russell in him comes to life. He would chase the poor creatures and in occasions he would even catch one.

I can fill pages and pages with his antics and cheek. Those of you who meet him understand why he left such a big gap in my life. Many advised me to get another dog and give them my love and attention. But I won’t for some time. People think I rescued Buddy from homelessness but what they don’t know is he saved form depression, disperse and who knows what else. Walking and talking (yes I did talk to him) was what helped me get though losing my home, a business, my father, and helped me endure many personal pains that could have had a bigger negative impact on my life. Walking with him daily is what kept me sane when all around me was pure madness – he helped me be a better mother to my girls and a stronger daughter and sister when my dad passed away.

Who knows in a few years I might be ready for another dog but for now I will mourn, remember and give Buddy the respect he deserves.

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Labourites are literally cannibalizing themselves.

Posted 13 Nov 2014 by Walaa Idris

Lately it seems, the One Nation, man of the people Edward Samuel Miliband is not a popular fella — it appears, inside and outside the Labour party he has zero zero appeal and not many like him.

Personally, I never cared about how he ate a bacon sandwich, or that he looks like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit, nor did I care that his jawline wasn’t chiselled enough. Putting party politics to one side, my only issue with Ed Miliband is his disloyalty to his own family, and betraying to his own brother.

To some that might seem like a personal matter between the two brothers, so why do I care? But to me it is not. As someone who highly value loyalty, especially family loyalty, any person who does what Miliband did to his own flesh and blood and his only brother cannot be trusted, because family is extremely important. Having your brother’s back to some might be an old fashion notion, but it’s the simplest honesty test known to man.

So, how can anyone trust someone who stabs his own brother in the back?

And since we’re talking about loyalty, party loyalty is also important — otherwise why pay a fee and become a member? And it is here where Labourites (particularly those behind the latest coup attempt) need to take a long hard look in the mirror. They too are disloyal, and at this stage in the parliamentary cycle, are self-harming behind the pretext of saving the party and serving the public — when we all know it’s neither, and it’s all done for personal gain and gratification.

I am neither a Labour sympathizer nor a Miliband fan. Yet think all Labourites, until the May election, should at least support and respect him at every given opportunity. He is their leader, and from the looks of things the only leader they’ll have this parliament. And despite everything else, the unions’ influence on his election, standing against his own brother and folks making fun of him — Ed Miliband is the person people see when they think Labour. So why should those outside the party respect him when his own comrades don’t? To be taken seriously outside Labour, Miliband needs to be taken seriously inside it, not shredded to pieces by his own people.

Labour is not dissimilar to other parties in that it has it’s a hard left and a soft left. All parties have a hard and a soft side to their central message. But what Labour needs to understand, those of us on the outside, don’t care if someone is a Brownite or a Blairite, we only see them as Labour. That’s why the sooner they get over whatever disappointment they feel about Miliband’s election and personal appeal the better it is for them. Their attitude should be that of what’s done is done and move on. They should carry on with the business of getting elected, articulate and sell their massage, not tear chunks off their leader six month before a general election.



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What is Ukip?

Posted 31 Oct 2014 by Walaa Idris

Apart from Nigel Farage and what they tell and want us to think and believe, what is Ukip? And what besides leaving the EU and stopping immigration does it stand for? What’s their record in government? These are some of the questions that come to mind whenever I hear journos and politicos debate the organization’s rise and sudden prominence in the polls. And I can’t help but wonder how is mocking and belittling the EU instead of standing- up for it, is going to help and safeguard the UK and UK interests?

To date, they control zero councils. That makes it even more challenging for voters to judge them on their record. How can anyone assess an organization on something it never achieved? That too adds to the challenge, because it becomes impossible to establish how they manage public money, plan spending, organize and run communities. All of that leaves voters unfamiliar with their ability of handling those things that matter to the public.

A few weeks ago they won their first parliamentary seat. But it can be argued the Member of Parliament held the seat predominantly on his own personal popularity. Their MEPs are notorious for not attending debates and hardly vote on any issue, including serious matters such as saving the UK’s money from the grubby fingers of the EU. So how can anyone judge what Ukip is?

In the European Parliament, when they attend, they use every given opportunity to make a show. Even at the cost of their own self-respect, such as refusing to stand or turn their backs when the EU anthem is performed. Or their leader publicly asking Mr Van Rompuy “Who are you Mr President, I never heard of you…” and similar media stunts. They are great at no substance attention seeking gimmicks, yet offer no concrete coherent solutions or hold the very organisation they vehemently despise to account on any matter that benefits the UK and those who elected them to represent them and speak on their behalf.

Just as Farage asked Van Rompuy who are you, British voters want to know what Ukip is and it has done for Britain?

I know, at this stage of the electoral cycle every party is saving exciting policies for later, hoping to score big with their announcement. But with the general election only six month away, at least the basic skeleton of the organization’s policies on taxes, the NHS, education, housing, transport and crime should by this stage be known. The public should, and have the right to at least have an idea where the organization stands on the basics.

Everybody knows perfectly well they are for the UK completely coming out of the EU. Yet, we were never once told how they plan to go about it. Will we come out via a democratic referendum – where the voting public cast their vote for or against our membership in the European Union? Will the public have a say on the type of relationship they want, whether fully pull out, fully staying in or negotiate a new relationship different to what we currently have? Because last I checked not every Brit wants the same relationship with the EU and a huge percentage don’t even know what affiliation they prefer. Those undecided, are looking for someone to persuade them one way or the other.

So, how will a Ukip government or coalition manage the EU issue?

Does anyone know? Because, though I clearly know they wants us out of the union, I have no idea how they plan to go about doing it.

The same with immigration, do they want control orders, closed boarders, limits on some immigrants not on others? Plus what will they do about illegal immigrants currently inside the UK? Until the EU question is settled, how will they control immigration from inside the EU? Especially if they don’t respect and hardly communicate with any decision makers in Brussels!

Don’t get me wrong, I respect their patriotism, and how they love and jealously guard and regard our country. But childishly turning your back on what you don’t like is akin to accepting a dinner invite, then openly spit in the food because you don’t approve or like the host. It’s disrespectful to everyone – the host, the guests, and the offender and to the people he/she represents. It definitely does not ‘win friends and influence people’ and leaves a negative connotation. In short, such juvenile behaviors are bad all around. They are bad for business, for collaboration and for basic civilities.

So, does anyone actually know what Ukip is? I am still trying to work it out – what about you?

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Recognising Palestinians' right to statehood is small yet symbolically important

Posted 14 Oct 2014 by Walaa Idris

It was truly heartening to listen to MP after MP from every political hue, on both sides of the house defend Palestinians’ right to statehood – and it’s about time too.

I always believed Israel was its own worst enemy. And never doubted that sooner or late it was going to overdo the “we’re protecting and defending ourselves” reasoning and it was all going to backfire. And it did. This summer for the first time I watched as commentator after commentator, politician after politician and nations after nation stand up for Palestinians while condemn Israel for overzealously bombing and slaughtering innocent men, women and children in the Gaza strip.

For years, most of the west watched quietly while Israel inch by inch, illegally took land that doesn’t belong to it. Wrongly built settlements they had no right to build. Subjugate the very people they have a duty of care towards. All under the banner of ‘it’s protecting its land’. Not the land it was given by the United Nation and Britain but the land it grabbed afterwards.

It is wrong, unjust and inhumane.

Last night British MPs overwhelmingly by a majority of 262 voted 274 to 12 to recognise the state of Palatine. And although that has no practical impact on British government policy and ministers, it still sends a positive signal to Palestinians. It tells them the British people support them and their right for statehood. It shows them Britons feel their struggle, understand their pain and respect their rights. All are positives with optimistic ramifications across the region.

The vote also forces the British government to act in the matter while at the same time nudges the US and other influencing nations to consider doing the same. Never underestimate the power of our Parliament and don’t for one second think the rest of the world wasn’t watching history being made yesterday, because it was.

But most of all, yesterday’s vote says to Israel enough is enough, while at the same time moves us closer to peace in the region.

Recognising the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel is the next step, and our government now has the public’s backing to move towards achieving that goal.

I cannot end this blogpost without mentioning Richard Ottaway’s contribution, even though his was not the only heart moving insightful one but it summed beautifully what many friends of Israel feel and have been feeling for some time now.

The Rt Hon Sir Richard Ottaway is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Croydon South and the chairman of the foreign affairs select committee. He said the recent annexation of West Bank land by the Israeli government had angered him like nothing else in politics. Then added he has been a supporter of the state of Israel before he became a Tory and had close family connections with the generation that formed the Israeli state. He went on to explain that he had been a strong supporter of Israel in the six day war and subsequent conflicts because the Holocaust had a deep impact on him growing up in the wake of the Second World War.

He passionately told the house: “But looking back over the past 20 years, I realise now Israel has slowly been drifting away from world public opinion. The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life. It has made me look a fool and that is something I deeply resent.”

I felt his disappointment and as a friend of Israel, I too share his dismay. Many like us feel the same and welcome last night’s vote as a positive step in the road to a two-state solution and give us hope of future peace in the region.


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I don’t understand the intense obsession with career politicians

Posted 12 Oct 2014 by Walaa Idris

Why do we demand our politicians to have other careers besides or before politics when we expect the exact opposite from all other professions? We don’t want or need our surgeons to be or even understand anything else, nor do we care if our bus drivers can make a sandwich. It seems we highly respect professionalism in all fields except in politics.

Why is that?

Don’t get me wrong, I too want my political representative to be empathetic, speak like human beings, and understand and address issues and concerns that are important to me. But these qualities are not exclusive to ‘non-career politicians’ they are unique to people who care about others and their needs and those who genuinely want to help people – all people, regardless of who or what they are. Plus, we expect and welcome these qualities in people from every profession.

To me, a career politician is someone who made politics their life. I therefore expect them to understand all matters relating to politics, from debating to diplomacy. And I require them to have the ability to fight my corner in the national and international arenas full time. In other words he or she must be the best equipped in their field, an expert in policy-making who knows and understands all there is to fathom about the world of government. I don’t care one zilch if they were a nurse, a solider or a postman before coming into politics, but during their time in office, I very much expect them to understand and know all there is to know about the country and its affairs.

But isn’t that what we elect our politicians for?

So why would anyone want an amateur politician? Why would anyone not want a career politician? If by that we mean people who haven’t had experiences outside Westminster, then we should address diversity of experience and call it that. However, is it important to have outside experiences when you can hire the best experts in any field to give you the best counsel? Maybe yesterday’s politicians needed to be jacks of all trades, but not today.

Today there are experts for hire in every field and they come in all political shades.

All politics needs nowadays is someone who can get the job done, a man or woman with an aptitude to read situations correctly, act on them swiftly and have at his or her fingertips the advice of the best experts in their discipline.

To have someone like Nigel Farage preach against political careerism is laughable. Besides his stint in the City, the only difference between him and the other three leaders – David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband – is that they went to university and he didn’t. Cameron and Clegg quit smoking and he still does. As for the pint of beer at the ready, well, Farage is a man who likes his drink and happy for that to be his Trademark, while the others don’t – big fat deal.

Nigel Farage is as much an ordinary man as I am a white, blond, blue-eyed bombshell.

We don’t ask or expect our physicians to understand plumbing. We don’t care if our pilots can boil an egg, and all we want from our teachers is the ability to educate our children and do it safely and efficiently. Yet when it comes to our Members of Parliament we want them to do everything, pay them a pittance to do it and disrespect them at every given opportunity.

Dedication to a career is respected and applauded in every profession and it should be in politics too. Particularly as politicians are the ones who decide what taxes we pay, the level of healthcare we receive, the type of education future generations get, what direction the economy takes, what houses to build and where to build them, when to go to war These are life-changing, life-determining matters. I don’t know about you but I expect a professional career politician who knows his stuff to sort it all out on my behalf.


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Miliband, his team and their collective incompetence.

Posted 25 Sep 2014 by Walaa Idris

You know the saying ‘behind every great man there is a great woman’? It might be an old fashioned way of giving women, particularly wives, some kudos. But to me it says most great people have someone or some people behind the scenes making them look great and perform well. That applies to everyone in the limelight and frontline, public facing professions.

More so in politics, particularly for party leaders: they might be charismatic and great orators, but that only works as far as attracting people’s attention. Carving out and delivering a good message, saying the right thing at the right time, anticipating questions and having the right responses at hand – and that being ready, unflustered, unrehearsed and spontaneous – all comes from having a well-oiled operation behind the scenes. These people are busy as bees gathering and readying, having at hand all vital and necessary information, making sure no small detail is overlooked.

To get an idea of how, I recommend watching the TV series The West Wing – thought it’s fiction – it gives a good insight to how many men and women it takes to keep a nation’s leader in check and fully briefed on every major and minor detail.

That brings me to Labour, Miliband, his team and their lack of attention to basic details!

I get that Mr Miliband enjoys speaking from the heart and have a conversation with the public, I really get it. But this week, by the end of his conference speech it was very clear he missed or forgot to speak about immigration, the deficit and most importantly the economy. His team should have anticipated questions arising from that and readied their leader with responses. After all it was his last conference speech before the May general election. That was his platform and opportunity to tell the nation why next conference he should be addressing them as the Prime Minister. Particularly, as George Osborne – who clearly was following the speech live – immediately tweeted about Miliband forgetting to mention the economy!

This is the job of the support staff. It’s their responsibility to watch the speech and fill in the gaps for the after speech dissection. After the conference walkabout and the hand shaking, the leader of the opposition’s team should have taken him backstage before facing any media questions and prepared him on the reactions to the speech. Plus, for uniformity the same should have happen with all key members of the frontbench. But clearly that did not happen! And don’t think for a second that all these reporters and network presenters don’t do the same. They too have their busy bees backstage preparing them for instant reaction, via earpieces.

Being prepared is not that same as ‘being unnatural’. It’s just being ready by having important information at hand for when it’s needed. Because information is power and relinquishing it is relinquishing that power.

This week the Labour Party and Miliband did just that, they relinquished their power.

And that made Miliband and his frontbench look and sound like amateurs. You can’t say you’ll cut the state pension without knowing how much the current basic pension actually is! You can’t promise to increase spending without talking about the economy, or addressing the current deficit. You can’t fend off UKIP while totally ignoring immigration. Simply put, you cannot become Prime Minister without a good, trusted, serious team behind you who can see beyond the obvious, anticipate the unknown and prepare you for every eventuality.

We’re a little over seven months away form a general election and Miliband can’t even see the country is on the brink of a war and might send troops to fight in Iraq. He insults war heroes by refusing to wear a simple band to support them. Not because he is anti-war, but because the last time he took a photo with The Sun newspaper he timed it wrong and it backfired. Guess what? This time his timing is again wrong and it’s backfired, again!

Politics is tough. And with instant responses, a 24/7 news cycle, and social media at every fingertip, it’s a hundred times tougher than it was just a few years ago.

Miliband’s performance this week was that of a novice, who is unprepared to lead and represent Great Britain on any stage.

I mostly blame Ed Miliband’s team, his bees. Surely they saw how he ate a bacon sandwich previously, and should have advised him to make meals a private affair. They heard the speeches and read the polls and the instant reactions. They know (or should have known) what he missed, what the polls are saying and what people, presenters and reports want to hear and were going to ask. How can he manage a whole nation if he can’t even manage his own personal team?

Plus, let’s never forget this is the man that backstabbed his own brother and chased him out of the country: would anyone ever trust him to be their Prime Minister?

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Proud to be British, and delighted Scotland said Yes to a United Kingdom.

Posted 20 Sep 2014 by Walaa Idris

As some might already know, I am British by choice. As a naturalized citizen my pride of my adopted home and nation is founded on admiration and respect of who we are and what Britain represents – fairness, freedom and justice.

First my reverence, as a young girl growing in autocratic Sudan, was from afar. Back then I watched in awe a country ran by consent, and a nation that genuinely respects and accepts opposing opinions. But also cannot deny electing the first female Prime Minister had its own special magic and allure. Years later when I had to choose where to move with my family I was in no doubt Britain was to become our home. I moved to London, and from within I had first-hand experiences of Britishness and British Values.

This pride continued to grow daily, and become cemented by our actions and interactions with other nations close and far away, and harnessed with our relentless fight for justices and others’ freedoms, even when in occasions, these liberties adversely affected us. I say that as someone who travelled a great deal and lived midst many different cultures.

Thursday’s result increased that pride.

In the past few weeks and month, Scotland showed the world that fighting for a republic can be emotional and at times even get personal, but when it comes to democracy we Brits know how to be fair, generous and gracious both in victory and in defeat.

Our union is intact and we are stronger and better for it, plus we can be proud that all it cost us was determination and politicking.
The Scottish referendum did not only settle the question of its own independence, it ignited the debate on a thirty seven year old question, the West Lothian question. And made it more than ever before possible for England to have ‘English Votes for English Laws’.

Thursday, September 18, 2014 will go down in history not only as the day Scotland decided to stay in the union, but as the day the ‘West Lothian question’ finally got a serious look in. It was an all-round good day for all of Britain!

By staying in the United Kingdom, Scotland will get their Devo Max. But with a few months to go, before the 2015 general election, the question political parties and UK politicians need to answer is how much powers they intend to give England and how will they give those powers?

Will it be ‘English Votes for English Laws’ in the UK Parliament – will it be devolving more powers down to local authorities – will there be regional assemblies, or will they go all out and setup an English Parliament? Whichever method they decide on there is no denying the Scottish #Indyref has catalysed and energised the devolution debate for all four nations in the union particularly England.

Personally, I think an English Parliament though might sound fair and appropriate – Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all have their own Assembly – is a costly extra layer of bureaucracy. Using existing resources, the House of Commons, and allowing English MPs only to vote on English issues, is a much more cost effective and sounder method, it will give England the powers it needs and the gravities it deserves.

On this occasion I would also like to add my voice to Ukip and Nigel Farage, and ask Scottish MPs, going forward, to abstain from voting on any English matters as a gesture of solidarity with their brothers and sisters south the border.


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