How did we get here and when did racial intolerance become acceptable?

Posted 27 Jul 2017 by Walaa Idris

Sir Martin Moore -Bick

As a black person, I am proud to say in the twenty-six years I lived in the UK, though I met a few ignorant people, I have never directly or indirectly experienced racism at work, on the streets or while using public services.

Having said that, I am not so naïve as to think this is the norm or the experience of most people of colour, even though it should be. However, I believe it is an indication that while there are some people with bigoted and ignorant views, overall Britain is a very tolerant, diverse, and accepting society.

That is why when I read the Grenfell Tower saviours again challenged, Sir Martin Moore- Bick, the retired judge leading the enquiry into the disaster, by telling him “You don’t represent us, you don’t look like us” and asked for him to be removed predominantly based on him not looking like them! I was shocked. Stunned, at the level of open and seemingly acceptable prejudice. Horrified at the nonchalant reporting by mainstream media, the unquestionable acceptance by the public and even some elected politicians!

The first time it happened, it could be excused as an overreaction at a distressful time after the unspeakable Grenfell fire tragedy. But to happen again and no one objects to it, or seems bothered or alarmed by it, is appalling. This level of bigotry, no matter the circumstances, should never be tolerated or excused by anyone. It goes against our humanity, our decency, our civility, and against all that is British and who we are.

If you think my concern is an overreaction, then ask yourself this. If the tables were turned, and the judge wasn’t a white man, could the same language be used without anyone squirming or complaining? Ask yourself what would the public’s reaction be? What would the media, and dare I say the politicians say?

So I ask you again, why in 2017 when racial discrimination in most quarters is a thing of the past. A white judge is asked to vacate his appointed post because of the colour of his skin? What does it say, about us and about twenty-first century Britain?

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The Queen Speech, May’s first outing, and reality

Posted 22 Jun 2017 by Walaa Idris

Three weeks after failing to secure the large majority she called the election for, Theresa May took to the dispatch box, and delivered her government programme. Playing to her strengths she was sincere and considerate. She apologised as Prime Minister for both national and local government failings in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell fire tragedy, and spoke about the different terrorist incidents and our solidarity in facing them.

Her speech had a little of everything, contrition, confidence and even some humour. Watching her take blow after blow from the opposite benches, I was delighted to see the pre-general election May emerge. She handled attacks and support equally graciously and showed she is ready to lead both our country and her party. This was her first test, her second is today when she attends the European Council Summit in Brussels and her major third test comes next week when she faces Corbyn at PMQs. Particularly after his new-found confidence and publicised desire to overthrowing this government by any means possible.

Although, many Conservative MPs, are not yet ready to forget or in some cases forgive the election and its outcome. On the other hand, most Labour backbenchers are not yet behind Jeremy Corbyn. While they, and their media chums might like to flaunt in every opportunity their surprising election results, Tories are still the legitimate winner of the 2017 general election and therefore the ruling party, and Theresa May is still the leader of the Conservative party and the Prime Minster of the UK.

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Where did Theresa May go wrong?

Posted 10 Jun 2017 by Walaa Idris

Theresa May

In my opinion Mrs May made many mistakes. They started six weeks ago when she surprised us with a snap election. The election she fervently denied many, many times will happen any time before 2020. This was a mistake not because she changed her mind, but because of the timing. For someone who painted herself as a straightforward lady, her timing looked a tad opportune. Also, in doing that she conveniently forgot voters neither like nor respect leaders who don’t stick to their guns.

Her second mistake was running a national campaign from Downing Street with only her policy advisers as confidants, and none of the party’s political campaigners including its chief campaigner. Why hire a political strategist yet never listen to them!? If she didn’t like Lynton Crosby, she could have hired someone else. However, Crosby won David Cameron two consecutive elections and made the Tories electable for the first time in almost 20 years. That’s why she should have listen to him despite any differences they have.

Thirdly, Katie Perrior was instrumental in getting Boris Johnson elected Mayor of London twice, letting her go was a huge mistake. If Katie was head of communications at Number 10, the 2017 campaign would have had a different tone and energy, particularly in London where we lost very big on the night.

Her fourth mistake was gagging local associations and forcing them to run campaigns that worked on paper but not on the ground. Not listening to associations, when they are your local eyes and ears, and the ones that understand the issues street by street and ward by ward is both counterproductive and demoralising to those who work and vote for you.

Finally came the straw that broke the camel’s back – the manifesto. While the manifesto itself wasn’t much of a problem, besides being lukewarm and lacklustre. The proposed social care caused a problem. It wasn’t clearly outlined and created a great deal of anguish among a core voting group and a community that already gave a lot to the society. When the PM tried to explain her manifesto pledge, it created even further problems. As it became clear she was the only person who fully understood the policy. So, when others were questioned on it, they gave different responses to hers. This allowed Labour and the others to weaponize that discrepancy and use it to attack the rest of May’s manifesto.

Labour’s sums where all over the place but nobody seemed to care where the promised money is coming from. Nor did they care about garden taxes affecting almost every home owner. Tax rises on corporations, free university education to all, promising to re-nationalise railways, utilities …., and half way through the campaign promising to forgive every student debt were all very popular promises, never mind they weren’t costed. It became obvious that after seven years of wise spending people wanted some freebies.

Simply put, the social care policy and removing the pension triple lock lost Conservatives their core voter and Labour’s lies and empty promises clouded the rest.

So, did we do badly? Absolutely. Is it the end of the road? Absolutely, not. Our limping results are a revelation and an opportunity to turn things around.

Now, more than ever Theresa May has a phenomenal opportunity to change her fortunes. With the right moves, she can come out of this stronger than when she went in. First, she needs to hold her nerve and not show when irritated. She is lucky Article 50 has already been triggered. For the coming two years, Brexit should be her main if not sole focus. The negotiation should and must go on as planned. Bringing home a good deal will refocus everyone.

If she survives after that, then my advice is to listen. She needs to learn to listen not only to her personal advisers, but to everyone, voters, associations, her own MPs, the party machine.

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What the others should learn from the Tories

Posted 8 May 2017 by Walaa Idris

Rosettes

People who say Labour is finished because they are a very divided party, or UKIP has no reason to exist anymore because they are a one issue party (leaving the EU) and the issue has now been achieved, or the LibDems are on the way out because they only have nine MPs and most their traditional voters are in strong Leave constituencies, are bad students of political history.

Time and time again, history has shown, that although some parties after going through a turbulent time finished and died, most did not. The majority of political parties used their stormy times to access and rebuild.

Take my own party, the Conservatives, many wrote us off after our 1997 defeat. But in less than ten years we rebranded and became a viable opposition. Granted, as conservatives, we are far more disciplined than most, and the hungriest to lead and govern, but nonetheless we were written off, decommissioned, and relegated to the past. After Tony Blair’s landslide victory, most pundits confined the Tories to the wilderness and filed us under ‘has been’. Looking back, our time in obscurity could have been much longer had we not, very early, accepted our defeat, assessed where we went wrong and what needed to change. Being honest with ourselves and going through a root and branch reform is the reason, twenty years from that defeat, Tories today are a very united party and have under their belt, a Conservative led coalition government in 2010, a small majority government in 2015 and now in 2017 stand as the only viable government to negotiate a successful Brexit deal with the European Union.

Now, will we have a Conservative landslide in four weeks’ time? Who knows. Will the others suffer even worst defeats than they did in 2015? Maybe. Will they all or any of them suffer a total wipe-out and become extinct? ONLY if they allow it to happen.

A wise person once said: “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up.” And since we are in the business of knocking each other down, those of us who quickly get back up will never die or vanish. Also, it will be good to remember that the person who might lead any of the other three parties to its electoral success is probably hasn’t been elected yet.

Just think about it, David Cameron who reformed the Conservative Party and led it to it’s first victory in 2010 was elected in 2001. Theresa May, the godmother of more Tory women in parliament and the current leader was elected in 1997. That could very well mean, the person who could change the fortunes of any of the current opposition parties probably hasn’t been elected yet. This might not be what those in agonising opposition now want to hear. But this is politics. It goes in cycles, up and down, causes loads of frustration and demands tones of staying power.

In closing, my advice to the other parties, is to be a good sport and gracefully accept defeat, regroup, rebuild, and don’t rush the natural process. Respect the pain, it will ultimately strengthen you and your resolve.

As Conservatives, if next month things change negatively for us, we will do it all over again and comeback even stronger.

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Sorry Don Hodges, but you're wrong

Posted 16 Apr 2017 by Walaa Idris

Dan Hodges, whom I consider to be a moderate centrist, is wrong to think Mrs May is a part-time custodial who will walk away from Number 10 after delivering Brexit. Because that is not the attitude of an ambitious woman. Unfortunately, his assessment is the analysis of a man who clearly doesn’t know any driven women. Unlike men, ambitious women tend to be tunnel visioned and laser focused when it comes to achieving their goals.

May had one goal, to lead the Conservative party and become the second female British Prime Minster. She comes from a generation of British women who saw Margret Thatcher rise and fall. They lived every step of that era and understood too well what it takes for a woman in the male dominated Westminster to succeed on merit alone.

So only someone who does not fully understand those facts will say this.

“On entering Downing Street, she discovered that being PM isn’t really for her. So she intends to serve out the rest of this parliamentary term, deliver a deal on Brexit, then ride off into the sunset….”

“ I don’t know the exact timetable, but she’s certainly a transitional PM”

“She’ll fight an Election, then be gone in 18 months”

These are opinions of people who clearly don’t know Theresa May, they are the analysis of people who are either too lazy to read and understand her or wishful thinkers who hope she won’t continue as a PM. As for the rest of us, it’s one of many dreamy ideas and makes a good Sunday read.

Happy Easter!

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Killing is murder, all killings should be equally condemned

Posted 7 Apr 2017 by Walaa Idris

Not a fun of Bashar al-Assad, but in light of recent developments in Syria two things are troubling me.

First, where is the definitive indisputable confrontation that Assad actually ordered the chemical attack that murdered 70 civilians? Because from where I am standing, it does not make any sense. Why would he risk global condemnation when he is winning the war, recapturing his cities and pushing ISIS back. Why when all his recent actions are beginning to receive some approvals would he self sabotage!? Many, unsurprisingly, are asking who will benefit from this action and the US retaliation to it?

Secondly, I am extremely concerned by our attitude to killing. For some reason, it seems we are outraged by the killing of 70 people who were gassed, yet somewhat relaxed by the killing of 230 civilians killed a week or so ago in a drone attack! Why is that!? Killing is killing. Killing is not football, where you support your team no matter what. The taking of a life, any human life should equally appal us no matter the numbers killed, the method used to kill them or the nation doing the killing.

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Wish it was that simple, Pepsi can resolve conflicts

Posted 6 Apr 2017 by Walaa Idris

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Not a hypocrite, so do not expect me to get angry

Posted 1 Feb 2017 by Walaa Idris

Arizona

Next week I am bringing my 82-year ‘young’ mother to Arizona, USA to spend some time with her son, my wonderful brother. We plan to stay for a month, because we don’t know what effects the long flight (9 hours without boarding and waiting time) might have on her. In 1996 my mother lost the function of her kidneys, but luckily in 1997 she received a transplant. That kidney lasted longer than the expected average of 10-12 years and stop working two years ago, so now she is on dialyses three times a week, other than that she is healthy, mildly active and have the determination of a bull. Our trip has been planned months ago, and we have all insurances and medical arrangements in place. Mum was born in 1935 in Omdurman Sudan. But has been living in the U.K. Since 1992 and is a British citizen. We both have valid ESTA visas to enter the USA.

Last week’s news gave us a slight wobble, because the Sudan is one of the seven counties on the 90 days US Travel Ban. Thankfully, due to the UK’s relation with the current US administration and our government’s efforts dual national Brits are exempt from the current ban.

Now, if we travel all the way to Phoenix and for some reason border agency turn us back, we will no doubt be extremely disappointed. Because, that will mean no spending a month in the sun in February. For mum, that will mean no painting outdoors, or having a grand time with her beloved son taking pictures, visiting art galleries and open air art exhibitions. For me, it will mean no working by the pool on my laptop in between golfing (my brother’s backyard opens into an 18-hole golf course). There will be no practicing yoga daily or hiking in the desert (I grew up in Sudan, so I crave desert heat). It will also mean that I don’t get to see my friends, those I planned to spend a long weekend with in California or our mini reunion in Vegas and I might as well forget about that girlie spa break in Sedona. But most of all my brother and I were hoping to relive some of our childhood fun, western riding, range shooting and road trips.

Many are surprised I am not angry about this ban. I would if I was a hypocrite, but I am not. Not going or being turned back is an inconvenience and a huge disappointment I can most definitely do without, but I can’t in all honesty get angry about it.

Here’s why. I love the US. I spent my best years there and build some long and lasting friendships. It is the place where I cut my political teeth and learnt political campaigning. It’s where I learnt about democracy and understood governments are changed via the ballot box not tanks and a military Coup d’état.

America is a free country. Americans have the right to elect who they want, make the laws that suits them and secure their borders the way they see fit. These are the rights and freedoms I value and respect. I cannot therefore abandon them just because on this occasion they affected me unfavourably!

Whatever happens next week, no matter the outcome I will take it in the chin. Why? Because I am a democrat and not a hypocrite.

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The difference between Obama and Trump is their similarity

Posted 19 Jan 2017 by Walaa Idris

Donald J Trump

Nine years ago, the American people took a chance on a community organiser turned senator from Illinois. His message of ‘Hope and Change’ reverberated across the globe and gave rise to new politics. Obama became the symbol of change, optimism and can do attitude. Not because he was a brilliant politician, since he was virtually untested, but because he was the first black man in American to be nominated by a major political party to stand for president of the United States. His win was a world celebration. Even those who disagreed with his politics rejoiced in his success. People everywhere wished him to do well. So much so, that before he even stepped inside the Oval Office he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. ‘Hope and Change’ and ‘Yes We Can’ became songs of promise and aspiration. Every man, woman and child knew what they meant and understood their significance.

Nine years on, Obama’s presidency is ending and Trump is due to become the 45th President of the United States. He is not black, or a woman but like Obama he is unique. He never held an elected office before, nor served in the military. Trump’s background is pure business. An entrepreneur, he spent his whole life making business deals and building his multi-billion dollars’ empire. Add to that, he is uncensored, unafraid to speak his mind and unlike most conventional politicians, he puts his hand up when he makes a mistake. To many, Trump is just another ordinary man who made and lost money, learnt from both and genuinely wants to make a difference, and the public adores him for it.

On the other hand, despite their visible differences, both men share many similarities. They both enter the White House as the first of their kind. Obama, as the first black man and Trump the first entrepreneur. Both men have a vision for America based on their passion, conviction and believe that America can do better and be greater. Both advocate radical change and both moved many voters with their furore to go that extra mile for them. And, both men exceeded expectations and defied conventions.

So, when you see these similarities, you can’t help but ask why the fuss? And wonder why was Obama’s election received with so much joyfulness and positivity from mainstream media yet Trump’s didn’t? Is it because Trump is unconventional, in that he had a colourful history littered with bankruptcies, different lovers, and wives? Or is it because he is a reality celebrity, with the biggest unfiltered mouth and a penchant for Twitter and tweeting, who lived his life publicly? When for many ordinary people, being a maverick outsider is exactly what they love about the Donald and the reason they want him to lead them. Many voters like that Trump speaks his mind and doesn’t run every word and phrase through a focus group before speaking directly to them. They admire his openness, and his tendency to tell it as it is and appreciate that he publicly says what many of us are thinking.

I, for one welcome this eccentric, breath of fresh air and predict he will be one of the greatest presidents the US ever elected. He will change politics not only in America but across the world. Many good and able unconventional wannabe politicians, who were reluctant to put themselves forward before Trump came into the scene, will see his success as their calling card and put themselves forward. And, that my friends can only be a good and positive thing.

In closing, I would like to extend warm congratulations to President Donald J. Trump.

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Trump, Assange, Russia and the Clinton emails

Posted 5 Jan 2017 by Walaa Idris

Assange Trump

Despite the Brexit surprise and Trump’s unexpected victory, many are still missing the point. They are misreading the general mood and ignoring all the signs. they are not seeing that people are tired of the old politics and are hungry for change. My question is, are they missing it because they don’t yet get it. Or is it a case of wishing it away – hoping if they wished it hard enough it might just go? Sort of like when I was an Amway distributor, my mentor used to tell me “fake it until you make it”. I did, it made me feel good and to some extent, it even made me look good but clearly it didn’t work because I am not a diamond distributor.

Seems to me some folks, here and in the US, are “faking it” and hoping it might work. They are hoping that one day they wake up to find Brexit and Trump gone. They might feel good now but what next?

Listening to all the media and news outlets talk about Donald Trump believing Julian Assange over the intelligence services and I can’t help but despair at the level of self-delusion we face today.

We have two camps here. One camp, the establishment, pointing the finger at Russia and wanting so desperately to brush under the carpet this whole election. So, any chance they get to prove this outsider, who doesn’t play by the established rules, could not have been the choice of the people, they jump at it. They are busy looking for a wrong, and since they need the same people who elected Trump to elect a traditional candidate next time, they can not continue calling them stupid, ignorant, or do a Clinton by calling them deportable. But, they can say the “Commies” had a hand in his election. To most Americans Russia equals bad, because they are still the enemy. More so now as they are helping another enemy, President Assad.

Blaming Russia for the outcome of the 2016 US Election is the safest way to discredit Trump but not those who elected him. Julian Assange popping up with news that Russia did not help him leak the Clinton emails, is not what they want to hear now. It blows everything out of the water. So, what does the establishment media do? Not report on or debate what Assange admitted, but make their main focus Trump emphasising it. When all Trump is saying, look people Russia is not the offender here.

Regardless of what Trump or others think of Assange, the man is a hacker, for years it was accepted that he hacked many individuals and organisations. Then why when it comes to the Clinton emails it becomes a lie? Could it be because it does not neatly fit with the Russia involvement scenario?

The second camp is those who think Russia is the enemy, it is still too strong and must be stopped at all costs.

Think about it. The largest security services in the world, the inelegance gathering machine of the most powerful nation in the West would rather their nation is hacked by an outside government than the known master hacker! Ask yourself why is that? Why would an outgoing president openly discredit his own security and intelligence services, by admitting they failed to protect against a foreign cyber invasion? Is it honesty or something else!?

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