What’s happening in Gaza has considerable global ramifications and should not be reduced to “its Hamas’ fault!”

Posted 22 Jul 2014 by Walaa Idris

First, because it’s too complex to simplify into a ‘them and us’ scenario, and secondly, regardless of what anyone might think, it touches all of us equally. And by “touches us” I don’t mean in the humanitarian sense, of course there is that, but what I’m referring to here, is its consequences in the larger political sense.

But before I go any further, I would like to make it absolutely clear that Israel has every right to defend itself and protect her people. However, that defence needs to be proportional. It also needs to remember that many in Gaza don’t want Hamas.

Heavily shelling and killing innocent women and children daily, regardless of whether Hamas is using them as human shields or not, is very inflaming. To daily see innocent Palestinians, sometimes whole families killed in this way, conjures images of cleansing and mass executions.

Now I know Israeli propaganda is doing a good job promoting and explaining their reasons “we’re shelling missiles’ hideaways – Hamas weapons are hidden in residential area and hospitals – Hamas is using women and children as human shields, these victims’ blood is on Hamas’ hands alone.” Whether all of this it’s true or not, what’s observed and witnessed by the world, is Israel has lost a couple of dozen soldiers (people who enlisted to fight and die for their country) while the Palestinians lost upwards of 500 men, women and children (innocent civilians, whom when the bombing starts have nowhere to run to, and no place to hid in).

That picture alone to many is enough to wrong Israel and label it a tyrant and an aggressor. To be perfectly honest, I too was shocked when the headcount reached 342 Palestinians versus 2 Israelis, yet Israel continued to bomb!

Because regardless of the reasons and the rhetoric coming from Hamas (they want to wipe-out all Jews – which we all know logically is impossible.) Israel is still the bigger and stronger of the two; they are better equipped and much readier for this fight than Hamas will ever be. And because of that, they should have exercised some restraint and showed Hamas and the world that Israel is a compassionate and tolerant occupier – I know to some that might sound like madness. But think about it, now after the slaughter of innocent civilians have passed the 500 mark, nobody including Israel’s allies sees Israel as the victim – because the headcount tips the balance for the other side.

In addition to that, if we look at the region and what’s happening in Syria, and the latest trend of home-grown jihadists, the last thing the West needs now is innocent Palestinians killed by Israeli bullets. Because it will only act as a catalyst, to entice further grooming of young vexed and impressionable men and women.

To quash any support for Hamas Israel should seriously consider lifting the blockade in Gaza and allow her citizens the freedom to lead some sort of normal lives – and gain their regard. We saw throughout history those who were oppressed gained their strength from being subjugated, Slavery, the Holocaust and more recently the Apartheid all ended despite their conquerors’ powerful control over their subjects, all stopped when the oppressed had enough and channelled that oppression to free themselves.

One thing every occupier, invader and suppressor needs to remember, untroubled, plump and prosperous people are less inclined to rise and fight. But hungry oppressed citizens have lots to fight for and very little to lose.

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Who said only a black, Muslim and single mother can represent me and my values?

Posted 19 Jul 2014 by Walaa Idris

As someone who ticks a lot of boxes – woman, black, immigrant, Muslim and a single mother of two – I worry about where we’re going with the ‘representation’ issue. Don’t get me wrong, having a legislator representative of all views and segments of the society is a great thing, a fair thing plus is also the right thing. But when I hear commentators and politicians talk about “looking more like the country” I wonder what does that really mean?

Does it mean aesthetically, as in a percentage of every group in the country visually represented? Or is it a representation of thoughts and principles? Because one is clearly not the other!

The latter does not focus on race, gender or religion while the former is very specific, in that it asks for each group to be represented in certain percentages i.e. the UK’s population is 50% female so the House of Common should reflect that in its members.

Where did it come from? Who decided that only a black, immigrant, Muslim and single mother can mirror my beliefs, speaks on my behalf and represents me?

I am a low tax, punishment should fit the crime, and time means time, monitored, managed and controlled immigration, Eurosceptic – EU needs to reform and if it doesn’t, very happy for us to leave it – shoot from the right Conservative. The last time I checked there are many Tory MPs who share my exact politics. A party member since 2000, I never once felt, neither in the past nor now, unrepresented in Parliament. So where’s the problem?

And why in the last half of 2014 we are worried about gender and race when what we should be concerned with is engagement. It seems to me there are more people today, percentage wise, disengaged and disillusioned with politics than ever before. That feeling is not because women can only speak for women and minorities can only speak for their groups. It’s because to these people politics doesn’t feel authentic enough.

Surprisingly, one of the reasons the public feels this way, is because of this ‘our team have more women, black and ethnic minorities than yours’ business. It cheapens politics and makes it more about looking like someone as oppose to sharing their views and values.

As Conservatives our core principle is to promote based on merit and equality. After all we are the first and the only party to produce a female British Prime Minster and we did it over 35 years ago. Plus we did it organically without any cosmetic social engineering imposed on members program.

Diversity should not be interpreted as an inventory of the different groups. But rather the variety of thoughts and options, and yes our politicians should reflect the societies they represent. But that reflection should not mainly focus on visual and aesthetic differences, it should focus on the reflection of choices and the variety of options.

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Life is full of Greys and overlaps; sometimes it’s good to be either black or white.

Posted 5 Jul 2014 by Walaa Idris

Don’t know about everyone else, but it feels like my sporting summer – the biggest sporting summer since the Olympics – which I was very excited about, was cut short and finished before it properly began!

I was looking forward to the World Cup and England at least making it past the groups’ stages. Then Wimbledon’s nasty surprise, now all that’s left in my ‘sporting summer’ is the Commonwealth Games.

Not sure if I’m alone here but there are certain sporting events you can’t carry on watching after your team is knocked out. In my case major Football and Rugby events are not worth watching if England is not competing.

Tennis is a new thing; in the past I used to easily follow all of Wimbledon then half way pick someone to root for. But since Andy Murray’s rise my Wimbledon expectations changed. Murray not making it to the finals put a damper on the whole Wimbledon experience. Now all is left of summer 2014 is the Commonwealth Games. Which luckily I will follow in full regardless, especially Track & Field events, as they are my absolute favourite sporting pastime.

I know my attitude makes me tribal. That tribalism also shows in my politics. Some think it’s uncool to be this tribal, but I think life is full of Greys and overlaps and it’s good to have some clear cuts, some black or white and an either or in certain things. Don’t you think?

My clear cuts are mostly in some sports and all of my politics what are yours?

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David Cameron, Britain’s champion and her hero!

Posted 1 Jul 2014 by Walaa Idris

Lefties are trying their hardest to paint Prime Minister Cameron negatively for opposing Jean-Claude Juncker’s election as EU president. Sadly for them, the exact opposite is happening – European leaders’ are exposed, Cameron’s approval rating is increasing, and polls are narrowing in favour of the Conservatives.

For many weeks, Labourites went on and on about how Cameron is making a mockery of himself and the UK, and is risking everything by his vocal opposition to Juncker’s selection. Even Ukip – who just wants Britain to simply leave the EU – got on the act and Farage (siding with lefties) gave his two cents on the matter!

But in their blind obsession with the PM not succeeding, they failed to see that for the first time since joining the EU, Britain had a champion, and a leader who wasn’t afraid to speak up for what’s best for her at all costs. They failed to see a leader who didn’t care what Europe thought but passionately tended to what the UK wanted and needed – a Prime Minister who was fighting Britain’s corner and putting her first.

In standing alone against the rest of the EU, David Cameron proved that he is the leaders who listens. He listened to what the voters said and did what they wanted – British voters want the EU to reform and he stood solid against electing a conformist.

Cameron’s historic carriage highlighted Labour’s weakness, Europe’s dangerous arrogance, plus it prepared the ground for a referendum on the EU.

Like most, I see the benefits of our membership and don’t just want to leave Europe, I want reforms but very happy to leave if Britain doesn’t get what she needs. From where I am standing the only leader who can offer me that is Britain’s champion, Prime Minister David Cameron.

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This hate and loathe Nick Clegg campaign doesn’t make any sense!

Posted 28 Jun 2014 by Walaa Idris

Because the “I agree with Nick” is the same DPM Nick Clegg! So what happened? And what changed in the past four years?

From where I am standing, there are two reasons why Nick Clegg and the LibDems are so unpopular today. And both reasons have nothing to do with Clegg reneging on ‘Tuition Fees’ or other promises. Since none of the people that voted for the LibDems up to 2010, expected them to implement any of their manifesto promises – in other words they [LibDems] were never expected to win an election and form a government!

In my opinion, Libs are unpopular now, mainly because, before the 2010 General Election, they were the default party most disaffected voters voted for. They were pure of government, innocent of making the hard decisions and delivering the tough solutions. So, to suddenly be at the heart of government was a shock to many and to some even an outright betrayal.

LibDems were seen as the compeller party. A weapon used by Labour and Conservative voters and supports, who used switching their vote to LibDems as a way of saying to their respective party “We’re important please woo us back.” When the Liberals became “the government” they stripped away that power. Thus forcing that block of voters to look elsewhere for an alternative vote to use as pressure.

Enter Ukip, which unlike the LibDems is not a centrist party that can easily straddle both sides of the political spectrum. Ukip’s home is firmly on the right and they share very little with the left. That has angered that particular block – causing them to lash at Libs.

The second reason is the media. When Nick Clegg became the kingmaker, like that block of voters, the media lost both the carrot and the stick they used to use to pump-up and whip with both Labour and the Conservatives. They lost their ‘I agree with Nick’ effect to ‘Nick, the man who can’t keep his promises’ and that dismayed them for the same above mentioned reasons.

Now the media also needed a replacement “carrot and stick” to entice the two big parties with. Ukip was the only available alternative [the fourth party] and that presented a number of challenges. One of them, until very recently, Ukip and the BNP were regarded by many in the media as identical twins that were separated at birth. That posed the greatest challenge – easily visible in the love hate relationship the media have with Ukip.

If we take a step back, Nick Clegg is the same Nick Clegg. The only difference between Clegg pre 2010 and Clegg post 2010 is being in government. Whether propping up the Tories, coming to the country’s aid or delivering some of his party manifesto while making the Libs the party of government and not a permanent opposition third party, those who used the Liberal Democrats as their default vote and whipping tool have lost their weapon and with it the power to pressure the government of the day. And that infuriated them.

Party politics aside, as a Brit, I think Nick Clegg, should be admired and applauded. He is the first LibDems leader in almost a century to be in government. As much as it pains me to admit it, he did curb the Conservatives from cutting deeper and faster – so lefties should applaud that. He went in knowing the minor partner in any coalition will take most of the blame and less of the credit but accepted it as the price of fixing the country. Everyone on either side of the political divide ought to respect and admire him for that.

Clegg and the LibDems have entered history from its wider doors. Today’s whingers might not think it but history will remember it.

My advice to Liberals is to edify their leader, highlight their achievements and remember that a minority Tory government could not have delivered many to the current reforms. Without the LibDems by the Conservatives side the country might not have experienced the stability and unity of purpose it did in the past four and half years. Without the coalition, our country might not have seen the current improvement in the economy. This coalition came together for the right reasons and delivered where it mattered.

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is where the buck stops!

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Alibhai – Brown is neither assertive, nor strong, just a bully!

Posted 21 Jun 2014 by Walaa Idris

Michael Fabricant was wrong to tweet “he might end up punching Yasmin Alibhai -Brown “in the throat” if he appeared on a discussion show with her.”

But he was right to apologise and do it as swiftly as he did.

There is no denying Ms Alibhai- Brown can be very argumentative in discussions, to the extent of getting on peoples nerves. But gentlemen don’t punch (or even publicly say they might want to, or feel like) punching someone, especially not a woman!

In addition to that, if he already knew her style of debating, he should have known that as a Tory, male and white she would capitalise on anything he said against her – and she did.

She made his comment all about her person – gender, race and religion. When it was only about her personality – argumentative, shouty and quick to manipulate every word and situation to suit her end game.

Yasmin Alibhai – Brown is extremely irritating in any colour and race, and she knows it. She knows it and uses it very well to shut people up.

Those who debate against her in any panel are mostly white and male, and are very conscious of her mouth. They shut up not because they are convinced by her argument or because (as she told Sky News) she is an assertive strong woman. They do it because she is a bully, who will use the race card and her religion against them and they don’t want to be her pawn. They rather let her have the last word than stand accused [in a public medium in front of millions] of being racist and anti-Islamic.

Michael Fabricant didn’t see that and gave her the opportunity to tout her fantasy about who she thinks she is.

Speaking as a Black Muslim woman, visible figures like Yasmin Alibhai -Brown don’t help us – and defiantly don’t represent me – they do the exact opposite.

Women like me, don’t want to be ‘judged by the colour of our skin but by the content of our character’ and estimated by our deeds and achievements. We are happy to be involved in robust debates without intimidating our opponents into submission in fear of crossing any line other than the line of basic civility and mutual respect. Religion, race and gender should never come into it, unless they are the subject of discussion.

We are pleased to go where the topic takes us openly, honestly and robustly, and are happy for other points of view to win the day. We are even willing to change ours and admit it when persuaded. We are not bullies and unlike bullies understand that we can be wrong at times and that is okay too.

But not Ms Alibhai- Brown, she wants to be always right, have the last word and when that doesn’t happen, she pulls out the race card. That’s not being strong and assertive that’s called being a bully.

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Blair, Iraq, Syria, the West and the Middle East!

Posted 16 Jun 2014 by Walaa Idris

Iraq, Syria and what’s happening in the Middle East today and its causes are complex but not impossible to understand.

Although, this weekend, former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair was right to say what’s happening in Iraq will affect the West and the rest of the region, and we need to do something about it. He was wrong to think military intervention is the solution. He was also mistaken to claim that events in Iraq today are NOT caused by, or related to the 2003 Iraq War, and even more wrong to blame it all on Syria and what’s happening there now.

Especially when actually the opposite is true!

Unfortunately for Blair and those who stood beside him in the Iraq War of 2003, ISIS and today’s trouble in the region – the fractious Iraq, plus the rise of Islamism, predominately home-grown western Islamists – are all a direct result of the 2003 Iraq invasion. And while what’s happening in Syria is a by-product of the Arab Spring movement – that overthrow lifelong Arab dictators – the Arab Spring itself is also in part a result of Iraq 03.

However, as horrifying and as distressing the images of killings and mass executions we see streamed in our TV screens are, the ONLY solution is diplomacy, negotiations and humanitarian aid – because any military intervention will only worsen the situation and deepens it.

As severe as matters are on the ground, military intervention isn’t the answer and will not be welcomed. There is no appetite for any war in the West and talk of troops on the ground, at shore or next door will only intimidate, harden matters and escalate them further.

As for talk about building democracies and the democratisation of the region, it is just laughable. Because the biggest dictatorship in the region still oppresses its people, funds and supports extremism and even exports terror, while at the same time continues to be the West’s best friend and ally.

Unless the West begins to treat Saudi Arabia as a dictatorship, no one in that region will take what they say genuinely.

In many parts of the Middle East and the East, the West is now seen as Oil thirsty, arrogant, controlling and intervening. Forty even thirty years ago that arrogance and interference was overlooked and their Oil thirst welcomed as a powerbroker, but not now. Now, even those who agree with the West cannot afford to turn a blind eye or openly show their position.

That’s why we see a rise in the ‘give them a taste of their own medicine’ attitude.

I like Blair, and think he was the best Labour Prime Minster. But to continuously defend the 2003 Iraq War as 100% the right thing to do, without admitting ‘…though it was the right decision at the time it turned out to be wrong’ will only diminish him and his stance. And that will eventually overshadow all of his other achievements – including what he did internally for his own party. And, it will also, force even those who admire and respect him to distance themselves.

And that cannot be good! Can it?

Making a mistake is human, admitting it is righteously humble, but insisting it’s not when everyone plus all the facts show that it is, is doggedly unwise.

Blair has the world stage and the respect of many at his fingertips. It will be very sad to see all that plus his life achievements overshadowed by stubbornness.

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British Values, what are they and how to get them?

Posted 14 Jun 2014 by Walaa Idris

Can British Values be taught in schools as a subject, or are they something children absorb from the environment they live in and from their communities?

When I heard the Education Secretary, Michael Gove say schools should promote British Values, I wondered if everyone 1) knew what they were and 2) how to acquire them?

To me British Values are democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs to mine.

All of which can be promoted and debated in schools up and down the country, but what about their practice? When and how can that be tested? How do we know those who grow up in isolation from British communities, under the banner of multiculturalism, accept our values beside their own?

For example, how do you convince a child homosexuality is legal and acceptable by our society when his own community (at home) says the opposite? Which teaching is more compelling, the one in the nucleus community, where parents, relatives and those who look and sound like you promote what they deem right or the larger community who in some cases might look and sound different to you?

In my opinion, British Values are soaked and absorbed from the inside out. By that I mean they can only be acquired by immersion and cohesion and by having an open mind. They are realised by being ready and willing to become a part of the British experience and a member of the British family.

Unlike in the USA, where many different cultures are united as One Nation under God – where that ‘God’ can be anyone or thing under the First Amendment – here in the UK multiculturalism tend to ghettoise and isolate none indigenous groups. It is that isolation that is dangerous to our values and needs addressing.

Instead of welcoming newcomers into their own mini-countries inside the UK, Britain needs to promote integration into the British way of life and celebrate it. We (assimilated none indigenous Brits) embrace our cultures at home, speak our tongue with each other and even eat our own food when we want to. But once outside the main door, we are proud to be one with our chosen country.

And the operative word here is CHOSEN!

It should be very clear from the start that those who decide to come here they are only welcome if they respect and accept the British lifestyle. They can choose not to celebrate it with us, but they cannot choose to conspire to change or work against it. They should understand that freedom does not mean they can disrespect our way of life, and tolerance does not mean we will allow them to.

Immigrants need to understand that with choice come responsibility and the duty to protect these values that made Britain a great nation. They need to appreciate that damaging the British Values will ultimately destroy what attracted them to Britain in the first place.

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“Sunshine will win the day”

Posted 7 Jun 2014 by Walaa Idris

There has been some furore and excitement in recent weeks about Ukip and their advance in the polls.

No denying they did well in both elections, local and the European, and took votes from almost everyone.

However, I am of the believe that they did so only because most of those who voted for them wanted to send a message and register their dismay with the main parties and British politics as a whole.

In the past that protest vote was the reserve of the LibDems. Now that they are in government, the voters are unrealistically punishing them for it.

If we look at why the LibDems, during this parliament, are doing so poorly in election after election and poll after poll, it does not make any sense. Because in all honestly they are not worse than Labour, they did not break more promises than any party, plus they have delivered some great things while in government!

So why punish them so harshly unless, they were the main protest vote and that vote is now Ukip!?

Those who don’t want Ukip to progress are relieved that they don’t control any councils. But in a way I wish they did. Because it’s the only way we can test them and see how they work in government. Or as in the Greens’ case don’t work. Just look at the Greens controlled Brighton Council. It’s a disaster.

Politics might be showbiz for ugly people, but unlike showbiz, new is not always better. Because politics is not make-believe and there are no scripts to read from or second takes to prefect a scene. It’s real, instant and mistakes in politics can have adverse consequences.

Europe will be Ukip’s biggest test. Their record thus far is not promising. Most of their MEPs don’t bother to show up for votes or contribute to any debate, and are there solely to claim expenses and draw a monthly cheque.

In Newark, although the Conservatives campaigned hard on their record and achievements in government, a trend emerged on the ground. The people of Newark were adamant not to send a Ukipper to Westminster, hence the 52% turnout – which by by-elections standards is high.

That tells me, alongside the feeling of public dismay with mainstream politics; there is still a feeling of sensibleness in Britain’s streets and cities. A sense of unsureness that this new kid on the block is still untested unverified and can’t yet be fully trusted in serious politics. It shows that there is strong anger but also a lot of care to not “cut your nose to spite your face” common-sense.

Mainstream politicians and political parties need to pay a great deal of attention to that anger and address it. This might sound cliché but they need to listen, listen and listen much more than they have been doing.

It’s not at all late; we’re still at the beginning to stop any serious damage from happening.

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What does the EU result tell us?

Posted 27 May 2014 by Walaa Idris

Starting with our own results here in the UK, there is a clear dissatisfaction with the European project. The surge, of anti EU parties all over Europe, on the left and the right has overwhelmed this year’s elections. But more than that their clearly seems to be an anti-establishment revolt and anti-mainstream parties’ support across the European Union.

But why!? Why now, just when Europe’s economies are coming out of the longest peacetime recession voters seem to be so unhappy? What are the causes for that overwhelming dissatisfaction?

Is it migration from within the EU of new ‘eastern’ member nations, or immigration from outside the Continent? Or is it a rise against the ongoing politicising of the EU – a revolt against the powers it gave itself over its member nations? Is it a coup against the powers that dictated stringent austerity and bailout measures while grabbing more overall controls?

Looking at the British story, we originally entered the Union as a trading partnership on a cooperative membership. However, the union of today is fast moving towards political integration and large interference – moving towards more controls from the centre.

The EU that was a positive trading block has suddenly become a political dictator giving itself more powers over its members. Thus suffocating their freedoms and threatening their sovereignty.

Could what we want in the UK (less interference from Europe over internal affairs) be what other members want too? That would explain why fringe anti EU parties did so well at the expense of the mainstream parties all over the union.

The results seem to indicate so.

Whether on the right – wanting more freedom for self-determination, or on the left – aspiring for less control on how to manage their economies, the 2014 European Elections showed Europe is very unhappy with the EU in its current state.

Here, in the UK fewer than 35% of those eligible to vote did. In some regions turnout was barely 30%. Which means ‘overall’ only 1 in 3 people bothered to vote. That in itself is a huge concern!

But what does it say?

It says the media anticipated Ukip earthquake is a mere sand storm in a desert of apathy. It also says 2 in 3 people are now represented by someone they never vote for and probably don’t want to represent then!

That’s the price of apathy

Sadly that also means for the next five years large parts of our nation will be represented by MEPs who their answer to every issue is “Leave the EU“. It means for five years, they will be under the mercy of populism and politics with simple answers to complex questions.

Many people don’t fully understand the power and the importance of their vote. And don’t appreciate that voting is not a right; it’s a privilege – a privilege so dear many fought and died for.

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