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

Posted 1 Feb 2017 by Walaa Idris


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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T May Desert Khaki Pants

Posted 13 Dec 2016 by Walaa Idris

Why should we care how much Theresa May spent on those Desert Khaki leather pants? How did that information enrich any of our lives?

For over ten years David Cameron was the Conservative Party leader and Prime Minster of the UK and I don’t recall any time when the price of his suits, ties or shoes being an issue. Once a journalist observed that he always wore a dark navy shirt when on holiday and on another occasion, another wrote about him and his son wearing matching swinging trunks. The price of the trunks was mentioned, but both incidents were simply observations.

I know some journalists are obsessed with T May’s penchant for shoes, particularly kitten heels. Most women have a love affair with either shoes or handbags and some adore both. So, what purpose did discussing May’s leather trousers all weekend serve? Did she claim for them on expenses? If she didn’t, then what was the point!? She is not a destitute woman with a mountain of debt and unpaid bills. So, what’s wrong with being stylish or having a flair for fashion. Why are we chastising a woman who worked all her life and paid her way?

To me, at least the pants are shapely, feminine, and elegant, unlike the North Korean style pants suits Hilary Clinton and Angela Merkel like to wear. Plus, they are designed by the British designer Amanda Wakeley.

The obsession with what our politicians buy and how much they spend on themselves is petty and unconducive. Personally, I don’t care what anyone spends on themselves providing it is not public money. It’s their business and should not concern us. We all feel great when we buy and wear things we like that make us feel good, so why do we deny our politicians the same feelings?

On the other hand, the silver lining of that cloud is the pants are now Sold Out! Seems the little fuss over the weekend was good for the economy, good for Britain and great for Amanda Wakeley. #Result!


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Brexit is here to stay

Posted 10 Nov 2016 by Walaa Idris

Brexit 3

Guess I am lucky in that my side won the referendum. Last June I voted to Leave the EU and unexpectedly found myself on the winning side. It was sweet and delicious. On the night, for all of three seconds, I did gloat a bit, but it didn’t last long. To starter with, it took time for our own win to register, and secondly I didn’t have the heart to celebrate when most Remainers in the hall were beside themselves with grieve over the results. Many were in tears and hysterical with shock. I simply could not carry on enjoying our win, when boys and girls my daughters’ age wretchedly sobbed at the same result. It didn’t at all feel right to be jubilant when the others were so miserable, after all, they are my people too.

On the night of the Referendum I was a count agent. That’s how involved I was with Brexit. For months, I spent my spare time leafleting, knocking on doors and ringing voters. On the day, after spending the afternoon and evening getting out the vote, I went to Kensington and Chelsea town hall for the count. At around 5 o’clock the following morning I left feeling victorious and full of hope for a brighter and stronger future. I was sure by then that our side has won, but was still shocked when it was confirmed and very saddened when David Cameron resigned that morning.

So, I hear you ask why is she sharing this now? I am doing it to make a point. Leave winning the referendum was not just a stroke of luck. We, Leavers worked very, very hard and most of the time did it with little or no resources. As a political activist who when campaigning for the party money was rarely an object. I saw first-hand how frustrating it can be to run an important campaign on a shoestring budget. Shoestring by comparison to having a mighty government machine behind you. Still, it was all worth it.

Working in the Vote Leave campaign has humbled and taught me passion and conviction are a currency to rival all currencies. We might not have had Whitehall to back us, as cliché as it might sound, we had a huge appetite and strongly believed in our cause. We unequivocally trusted (and still do) that the UK is better and stronger outside the EU. We had no doubt that we rather go it alone and take full control of our laws, borders and decision making. People all over the world understood our fight. They respected it and us for swimming against the trend. They saw Brexit as the will of the people, the voice of the ordinary man and woman, and admired us for it. They saw in us what we saw during the Arab Spring – the voiceless fighting for a voice.

Brexit and leaving the European Union is not being misguided. On the contrary it is being bold and brave. It is being full of hope and optimism for Britain and wanting what’s best for her. It is not being afraid to go for what we want. It is being respected and admired for fighting for our values and now even copied and emulated with the election of Donald J Trump. Our desire to run our own affairs from the inside, with little or no interference from Brussels is applauded.

We have nothing against Europe, we love Europe, but not the EU and everybody saw and understood that.

However, if you listen to the Blairs and Cleggs of the country, Brexit is nothing but a disaster. A huge mistake, an injustice inflicted on the country by the ignorant and the uneducated. Perpetrated by the Riff-Raff who don’t know what’s good for them. Thus, it must be challenged in the courts and if possible reversed. Yes, reversed! The will of the majority reversed because the elite minority do not agree with it! Does that remind you of anything or anyone? It does me. I grow up in an autocracy where elections were won by 99.99% and those who openly did not accept the outcome were thrown in prison. Are we there yet? Of course, not, but the hypocrisy and disrespect to democracy are not dissimilar.

We’re in November now. The referendum is five months old. Five months seems like a long enough time for the grieving to have subsided somewhat and for the healing process to begin. Can we now put our differences behind us and focus in what unites us? Regardless of what any side thinks or wants, the country voted to leave the EU. The process of leaving is lengthy and rigorous. In my opinion, all energies used in attempting to reverse Brexit are wasted, because we are leaving.

We have until the end of March 2017 to trigger Article 50 and start the official process of vacating our seat. Brussels wants us to get on with it. They are as good as waving us goodbye and want the whole thing finished as soon as possible. The rest of the world does too. Our economy and currency need it as well. Yet, the Blairs and Cleggs of the country still can’t accept the democratic outcome!

My questions to them and their cronies, you say you care about Britain and want what’s best for her, then when are you going to put your hand on ours and work together to create the strongest Brexit? When will you realise that time wasted in fighting the inevitable is counterproductive and will only damage the UK?

We all want what’s best for our country, together we can achieve it.


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Brexit ruling!

Posted 6 Nov 2016 by Walaa Idris

High Court

On Thursday, three High Court judges ruled government and the Prime Minister cannot bypass Parliament in trigging Article 50. The government replied by appealing the ruling in the Supreme Court. The outcome of that appeal is due early January 2017.

Must admit that I am not versed in the law, but I believed it was the government’s job to negotiate treaties. This morning, my thinking was confirmed by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on the Marr show, when he told Andrew Marr “Parliament passes laws, it always has, but governments negotiate treaties. And, the reason that Parliament can’t negotiate treaties is you can’t decide an international treaty by a simple vote of MPs.”

Since the referendum vote earlier this year, feelings and emotions have been running high and voters on both sides are anxious and untrusting of one another. Leavers think Remainers will do everything to overturn the result of the referendum and some prominent Remainers are promising to do just that.

I fully understand as a parliamentary democracy MPs are our representatives and voice in the Commons. Let’s not forget that, they voted 6 to 1 in favour of an EU Referendum. And, even though treaty negotiation is not their brief, this treaty is a game changer that will have a profound effect in our nation. Therefore, it makes perfect sense they want to know and debate its points before triggering Article 50. On the other hand, Brussels made it very clear, in more than one occasion that there will be no discussion or talk regarding any deal until Article 50 is triggered.

Now, that creates a problem!

How can over 600 MPs (most of whom are Remainers) for 90 seconds each debate and add amendments, yet keep our negotiating hand secret? How can the government keep our thinking hidden from Brussels without withholding most of the negotiations form the Commons? If that happens, then what’s the point of Parliament debating Article 50?

Also, let’s not forget those Remainers who made clear their intentions to do all they can to derail Brexit either in the Commons or via the Lords! That is very damaging. It threatens our democracy and its fabric at its core. The will of the people should not be ignored and a wealthy businesswoman who is unwilling to accept the outcome of the referendum should not be allowed to dictate the destiny of Britain. Gina Miller wants the British people to admire and be her biggest fan because in her mind she saw “the elephant in the room and created a legal certainty!”


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Brexit, what’s so difficult to understand?

Posted 3 Nov 2016 by Walaa Idris

Brexit 2

As someone who voted to leave the European Union, remaining in the single market was never a question. To me, leaving the EU meant leaving the union with all its good and bad. I believe, as neighbors who share a long history and many common interests, leaving was nothing more than a new chapter in our story together. An opportunity for both sides to rewrite a newer and even better deal than the one we had before.

Optimistic? Of course, I am, and many will be too if they just stopped over analyzing.

For years EU bureaucrats AKA Brussels, did what they wanted and did it their own way. Member states mostly just listened and obeyed. Some, because they felt it was a huge privilege to become members of the union – they were so grateful for anything their membership afforded them. Others didn’t see a way out or even cared enough for change, so they accepted the status quo and bought into the adage of ‘stay and reform from within’.

Not Britain. The British are very different and here’s the rub. For years, the UK was frustrated with the union and the way things were done. All they could see is a bureaucracy that was out of control with unmanaged finances, unbalanced budgets and an unjust and unyielding central régime. It saw increased centralisation, future for an EU Army and greater integration with even more control over member sovereignty, and did not like it. Most of all it did not like paying for and subsiding other economies at the expense of their own.

All along, Brussels knew all that, yet when Prime Minster Cameron, who believed in the union and hoped to keep the UK in it, came to them with the simplest of demands they send him home empty-handed. That prompted many Brits, myself included to vote to leave it.

I explained at the start of this article why I never expected us to remain in the single market. I don’t think I am alone in my thinking, but do understand why not everyone shares my thinking. First, change is not always easy and many don’t like it. People don’t like change not for lack of vision or adventure, but because of the uncertainty it brings and there are many who don’t know how to handle that uncertainty. To fear or doubt an unknown is a normal and understandable feeling. In fact, within reason fear is a healthy feeling, as it forces us to stop and think before we act. Which can sometimes save us from making mistakes. Yet, what I see from some Remainers is not fear of the unknown, nor caution before acting. It is much more than that. It is a rejection of the will of the people and total disrespect of their vote. That’s neither healthy nor fair and its ramifications can be very serious. I hope they rethink their attitude.


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Mr Goldsmith, Mayor Khan and Sir Trevor Phillips

Posted 3 Nov 2016 by Walaa Idris

Goldsmith and Khan

It might feel a little late to write about this topic now, as it is a few days since it was headline news, but it is an important subject, and deserves addressing further. Particularly as I feel it was not tackled fully or fairly. Also, in light of Sir Trevor Phillips’ latest report on ‘Liberal self-delusion sleep walking into catastrophe….’ I believe the time is now appropriate to speak to the grave accusation levelled at the Conservative Party and its members during this year’s London Mayoral Election.

As I tweeted during the election, neither the Conservative party nor Zac Goldsmith is racist. And I don’t think that should come as news either. Just look at the Tory membership, then at their front bench and elected representatives in all levels of government and you will see many non-white faces in all fields and at every rank. The same goes for female representation, and here, I would like to emphasize that none were selected or elected on special lists or measures such as ‘Women Only List’ – but I digress.

So let’s go back to the Goldsmith Khan racism row that caused some brown and Muslim people to feel aggrieved, which to me is the epitome of the power non-white people have over white people in this country. My point here is very simple, if any ethnic person accuses a non-ethnic person with prejudice everything will stop and apologists from all walks of life will jump to his or her defence before knowing, the background, reason or even the validity of the accusation directed. It seems in today’s Britain and contrary to our legal system, when it comes to prejudice a white person accused of bias is guilty until proven innocent. However, if the tables are turned and a non-white person is accused of bias then, he or she is innocent until proven guilty. And that is neither fair nor right.

That is why Sir Trevor Phillips’ report should not be taken lightly or ignored. To put it bluntly, even though our country is a nation of kind, welcoming and tolerant people that continues to warmly receive many outsiders, we cannot overlook the feelings of the silent indigenous population. Yes, you read right. Today, many white people in this country feel marginalised, not listened to and left behind. Whether you agree with it or not that is not a good feeling and that kind of bubbling is always followed by an explosion. And, that’s what Trevor Phillips meant with we cannot afford to ‘Sleep walk into catastrophe’

When the Conservatives campaign asked – what’s Mr. Khan’s relationship with a certain individual and is that relationship still ongoing? They were not in the wrong and had every right to question their opponent about the company he keeps. Where I feel my party was wrong is perhaps in pursuing the question after it was answered the first time. They should have dropped it and moved on. However, once the Labour party, the liberal elite and the Islington set pronounced the Tory campaign as racist and Labourite after Labourite went on TV and radio to decree Zac and his campaign as bigoted, the fight for London was over and finished. The focus shifted from London and the issues Londoners cared about to race and religion. Throughout all of this, sadly, the real discrimination was aimed at the white candidate with the privileged background who had family money – he never stood a chance.


Don’t assume because I respect your freedoms I am not offended

Posted 3 Nov 2016 by Walaa Idris

French Flag

Throughout the world today, there are more moderate Muslims than not, and we have a duty to reflect that fact.

What many people are not alluding to, considering or even talking about is how the Prophet Mohamed cartoons were actually very offensive to some Muslims. And, just as the cartoonists have the liberty to offend; these Muslims are equally entitled to be offended by those cartoons.

However, offending and being offended does not give anyone, regardless of the extent of that offence, the right to kill and terrorise. Not even in the name of Allah, and that’s what Islam, the religion of peace and forgiveness daily teaches its followers.

I spent all of last week watching in horror as events unfolded in Paris with one question running through my head. “Why does the West want me (a moderate, peaceful and fully integrated Muslim) to say I am not offended by the Prophet Mohamed’s cartoons when I was deeply insulted by them?”

The only explanations I could come up with were either the West truly has no idea how most Muslims feel about religion, or they want justification at any cost and safety in numbers – the more Muslims say it’s OK then it must be OK.

And for the record, Islam equally respects all Abrahamic religions, and proper Muslims are by the same token offended by any disrespect shown to any of the Holy Prophets – Abraham, Jesus, Moses, Joseph, David….

However, regardless of the insult, it is never okay, nor is it acceptable to terrorise and murder people for having an opinion. Particularly as Islam teaches Muslims to be tolerant of others’ shortcomings, and encourages them to be forbearing with those who misunderstand them.

As a Muslim who voluntarily moved to Britain, I grew to love all things British. Upon my arrival on these shores, I made it my duty to learn, experience and to assimilate myself and my family. I wanted us to fit in, and succeed. My girls, who attended Church of England schools; annually participated in Christmas nativities, Easter events, and at times even sang in the school choir. None of that took away from our values, but gave us first-hand experience of the culture of the society we willingly adopted. That is why it is my profound belief that all non-Brits who freely come over have a duty to themselves and their chosen home to embrace and understand their new environment. Learn the language, absorb the culture and become an asset – not the other way round. By so doing, they will enrich themselves and their communities, and coexist in harmony.

It is also imperative to remember the same freedoms that allowed the cartoonists to offend Muslims allow Muslims to build mosques, worship freely and openly and dress differently. To suppress the freedoms of artists, writers or broadcasters will also quell the freedoms of those who want to practice a different religion or open faith schools. Liberty is a two-way street; that is why my question lingered for the best part of a week.

Out of respect to those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks and their families, I did not write this blog until now, after the Solidarity March and the victims’ burials.

In closing, as a person I detest terrorism particularly terrorism carried out in the name of my religion. This post is dedicated to the victims of the Paris attacks with my deepest and sincerest condolences to their families and loved ones. I pray for their souls to rest in peace, for tolerance and understanding between our diverse communities, and for learning to accept each others’ differences.l


Tameka Epsom, Melvin Odoom, the BBC and Strictly Come Dancing

Posted 11 Oct 2016 by Walaa Idris


I love Strictly and think the BBC is a national treasure and one of our proudest exports. Thanks to Sky+ these days I hardly watch anything live but also never miss a thing because I record almost everything.

Watching, a recording of Strictly Come Dancing the Results last night I was saddened and shocked to see Tameka Epsom eliminated. Saddened because she was great fun and a delight to watch. Shocked because she improved 100 % in her elimination dance thus showing she is a diverse dancer with huge potential plus the ability to deliver witty and serious in equal measures.

To be honest when the judges eliminated her my first reaction was “darn the second black contestant in as many weeks, let’s hope this doesn’t turn into a race row.” So, it is safe to say I was not at all surprised this morning to read race did become the central issue of her elimination. When it could and possibly is a matter of taste, abilities plus a host of non-race related reasons.

Those focusing on race should maybe shift their attention to fairness and justice. The week before Tameka Epsom was eliminated Melvin Odoom lost his place on Strictly and became the first contestant to leave the show. The poor man left without even getting a chance to dance his elimination dance. Why? Because Anastasia, the other contest on the bottom two that week, before preparing for the dance off told the judges “I am not sure if I can dance with my injury.” Of course on hearing that no BBC lawyer worth his salt will allow her to dance again. Understandably in this situation her health and well-being must come first and she should get the all clear from doctors before doing more dancing. I would go even further and say why was she even allowed to dance with an injury on the first place?

Having said that, what I have a problem with here is fairness.

Both contestants where on the bottom of the leader-board after the public vote and judges’ marks were tallied. The only thing left for them to do then was the dance-off. Since Anastasia was unwell, she was unable to dance again. So, why didn’t the BBC, in the spirit of fairness and equal opportunity forgo the elimination for that week and maybe had a double elimination later in the season?

That would have been kinder and nicer. It would have been a welcome and just change. And dare I say it would have avoided this unnecessary race row.


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