It is very wise to not write-off the LibDems.

Posted 20 Mar 2013 by Walaa Idris

Obviously, some things about Liberal Democrats ideologies don’t sit well with me, but I am not a lofty dreamer and do belief it is very possible they might again hold the balance of power in 2015.

I know today most talk is about the budget. But, I tend to blog about things that are tossing around in my head. And since Saturday I have been thinking about the next general election.

Last time, after the 2010 general election, we were stunned by the outcome. A very unpopular Prime Minster leading a very unpopular government presiding over a heap of economic calamity and we still did not win outright. And although things will be different in 2015 and better than they were in 2010 – better here doesn’t mean the national debt will be wiped-out and unemployment banished. Better in this instance is having control over the economy and a systematic steady management of our debt, the deficit and sturdy growth.

In the past couple of days, since the Conservatives 2013 Spring Forum on Saturday most talk, within the Conservative family, revolved around the 2015 General Election. That got me thinking about the possibility of another coalition government after 2015 – which as things stand is a very possible possibility.

Just before the 2010 General Election a team of Tory strategists, led by William Hague put together a paper outlining possible coalition scenarios with the Liberal Democrats. These outlines later became part of the current coalition agreement. The LibDems did a similar thing and worked on two different scenarios one with Labour and the other with the Tories. The only party that arrogantly found themselves unprepared for a coalition in 2010 was the Labour party. That is why; form the very start, all their negotiations with the LibDems fell apart. Although sad, it was comical to watch Labour politicians go into meetings after meeting and come out looking bewildered because they had no idea what to say or what was said. They looked and sounded like Martians on earth, refused every offer and consequently made no deal.

Despite the numbers (Lib/Tory numbers worked better than Lib/Lab numbers), in 2010 Labour made a historic mistake by ignoring all predictions and evidences put in front of them by political analysts of all hues, and believed their own publicity. They went into the election with the most unpopular leader and after losing it, did not even have the tenacity to turn things around with negotiations. Why? Because they were not prepared for it, and thought they will win and if not they had the magic to sway Liberals to partner with them over the Conservatives. I bet good money they will not make this mistake ever again.

As a Conservative, of course I want and will work very hard for an outright Tory victory and a Conservative government. However, as a realist I think it will be ignorant and arrogant to not consider and prepare for a coalition after 2015.

That is why I hope alongside working for a Conservative victory, we have in place plans for a future coalition with our liberal partners. The focus should be on continuing the work started in 2010 and keeping Labour out for another five years.

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Labour might be loud but the Coalition should be proud

Posted 9 Jan 2013 by Walaa Idris

Despite winning last night’s vote, as New Year’s go 2013 looks like a tough one for Cameron and the Tories. First we had Paul Goodman’s four reasons why Cameron will find it difficult to win in 2015. That was followed by Lord Ashcroft’s analysis on why the Tories will not win the next election. They were both then followed by the back to back resignations of Thomas Strathclyde and Jonathan Marland. As far as the resignations go the reasons offered are solid. Governments are fluid and people leave either on their own accord or when they are asked to go, nevertheless, those who want to read something into them will do.

Benedict Brogan on the Telegraph eludes that something more sinister is the matter. I don’t agree. It’s a new year and this government is half way through to the next election with over 100 achievements of it is 300 promises under its belt, for some this is a good time for change. Personally, I think there is no need to read anything more into the resignations, but the Goodman Ashcroft articles are food for thought. It is my belief that it’s always better to be prepared and ready for all eventualities.

The past two and a half years have been complex politically, extremely difficult economically and neither had helped socially. To many, even those inside government, several things were novel and perplexing. These factors made many grassroots and elected politicians alike disheartened and at times even confused. The Tories have never before been this divided and the Lib Dems who were once the darlings of the protest vote became the pariah of politics.

Like any Conservative, I will always rather we govern alone on a Conservative manifesto enshrined in Conservative values and principles, and give the people what they actually voted for. But that was not to be in 2010.

Nonetheless, what happened after that election wasn’t all bad either. Like many I learned a few things that I wouldn’t have realised if it wasn’t for the Coalition. I discovered that although I will never fully agree with Liberal Democrats, they are actually not that impossible to work with, plus I do like and have huge respect for them. I also found out that most of the problems some Tories have with Cameron are due to what they see as his liberal and modernising agenda. But wait a minute, isn’t that what two third of the Tory party elected him to do, modernise and bring the party into the twenty first century? Don’t get me wrong, there are a few things I disagree with and rather did not happen. But I trust Cameron and belief and hope he gets us there at the end. Optimistic, you bet! And let’s not forget that they are the same reasons this coalition is still working and will continue to until 2015 – thus giving the country the assured stability it desperately needs in these difficult times.

Now, both Cameron and Clegg might be thinking ‘if we keep our heads down and do the job we promised to do, the voters will remember it come May 2015’. I hope they are right and I want them to do. But, the protest noises coming from Lab, displeased Tories and LibDems are not just white noise and they will undoubtedly confuse and possibly even sway some people.

In my opinion, the coming couple of years should be about cementing the reforms, bringing on board fresh idea that take us forward economically, but they should also be about tirelessly showcasing the Coalition’s accomplishments and doing it loud enough to drawn all Labour’s noises.

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Should taxpayers pay more to sustain welfare while they are earning less?

Posted 8 Jan 2013 by Walaa Idris

Conservatives Standing up for hardworking people

Labour is in a pickle and they know it. Despite the rhetoric and the pretence, they know their stance on voting against capping benefits at 1% for the next 3 years is a blow to taxpayers, a knockback to those who foot the bill. They also know voters are not stupid. Under Labour, our welfare system spiralled out of control, and while out of work benefits double, those who work and foot the benefit bill did not see the same rise to their incomes. And Labour is very aware of that.

But talk the cap down they will, and vote against it they must. After all they are the opposition and since their only alternative is to keep things as they are and borrow more. They have no choice but to vote against the motion and hope the government wins it. So they can say it’s too late – it’s done – and now it’s out of our hands!

This country’s debt is colossal, our benefit system is out-dated, and open to abuse, both need to be addressed, and that is the hard honest truth. On the other hand, government ‘cutting taxes for millionaires at the expense of hardworking working families’ – that’s just pure Labour spin and they know it.

Iain Duncan Smith was right when he said: “Now Lab are in opposition they are being ridiculous and irresponsible pretending there are soft options” – and they know that one too.

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Liberals’ guide to apologies, or not

Posted 21 Sep 2012 by Walaa Idris

Clegg’s tuition fees’ apology will turn into a PR disaster and might even give the opposite effect, if Libs don’t get on the same page.

In his heartfelt apology, Nick Clegg was very clear that he thought they made a mistake when they promised before the election to vote against any rise in tuition fees. And added they shouldn’t have committed to a policy that was so expensive when there was no money around, especially as the other parties did not and the only way they (the Liberal Democrats) could implement it was in a coalition government.

Therefore, the promise was a mistake and Clegg bravely put his hands up and apologized!

Imagine my surprise when the following morning David Laws told the Today program:

“If the Liberal Democrats had won 500 seats, of course it would have been technically possible to deliver this policy. It wasn’t possible after the election, and that is why Nick has apologized.”

To me, that sounded more like “because we were in coalition we had to give in” and nothing like “we gave in because it was unworkable and a mistake to begin with”

Then later that afternoon, Equalities minster Jo Swinson said:

“Had we had enough seats to form a majority Liberal Democrat government, we would have implemented our manifesto.”

So forgive my confusion, which is it? A mistake because there wasn’t enough money to implement and should never have been promised in the first place, or a compromise because Liberals didn’t win an outright majority?

The difference between the two is significant!

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All the public wants is a reduced deficit, job creation and the prospect of a good life!

Posted 6 May 2012 by Walaa Idris

I confess I am a big ‘C’ Conservative and those who know me will confirm it. Liberal on almost all issues that pertain to personal freedom, because I deeply believe people are the best stewards of what is best for them; small non- meddling governments are the most effective leaderships. Personal responsibility is the cornerstone of a good society and should be learnt at home, ideally from two parents, private charity is just that, private, and no body’s business. I am also a cheerleader for low taxes, controlled, monitored and managed immigration, harsh prison sentences (time should mean time) and an encourager of enterprising – and of course I strongly believe small businesses are the backbone of a successful economy.

After the 2010 elections – the idea of forming a coalition with anyone deeply pained and disturbed me – but all other alternatives were simply selfish and short sighted substitutes. Forming a coalition was the best outcome for the nation and to lay down the foundations for a fast recovery and a better future. For the two opponents to put to one side their ideological differences in order to sort out the mess (yes, it was one great big mess Labour left behind) was the honorable thing to do.

That feeling of selfless unity for the greater good is what convinced me and many on both parties to put to one side our differences and work as a team. It was never going to be easy and we all understood the seriousness of the task at hand.

Another thing those who know me will attest to is that I don’t like to publicly criticize my own and nothing can be more public than a blog.

However, both sides of the coalition need to take a step back and take a good hard self-examining look, both need to use the midterm results to ask themselves one crucial question – what is it the public wants us to do and what worries and concerns them the most?

It will surprise both parties to lean that the public’s disillusion mainly comes from not understanding clearly what the government is doing. For instance, this budget, at the heart of it is not a bad budget but it should have been explained better – and there is still room to do so. Non-politicos don’t care one bit if MPs are elected via AV or FPTP, just as they don’t see the point of an elected House of Lords. What the public wants is a clear, uncomplicated explanation of how they can keep more of their money, how the tax breaks will help their lot, how public services reforms will not have adverse impacts on their lives and if they work to the bone, will they live their winter years decently? They also don’t understand things like why can’t we send Abu Qatada back home when other EU member nations, in similar situation, were able to before, how come his human rights trump Christopher Tappin’s, the 65 year old retired businessman extradited to the US. Why is it, we seem to always be so righteous when it comes to others but never fight as hard for our own!?

As for Conservatives, the larger and senior partner in this coalition and the party of business, the party of sound and better management, of cutting taxes, reducing waste and creating a fertile and welcoming environment for enterprising from all over the globe – the grown up party. The public sees us as the firm party and expects us to be firm.

Historically Labour made the mess and the Conservatives marched in and cleaned it all up. They, the public, two years on are not interested to hear about who made what mess (they know who did what, they were there, remember) what they need is to be reassured by this government that it means business and that it has the remedies to the economic problem and the confidence to deliver them.

Government is a business, and like all businesses it needs to be fluid, flexible and have a clear goal, many of the things being carried out are in the coalition agreement, but two years on the extend of the damage inherited must be a lot clearer now than when the coalition agreement was drawn up. It is therefore, the responsibility of the two partners to revisit that agreement and readjust it to fit the public’s mood and interests, not the parties’ political ambitions.

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Winners and Losers ~ March 22, 2012

Posted 22 Mar 2012 by Walaa Idris

Winners and Losers

This is a good week for both Conservatives and Lib Dems. After months of ping ponging between the Commons and the Lords and many amendments later, the Health and Social Care bill was quietly passed on Tuesday night.

Giving GPs the power to decide and mange patients’ care is one of the many logical changes that should have been introduced years ago. Love or loath the reforms, the NHS needed a shakeup and needed it yesterday. The only reason Labour is angry about them is because they are prove, Labour did not have the guts or the wit to make them when they had the chance.

Nobody likes change and we all know it is not always easy, but we will only truly know the effect of these changes after they are implemented and fully tested. However, leaving things as they were in the NHS and many other institutions was not an option. Not because this government wants or likes change but because if things don’t change these organizations will simply die.

For me less bureaucracy is always better, more efficient and that is at the heart of these reforms.

It is also the week George Osborn delivered his second budget. Considering the state of our economy – this budget is what the country needs, it is good for business and encourages individuals to work. It is a balanced budget and gives as much as it takes. Taking within reason from those with broader shoulders and giving with aspiration to hard working low income earners and those with families.

In my opinion, the most important things in yesterday’s budget is that it lifted millions out of tax all together by increasing personal allowance because people know best how to spend their own money and they are much happier when trusted with it. Plus it defused Labour’s deliberately planted time bomb, the 50p tax rate.

Despite the left’s efforts to paint it as a budget that snatched money from the old and venerable and those who worked hard all their lives! From this April pensioners will get the largest pension increase and a less complicated self-assessment system, giving them a better understanding and use of the system.

It is also a budget that says Britain is open for business. An invitation the whole nation will profit from, specially pensioners. When the economy flourishes everyone will benefit from its prosperity via lower inflation and better interest rates. We already saw this morning; as a result of yesterday’s announcements, Glaxo Smith Kline announcing they are to invest £500 million in the UK to create 1000 jobs due to cuts in patent profit tax.

Like many Chancellors before him, Osborn is attempting to close as many loopholes in taxation making it as difficult as possible for individuals and corporations to use creative taxation. While at the same time he reduced corporation tax to encourage more businesses to come and stay in the UK. All of that makes the Coalition Government a winner.

The Loser sadly is one of my favourite Hollywood greats who acted in movies such as, The Deer Hunter, The Godfather II and Goodfellas. Although I am not one to make a song and dance about lighthearted quips involving race or skin colour, plus do think sometimes we need to lighten up a little. Robert De Niro clearly did not think before speaking when he intrduced Mrs Obama by saying ‘the White House is not ready for a white First Lady’! And although it was funny, it still makes him a loser because the star of Midnight Run, Meet the Parents and Analyse This can definitely do better than that.

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Dear coalition partners I like you, but....

Posted 11 Mar 2012 by Walaa Idris

LibDems

In a few weeks’ time this coalition government will be two years old. And although the two parties spent part of the first year finding their feet and getting to know one another closely; a great deal was achieved in two years. But at the same time lots came out about their characters.

Of the three main parties, the Liberal Democrats believe coalition government can be better than a majority party government. Not a surprise, because as things stand, the only way they can govern is in coalition. However, what I find surprising, liberals seem constantly criticizing this government, their own coalition government, as if they are on the outside looking in and not an active and invested partner!

For us, non-coalition types, this behavior just confirms the traditional belief that in the future what’s best for the nation especially at a time of crisis is the stability of a minority government for some time followed by a snap election and a majority government. Because what started as a new era of selfless politics turned out to be a destabilizing public display of power struggle between associates.

Where Conservatives minsters are constantly working towards a harmonious union of the two ideological divides, liberals are busy claiming victories and putting their stamp on every detail. While Tories strive to do what’s best for the national interest (the main reason for forming this partnership) LibDems are too busy scoring points for their own future manifesto.

My worry is, all this point scoring business is getting in the way of the main reason we are in partnership and that is sorting out the country’s economy. As an optimist, despite my disappointment, I still hope the novelty of being in government has in two years wore off and the Libs are now ready to spend the remaining three years of this parliament working as part of a team and stop acting like the enemy within.

Don’t get me wrong, despite the frustrations, a great deal was achieved and there is much for the two partners to celebrate together. But going forward the aim should be to focus on the reasons the two parties came together to achieve, highlight their benefits and not compete internally against their one goal, sorting out the mess inherited from Labour. And since coalition government is their lifeline and only hope of government, I would think it is in their best interest to show national coalition governments works and they, the Liberal Democrats, are an attractive trusted partner to work with.

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Does Tom Farron speak for all the liberals?

Posted 9 Mar 2012 by Walaa Idris

Is Tim Farron saying the Liberal Democrats went into coalition to stop a Tory majority government!? When most of us are under the impression they did it for the national interest, for the the good of Britain and what’s best for people!

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David Cameron: "Delivering on our promises"

Posted 7 Mar 2012 by Walaa Idris

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Why occupying the center ground of politics is a tricky business!

Posted 7 Nov 2011 by Walaa Idris

Hung Parliament 2

First, it is becoming too crowded and over populated by politicians of all hues and flavors. Many on either side of politics fiercely fight to occupy and represent it but come election time, they equally insist they are different! Meanwhile to the voting public they seem too similar, offering the same politics with different colour rosettes, separated with maybe one or two issues here and there.

The second problem with the center is that it’s vague. It reminds me with the saying “Jack of All Trades – Master of None” because it’s a place where the similarities outnumber the differences. It’s where overlaps are common place and uniqueness is hardly there. It’s where politicians can go as close as possible to the other side without having to crossover. Modernizers regard it as “inclusive and progressive” but to the non-politicos ordinary folk; it’s plain confusing and even messy.

Having said that, once in a while, a politician succeeds in occupying and capitalizing on it! Recently, Tony Blair did just that in the 90s and managed three consecutive wins. However, a decade later when Cameron took the Tories to the center ground and although it appeared modern and ‘progressive’, electorally it cost him and his party a 20 point lead. At a time when Blair’s Labour was on its knees and Brown was a sitting duck Prime Minster! The centre ground that gave Blair three consecutive wins and his historic two landslides backfired in 2010 and delivered a hung parliament resulting in the historic Coalition between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats!

Why?

During the Sky TV Debates, and before Brown and Cameron began to agree with Nick, the public saw three leaders representing three different parties, with very little difference between them. They saw clearly what some suspected and many commentators tried to communicate – that our politics today is so similar there is little to disagree about!

That’s the problem with the centre ground today – instead of being the middle ground where politics meet for a compromise and conflict resolution – it is now the home of all political parties, where all election will result in a hung parliament and the country is governed by coalitions.

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