Why now we must all #BackBoris

Posted 15 Aug 2019 by Walaa Idris

It is no secret I am a Brexiteer and during the EU Referendum supported and campaigned for the Vote Leave campaign. Like all my fellow Brexiteers and most of the country I believe we should have left by now. That is why I think it is time for those who voted to Remain to put their personal feelings aside and support the Prime Minister. They need to back Boris to end the Brexit uncertainty and allow the country to move forward.

When parliament triggered Article 50, MPs knew what they signed up for. They knew they had two years to negotiate the terms of Withdrawal, followed by a withdrawal without a deal if a deal cannot be agreed.

Now, three years after the referendum and we still haven’t left. Parliament is stuck. Government is stuck. The country is stuck. The uncertainty of this stuckness is chipping away at our economy and slowly destroying us, as individuals, as communities and as a country, and it needs to stop.

Parliament now has a duty to break this deadlock. It is the job of MPs, as the elected representatives to deliver what the country instructed them to do. And deliver it despite personal views or feelings. We are now at a crossroad, our democracy is at stake and trust in our politicians is at it’s lowest because Brexit hasn’t yet been delivered.

The time to argue there wasn’t enough information during the 2016 campaign or the vote was advisory, or after three years people changed their minds or, or …… are all pointless. Frankly, they are also baseless, because in a democracy when people cast their vote they expect it to be honoured. They expect those they sent to parliament to represent them do as instructed.

That is why we must now leave. That is also why we must all support Boris Johnson. He has the commitment to honour what the country voted for. The leadership to carry it through, and the vision to be bold and pragmatic while delivering it. His choice of ministers and announcements to date are prove of it.

The PM and all his cabinet have repeatedly set out their desire for a deal, and their willingness to renegotiate and agree one. However, it is correct and encouraging they are all in agreement that if a better deal is not agreed we will still leave without one. This is the certainty the country and our economy has been craving for for three years and that is why we must all back Boris Johnson and stand united behind him to leave with or without a deal on October 31st.

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My address to fellow councillors.

Posted 20 Jul 2019 by Walaa Idris

Last year at the council (Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea) we spent nine months reviewing our governance. One of the outcomes was to change the way we do scrutiny. The public wanted to have greater involvement in scrutiny, and the findings to be more policy making than just recommendations. We listened and the result was a total revamp of scrutiny committees. We now have an overarching Overview Scrutiny Committee, that oversees all scrutiny and directs the work of the four select committees below it. Thus giving the process greater focus while allowing for more specialisation and more in-depth examination. The four committees are, Adult Social Care and Health; Environment; Family Services; and Housing and Communities.

I decide to put myself forward to chairing the Family Services Committee. See below my address to fellow councillors:

I am writing to ask for your support in my decision to chair the Family Services Council Select Committee. Last year I served in the Adult Health & Social Care Scrutiny Committee, besides that experience, I bring personal and lived experiences to this role.

As a mother, a sister and a daughter, family is very important to me. It is the umbrella under which we rear and empower our young, and support and care for our old. As Conservatives, we understand that family is the foundation of every community and the bedrock of every society. By nurturing all our families, whatever shape or size, we enrich our communities and strengthen our futures.

Safeguarding of vulnerable children and support for families will sit at the heart of my chairmanship’s work as it is among the council’s most important statutory responsibilities. We have excellent schools. Both my daughters used local authority schools: first St Mary Abbott’s, and then Holland Park. They also used after school clubs and summer programme activities. It was the only way I could afford to work full time and raise them as a single parent. I was so impressed with our youth services provision, I became a trustee and campaigned alongside residents to save a failing local youth project from closure then helped to turn it around into a successful programme. Keeping the youth safe and occupied by providing them with after school activities is a lifeline for many parents. And, although I never adopted or fostered children, I came across some who did, many found the process good but some felt it needed improvements. If elected; I promise to closely scrutinise the process, in order to promote greater kindness and efficiency.

In my first year as a councillor, I shadowed Gerard (Cllr Hargreaves) and got to know and understand many aspects of the diverse communities in our borough. During that time, I understood good chairing and how to bring out the best in people – by giving a voice to those too quiet to hear or a little shy to speak. This experience, plus part chairing a number of meetings throughout the year, has allowed me to understand and appreciate effective chairing, collaborative working and respect to members’ valuable time and contributions.

As a member of the Governance Review Panel, I listened to and spoke with hundreds of residents: and it is because I know our constituents want to see scrutiny groups active and out in their communities that I am so determined to take on this role. At this Council, we want scrutiny to be more resident – facing, more geared towards policy development and less Town Hall centric. Those priorities directly respond to what residents told us they want from scrutiny. And to bring that dynamic scrutiny vision to life, we need people who believe in it.

Besides bringing life and personal experience into the fold, I can empathise and effortlessly relate to others’ experiences. That coupled with my calm and measured reasoning, will make me a suitable chair for this committee. I want to empower residents to be consistently engaged, trust the council more and not be afraid to come forward with new and untried ideas. I also want meetings to become extra efficient and run to time. Additionally, I want to engage members of the committee further by enabling them to have more say and bigger involvement in working groups. I want them to feel that their opinion and the issues they value are valued.

We are very lucky in this borough, as we have good public services and some of the best schools in the country. But the best is only as good as our commitment to excellence. And excellence can only be achieved with robust scrutiny.

Thank you for your time.

Walaa

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My pick for Conservative leader and our next Prime Minister

Posted 13 Jun 2019 by Walaa Idris

As a proud paid up member of the Conservative Party, I am one of those who will vote for our next leader and PM. I take this responsibility and privilege very seriously. That is why I waited until all candidates launched their campaign. I also took the time to listen and read what they had to say and tried to understand why they want to lead, before deciding who can be the best to lead us at this junction. After considering all, and balancing between heart and head. I think only one candidate stands out form the rest.

Our next leader needs to be optimistic, believes in Britain and her might. They also need to be someone who is ready to hit the ground running. The person to next lead us, must be able to unite and protect our country. Unite it by delivering Brexit no later than October 31, and protect it form Jeremy Corbyn by winning the next General Election with a working Conservative majority. He or she must also be able to work with the outside world and garner support for Britain.

And since this leadership contest we are not electing the leader of the opposition, we therefore, don’t have the time or luxury to develop and test an unknown, a fresh new face. We need a statesman, and someone who is readymade for the job. A candidate who becomes Prime Minister from day one. This person, also have to be a Brexiteer. We had a Remain PM and we all saw how that ended. This time we need someone who can deliver Brexit because they campaigned for it, believe in it and can deliver it.

Ladies and gentlemen, the only candidate who can do this is Boris Johnson.

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My Freshman Year in RBKC

Posted 26 May 2019 by Walaa Idris

This May, I am celebrating my first year as an RBKC (the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea) councillor. The saying “time flies when you’re having fun” is very true. The past twelve months went by in a flash. I was very lucky to have a number of varied positions. I sat on the Planning Applications Committee, Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee, the Governance Review Panel and was deputy to the Communities & Culture lead member. I judged competitions, chaired a number of meetings, visited community hubs, sat on neighbourhood safety briefings and even accompanied Madam Mayor on a few events. For an afternoon, I was a book in the Human Library and spoke in the Council Chambers on Brexit, saving the No 11 & 19 Buses (which we saved), Housing, Policing, Transport and gave my maiden speech. I also responded to hundreds of emails and addressed a number of residents’ issues in the ward and borough wide.

It was truly a memorable year. One where I learnt a lot about myself and others. I met some fantastic people in the Town Hall, my ward and the borough. I made new friends, and strengthens old relationships. At times I was more tired than I ever imagined I could be, but it was all so exhilarating I didn’t mind it much. Luckily, a few weeks after I got elected, I was advised by a former councillor to 1) pace myself and not over do things, and 2) carve out some down time to recharge. I did both and they helped me to stay relaxed while being productive. I highly recommend doing both.

My second year started with a bang. A few weeks ago, I was asked by our incoming Mayor, Cllr Will Pascall, to become his deputy. This was one of the roles I dreamt about holding one day, and in all honesty expected to, but one day in the very far future not on my second year. So, as you can imagine, I was over the moon with joy and proudly accepted. I will continue sitting in Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee, and as Vice Chair in the Planning Committee. I will also sit in the Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee. So, more to do and much more to learn.

All of this won’t have been easy if it wasn’t for the love and encouragement I get from my beautiful daughters. Thank you for always being there, for your unconditional love and unquestioning support. I shall use all you give me to make RBKC a little better by the end of my sophomore year.

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Save the 11 & 19 bus routes

Posted 20 Oct 2018 by Walaa Idris

Route 11

The mayor of London is about to turn the lives of Londoners upside down with his latest transport plans. If you use any of the routes he is planning to reduce or remove, please speak up. Have your say. Don’t let him disrupt our lives and destroy our transport.

I really don’t understand the logic behind changing routes 11 & 19! In Chelsea, we need them to continue as they are, because they are vital to many. Particularly those on fixed low incomes. The disruption of these routes causes enormous difficulties to parents with children, carers with charges, shoppers with bags, visitors with cases and all wheelchair users.

My ward (Brompton and Hans Town) residents of all ages and socioeconomic standards heavily depend on these two buses for their daily pursuits, be it for business or pleasure. And, as a parent, I know most parents would not want their older children, travelling on their own, waiting on bus stops and changing from bus to bus to get to school or back home. Besides being time consuming, it presents a safety and security concern, especially in dark winter nights.

This is what Jill, a constituent and regular bus user said “Buses 19 and 11 have been part of our lives ever since we have lived here. Do TfL and the Mayor really think people will be happy to change buses every few stops in the cold and the rain? Are they targeting smart people living in RBKC or is it change for changes sake? They will just encourage everyone to drive, which I thought was the last thing they wanted. It is particularly outrageous that there will be no direct route from Sloane Square to Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross. It does not work very well by tube if one has to walk up that steep hill from Embankment with a suite case.”

The general consensus from all those I spoke with, is TfL should engage with local residents, schools etc. prior to any implementation, because as it stands this is a regressive measure when the objective is to encourage bus use.

Please have your say here, closing date is Friday, November 9th 2018.


My Maiden Speech

Posted 18 Oct 2018 by Walaa Idris

It’s been almost a year since my last blogpost. No, I did not give up blogging all together, but took a break to focus on getting selected and elected Councillor in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

For those who don’t know yet. I was selected to stand in my home ward Brompton and Hans Town and proud to say in May 2018 I was elected Councillor. I have since, spent the past months settling in my new role and getting to know and understand my duties and the people around me who help me do them.

To date I have attended a number of committee and scrutiny meetings and three full council meetings. Last night I gave my maiden speech, below is the full text.

Good evening!

Thank you, Madam Mayor

I am honoured and delighted to stand before you as an elected Conservative councillor of this outstanding borough. And, especially as a representative of my own ward the beautiful and vibrant Brompton and Hans Town.

But before I get carried away. I would like to pay tribute to my former councillors and dear friends Tim Coleridge and Nick Paget-Brown. Who between them served this borough for 64 years. And, on behalf of the ward’s residents thank them for their long service and selfless dedication to public life.

Nick & Tim had many wonderful achievements Borough wide. More recently was turning Exhibition Road into a landmark and making it more accessible for disabled and elderly visitors to the museums.

Madam Mayor, 27 years ago, with a toddler and six months pregnant, I immigrated to the UK from the Sudan. London and RBKC became our home. But unfortunately, in 2002 we became homeless. After 3 years of moving from one temporary accommodation to another, we qualified for permanent housing south the borough, in the then Hans Town Ward.

Our 2-bedroom flat, with its charming balcony overlooking beautifully kept gardens was built in 1947 for war veterans and their families. Wiltshire Close is a warm and diverse community in the heart of Chelsea.
That is why, as a council tenant, I am excited by Cllr. Taylor- Smith’s commitment to build a variety of social housing. I am also delighted the government will lift the cap on how much councils can borrow to build new homes. Both are excellent news.

Madam Mayor, I entered politics to help those who need helping. After years of flirting with the idea of becoming a Member of Parliament I realised I will better serve my community and give back to my adopted home by becoming a councillor. By achieving small significant changes to improve people’s lives, I will attain more and help better. It took me a few years to get here but it was worth the wait. Because now, I represent my home ward and my neighbors.
Brompton and Hans Town with it’s pretty streets, historic buildings, boutiques, shops, restaurants and many international attractions, is also home to over 5500 residents and hundreds of fashionable and international businesses.

This beauty and vibrancy come with its own challenges. Millions yearly visiting the museums, high end retailers and establishments, puts enormous pressures on residents’ lives, council services and the community. But, it is also what makes this ward so desirable to live and work in.

As a resident, I know too well these challenges and face them daily myself. From roaring supercars, to the chronic begging outside Harrods or amplified busking around Exhibition Road and South Ken station. Plus let’s not forget the latest craze of motorcycle crimes. All these are issues I aim to work hard to reduce if not totally eradicate in my tenure.

As a K&C councillor, my duty extends to the whole borough. And as such I intend to passionately serve every corner of it. In the past few months, I saw clearly the pain felt by some in north the borough. My goal is to soothe that pain. I know it’s an ambitious goal, some might even say it’s a dream.

But Madam Mayor, I am a dreamer, who dreamt of studying in the US and I did. Dreamt of making London our home and I did. Dreamt of becoming a K&C councillor and I am. My dream now, is to play my part in easing that pain, and I will.

Thank You!

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Prince Harry needs to be very careful which POTUS to invite

Posted 29 Dec 2017 by Walaa Idris

Prince Harry

Of the young Royals, Prince Harry is the fun loving, cheeky popular one. He’s also the one without the weight of the throne on his shoulders. As a result, he gets to be what he wants, and do almost anything he wants to do. He is lucky in that he can nearly live his life as normal as the rest of us. However, as a Royal, everybody wants to be his friend and acquaintance. But like most associations these relationships can sometimes come at a cost.

The two princes, Harry and William, have a good relationship with the Obamas. However, while the princes are not political, the Obamas are very much so. Furthermore, while Prince Harry might want to simply please his future wife by inviting Barack and Michelle to their wedding, he should be very careful of the cost of inviting a former POTUS at the expense of the current one. Particularly as he is expected to be non-political and this invitation could be viewed only as political. His future wife made sure of it with her comments and remarks on the current US President.

As a monarchist Harry should tread carefully and show his maturity by maintaining neutrality. He should either invite both the former and current president or none. What he must never do at this sensitive time for our nation is to appear to be taking sides. The US is an important ally and friend, and with Brexit around the corner we need the current administration to feel the full strength of that importance.

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Country before Party

Posted 11 Oct 2017 by Walaa Idris

PM Theresa May

In 2016, choosing a leadership candidate was very easy. I am a Leaver, and at the time I thought the only leader that can deliver Brexit and the best outcome for our nation is a Leaver, so my choice was Andrea Leadsom. Whom I got to know a little when I was a parliamentary candidate. We all know what happened then and like any loyal Conservative I accepted the outcome and fell behind my new leader, encouraged by her message of hope I was optimistic.

Though not my choice, in time I warmed to the Prime Minister. She struck me as a woman who knew her mind and a person who ‘believed what said and said what she believed.’ Then a few month later she called that election. Calling the election was not the problem. The problem to me was going back on her word, after affirming many, many times that she won’t call a snap election.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no issue with people changing their mind. I do it all the time, and think changing one’s mind out of necessity or clarity is rather healthy. Just this weekend, I went for a family meal and had a choice of beer, Mojito or Prosecco with my big brunch set meal. After tossing over beer or Mojito, for a good 5 minutes, I ordered the later, yet after just two sips I changed my mind a third time and swapped it for the Prosecco. Now, that change of mind is acceptable, buying a pair of shoes, taking them home and a week later returning them because you no longer like them as much is acceptable. But telling voters and the world, in more than on occasion, you will not call an election then do in a matter of months is a big deal. Because it goes to trust, stability and that old adage of ‘saying what you mean and meaning what you say.’

That is why, when yesterday, in her LBC radio interview with Iain Dale, Theresa May refused to answer which way she will vote if the referendum is rerun, I was comforted and delighted.

So far, May, who wasn’t my preferred candidate, bar that snap election, has shown she is the best choice and has been a superb and sound leader. Dare I say, she is actually the best person for this post. The job of negotiating leaving the EU and putting up with the bullying of Brussels not to mention the relentless abuse from the opposition, celebrity Remainers and even some Leavers. Through it all she showed some guts.

Mrs May is primarily the Prime Minister of the UK. That means, even though Brexit is a priority, she is the head of the 52% that wanted to leave but also the 48% that didn’t. And, by not siding with either she just proved that she puts Britain’s interest ahead of her personal choice. To me that is the sign of a just leader.

It is for that reason I was shocked by those who misunderstood her refusal and started attacking her for it. Particularly those who call themselves Conservatives. Because attacking Theresa May will only weaken her and our stance as a nation in the world stage while strengthen the opposition.

To my fellow Conservatives, May is still the best and only viable leader for our party and the country. I don’t believe in hard or soft Brexit. To me Brexit is just leaving the EU with all its institutions. We don’t want a Canadian Deal, a Swiss or a Norwegian Deal, what we are seeking is a British deal that suits the UK and its unique makeup. Mrs May understands that and from the very beginning promised she will deliver what the country voted for despite herself voting to Remain.

So, let’s forget about what we personally want, and focus on what is best for our country, our children and the future generations. I didn’t want May to lead us, but she has proved to be a good leader. She admitted her mistake so let’s give her the respect and support she needs, unite behind her and stand strong against those who want derail Brexit.

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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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