Tag Archives: david cameron

Tough road ahead for Cameron

Its one of the most testing time for the British Prime Minister. After Hackgate cut short David Cameron’s Africa visitt, it was the teenage turmoil that has ‘vandalised’ his vacation.

Back in London to restore peace on the streets of United Kingdom, Cameron faces a critical junction that will define his premiership. Barring the lone occasion of him admitting that in the hindsight hiring former News of The World editor Andy Coulson was a mistake; Cameron hasn’t backed out on any of his stand or for that matter policy issues.

Night four was relatively calm in London, but elsewhere in UK riots were on, but coming in on day four of mayhem after many parts of the Capital were vandalised is not going to do a world of good to the PM as he faces the parliament on Thursday.

With Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman on BBC newsnight already giving the crisis a political shade by linking it to the CUTS that are frustrating the youth and being a contributing factor to this outrage it won’t be an easy walk ahead.

Not just that the four letter word will bite as the role of cops the way they acted will go under the lens. The questions, why did this happen, are the cops in their present numbers and infrastructure in a position to handle any such overwhelming chaos in future, can such incidents be averted in future? And most importantly can the police afford to have CUTS.

Research by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary released last month suggests the police will  loose 16,200 personnel by 2015 and a total loss including that of the civilian staff will be close to 34,000. This according to BBC Newsnight will take the police strength back to what it was in 2003.

With the CUTS yet not imposed there have been two major violent protests in nine months is the prime minister going to rethink his strategy.

Apart from the policy matters and the debates in parliament which Cameron so far has defended showing admirable command his big test is will be to reinstall the faith of the man on the street, by securing them, their prospects and in the wake of ongoing crisis securing their businesses.

With his deputy and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg being forced to cut short his walk through the streets of Birmingham after being booed by the public and the shopkeepers in London taking on themselves to guard their businesses it’s not a good sign for Cameron.

Facing all this is not going to be easy, but it’s about time Cameron goes back to the famous ‘Hug the Hoodie’ speech he gave on July 10, 2006.  He then said “there is a connection between circumstances and behaviour,” and merely, “Debating symptoms and not causes will not serve the purpose.”

It’s the latter advice he then gave the Labour government that needs his attention to hold ground in the long run.

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Obama presses the Tweet button to deal with deficit

Barack Obama is on a tweet spree. “Make a phone call, send an email, tweet,” he said in his bid to garner support to reach a compromise for taking US out of debt.

Unable to reach a consensus on the debt crisis ahead of the August 2 deadline, Obama urged people to Tweet and reach their local congressional member urging them to compromise on the debt ceiling.

The unprecedented move of the American president is a unique combination of sorts; the world most powerful man using one of most public tools to quickly pass the message.

The move also showcases how the most powerful leader acknowledges the real house of power – people.

With every message reaching out to 9,362,843 (at the time of writing) people there was no other way by which the president could reach these many people. Not only that 692,518 people also can directly reach him on his tweet handle.

As a result of the tweet spree by his Obama2012 campaign phone lines of the House were running at peak traffic volume.

The move allows Obama to reach out to the Republicans via people and make his point heard. Twitter gives the president a people’s advantage to convince or pressurise his political rivals and in turn reach Republican supports.

How effective the campaign will be remains to be seen, but the tool of social networking which led to Arab and African revolutions is being used by leaders to establish a connect with their people.

@BarackObama sets the precedent by seeking people’s support via twitter, but its usual for politicians and leaders in west to use this medium to make their stand.

Recently president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez used twitter to work from hospital; the UK Prime Minister though doesn’t have a personal twitter account No. 10 Downing Street has a tweet handle which is functional.

Few months back on news channel Al-Jazeera world leaders like Barack Obama and David Cameron in a series of world view interview were put questions collected using You tube, which they readily answered. Though not a social media tool, the drive allowed people to pose questions in person and seek response via web.

While the west is embracing social media to gauge the people’s moods, politicians in India shy away from any social media.

As the debate in the country heats up over the Lokpal Bill, could the PMO have not used social media tools to gauge what the people think? Why is it that the leaders shy away from meeting the people who matter? Why is it that it takes a huge uproar and public outcry for the PM even address the media?

When I was in India recently I asked a senior Congress leader who has a berth in the Union Cabinet and when asked about use of social media the response was: “Let it be with Shashi Tharoor Sahab, why keep unnecessary headache.”

If this is the attitude that top politicians have, they are light years behind reality.

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Five points that India can learn from Hackgate

Hackgate has been one of the biggest controversies in Britain. The alleged illegal and unethical practices of the mightiest media conglomerate led to the end of a 168 year old weekly.

It saw the media mogul Rupert Murdoch being summoned by the Commons, government officers resigned so did it saw top newspapers executives and so far 10 people have been arrested. Not to mention that the Prime Minister David Cameron has been forced to cut short his Africa tour in order to attend Prime Ministers questions.

Looking at the way the system, government and media machinery functions here for almost a year it makes me feel that the we should have had a ‘Raj’ hangover of different kind.

Not denying the fact that it took eight long years and two inquires which led to nothing substantial, this one is turning out to be mother of all investigations so far. As an Indian national watching the developments from ringside I figure out five points that wouldn’t harm if we have a ‘Raj’ hangover.

Transparency

The way events are unfolding it’s all playing to the gallery, with television cameras bringing the parliamentary proceedings and that of the committee into people’s living room. Contrary to our parliamentary committee proceedings about which we the people hear via sources, reports and committee findings. The line of Q&A’s is never known. Those involved chicken out on the mention of being transparent. (the most recent being Lokapal bill meetings and the hearings in Radia tapes).

Accountability:

There is a great notion of being accountable to the people. Leaders and officials when in dock own up to their doings and wrong doings. Former Prime minister Tony Blair was summoned second time early in January before the Iraq enquiry and the proceedings were televised, neither Labour party nor Blair loyalist made a hue and cry like their counterparts in our country. Today Cameron said, if proven that Andy Culson was involved in Hackgate he would issue an apology to the house and said in hindsight the appointment was error of judgement. While our leaders hardly own up to their error of judgements leave aside appearing before a committee and that too in public view. Look at the drama over Radia tapes and formation of Joint Parliamentary committee; it stopped the house from functioning.

Etiquette

It is amazing for an Indian to see a parliament that functions, goes about fulfilling its duties and moreover the MP’s abiding by the word of the speaker. Whatever be the debate questions are raised, answered and speaker is above everyone else in the house. Full house or less attendance the house functions without failing and it has the power to call high and mighty for being questioned. Murdochs could not defy when summoned.

Speed

As mentioned it took long for Hackgate to reach where it has, but this time around the speed of investigations and committee hearings have been done at a lightning speed. That apart in the MPs expenses scandal that was brought to light in May 2009, so far six MP’s have been pleaded guilty and sentenced. Can we ever imagine this to happen in India, our Kalmadi’s still get a VIP treatment even while waiting for the cab in the prison? Common wealth game scam, Adarsh Scam, Cash for votes, Radia Tapes the list goes on without a single outcome.

Democratic

Most importantly the government doesn’t hide behind the coalition dharma disguise. Members in the coalition can voice different opinions, but the government takes appropriate action. In the Hackgate David Cameron is being questioned by both his MP’s and by those of Liberal Democrats and responding in all fairness. We can’t even dream of PM, or UPA chairperson ever being questioned, if someone does they are shown the door.

Is anyone listening?

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Coalition attacks Libya to impose No Fly Zone

The UN coalition forces have launched operation Odyssey Dawn in their bid to end Gaddafi assault on Benghazi.

In a matter of few hours the scenario changed dramatically in Libya.

Backed by the UN approval to adopt all necessary measures authorising No Fly Zone (NFZ) over Libya to protect civilian lives France led the coalition attack over Muammar Gaddafi forces.

Interestingly it is a Euro led attack spearheaded by France aided by UK with US playing the unusual second fiddle.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy has shown a great zeal in bid to uproot Gaddafi, remember France was the first country to recognise rebels as the government.

Sarkozy finds an unusual partner in David Cameron, who backed by the opposition and after serious thinking takes the opportunity as what some sections in media described as his finest hour in politics.

Amidst all this the big brother US which more often than not champions the cause of democracy around the world, took a long long time in a long time to jump the gun.

It was only after the Arab league and gulf nations intervened that President Barack Obama made his mind to intervene in the state of affairs of imposing a no fly zone.

Not discounting the fact that a leader willing to kill his people should not be stopped, but the way things have unfolded over the last one month make for an unusual picture.

Though the ground rules for the NFZ have been established stressing that there won’t be any occupation, what also comes to mind that in bid to secure NFZ and ground Gadaffi human lives will be lost.

Also the way West has reacted to the uprisings does pose a question or two.

While it wasted no time in getting NFZ imposed on Libya the moment Gadaffi announced his forces were coming to Bengazi, there has been no such action towards situation in Bahrain where the troops have already fired at protestors.

In fact they have been aided openly by Saudi and Kuwaiti forces to curb protests but no action in sight so far.

Also it hasn’t been the case that there is a total boycott of Gadaffi regimen, in Tripoli the colonel still has supporters who storm in the face of the media pleading their support for him.

To label him as someone who has lost all the support won’t be just. In this case the step should be towards reforming Libya and not taking merely Gadaffi out.

How things now will turn is beyond anyone’s guess, how long will it last, how many casualties will it result in, and how will it end are questions that remain to be answered.

Nevertheless the 27X7 media interest has made it a spectacle with each broadcaster dishing their perspective of the developments. Add to it the in numerous live tweets from ground zero and world over have turned this crisis into entertainment of sorts.

Amidst this a question posed by a civilian to scribes outside a hospital as aired on Al Jazeera poses an unanswered question to me and questions the interest of west in liberating Libya.

“The Americans, the British and the French over the years gave all these weapons to Gaddafi to rule us and now they are coming and dropping bombs to save us. How is it justified?”, said the civilian.

The answer lies in economics and not politics, but is something which is lost in the spectacle that media has made out of the uprising.

 

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Deal or no deal: Ammunition for debate

Timing is one of the most important things in politics. Getting it right brings in lot of bouquets, misjudge it and the brickbats are all yours.

David Cameron earned the distinction of being the first Western leader to visit the revolution ravaged countries. The timing was just right for a round of applause, but the arm dealers accompanying him on the business mission was a mistimed move that earned the PM criticism.

Is selling arms to dictators/military rulers a right move? The debate got the better of Cameron, a miffed PM retorted his critics were ‘at odds with reality’.

Here he was talking pure and simple economics; though the arms deal don’t contribute much to the nations account books, in crunch time every bit counts. The trade employs one percent of Britain’s workforce, contribute 1.5% to the exports and needs around £5million in subsidies (The Times ).

The PM in his bid is doing what he could to boost the economy which is heading southwards.

What does him in is the fact that over the years occupants of No.10 Downing Street have been preaching peace and democracy to the world at large and also fuelling the non proponents of democracy with ammunition.

As The Times reports in 2009, 16 of the 53 countries invited for the biennial Defence Security and Equipment International, London almost every third country (16 to be precise) was questionable, for either they were involved in a current conflict or as a matter of practise didn’t respect human rights.

It’s been a legacy that Cameron has inherited and is following it unabashedly.

It should have been in news had he overseen the smaller gains for the larger interest of human rights that he advocates again as a proverbial British practise.

It would require a bigger and bolder step by world’s talking heads to get their acts right and walk the talk.

As of now the economic reasons it seems give them a reason to walk the other way, talking the same things.

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Cameron talks tough on Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism in Britain evokes strong views by the prime minister.

Speaking at a security conference in Munich, David Cameron took a path many politicians shy from – take the minorities head on.

Cameron in his approach was straight forward and to my understanding right when he said that owing to laxity in the approach by Britain, it was considered to be ‘heaven for terror suspects’.

To his credit he pointed out the reality; the youth in these minority groups are disillusioned- they can’t identify with practises which are preached at the same time they fail to keep in pace with the cosmopolitan set up of Britain.

Minding his words Cameron made his point clear, he said Multiculturalism has failed.

Tactfully he mentioned “We need to be clear: Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing.” (BBC). But in the same vein was prompt to point out how activities of those living in segregated communities can prove to be harmful for the state.

The example he gave of how as society they would condemn a white person if he/she committed a something that could be termed was racial. “But we would not do the same if the person was non-white, we would be fearful,” said Cameron.

He was very true, in a matter of minutes his speech as a head of state who was defending his country and admitting that they have failed to provide a vision for the state where people could identify with their beliefs, he was attacked by communities and politicians alike.

For me he was well within his right to point out the failure and unlike German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn’t say Multiculturalism is dead.

There is a sea of difference in failing and being dead.

Failure can convert into passing with the due course of time, but it is almost impossible to revive the dead.

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