Pull it out of the bag, Hillary!

As we await the start of the first presidential debate in this maddening election year, the advantage is definitely with Mr Trump. In light of her recent, cagey response to questions about her health has not helped her already damaged image as a corrupt politician. Trump on the other hand has not made that many gaffes, which is for him, a real achievement.

I cannot believe I am saying this but Hillary needs to ramp up the rhetoric but with sound policy to follow quickly behind. Hillary is never going to beat Trump on appealing to the basic, populist notions of strong men running strong countries but hopefully, she can still attract some rational republicans back to her side to retake the lead she has lot in recent weeks. She needs them to win; that is the reality.

Make no mistake, Trump is hard to beat at the moment with Roger Ailes and Stephen Bannon having done everything to prepare Trump for this debate. He will be going for the lowest common denominator when attacking Hillary, focusing on her health, emails, Clinton foundation and even the fact that she “created ISIS”.

It is going to be a fascinating contest with a hint of World destruction looming around it!

Hook, line, and sinker

One must take their hat off to the political strategists behind the Clinton campaign because with one masterful stroke, they have managed to dilute the support for Donald Trump and made the headlines about the email scandal 2nd page news. The convention got off to a bad start when Debbie Wasserman Schultz had to resign and Bernie supporters were threatening a democratic repeat of the RNC. The realpolitik of Bernie (mainly Bernie), Michelle Obama, Barack Obama and other democrats very much nipped that threat in the bud. It is possibly the gravity of the alternative that brought them together as such or Democrats really do think in terms of their party before themselves as right-wing hosts claim. It would have been so easy for Bernie to play up the rhetoric of the underdog who was also poisoned before the fight but he took a very mature decision not to.

People will ask why Ted Cruz didn’t do that and does that show his immaturity? No, it does not because Bernie was never insulted in the same way as Ted was. Ted Cruz’s wife was attacked and as was his father so the expectation he should forgive all of that and endorse the Donald is a little too much.

Going back to the DNC though, what a masterstroke to get the parents of Captain Khan onto speak. Not only that, but to write a speech in which Mr Khan directly attacks Donald Trump! Whoever wrote that speech knew exactly how to get under The Donald’s skin and get him to react. How badly he reacted was a mere bonus but the bait was terribly well set. A lot of media training has gone into Mr Khan before he ever spoke at the DNC because in all of his interviews, he never looks phased by the media questioning. Someone rather cleverly set all this up and realistically the Republican campaign should have seen it coming.

This election is not going to be won on policies because people are far more interested in the personalities of the candidates than their policies. In some ways it is a repeat of 2008 but this time, the people are rallying to stop someone getting elected. This election is going to be won on rhetoric and good political decisions where Hillary has the upper hand. If she can keep The Donald mired in controversy until the election, she is likely to peel back his support; particularly from slightly moderate republicans. Even in Texas people will be hard pressed to support the RNC candidate if he is constantly gaffing away.

The stage is set for a very interesting few months which will hopefully end in Hillary getting elected and the Republicans having to look very closely at the direction they are headed. They sort of started to do so after Mitt Romney lost but this loss will shake them to their core.

In light of the latest shooting in America.

“Another tragedy has struck the American Law enforcement. In Baton Rouge, 3 officers have been shot dead and more have been injured. We know few details at this time but arrests have been made. Most of the men detained are of African-American origin.”

Then, we wait for the Republicans and especially Donald Trump to chime in. He will say something along the lines of, “This was another attack from the African-American community which claims to want to live in peace and harmony. They know what is going on and they need to start sharing that information with us.”

Maybe someone like Newt Gingrich then calls for a ban on all African-Americans who believe in the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. “We need to screen all African-Americans living and entering in this country to save American lives.” – says Mr Gingrich.

Hillary provides a rebuttal with a statement that, ‘What happened in Baton Rouge was deeply sad and troubling. Actions of one man or one group do not represent the whole African-American community and we must try out best to avoid such tragedies in the future.”

Speaker Paul Ryan quickly distances himself from the views of both Newt and Donald whilst adding that, “There is a problem of division and culture which needs to be addressed by the administration. This country needs a strong leadership willing to be pro-active in stopping Black Lives Matter”

President Obama calls for calm and claims that African-Americans are citizens and should not be singled out for the actions of one group. The cycle repeats the next time.

No, none of this will happen in the light of tragic events that took place today. This kind of circus is only reserved for Muslims. Today and in the coming weeks, the discussions will revolve around Racism, Gun Control, disenfranchisement, Law and Order, Poverty and of course, Mental Health.

The aftermath

Draft after draft kept going in the bin. I have been writing my thoughts about the campaign to leave or remain in the EU over the last few months (especially in the last month) but I was honestly too depressed to post it. This whole thing has been a complete sham. The claims from both sides were hyperbolic, exaggerated and down right false. In my few posts on this issue, I kept wanting to see a positive campaign (particularly from the remain side) fought on real issues and one that involved all people. Such was the hate displayed in this campaign that it cost us the life of a Member of Parliament at the hands of a deranged, terrorist. RIP Jo Cox.

The campaign was a blue-on-blue battle of the Etonians. Boris Johnson played with the future of this country for personal gain and won. David Cameron held a referendum to shut down his opponents in the party and lost. In both cases, UK was hurt but who cares about that right! Jeremy Corbyn was hamstrung by his party and his inexplicable decision not to share any platform with EU-phile tories surely hurt his credibility and UK’s chances of staying in the EU. A lot of politics was played on the back of this referendum and the wrong sort of politics won. That disgusting buffoon of a man, Nigel Farage is now the face of our skepticism towards foreigners.

With Scotland voting unanimously to remain in the EU and England’s majority voting to leave, a break up of the United Kingdom is inevitable. Nicola Sturgeon is a strong woman who believes in what she is doing and has the support of her country and party. Northern Ireland does not seem to have the “luxury” of holding a referendum on it’s membership of our little Union but if they did, they would probably hold one too. Wales has decided to vote first and work out the details later. If there is one region of the UK that has been reliant on EU support, it is Wales and yet… Xenophobic attacks (of the verbal kind for now) are on the rise, we are a far more insular country (officially) than we were on 22nd June and we are leaderless. The intellectuals are walking around in disbelieve and dismay. Droves of people are applying for Irish passports and hoping to move to either an independent Scotland or another EU member country. In short, the demise of UK as a tolerant, secular, inclusive member of the international community has begun. It might seem like hyperbole but it is not.

I don’t want to live in a country where three new Romanian students sitting in front of me in Year 7 don’t know if they will be with us for GCSE because my government might deport them one day.

The EU is not blameless in this. They were complacent in their response to this referendum.  How many EU leaders came to Britain in the last few months to talk to real people and gather support? Why didn’t the EU budget some money to spend on communicating with the voters about its UK projects? Now the EU is going to try and force Britain into a corner for “disobeying” the  general consensus and punish it. All this will do is prove the nay-sayers right and force untold misery on the down trodden. The EU is not acting in a mature way at all. They need to show love in response to referendum and all they are showing is rage and disgust.

The day after, I was in shock (as was everyone around me). Then the anger took over with black comedy being the only way to cope. We made jokes about not having French cheese and how wine will now be more expensive, you know middle class crap but what we really wanted to say is “This is f**ked and we hate what we have become“. Now, I am just depressed. I am depressed about what I wanted us to be and what we are. Acceptance still seems a long way away and every new day brings some other bad news in the aftermath of this tragedy. Yes, tragedy.

 

Is it possible to run a positive campaign?

It has been a terrific week for someone who has an interest in Politics and current affairs. After the initial shock of the early referendum date and Boris Johnson joining the No camp, things will start to get down to the nitty-gritty now. I read a BBC article on the comments by Sir Paul Nurse on how exit from the EU will hurt British science. Interestingly, this is his quote from the article:

We need a vision for our future that is ambitious and not to run away and bury our heads in the sand, and we can best do this by staying in the EU. We should not be side-tracked by short-term political opportunism.

This is what we have to focus on when discussing our future within the EU. I think he is wrong on the final point there (which is clearly directed at Boris!) though. I don’t we will leave on the basis of political opportunism, we will leave because the British public doesn’t know the full extent of the benefits we receive from the EU. The headline they see is how much money we put into the EU budget, which is higher than what we receive back in financial terms but what about the other benefits?

Did you know that if you are travelling in a country where the UK does not have an embassy, you can access any EU national embassy and they have an obligation to help you? Is that not a benefit of staying within the Union? Can we really put a cost on that?

I was in Berlin a few years ago and I remember seeing an EU information office. They were there to give you information on what the EU does on a daily basis, what the German nation gets out of it and what the parliament was discussing that day. What a wonderful idea that is! I do not seeing any EU presence in our capital city except the flags which were (I bet) reluctantly put up.

What about the European space program? If Britain leaves, we would have to spend money on our own space program. We are certainly too proud not to have our own space program when former colonies like India can afford one! One just has to look at the adulation with which Tim Peake is being received by the British media and then realise they haven’t given a courtesy kudos to the ESA (European Space Agency)?

So, instead of Sir Paul Nurse’s statement about the adverse effects on British science, we should focus on the statement above, which is about a vision for our future. A campaign that highlights the benefits of the EU without fear mongering on the future if we exit. Britain has dealt with a lot worse than what happens if we leave the Union and can do so again so let’s not worry about that grim future.

I know fear sells but is that how we want to win? By peddling fear?

Scaremongering

As I have already mentioned in the previous blogpost, I am in favour of staying in the EU and reforming it from within.

Having said that, I am disappointed by the scaremongering which has already started creeping into this campaign, with less than 48 hours since the decision to hold the referendum.

David Cameron today was warning of the unknown which would follow if Britain did leave the EU and how that would be “leap into the dark”. He then followed that by mentioning the boogey man of Europe, Putin. This was followed by a light dashing of Islamic extremism to properly scare the public.

What is he trying to suggest? That if we leave the EU, we won’t be able to work with our European partners against Putin and ISIS? That is ridiculous! Britain has a powerful and well trained military when compared to most of Europe, which means Britain is crucial in any military opposition to Russia. Any negotiations with Russia will involve the Americans, Germans, French and the British. Those four are the four nations capable of dealing a severe blow (economically and militarily) to Russia if the time comes. The fight against ISIS is global as we know and Britain will have a place at the negotiation table regardless of its EU membership. Britain is on the UN security council, which means it has veto powers on any global deal in Iraq and Syria.

Let’s fight this campaign in a clean way and not scaremonger like we did when the Scottish independence came around. Remember the talk about having to put border guards at the Scottish border and having to relocate Trident missile systems? It looks like that is going to happen again.

I know I am essentially screaming into the wind here because scaring someone into voting is the way anyone wins elections now.

Talk of hope and change is so 2008.

23rd June

 

It’s the EU referendum. 23rd June.

I firmly believe that despite some onerous EU restrictions, so called loss of sovereignty and the “migrant flood”, we should remain in the EU. I also firmly believe that given the choice, most UK voters are likely to vote to leave the EU.

I’ve worked in scientific research, which was dominated by very smart scientists from every country imaginable. My mentors in this journey have been of European extraction. They are some of the smartest, most well settled individuals. UK currently punches way above it’s weight in terms of population and size when it comes to scientific research and education. In terms of research paper publishing, we are fourth in the World. That is not only because of UK scientists, but because we have been able to provide a nurturing environment for innovation. Yes, some of these are personal experiences and provide anecdotal evidence at best, but most people vote on instinct and personal experiences.

Even if you take the larger policy view however, we should remain the EU. EU – US are negotiating a free trade deal, which we would be frozen out of if we leave. An argument that we could negotiate our own deal doesn’t work because we have far fewer manufacturers and customers when compared to the continent. Also, the classic fable of being able to break one branch against a collection of branches comes to mind. US, with its larger economy could dictate the terms to us but not if we sit at the table with Germany, France and the rest.

The second argument I hear is, the EU is run by bureaucrats. Well, to change the system you need to be within the system. Find a group of countries within the EU-27 that will support you in your claim for greater level of democracy. If you do not put alternative plans forward and only moan, nothing will happen. Also, before we get on the high horse of there being not enough democracy, let’s look at the voter turn out for the EU elections over the last 5 years in the UK. It’s 39%, 35% and 36% in the last 3 elections.

EU allows the UK to punch way above its weight. Contrary to lack of respect to our history and loss of sovereignty, being in the EU makes it more likely that we are given a platform on the World stage. Let’s be real, UK is not as militarily strong as it was 60 years ago, we are not as economically vital to the World as we were 60 years ago and we are not controlling any territory that matters anymore. So before we speak of the Norway model of EU relations, let’s look at Norway’s position on the World stage. The security council of the UN is due for a reform soon where India, Germany, Japan and Brazil are likely to be included. They will also be given a possible veto power, which will mean that UK will count as one-of-nine countries as opposed to one-of-five. Then, we should have a second avenue to go down and make our voice heard and that avenue could be the EU.

Also, EU migration is a two-way street. Who says we can’t go live and work in the EU? If a Bulgarian migrant can come here, work everyday, speak a second language well enough to survive then what exactly is stopping British citizens from going abroad? Okay, wages might be a little low for you to move to Bulgaria but there is Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Monaco, Poland, Sweden, Estonia, Finland and countless others you can move to! I’ll tell you why we won’t, because we like our little pond and being the big fish in our little pond. Who wants to bother learning a new language, making an effort to find a job abroad, possibly live in less than ideal conditions for a little while and most of all, adapt in anyway!

The 21st century is dragging us forward with it and we are trying to hold back like a stubborn dog. It’s a fight we can only lose if we win.