31 October, 2020

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Cameron’s Priorities – Votes Not Rights

By TU Senan –

TU Senan

TU Senan

Finding myself face-to-face with Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street, or at least her large painted likeness, while I waited to interview David Cameron, reminded me of the on-going abhorrence of her legacy.

In April Australian Foreign minister Bob Carr revealed what he called Thatcher’s “unabashedly racist” comments – she warned him against allowing Indian migrants to “take over”. (1)

The Conservative Party’s toxicity on ethnic minority issues persists, largely unrestrained. At its most blatant the memory of British fascist Enoch Powell pushes even wealthy black and Asian voters away from the Tories. The BBC reports that in 2010 the Tories won only 16% of “the ethnic minority vote” and concludes that this is because they are seen as racist (2). David Cameron cannot escape the reputation and unpopularity of his ‘Nasty Party’ – as Tory Theresa May named it (3).

The reasons are manifold but as well as issues such as the mishandling of the Stephen Lawrence murder case and other high profile issues, polls show that two-thirds of voters think “the Conservative Party looks after the interests of the rich, not ordinary people”.

The Tories compound this – they have a pitiful record of either standing candidates from a minority background or winning in the cities where populations are mixed. A New Statesman article pointed out that of the 124 urban parliamentary seats in cities in the north and Midlands, the Tories hold just 20 – or 16%.

The enormous unpopularity of the current government has already boiled over into inchoate expressions of rage – powerful and organised movements will come. When students attacked Tory HQ and during the 2011 riots a significant number of Black and Asian youth registered their anger against this government.

Therefore since the 2010 general election, which no party won, ethnic minority votes are becoming seen as a significant factor. Cameron knows he needs access to what the establishment parties arrogantly consider ethnic minority ‘vote banks’ for the 2015 election (4) – even to guarantee a dignified defeat!

Cameron, however, is already largely defeated in the battle for the hearts of Tamils in Britain. His decision to take part in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka angered almost all sections of the Tamil population, including those who supported the Tories in the past. Tamilnet, a leading Tamil news website, supported the call for ‘no Tamil votes and no Tamil money to the Tory party’ (5). The Tamil Solidarity campaign has also promoted this demand.

Faced with the total decimation of Tamils’ support in the future, the Prime Minister’s Office took extraordinary steps in the hope of softening the anger by luring sections of the Tamil media onto their side. On 7 November Cameron wrote an article for the Tamil Guardian on ‘why I am attending Chogm’ (6). In it he argued that “The right thing to do is to engage….if we are not at the table we have no way of encouraging the Commonwealth to take a strong stand on issues that we care about deeply in our country.”

On the same day Foreign Secretary William Hague, also preparing to attend Chogm, gave an interview to the key news programme Newsnight and Cameron gave me a brief but exclusive interview for Tamil station Deepam TV (7).

First I asked him what he has got to say to the outraged Tamils regarding his decision to visit Sri Lanka. He simply repeated that it is important to go to Sri Lanka to fix the ‘shared future’. However, Cameron admitted that he was appalled by the evidence unearthed by the latest Channel 4 No Fire Zone documentary by Callum Macrae.  Cameron said to me on camera that he had watched this film. But two days later the PM’s office tweeted “PM: Been watching @NoFireZoneMovie. Chilling documentary on Sri Lanka. Serious questions to put to @PresRajapaksa next week”. Was the PM having a second look? Not sure. But this devastating film, like Callum’s previous documentaries, leaves no doubt that the current Sri Lankan regime is responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the final phase of the civil war 2009. Cameron pledged to bring the world’s attention to these issues.

In a meeting held with some Tamil activists on the same day he was even forced to say he would ‘consider’ calling for an international investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka. But one participant in that meeting reported how Cameron changed his tune after a staff member passed a note to him. However this represents an incredible u-turn on his behalf – only weeks ago Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow reported that William Hague had co-hosted a drinks party with the same Sri Lankan government.

The Sri Lankan government has so far not paid the slightest heed to any criticism. When pushed on this all Cameron’s solution is taking the British media with him which will bring the world’s attention. When Jon Snow grilled foreign secretary William Hague on Channel 4 news on the same day about the same question Hague also repeated the same mantra that they will ‘shine’ a light on Sri Lanka.

But on Saturday 9 November the Sri Lankan regime answered the Tories’ vague promises by putting a 222-page denunciation of Channel 4 in every press pack.

Hague, while agreeing that ‘engagement is not working’, continues to maintain that the British government can produce results by engagement. The next day the Tamil Guardian answered this in its editorial. It disagreed with the prime mister – rejecting that the “right thing to do is to engage”. In general all the efforts of Cameron to tempt the Tamils came to nought.

After Cameron departed, under the gaze of Thatcher in that study room I remembered Hugo Chavez’s legendary speech at the UN in 2006: “The devil came here… and it smells of sulphur still.”

1.         http://www.indianexpress.com/news/margaret-thatcher-made-blatantly-racist-comment-against-indians-bob-carr/1100424/

2.         http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/10312831/Vince-Cable-attacks-Conservatives-as-nasty-party.html

3.         http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2010/06/david-cameron-party-budget

4.         http://www.psa.ac.uk/political-insight/blog/ethnic-minority-representation-looking-ahead-2015-general-election

5.         http://tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=36532http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3U4Pu8I5x0o

6.         http://www.tamilguardian.com/article.asp?articleid=9102

7.         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HeP0iRa2ys

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    TU Senan

    The British Version- Your Version

    “The Conservative Party’s toxicity on ethnic minority issues persists, largely unrestrained. At its most blatant the memory of British fascist Enoch Powell pushes even wealthy black and Asian voters away from the Tories. The BBC reports that in 2010 the Tories won only 16% of “the ethnic minority vote” and concludes that this is because they are seen as racist (2). David Cameron cannot escape the reputation and unpopularity of his ‘Nasty Party’ – as Tory Theresa May named it (3).”

    The Sri Lanka Version:

    “The UPFA Party’s toxicity on ethnic and religious minority issues persists, largely unrestrained. At its most blatant the memory of Sinhaka Buddist fascist Rajapakas JHU and Others pushes even wealthy Sinhala, Tamil , Muslim voters away from the UPFA. The BBC reports that in 2010 the UPFA won only 16% of “the ethnic minority vote” and concludes that this is because they are seen as racist (2). Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot escape the reputation and unpopularity of his ‘Nasty Party’ “

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    TU Senan

    please stick to Sri Lankan Tamil issue. You are not qualified to talk abot British Politcs. You are making statements like Tories may lose the next elections. Please stick to your own space

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    Senan,
    The problem with you defeated Tamil terrorists is that you are too big for your shoes.You fools don’t understand that the Suddas are using you.You all are just colored guys to them.They will need your services only during election time.Till then keep on day&night dreaming of Ealam!

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    Cameron has to attend because Commonwealth without Britain is like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.

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    oh well a skinhead hasnt taken you from behind .. gotta love England eh ?

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    /* Cameron’s Priorities – Votes Not Rights */

    Nope. his priority is to continue their imperials traditions.
    Else he would have followed Canadian PM.

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    “The devil came here… and it smells of sulphur still.”
    Werewolf but this bites from across the street .

    So are you telling Boris MoL effect was a one stagnight???
    Britain was the “Thorn” of South African independence,
    Britain is the “Thorn” in Euro currency and the economic collapse of the PIGs.
    Britain says there are 54 members and 2 billion people with a 4 Trillion GDP.
    With India and Canada refusing to comply but listen to the people it’s just ½ billion voiceless left old Blighty?
    Let Baharat do the talking Hindu Mittal is Charles neighbour why all this unnecessary frost bites.

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    You are right on the money, buddy.

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    Cameron and Hague lecturing Sri Lanka on human rights at CHOGM will do nothing to either improve their own standing with Tamils or shame the Rajapaksas into doing anything about it. The time for that is long past. Sri Lankans either have no shame or are in denial about our abysmal record, and Britain has no right to lecture anyone after their own history of abuses both past and recent.

    On the other hand, the Rajapaksas have an almost pathetic eagerness to be embraced by world leaders, especially the white western ones, and this hosting of CHOGM gives us an opportunity to press the flesh of the great and good and pretend that Sri Lanka is a world player at last. Regardless of what the west says about us, the Rajapaksas, and Sri Lankans desperately want to be liked by the west. We are hurt by what is said about us by the likes of Channel 4, not because we dont believe it, but because it means that those who should like us, actually think we are no better than rabble of idiots led by a bunch of thugs.

    As well we may be. However, the more leaders that stay away from this CHOGM, the more embarassing it gets for our dear leaders, the more face they lose, and the more hurt they get when they are snubbed by the people they want to be loved by. Singh, being an Indian, probably understands this rather well, and knows what he is doing by staying away. Cameron should do likewise, but does not have the insight to know why.

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    I think Cameron made the right decision. I cannot see how isolationist tactics or one-upmanship can make any change to the Rajapaksas. They are stubborn and can only go down taking all with them. Suicidal like the charge of the Light Brigade. If they are to change they must be arm twisted, and that can be done only by engaging them. Canada and India let us down badly and proved that they are undependable as far as we citizens of Sri Lanka are concerned.

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    Forget about the SHOW GON Carnival;

    as my experiences BRITS LOVE FREE RIDES AND FREEBEES.
    This is a free trip on your expense man.

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