The British-Asian voters will decide the person who will hold the key to No 10 Downing Street…writes Anasudhin Azeez
British Prime Minister David Cameron is heading for a route in the general elections scheduled to be held in May 2015 over the rumblings in the coalition, problems in the party and the mood of the British electorate.
The British leader, who is on holidays in Portugal, is facing an unprecedented opposition over the government’s stance on Gaza. Coalition partner and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is seeking the cancellation of arms sales to Israel and the fall out of the resignation by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the former Conservative Party chairperson and the most influential Muslim politician, over government stance on Gaza. Andrew Mitchell, a Cameron confidante and the former international development secretary, is also seeking action on Israel over, He warns that misery in Gaza will ‘poison goodwill in Middle East for generations.’
About 150,000 people assembled in London on Saturday to protest against the Israeli attacks on Gaza. The mood of British electorate is also against the government over Gaza. When the government offered an aid of £3 million to Gaza, the charity Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC), a coalition of 13-charities, raised £4.5 million with an appeal on a single day. The charity campaign is still going on with enormous response support from the public.
Baroness Warsi is asking the Cameron government to ‘recognise Palestine as a state’ and impose an arms embargo on Israel.
“Our approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible,” Baroness Warsi said. “It is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically.”
Baroness Warsi, daughter of Pakistani immigrants settled in Yorkshire, said the Prime Minister David Cameron and his advisors are ignoring “electoral reality” by relying on white voters. “I will be out there, vocally fighting for an outright Conservative majority,” Lady Warsi said. “But the electoral reality is that we will not win outright Conservative majorities until we start attracting more of the ethnic vote.”
Baroness Warsi is very critical of Cameron and his coterie.
“I am a brown, working-class woman from the North. People have been telling me I’m not good enough since the day I was born,” she said in an interview. “Some of the bitchiest women I’ve ever met in my life are the men in politics. I don’t hold the fact that someone went to public school against them. I don’t hold the fact that they haven’t had the breadth of experience that some of us who didn’t go to public school have had. I hope that if I can be so understanding about their background and shortcomings, they can be understanding to those of us who haven’t had those opportunities.”
Her stand on Gaza was echoed by Mr Mitchell.
Mitchell said: “Israel has a right to defend itself from these indiscriminate rocket attacks, but equally they are governed by international law in how they respond. There is no doubt that an enormous number of innocent people have been caught up in this action, and of course this will have effects not just in this generation but down the generations, and that is what has poisoned the well of opinion and goodwill in the Middle East.”
He said questions needed to be answered about the scale of the Israeli operations in Gaza, but added: “There are very strict rules governing the conduct of international warfare, and the UN and the schools, which are places of sanctuary in Gaza, clearly should not be attacked.”
Most of the senior politicians are supporting Baroness Warsi’s “two nation theory” for the permanent solution for the crisis in the Middle East. The creation of a new state will ensure peace and protection for Israelis and it will provide dignity and security to Palestinians. With the concrete walls and the siege, Israel is behaving like apartheid era South Africa. By ignoring the pleas of world bodies including the UN, they are undermining the very existence of a peaceful global system. Britain should play a key role stop this injustice. The peace loving people in the British society are quite disappointed with the silence of US President Barack Obama and Cameron on Gaza. Despite the initial appearance on Telly, the envoy of the Quartet Tony Blair is also missing. The much talkative politician is now elusive even to provide sound bites.
Israel is one of the biggest customers for British arms exports of so-called “dual-use” equipment capable of both civilian and military deployment in a trade worth more than £7bn last year. The arms export licences worth £42m have been granted to 130 British defence manufacturers since 2010 to sell military equipment to Israel. These range from weapons control and targeting systems to ammunition, drones and armoured vehicles.
It was also revealed that dozens of highly specialised UK defence companies have secured deals with Israeli partners and the Israeli military, ranging from bulletproof garments to naval gun parts and small arms ammunition. The sales are entirely lawful and form part of Britain’s £12bn annual arms export trade. The UK-build Hermes drone has been widely used during Operation Protective Edge, the ongoing Israeli military action in Gaza, to monitor Palestinians and guided missile strikes.
Past sales of UK weaponry have included head-up displays for F-16 jets made and parts for Apache attack helicopters made by at least half a dozen UK companies or subsidiaries. Both weapons have also been used in Gaza in recent weeks.
The anti-war campaigners believe that Baroness Warsi’s principled stand on Gaza will be marked as the first step to rectify Britain’s historic mistake for supporting the Zionists during the First World War. The Balfour Declaration, dated 2 November 1917, pave the seed for a Jewish nation in the middle of Arabs. The wounds created by the British politicians are the root cause of today’s problems.
Then foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour wrote to Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. He wrote: “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
The “Balfour Declaration” was later incorporated into the Sèvres peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire and the Mandate for Palestine. That half cooked solution for an eternal problem is putting the lives of both Jewish and Palestinian in jeopardy.
The Black and Minority Ethnic population constitute about 10 per cent of the British electorate. The last election in 2010 delivered a hung Parliament with Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats cobbling a majority to forming a ruling coalition. The Opposition Labour Party, under the leadership of Ed Miliband is leading in the opinion polls. The Labour Party is open in criticising Israel for the civilian killings in Gaza.
“The prime minister is wrong not to have opposed Israel’s incursion into Gaza,” Miliband said. “And his silence on the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians caused by Israel’s military action will be inexplicable to people across Britain and internationally.”
Ethnic votes, especially from the Asian community, are crucial in some of the marginal seats. Britain is also home to 2.5 million Muslims, most of them from Pakistan and India.
The weather in Britain is changing to autumn. The ‘fall’ will witness the shedding of leaves and trees acquire new hues with the changing colours of leaves. Britain’s political spectrum is also changing. But one thing is clear. The British-Asian voters will decide the person who will hold the key to No 10 Downing Street.