Archive for September, 2010

Leadership- A pure Chalice that is poisoned by the Establishment

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2010 by niky4

Leadership is an interesting noun that raises huge questions merely by its definition.  It can be defined as the office of leadership. For example,” Ed Milliband has won the leadership race to be head of the labour party”. Or it can be defined as the characteristics of a leader’s way of leading. For example, “Ed Millibands leadership will be of a conventionally new labour style disguised by a shroud of “Change” and apologies for the past mistakes of his party” (this last definition is of course subjective). The post of leadership is always reached after a journey. Be it arduous or comfortable, democratic or seized, there is always a journey which moulds and shapes the eventual leaders mind-set and of course that second definition of leadership, their characteristics of leading. The question is, has this leader got the ability to connect to their followers?  How much of this leaders ethics, and integrity remains after this journey has been complete how much is betrayed along the winding road to the top? Finally, how much is forcefully or unknowingly adopted to reach the zenith?

Tony Blair’s early life can be described as something of prestige and comfort. He received the best of educations at Fettes College in the leafy outskirts of Edinburgh. A Hogwarts style Gothic independent boarding school that haughtily rises above  Edinburgh’s panorama.  Alumni include a variety of Viscounts and Businessmen as well as Generals.  How many of these alumni had come from Sedgefield, a traditional mining community when Tony Blair was a teenager I do not know. However I hazard to bet coal smudging fingers were not looked upon as suitable for the powers that be at Fettes.  The disconnection between Tony Blair and the constituency he won a seat for in 1983 illustrates the inner workings of British politics. He was placed leader of a constituency that was being ravaged by Mine foreclosures of the Thatcher regime yet during his years as Prime minister of the country his new labour ideals involved pandering to the private sector and opening up British economy and very little was done to ease the blows to the economies of the north. In many ways carrying on the Baton of economic deregulation that Thatcher had passed onto Major. Blair brandished it, blazing, and his rhetoric and hyperbole shrouded the unequal society we lived in throughout the nineties and noughties. As the markets played craps with the countries savings, traditional Labour protected bastions of society began to be contaminated with the touch of privatisation. The NHS and our universities now had a price. To most of the population, growing up with the benefits of free university education was a beneficial and indispensable fact of life. To Privately educated Tony Blair this institute was expendable, surplus to requirements. Men and women from his ilk could use their money and nepotism to achieve success in life, just like he did. Tony Blair throughout his political career has had no connection the people he has supposed to lead. His road to premier went through a period of social turmoil in this country, he was a front seat witness to the socially destructive nature of Thatchers regime yet he placed no barrier to halt it entrenching. He has had no regard to the views of the country he was elected to lead and that is illustrated in his contempt to public opinion over the Iraq war.

The future of this country seems to be in the hands of the same crop of people who carved out its past. White, Oxbridge trained careerists with little credentials for leadership. Nick Clegg went to a private school in Farnham Buckinghamshire yet now holds the Liberal Democrat seat in the constituency of Sheffield Hallam and the position of deputy leader for the coalition. David Cameron was born with a silver spoon is his mouth and is at the helm of this nation trying to guide it out of an economic quagmire whose seeds were laid by his party. His road map will line the pockets of a chosen minority and batter our hospitals, schools and Universities. Ed Milliband has been painted by many as a breath of fresh air. State schooled left leaning son of a Marxist theologian. What I could do now, is quote revolutionary zeal laden snippets from one of Millibands many celebratory speeches that he has concocted in the past forty-eight hours to illustrate how “progressive” he is and how he embodies a movement for “change”. What I am instead going to do is quote another leader of the labour party, Tony Blair;

“I am a socialist not through reading a textbook that has caught my intellectual fancy, nor through unthinking tradition, but because I believe that, at its best, socialism corresponds most closely to an existence that is both rational and moral. It stands for cooperation, not confrontation; for fellowship, not fear. It stands for equality.”

Tony Blair did not enact out any of these credos.

 So to rest on what Ed has been prophetically preaching from the creaking pulpit of new Labour as a compass to where he will be taking his party and possibly this country is dangerous. We can only so far gage his direction by analyzing the momentum from where he has come from. He played the political game and climbed the ladders of New Labour through building bridges and being the loyal guard dog of Gordon Brown. He saw the light touch approach on the economy by his mentor and its ramifications and thought “these are my people”. He saw the proposal for ID cards and a 90 day detention sentence and thought “these are my people”. He saw the Iraq war and was disgusted, but not enough to leave his precious job as poster boy for New Labour because they were his people. One million Iraqis died as a direct result from Anglo-American atrocities in Iraq. To Ed MIlliband these deaths are “a profound mistake”, not a crime. It seems that his political careerism knows no bounds, even with his integrity.

Death, Morte, War, Guerre

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2010 by niky4

All my life I have been untouched by death and war. Growing up in the stability of the western world and prosperity of the rich “north” of the world’s north south divide I have never heard a gun being fired in anger. My first experience of modern day weapons of devastation was at an air show in Duxford. I am, as middle class as it gets, son of a cardiovascular scientist and PCT leader. That “squeezed middle” as David Cameron likes to put it. This air show that I was taken on with my parents is typical of outings that children from my background will have gone on. To be completely fair to my parents, they were normally much more educationally enriching then this air show of military grandeur. However, this air show was my first encounter with the most destructive instruments that humans have ever made. Colossal jets stormed across the sky as their engines approached the sound barrier, their sidewinder missiles and air-to-surface cluster bombs brandished on the underbellies of these imperial, steel sky hawks. Little did I know that just across the north sea, mainland Europe and the Mediterranean basin, in the land where for over one and a half thousand years three of the world’s largest Abrahamic religions have been at each other’s throats, these jet fighters were carpet bombing flimsy Palestinian houses with white phosphorus and cluster bombs, ripping apart houses, schools and bodies alike. The fear which must have filled the air of Ramallah, Gaza and Nablus must have been toxic. Not that abstract fear one feels after watching a horror film but a very real, ever present, suffocating terror. This can be directly contrasted with the ambience of Duxford. Awe and amazement was painted across the faces of me and my brothers as these jets stormed across a crisp Cambridge sky. I can remember my older brother Chris, stating his ambition to become a pilot in the RAF after this very moving piece of military propaganda as we climbed into our rusty Renault Savannah. Our first encounter with these machines left an indelible mark on our minds. The first encounter for the children of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan with these beasts of war would leave them terrified, scarred, burnt, limbless, parentless or dead.

We often deplore those pilots who drop bombs and fire missiles at inanimate apartment blocks and small clay villages. Their disconnection with this industry of death they are perpetrating sickens us. However in our society a negative label is never attached to these instruments, they are never stigmatised in quite the way they should be. Instead they are distinguished as works of human ingenuity. We are not in the militaristic societies of yesteryear where warriors are glorified and wars are celebrated however war is fêted in a subtle way.  David Cameron speaks of the dead soldiers coming back from Afghanistan as having made a huge sacrifice for their country. Hollywood films do not award soldiers with warrior status as tapestries would have done hundreds of years ago. Instead they paint soldiers as victims of the conflict their governments have undertaken with “good intentions”.  War and death are so inexorably linked yet by glorifying the dead soldiers in the way we do seems to  gift warmongers ideological fuel to perpetrate these crimes. For society, the premise and ideology of our current war on terror is idiotic and illogical. The troops are misguided patriots. The fallen are untouchable heroes. Immortalised because they died in military garb. The civilians of these nations we are warring in receive a status only when they are ripped to pieces by our bombs and bullets, and that status is a statistic.

Last year I went to Lebanon.  I entered the country through the Damascus Beirut highway with a football team, and the countryside we went through was breath-taking. Huge jagged mountains scarred the landscape like the earths skin had been burnt by a scorching fire and was now peeled upwards roughly after years of treatment had healed these horrific geological blisters.  As the coach entered Beirut I was struck by its modernity. It’s European like cafes, restaurants and shopping malls reminded more of Lisbon and Barcelona then Aleppo or Amman. Only old apartments dated from the seventies and eighties peppered with bullet holes and pockmarked with shell wounds reminded me of Lebanon’s blood stained past. During the eighties Beirut was the battleground for  three armies all of varying strength. The Israeli army being at the top of this triumvirate. Commanding the skies above Beirut Israeli jets dive bombed a trapped Syrian army which had come under the premise to enforce stability but had become captivated by Lebanon and stayed too long. The other targets of these Israeli jets were PLO guerrillas who had been herded into the city by the advancing Israeli army in the south. Amongst all this rival Christian, Druze and Muslim factions stalked the streets battling it   out with each other, allying themselves with either of the three armies. The atmosphere would have been saturated in dread especially for the Lebanese and Palestinian refugees cooped up in apartment basements. Death was dealt with as a day to day reality.

The war wounded buildings today are juxtaposed by a skyline of gulf inspired sky scrapers. Not unlike the ones that have been erected in the U.A.E. and Dubai. This was an image of Lebanon’s future, her path away from civil unrest and strife and to a prosperous future in the bosom of Gulf investment (an ironic quid pro quo). This conflicting spectacle of a war torn past and a promising lucrative future is visible in the numerous BMWs  and Range Rovers being bomb checked on their way to refurbished beaches that were stormed by Israeli commandos just over twenty years ago. The memory of death and war is very real in Beirut, how much must be put to bed and how much must be remembered in order for such a multifaceted society to move on is a precarious question. Lest we forget, or best we forget?     

How humans deal with the horrors, realties and memories of war seems to be trivial and complex. How can the bitter memories of war be overcome without resigning the dead to distant memories? No wars have been committed under benevolent auspices, the fine line between respecting fallen soldiers and glorifying the war they have been in must be clearly defined. When we remember them, it must be as human beings and within that commemoration their innocent victims must also be added. That is how we gain back our humanity.

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Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2010 by niky4

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