Posts Tagged 'David Cameron'

What Leaders Should Learn From Obama

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It struck me recently that if there were a sudden approaching crisis; nuclear apocalypse, meteor heading for Earth, devastating tsunami; something to wipe us out like in the films, we’d have to turn to David Cameron. If our lives were about to be thrown into an enormous tumble-drier, the person we’d have to look to in our hour of need to guide us through fire and brimstone, and provide our beacon the way that Churchill did in the war, would be a slimly, mid-level suburban Estate Agent in a Marks and Spencer’s Suit and odd socks.

David-Cameron

Politically, Obama is no different to any other politician, so far as I can tell, but I don’t want to talk about politics, I want to talk about a man. If America were facing destruction, one has some degree of faith that Obama would stand up and lead his Country through turmoil, fates willing. This is why he was elected President. One can picture Obama being heroic, giving his people comfort. One imagines that Obama would do something. He would lead his people, which is precisely the point of him.

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What did David Cameron do when London rioted? He stayed on holiday until it was absolutely over. He was photographed playing games on the beach with his family while his city burned. I wouldn’t suggest that he isn’t entitled to a holiday. As a matter of fact, I argued at the time in favour of his being allowed a holiday. An un-rested man does not make a good leader. But he should have been back in London before the riots were even under way. He should have been there with the people, doing something.

Obama is not middle-class, or posh, or particularly working-class. Obama is casteless. He has a depth that Cameron is constantly trying to beat out of himself, as all middle-class Englishmen are. Cameron strives to be bland, and inoffensive; to appeal ambiguously and dilutedly to as many people as possible. Obama, however, exudes strength. To be frank, Obama is majestic.

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Even if only apparently, Obama gives the impression of being trustworthy. It probably isn’t the case, but he gives the impression. He looks you in the eye. When an English politician is asked a question, they immediately begin to flounder. I wouldn’t waste my breath asking one a question, because I wouldn’t credit the answer.

Who else but Barack Obama would release a video of himself pretending to be Daniel Day Lewis playing Barack Obama, making jokes about his own ears? Hilarious and endearing, because it seemed absolutely sincere. Obama isn’t afraid to laugh at himself, which gives the distinct impression that there isn’t as much to hide. By his very nature, Obama instils people with faith, and a sense of transparency.

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When was the last time David Cameron was moved to tears whilst giving a speech? When was the last time we saw David Cameron laughing? Would David Cameron ever release a video making fun of his own ears? Never. David Cameron is bland, and non-committal; always trying to manage the level of offence caused by his words.

Under the names POTUS and FLOTUS (President of The United States and First Lady of The United States), Barack and Michelle Obama use their Twitter accounts to give the people a glimpse into their personal lives, and invest a level of playful intimacy that would make David Cameron shudder. We know the name of their dog, and the colour of their shoes, and we see photographs of them in their twenties, when they were hot and dust-covered youths in t-shirts. In everything, there is a sense that they are deeply in love, and from all available evidence, it would seem that Obama is a very decent man.

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The Obamas kiss in public; they touch each other.   They dance on stage.  They seem every bit the passionate, connected couple they are. They aren’t afraid to show people how attracted they are to each other. Even in public, they see only each other. There is no doubt about their relationship. They aren’t afraid to be hot. That doesn’t happen in England.

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David Cameron strives to remove all emotion from every public appearance, and the text of every speech. I realise that we are much more formal in England, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s the reason I love us. I am one of the old-fashioned people that longs for things to go back to how they used to be, and who hate the erosion of English tradition. That said, I think Dave could learn a lot from the Obamas when it comes to being genuine, and connecting sincerely with people. When Obama speaks to a crowd, he speaks to every individual. He moves every individual, and is often visibly moved himself. Whether with tears or laughter, Obama connects with every person in the room. One always has the sense that David Cameron is merely getting through another obligation without causing too much of a fuss.

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Politics aside, I wish that Britain had a leader that made us laugh, and cry, and trust, the way that Obama does. I wish we were lead by a man or woman that cared about us. I wish our politics felt less middle-management. I wish we had someone to respect, and follow, and be proud of.

We’re not even American, and most of us look up to Obama. Most of us have been moved to laughter, or a lump in the throat, when hearing him speak. Most of us have swooned over Michelle, and admitted, in a drunken moment, that Obama is actually quite dashing. Isn’t it a shame that, as far as I can tell, the majority of Britons are completely non-plussed by David Cameron, and probably don’t have much of an opinion of him either way?

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As much I deeply adore the quiet London dignity of 10 Downing Street, and all the age-old tradition of Big Ben, and Parliament, and Macintoshes and Tube stations, and spectacles behind newspapers, perhaps America is helped by the theatrics of Air Force One, and The Oval Office. The White House is a dramatic stage, and Air Force One automatically turns any President into an action hero. Having said that, only somebody who truly is an action hero could viably assume that role, or they’d just look silly. I can’t help but feel that standing next to an American President in a blue flying jacket with an Eagle on the lapel, any of our English politicians, in their suits and socks, look distinctly like Mr Bean.

On a personal level, I really wish Britain could be lead by a hero again, rather than another Waitrose Dad trying not to cause too much offence. What has happened to the Churchills and Thatchers?

Let’s have heroics back in Britain. Let’s be lead by somebody who gives a shit. I want a man that will cry. I want a woman that will fight. I want somebody that will do something, anything, for us, with us.

Somebody like Obama.

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One Less Tree Each Day From Our Window

 

When I was about eight, my Primary School had the wonderful idea that every child would plant a young sapling around the edge of the playground and playing fields.  It was beautiful.  Each child felt a parental bond to their own tree, and would visit it and felt some small sense of looking after it.  Very quickly, the older boys found amusement in kicking the saplings, which were still fragile, scraping off the bark, snapping the branches off, anything they could find to be destructive.  In response, myself and my friend formed Tree Watch.  With the permission and support of one teacher, every playtime and lunch hour, we would patrol the field, protecting and guarding the trees, repairing any broken branches with splints in the hope they would heal, and ensuring no damage was done during the time that everybody was outside.  We made posters and invented slogans, trying to make the other pupils feel the same passion for protecting the trees that we did.  Of-course, some people laughed, but on the whole it was very successful and the trees are still there today, seventeen years later.

Over the past couple of weeks, the golf-course which backs on to my house has felled two-hundred healthy trees from around the edge of the course.  The reason?  They were blocking light on the greens, which interfered with the golfer’s shots.  The trees, which were all fairly young and not thickly populated, are now almost all gone, leaving ugly, scarred land; bare and covered in sawdust.

Towards the end of last year, the environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, revealed the Government’s intention to dispose of half of the 748,000 hectares of woodland run by the Forestry Commission by 2020.  The plan to sell off our forests was planned to generate £100m, and the Government planned a complete overhaul of the Forestry Commission in its review of quangos.

However, this week David Cameron has admitted that he doesn’t like the plan after all.  Ed Milliband asked the Prime Minister, in the Commons, whether he was happy with the plan to sell off the forests.  To laughter, the prime minister replied: ‘The short answer to that is, no.’  He then indicated that the Government would make a U-Turn and back away from the plan.

No doubt referring to the national outrage and remonstration to the idea of losing the nation’s forests, Cameron said;

‘We’ve had a range of interesting responses to this consultation. What is important is that we should be making sure that, whatever happens, we increase access to our forests, we increase biodiversity and we don’t make the mistake that was made under the last government where they sold forests with no access rights at all.’

Perhaps what the Prime Minister is trying to say, using the phrase ‘increase access to our forests’, is that if they’re sold, what will happen to all the people who enjoy Sunday afternoons walking or bike-riding through the forests, or taking their children to play hide-and-seek through the trees?  The forests are our national nature reserves, in the way that Africa has its national parks and Serengeti, America has Yellowstone, Yosemite, and The Rockies.  Our forests are our nature, our natural beauty, all we have.

 

Milliband, valiantly expressing the feeling of the Briton on the street, railed during prime minister’s questions; ‘Even he must appreciate the irony. The guy who made the tree the symbol of the Conservative party flogging them off round this country. He says they are consulting on this policy. They are actually consulting on how to flog off the forests, not whether to sell off the forests. Is the prime minister now saying that he might drop the policy completely?’

After a few feeble attempts at a response from Cameron, which basically amounted to trying to wriggle out of answering on a discourse technicality, Milliband continued;

‘Everybody knows you have to drop this ludicrous policy. Let me give him the chance to do it. Nobody voted for this policy; 500,000 people have signed a petition against the policy. Why doesn’t he, when he gets up at the dispatch box, not say he is postponing the sale but say he is cancelling it?’

The response was a typically Tory attempt at sneering humour; ‘Once again, he read the question before he listened to the answer. I think the bandwagon has just hit a bit of a tree’, totally lacking any sensitivity to the nation’s deep-set emotional involvement in the issue.

 

If our trees continue to be ripped down, a few at a time, from roadsides, golf-courses and parks, and building of new houses and office-blocks continues at the rapid rate it is, what will Britain look like?  What will happen to Arcadia?  Where will be the green, the orange and gold of Autumn, the birds and squirrels to irritate us, the tree-houses in back gardens for a whole generation of children who won’t know how to scrump apples or climb trees?

If we aren’t that bothered by two trees here, four trees there, a few new houses, a bit less grass, here and there, slowly creeping down every street, in every town, how long will it be before it’s all gone? Not long! Do humans honestly believe we can carry on and never reach the end?  Can we continue flattening Brazilian rainforests and English copses, and never come to the end of them?

If we look out of our window each day and see one less tree and one more building, how many days are left before all we can see is grey?

 


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Sylvia Plath said; "Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences". My aim in life is to find things and people to love, so that I can write about them. Putting words together is the only thing I can see myself doing. This blog is an outlet, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Please feel free to comment on posts, or contact me by the special e-mail I've set up (vikki.littlemore@live.co.uk) with your thoughts.


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The New Remorse, Oscar Wilde.

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

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Music I Love (In no particular order, except that The Smiths are first)

The Smiths,
The Libertines,
The Courteeners,
Nina Simone,
Oasis,
Pete Doherty,
Gossip,
The Kills,
Amy Winehouse,
Arctic Monkeys,
Rod Stewart,
The Doors,
The Rolling Stones,
Etta James,
Babyshambles,
T. Rex,
The Jam,
Morrissey,
Guillemots,
The Kinks,
Jack White,
The Deadweather,
David Bowie,
The Winchesters,
The Cure,
Kaiser Chiefs,
The Kooks,
The Twang,
Kings Of Leon,
Pulp,
Blur,
The Housemartins,
The Ramones,
James,
Robots in Disguise,
The Klaxons,
Kate Nash,
The Raconteurs,
Regina Spektor,
Aretha Franklin,
Stereophonics,
The Contours,
Dirty Pretty Things,
The White Stripes,
New York Dolls,
Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
The Clash,
Style Council,
Velvet Underground,
The Horrors,
The Cribs,
Reverend and The Makers,
The Subways,
The Wombats,
Foals,
Elle S'appelle,
The Troggs,
The Beatles,
Echo and the Bunnymen,
Florence and the Machine.

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

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Will it ever be alright for Blighty to have a Queen Camilla?

One less tree from our window each day


Vikki's bookshelf: read

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
1984
Twilight
Of Mice and Men
Pride and Prejudice
The Hobbit
The Da Vinci Code
Lolita
Tipping the Velvet
Wuthering Heights
The Picture of Dorian Grey and Other Works by Oscar Wilde
Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Irish Peacock & Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde
The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman
Moab Is My Washpot
The Bell Jar
The Other Boleyn Girl
On the Road
Brideshead Revisited
Revolutionary Road



Vikki Littlemore's favorite books »

Share book reviews and ratings with Vikki, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

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