Posts Tagged 'Parliament'

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.

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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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Maggie: The Passing of Part of Britain

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Whether you agree with her policies, or have, or not have not, been affected by her actions, a woman has died. Understandably, many people of this Nation take a strong stand, one way or the other, because of how Thatcher affected their lives. I would be the last person to discredit, or detract from the raw anger still felt by the people affected by the decisions made by politicians. What I find hard to accept is that so many people are using the day, and subsequent days of someone’s death to dissect and analyse their policies. Surely, this is not the time to question whether a woman was right or wrong in their individual actions twenty years ago, but to allow a moment to pass; to acknowledge that a woman has died. Right or wrong, Margaret Thatcher was a woman, a mother, a grammar school girl, and as big a part of our history as you can get, for better or worse.

In the first few moments after I heard the news, I clicked on the Twitter hashtag for Margaret Thatcher, and found it almost entirely swamped with messages relating to Hillsborough, and a petition called No State Funeral for Margaret Thatcher. I was flabbergasted. Leaving aside whether it is right or wrong for people to attach this issue to the Hillsborough tragedy, making it more about that than the woman who is dead, why shouldn’t Margaret Thatcher have a state funeral? She was the first woman prime minister, longest serving prime minister in living history, she was part of this country for a very long period or time. Right or wrong, she is part of Britain. Why should she die and be carried away without dignity, and the acknowledgement any historical figure deserves? Because she is that, if nothing else. Right or wrong, we all know who she is, don’t we?

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To see the images and slogans ‘rot in hell’, bandied all over the social media sites, and indeed the world, and press, to read the passionate vitriol directed at this figure, often by people who have no idea what she did or didn’t do, let alone were affected by it, saddens me. Can’t we allow a moment of respect? Be angry, be indignant, hurt, furious, vengeful, but ‘rot in hell?’

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I heard today that ‘Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead’ by Judy Garland is Number 1 in the download charts. Villain she may be, but witch?

It has also been debated whether or not Maggie is a feminist icon. Long ago, when I was about seventeen, and I first created my Myspace profile, my heroes were listed as Oscar Wilde, Oskar Schindler, and Margaret Thatcher. After I wrote a pontificating piece to a local newspaper about the downfall of the town, a family friend gave me the nickname Maggie Thatcher, one which I hold very dear.

Feminism isn’t defined by what you believe, or which policies you support, it is something much more than that. Isn’t it be possible for a woman who argues in favour of staying at home to cook, clean, and look after the children, and a woman who argues in favour of a career, both to be feminist? They are both arguing for their own choice. Feminism is about the power of women, and the respect they are given, and how many women in history have won as much power and reverence as Thatcher? How many women have stood on such a high pedestal of their own accord, not as a wife, or daughter, but as themselves? How many women have been heard by the world?

Margaret Thatcher walked into Parliament amidst a sea of suits, and polished shoes; her own heels the lone click on the marble floor. She stood shoulder-to-shoulder with men, looked them in the eye, shouted them down, argued her corner. She stood in a room full of powerful men, and held her head every bit has high as they did. If Margaret Thatcher did one thing, she fought. She fought while they made jokes about her handbag, and tried to break her spirit. It only made her stronger.

Isn’t the emblem of everything English a lion? Margaret Thatcher fought for what she believed in with the heart of lion. Many politicians conjecture limpidly for what they think will win votes, or what is in the best interest of a particular agenda. Margaret Thatcher, right or wrong, fought for what she believed was right. How many politicians can we think of, to hand, that have fought as she did?

Maggie is a feminist hero, for me personally, because she equalled men. Someone said of Sylvia Plath that she was one of the only women to write as well as a man. It may sound very un-feminist to say that, but in a man’s world, it takes a big woman to stand with men. Men have innate confidence that doesn’t need to be learned, or fought for. Men have the security of being in the dominant position from birth, from the cot, to the playground, to the office. Few women have come along who haven’t asked for an allowance for being a woman, or to be treated differently. Margaret Thatcher stood with the men, not against them, or under them, or above them on a pedestal. She stood alongside them. She also, in my opinion, showed that a woman politician doesn’t fight with an agenda, she fights like a mother, to protect what she believes is right. She fought for every policy like a mother.

I think we should put aside what has gone before, leave the analysing of policies, and debating, and take a moment to acknowledge a great force in our history. Take a moment, each of us, to find the good. For everyone, there must be something to admire.

It is so easy to be swept along, onto the bandwagon, and quite often we’re arguing for untruths and axiom anathema. Most of us feel positively or negatively without even knowing the full facts. The red tops are hard to fight against. Let’s leave aside all the politics, and mourn the death of a great woman.

I hesitate to quote Harry Potter, but as it was said of Voldermort; ‘You Know Who did great things; terrible! Yes! but great’. Whether for good or bad, Maggie made a difference. How many politicians have done that? How many politicians, prime ministers even, have faded into insignificancy without making impact or memory, or even marking their name across the world?

Let’s mourn the passing of a British force; a woman with backbone, and balls, and big hair. A woman who fought hard, took no shit, and made people respect her as an equal. A woman who looked people in the eye.

Let’s allow a moment to remember Maggie, rather than Thatcher.


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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 »

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