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  Opinion   Columnists  10 Dec 2023  Kishwar Desai | Will Cameron rush to Tories' rescue? Blyton's Famous 5 makes comeback

Kishwar Desai | Will Cameron rush to Tories' rescue? Blyton's Famous 5 makes comeback

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Dec 11, 2023, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Dec 11, 2023, 12:05 am IST

It is rare for a former Prime Minister to come back to save his sinking party

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron (Photo: AP)
 Former British Prime Minister David Cameron (Photo: AP)

It may be the jolly time of Christmas but we have freezing temperatures all across England. 

At the same time there are heated discussions in politics but mostly in the Conservative Party which has been in power since 2010. This week, just five days before breaking up for Christmas holidays, the Conservative Party is again tearing itself apart. This time it is what I call the almost “sibling rivalry” between the Rishi Sunak, the incumbent Prime Minister, and his freshly sacked home minister, Suella Braverman. Both of Indian origin, and both of whom want to rule over this once powerful country. They are more or less the same age (in their early forties) and fiercely ambitious. The fight — strangely enough — is over the need to curb immigration. Also equally oddly, the whole fracas started with former minister Priti Patel (also of Indian origin) who was the original architect of plans to curb immigration which are spectacularly blowing up now. 

It is amusing that the Conservative Party which used to believe in free market and encouraging ambition and effort wants to discourage “foreigners” from coming to England. Suella Braverman was sacked by the Prime Minister for doubting his credentials as seriously interested in or being serious about reducing immigration. But that debate, unfortunately, has not ended with her exit. She — along with others — now continues to raise questions about his competence from the sidelines.

To be fair, most people entering UK are there legally and made welcome. They are students who come with family (going to London attracts marriage offers!) or people with jobs in healthcare, etc. They are needed as the local population is ageing. But some get into boats from France, without visas and claim to be refugees. They arrive in small boats run by people smugglers and claim asylum. 

To prove that these are not genuine refugees and not escaping persecution is difficult. Once they have landed in England they have to be housed in a hotel. Proving that they are not refugees takes a year or longer. It costs a lot of money. These illegals are just 10 per cent of total immigrants. But there are complications and there are human rights lawyers who fight their cases. The government wants to send them away, despite the adverse court ruling. 

But where can they be sent? So Rwanda was thought to be a suitable place — even though courts have ruled that Rwanda is not safe and not likely to treat people according to human rights laws. Then a treaty was signed with Rwanda asserting that notwithstanding the law Rwanda was to be the destination. The UK promised to pay millions to Rwanda. Recently, another minister in the home office quit his job when the treaty was published on Thursday. The bill detailing the law in immigration has to pass through Parliament and even the Tories are split on it.  

Hopefully — all will be postponed till Easter as the Christmas recess approaches!

But of course, we may yet be rescued from this perpetual turmoil because we already have a former Prime Minister David Cameron in the House of Lords — will he jump in and take charge? It is rare for a former Prime Minister to come back to save his sinking party… But the Tories have tried everything to stay on in power. They might just try one more Prime Minister.

Another perennial story is of the minor royals, and the mystery of who in the palace speculated on the skin colour of Prince Harry’s baby has just been “accidentally” revealed during the publication of yet another book about the great royal family break up. Titled “Endgame” by British journalist Omid Scobie, the author had apparently written that King Charles and the Princess of Wales had discussed what the skin colour of the expected first child of the Sussexes will be. Meghan had first mentioned this in a TV interview with Oprah Winfrey and it had meant to underscore the racism among the royals. And now that the names are revealed (by mistake of course) the tabloids are having a field day. It is a story the Netflix can base its next bumper series on the Crown .Royalty is a show that runs and runs. But now I propose that the infighting in the Tories can become a long running series too!

Those of us who loved Enid Blyton growing up were often disappointed that the present generation had more or less abandoned her for Harry Potter. But here come Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog — from the Famous Five series, re-invented by Nicolas Windin Refn, a Cannes award winning director. The series is set in the 1940s — and so it will not feature technology and mobile phones. It will also not (one imagines) have dialogues riddled with expletives — which may be odd for viewer today. Almost a foreign language and another world — a time of innocence recaptured. Will these work? I don’t know — but I know I will watch the series, just to recapture those almost naive moments of childhood adventures — before violence and gore became a staple diet in the visual space.

Tags: david cameron, suella braverman, rishi sunak british pm