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  Opinion   Oped  09 Dec 2019  UK votes in just 3 days; but voters don’t trust either Boris or Corbyn

UK votes in just 3 days; but voters don’t trust either Boris or Corbyn

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 9, 2019, 5:29 am IST
Updated : Dec 9, 2019, 5:29 am IST

The Queen gave a royal dinner but the conference was moved to the edges of London in Watford to avoid mass demonstrations against Mr Trump.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Photo: AP)
 Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Photo: AP)

Once again a horrible tragedy has filled the last weekend. Terror comes in different forms. But now because the police has clamped down on gun crime, knives are being used with impunity. Not a week goes by without us hearing of a knife attack. These are usually random, but last Friday was different.

Just last week, Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, Cambridge graduates who were passionate about prison reforms and helping prisoners resume normal lives were killed by Usman Khan. Ironically, Khan was also a prisoner who had been released to speak at a conference on prison reform. He had been already known to police as a Jihadist, a terrorist, when he was previously arrested and sentenced to 17 years imprisonment. Halfway through his sentence, he was released for good conduct. And then he was asked to describe his experience for the conference attendees. But he killed the two young participants and then rushed out on to London Bridge where two years ago a major terrorist incident had happened.

Londoners are made of sterner stuff. When Khan ran out on to the Bridge with a machete, two passers-by attacked him, one with a water spray from a fire extinguisher and the other with a large Narwhal tusk (though it’s a bit fortuitous how he happened to be carrying the tusk of this unusual sea creature). The two pinned him down. Police arrived and shot him as he was threatening to explode bombs. Ever since that day, the mood in London, especially, has been sorrowful because Khan wilfully killed idealistic young people such as James and Saskia. They paid a terrible price for trying to do good work.

On the other hand, terrorists can strike anyone, anywhere.

The election will happen in three days’ time but other stories such as Prince Andrew’s embarrassing behaviour or this terrorist attack have been not-very-pleasant diversions. Now we have had a 70-year anniversary of Nato going on and the dreaded US President Donald Trump is in town. Every one has hoped he would not interfere in the elections but knowing the rules of the game and obeying them is not what Mr Trump is about. However, he and Boris Johnson are keeping a safe distance from each other, and Boris had apparently requested Mr Trump not to say a word about the elections. Of course, it is common courtesy that a President of another country would not make comments in the UK, about elections, no matter what was his opinion. But these little courtesies are no longer to be taken for granted.

The Queen gave a royal dinner but the conference was moved to the edges of London in Watford to avoid mass demonstrations against Mr Trump. Boris had to spend all the time avoiding being photographed with Mr Trump, which he has managed successfully.

Mr Trump has returned home in a grumpy mood, having quarrelled with Trudeau and Macron. His wife, however, managed to impress people with her costume for the Royal reception — a yellow Valentino cape.

He played Prime Minister in Love Actually and also the 1970s Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe in a BBC play. Yet Hugh Grant has never before demonstrated his electoral preference. But now he has come out to canvass voters for the Liberal Democratic candidate in Pimlico. Of course, everyone wanted to see him and be seen with him. So Siobhan Benita, Lib Dem mayoral candidate for London turned up and Chuka Umanna, ex-Labour but-now Lib Dem (who could easily pass for a film star and is a candidate for the City of London seat) was there and so was Jo Swinson. Hugh Grant has been brought out to campaign by his dislike for Brexit and Boris. But when Lib Dems tried to make it look like he exclusively supported them, he denied that in a tweet. He wants to support Remain whichever candidate agrees.

This was the final debate between the two leaders on BBC on Friday night. Last time around in the first debate the score was Boris 51 per cent Jeremy 49 per cent. This time around the pendulum moved barely an inch. We have the viewers voting Boris 52 per cent, Jeremy 48 per cent . No wonder the voters say they don’t trust either of them. Indeed two former Prime Ministers, from different sides of the political spectrum, John Major and Tony Blair, agreed in advising voters to deny either of the two a majority. Hung Parliament again?

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has faced tough interviews. Andrew Neil, former editor of the Sunday Times, has a reputation as a Rottweiler interviewer. Jeremy was asked to apologise for the anti-semitism of his party four times and four times he evaded the question. Boris has so far avoided facing Andrew Neil who has now publicly challenged Boris to show up for a grilling. There are only four more days to go. Will Boris turn up?

Tags: boris johnson, jeremy corbyn