By: Aruni Mukherjee
October 24, 2005
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Good Things, the
British Left Behind in India
How Did India Get so Poor
Benefits of the British Rule in India
Drain of Wealth during British Raj
India Shining and the British Media
UK: Itís the Policies, Stupid!
It was third time unlucky for the self-professed Ďbig beastí of the
Tories, as Ken Clarke was voted out- again- of a party leadership contest
on Tuesday. He was beaten to the pole by both the right-winger Liam Fox as
well as Ďbaby Blairí ala David Cameron. For Mr Cameron, this is a
much-needed boost to prove to his critics that questions about his
personal life are largely irrelevant to the party MPs.
Indeed, opinion polls show that more undecided voters are likely to vote
Conservative if Mr Cameron becomes the leader vis-ŗ-vis Mr Clarke, whose
European policy still irks the typical Tory, and whoís a little too old to
harp about modernising and upgrading the partyís outlook.
Peter Lilley, a former cabinet minister, argued-ďIf we all are going to
require every potential candidate for the leadership or the Prime
Ministership to go through all the seven deadly sins and say they have
never committed them, then all we will choose is somebody who is good at
lying.Ē So how many sins do we examine a candidate against? And who
determines which sin it is to be?
To be fair to Mr Lilley, and moving away from cynicism, he does have a
point. As a Times poll of Conservative Association chairmen revealed, a
majority respected Mr Cameronís decision to remain silent in the face of
scathing attacks on him having taken cocaine at university. The general
picture that emerges is one of sympathy- the man mayíve erred when he was
a hot blooded irrational student, but donít hold that against him now.
Perhaps his experiences during his ďnormal university lifeĒ was blown out
of proportion with the recent revelation of the supermodel Kate Mossí drug
Both Liam Fox and Ken Clarke have taken indirect and subtle swipes at Mr
Cameron over this issue in the past week. Even his wife Samantha has not
been spared the media glare. That is unfortunate. What should be of
concern to us is whether he has a tendency to go Ďsoftí on the
governmentís drug policy.
In an article in the Mail, Mr Cameron vigorously denies this charge. He
needs to be given the benefit of doubt. After all, even if he was a drug
addict in the past, the sheer strength of character needed to overcome the
addiction is immense. We all make decisions which we rue with the benefit
of hindsight. And that repentance is what counts.
On the larger question of separating the public and private spheres,
liberals take their inspiration from John Stuart Mill, who vigorously
defended the individualís right to privacy from the glare of the public
eye. Indeed, every individual- including public servants like politicians-
needs a personal space where his actions should be tolerated if they do
not harm others. In the words of John Rawls, ďLiberty can be restricted
only for the sake of libertyĒ.
His policies should be the only criterion to judge David Cameron.
And so it should be everywhere, except India. Why the anomaly? Well, for
starters, our politicians- or the vast majority of them- tend to bring the
glaring flaws in their private lives into the public sphere. Charlatans
and fraudsters continue their practices, the only difference being that
they do it with the public money.
As for policies, woh kya cheez hai? Most of them come to power
either on the basis of their religious or caste background, or riding on
dynasty or benefiting from a warped sense of avant garde nationalism.
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