Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Cameron Gambit

Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

gam·bit noun \ˈgam-bət\

Definition of GAMBIT

1: a chess opening in which a player risks one or more pawns or a minor piece to gain an advantage in position
2 a (1) : a remark intended to start a conversation or make a telling point (2) : topic
b : a calculated move : stratagem

David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron seems to be the most discussed person in Ghana this week. In fact, Mr. Cameron appears to be in serious contention for a Ghanaian national award. The award being "Special citation for your ability to unite Ghanaians in hatred across diverse religious and political divides". The last recipient of this award being the Uruguayan footballer Luis Suarez whose World Cup 2010 antic is ingrained in the Ghanaian national consciousness. 

It  all seems to have started with Mr. Cameron’s appearance on the popular BBC Andrew Marr show  where he stated:

In the end  Mr. Cameron basically threatened to withhold UK aid from governments that do not reform legislation banning homosexuality.

The anti-Cameron backlash in Ghana has been huge. Aside from vitriol being spewed in the media by callers, serial callers, politicians and religious leaders,  the Ghanaian president has come out to say unequivocally:

While many Ghanaians have been celebrating a defiant stance where advocating violence against gays has somehow been deemed acceptable, I've been contemplating this whole Cameron debacle. Is Mr. Cameron really interested in human rights for gay Africans? From his statements alone, I’m pretty sure life for gays in places like Ghana and Uganda just got a whole lot harder. Well, Mr. Cameron is a smart man. He did not get a first class in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University for nothing. There must be more to this all.

The fact of the matter is that these are hard and economically uncertain times for the United Kingdom. The past few years have seen massive cuts to all sectors of the UK government's spending. In this current budget cut climate, could this Cameron debacle be a carefully thought-through gambit to justify future aid cuts to African countries? I present to you...

The Cameron Gambit:

Stage 1. Call for reforms on an explosive and emotive issue that you know African countries will be outraged over and make sure you threaten to withhold aid over this emotive issue

Strage 2. Ensure the countries you are threatening are appropriately vexed over the suggestion of reforms on the emotive issue and hope one of two things happen:
  • The country refuses all concessions and
  • declares they can manage without aid. Future aid is rejected. 
  • The country refuses all concessions and remains defiant although future aid is not rejected 
Stage 3. In face of refusals to reform, the UK government obtains the perfect justification  to enact  cuts to future foreign aid budgets

Stage 4. The UK is saved a truck load of money

That my friends, is 'The Cameron Gambit' in practice. Checkmate in 4 swift moves.


Lady Jaye said...

Love this post.

Even in 'their' society, t took years for homosexuals o be accepted, but they want to fore it down the throats of Africans. Smh. I'm not saying that African gay people should also have to endure the long years of struggle, but forcing the issue just makes life terrible for gay people. I feel like my generation is much more accepting of people's choices/lifestyles than our parents were, and that in less than a decade, all this hoopla will be unnecessary, but mebbe it's just me and the people i hang out with.

grahamghana said...

And that is why almost every LGBT group across Africa has made a statement against the linking of aid to LGBT rights.
It sounds as if it was a passing comment during question time - a throw away line. My understanding is that the issue was created by the right-wing Daily Mail who oppose the increase in the aid budget by Cameron. Why would a UK government make a statement designed to entrench African governments in their position? It doesn't make sense to me.
So I believe the Right-wing press took a small part of a package (which has probably always been there) out of all proportion, provoking the predictable response from Pres. Mills which then forces Cameron to withdraw aid. The winner is the Daily Mail.

Abena Serwaa said...

@Lady Jaye Thanks! I'm still not convinced that cultural imposition was Cameron's intention. I agree with you, I think forcing the issue may just make things worse. Judging by comments on Twitter, I'm not so sure of the generational shifts in acceptance but you may know more about this!

Abena Serwaa said...

@grahamghana thanks for the comments! Perhaps the Daily Mail did further their own agenda with the story. I'm seeing from a statement made by David Cameron's office to the Ghanaian Daily Graphic (published 4/11/11) that the PM was talking about promoting human rights. Perhaps Mr. Cameron should also include UK friends in the Middle East in his audience....However, I'm not sure how much aid the UK gives places like Saudi Arabia! I'm not one for conspiracy theories but I did enjoy theorizing on the 'Cameron Gambit' though I was being mostly facetious.

Lady Jaye said...

@Abena, if nothing else, I feel like the younger ones are like, I might not agree with it, but to each his own. As opposed to the older people, who are like ABOMINATION! FIRE BURN YOU! know, that sort of thing. And the climate improves by leaps and bounds every year.

Abena Serwaa said...

@Lady Jaye; I think you are very right!

Akosua Rose said...

Very clever observation of you! Politics as usual I see...*sigh*

Abena Serwaa said...

Thanks Akosua Rose! Indeed...politics as usual...

ICON said...

The irony of the whole fiasco is that the British PM NEVER mentioned or implied that African countries shd legalise homosexuality as condition for aid.The only person who came even close to sth like that was the interviewer to which Cameron didn't confirm.This is his statement "Mr Cameron said recipient countries' attitudes towards human rights will be used to determine Britain's aid policies towards them.".I looked up the interview with Andrew Marr and Ghana wasn't even mentioned.He said there shd be more strings attached when giving out aid to countries that do not respect human rights.Nations that persecute their people because of the faith,religion AND sexuality,etc.So if people in Ghana are not going around burning and hanging people for being of a particular tribe,religion or sexuality?..then what is this noise about.If anything, the UN charter for human rights to which Ghana is a signee advocates for gay rights, so if anything why aren't people calling for Ghana to leave the UN then?.Because most dont know.If a nation is intent on abusing it's citizens for any reason that infringes on their human rights as laid out by the UN,the u can be darn sure other nations will protest.Ghana is not doing that,so why are Ghanaians even tripping?..There is misinformation going on that's why..Health professionals are on strike,living conditions are unacceptable and yet the president will call a press conference to state that Ghana will not "legalise homosexuality" ..NOONE is asking you to.This is a political move to win cool points for elections since their public opinion is so low.On the issue of homosexuality,The British PM said even his country took a long time to stop abusing people for that so it is a long road they need to help other countries on.We really shd be careful the propaganda we let the media feed us and analyse things for ourselves.It's fishy a whole nation and even a president can miss the point of sth spoken so clearly.Below is the link to the interview on BBC,let's judge for ourselves

Abena Serwaa said...

@Icon Wow, thanks for the comprehensive comment and the link. It is all quite convoluted. Perhaps there has been some media machinations both on the part of the British press as grahamaghana pointed out and Ghanaian press. Since the Ghanaian opposition chose to play politics with the issue by insisting that the president states his position on the debate, the president came out to address not what Cameron had perhaps said but rather the position as presented by the media. He may have been pandering to populist sentiments but look what it did to his approval ratings at least for this past week!

Etoile Oye said...

Spot on! He knows what he is doing paa!

Abena Serwaa said...

@Etoile Oye
Yep! I definitely believe so!

Enyonam said...

Hey. You have an award. check my blog for it.;-)

novisi said...

economic gain then is reduced to exploitation cum petty-trickery!

such an insult to the rights of LGBT. No much different from the Africans who are trampling on gay-rights in the name of so called culture, etc when in fact they know next to nothing about their history!

Please if you have your rights let others too have theirs and stop applying conditions to people's rights!

Abena Serwaa said...

@Novisi I cannot agree with you more! Well put..