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A tale of two prime ministers

This week the tale of two PMs sidelined the row over caricatures of the Prophet, writes Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 21:02 IST

This week the tale of two prime ministers sidelined the row over caricatures of the Prophet. In any case London has had enough of the controversy and I suspect even those spearheading the protests had got a bit tired. Speeches were repetitive and placards had gone out of fashion with the police warning of zero tolerance towards any of those instigating hatred or murder.

It is indeed unique that a small country like Britain needs two prime ministers. But this is what we have been made to believe, that Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown have brokered a deal whereby the latter would gradually encroach on all issues and in the areas reserved exclusively for the serving prime minister, that is Blair.

Most see it as a sign of Blair soon moving out of 10, Downing Street but I believe that Blair has struck the deal because he needs Brown's full support to get his reforms through Parliament. So the red carpet has been laid out connecting 11, Downing Street residence of Brown to the PM's official residence. I suspect the carpet would be rolled up one all the reform bills are through. Blair would surely wish to hang around for about 18 months so as to beat the record number of years Margaret Thatcher remained prime minister. Brown should not mind for it would give him time to counter the new Tory leader David Cameron's new packages of populist policies. Brown would also hope that Cameron's honeymoon with the people would get rusted with time.

But many fear that with more time, Brown who is backing and pushing Blair's policies and reforms with zeal -- I suspect, as a part of the so-called deal-- would become more Blairite than Blair. Such a Blairing of Brown could drive way those who have ingrained dislike for Blair. Where would then Labour be at the next elections? The fact is that Labour is suffering from power-fatigue and the serial rebel MPs are now getting consumed with suicidal tendencies as Tories did during the last months of John Major's reign.

The insulted little India

I have always wondered how and why Southall goes on and on its routine and peaceful existence while just a few miles away central London goes through upheavals. Even recently when the caricature row sizzled and one saw placards and heard chanting calling for murder of the cartoonists and editors who reproduced them in their papers on the main streets of London, people in Southall were going about, eating and strolling and chatting in Broadway as if god was in heaven and it was all peace on the earth.

It seems that Southall is really an insulated Little India which behaves as if it was a part of the old country and has very little to do with London. True when bombs rocked Delhi, agitated debates could be heard in restaurants and homes. When an Indian VIP comes, every Southall-wallah is alert and wishes to meet them. But, it hardly matters if Tony Blair gets roasting in the media or Gordon Brown gets a step closer to 10, Downing Street.

A restaurant owner on Southall's Broadway put it clearly when he said we created our own world, no one else much bothers about us and we in turn do care what happens outside our boroughs. Quite, most from there come to central London either to see a Bollywood movie or visit the High Commission. Otherwise Little India lot are content and happy in their own world, a blend of Amritsar, Karol Bagh with flashes of Crawford Market.

No men, please we're cabbies!

Do not be alarmed if at your next visit to England you spot a candy-floss coloured cabs, with pink interiors and pink steering wheels. Its part of a new adventure, rather innovative enterprise of a few ladies from Warrington. The cabs are called Pink Ladies.

On February 16, Thursday, these cabs would go head to head with London's Black cabs. But, with a difference. They would exclusively be for women passengers only and are set to be extremely popular with the women returning late after social events or going home alone late in night.

Women clients are driven to their destinations by female drivers who have been trained in first aid and self-defence too.

The ladies say they have liberated men. Until now they had o stay sober so as o be able to drive their wives and daughters home late in the evenings. Now they can relax with their drinks, because women drivers adept in self-defence et al are there to take care of the wives and daughters.