Is Sayeeda Warsi’s resignation a sign of protest or defeat?

Published: August 7, 2014
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While Warsi, or any other person in a position of political power, has every right to protest, what needs to be kept in mind is that this will hardly serve any purpose in the long run. PHOTO: AFP

Sayeeda Warsi’s recent resignation has gathered a lot of spotlight. The fact that she is the first Muslim to serve as a UK cabinet minister has only added to media coverage of her resignation. While the reaction to her resignation has been understandably mixed, what is up for debate is whether this serves any purpose at all.

To put it simply, the resignation by Warsi is a sign of protest. In her own words:

“My view has been that our policy in relation to the Middle East Peace Process generally but more recently our approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically.”

While Warsi, or any other person in a position of political power, has every right to protest, what needs to be kept in mind is that this will hardly serve any purpose in the long run. If this protest was by a large chunk of the UK cabinet (something next to impossible); it would have had an impact. But Warsi alone, despite her impressive credentials, will only create a storm in a teacup.

The problem here is not in the action itself, but the magnitude of it. A new minister of faith will be sworn into the UK cabinet, and things will go on smoothly. David Cameron will issue a run of the mill statement (which he already has by the way), a random minister here and there will pass a comment, some slamming Warsi, some commending her stance, and that will be the end of that. In matters of political significance, this will soon be forgotten when Israel sees red again. When that happens, the BBC, CNN and Fox News will resume their shambolic coverage of the Gaza conflict, and Sayeeda Warsi will be confined to a page in history books.

None of this is her fault of course. Politics is a dirty business, and it will be more than happy to chuck the dissidents out and ensure smooth sailing for the future. But there will always be those who claim that she should have stayed in power instead of giving up. There will always be those who will claim that she should have used her influence in David Cameron’s cabinet for the better. The line between conceding defeat and protesting, depending on who you speak to and especially in a case like this, is very thin.

From a historical perspective, Warsi is not the first politician to resign in protest. She won’t be last one to do so either. She is, however, one of the most prominent ones to do so in recent memory. Ever since the USA went for a stroll in Afghanistan, political consciousness and the ability to take a stand for the right thing seemed like alien actions. This is, perhaps, one of the reasons why her resignation comes as a refreshing change.

For having the courage to do this, she deserves a fair amount of credit. But sadly, it will be foolish to expect that her resignation will solve everything. In a parallel perfect universe, things might have been different. But our universe has never been within touching distance of perfection. Not in the past, not right now, and certainly does not seem so in the immediate future.

salman Zafar

Salman Zafar

The writer works in the Education Sector and tweets as @salmanzafar1985 (twitter.com/salmanzafar1985)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.