Thursday 1 June 2006

And the runner-up is - Lady Oddjob

Seconds from First

One thing about coming second-best is you get to speak first and cheer the leader as you humbly acknowledge that you have been trounced.

One could not have wished a better person to be in that position than Lady Oddjob (Mrs Rita Verdonk) the Minister without Portfolio in charge of Integration and Immigration.

The result of the VVD – Liberal Party Leadership contest was down to the wire as polls suggested the youthful Mark Rutte might come off worse having been an initial favourite when a no-runner tried to get name recognition by creating the similitude of a political joust – she, Jelleke Veenendaal mercifully got 3% of the vote.

The main result itself was 51% to Mark and 46% to Rita, a result that shows a modicum of Dutch ambivalence than Dutch courage.

Support as minister deny as leader

Generally, Lady Oddjob commands extensive support in the Netherlands, her populist approach to dealing with immigration cases has many times earned her the title of best politician – which we can say is down to being able to enforce the rules down the line.

A tough-talking, unyielding and firm minister is necessary for those matters, but it offers no training ground for leadership – that requires another set of skills that working in the prisons service and then moving to corporate consulting firm do not offer.

The generalisation I can deduce here separates the immigrant/expatriate community from the Dutch – Whilst we believe rules should and must be enforced, we also realise that humans made those rules and sometimes humanity requires that exceptions in application are valid.

As I have noted before, the Dutch do have a knack for breaking the rules but understand that the whole weight of officialdom and the law can be brought to bear if one is caught breaking those rules.

With that in mind, we would rather not break the rules at all, we can be found queuing, stopping at traffic lights, upbraiding others for being uncivil and suddenly be exposed as unDutched.

An opportunist looking like a pragmatist

However, when reviewing the issue of Lady Oddjob, what makes everyone breathe a collective sigh of relief is the opinion that her winning might have lead her to pull out of the governing coalition in a few months and capitalise on her popularity to become the first female Prime Minster of the Netherlands.

I, for one would not be surprised if she eventually decides to become the leader of her own party, considering the way she was carpeted by her party for what she did concerning Ayaan Hirsi Ali who also happened to be from the same party.

Vengeance is not hers

Before the election was over, there were rumours the those who were involved were already having their cards marked by supporters of Verdonk who was imminently going to take the prize – we have been spared the Night of Long Knives as vengeance would belong to another time and era.

Everyone likes Mrs Verdonk where she is and she has a lot of work to do the make her department, efficient, friendly and professionally capable of handling immigration and asylum issues humanely.

Having to deny that sick children get deported reveals without need for other evidence the feeling people have towards the way the agency operates.

My commiserations to Lady Oddjob, though I never intended to offer any congratulations – that belongs to a parallel universe, the one we do yet not inhabit.


Rutte crowned in choreographed 'Idols' show

We don't deport ill children - Verdonk

The Verdonk – Lady Oddjob Archive

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