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Gamal Mubarak, or Jimmy, and his posse have exhibited a change in tone throughout the speeches they made during the NDP conference. Their criticism of opposition is not new. But the aggressiveness and bluntness of the criticism is. The anger and the not-so-subtle threats are new to such public speeches.

It’s early, however, to determine whether this change is worrying or healthy. Does it mean they are seriously acknowledging the opposition? Would this signal a crackdown? Or is it all a stunt so people like me would get too occupied with analyzing the change of tone rather than taking the NDP to task for its failures over the past 28 years?

But definitely it isn’t early to start considering the options. The Jimmy Option (JO) and the Unknown Opposition Option (UOO).

Before starting, let’s eliminate one of the annoying questions that has become a staple of such discussions.

The most annoying question/hypothesis is: ‘If it’s not Gamal, then who? There is no one, no other option.’

Aside from the fact that there are a lot of options, a lot of capable people who can lead this country, who ever said Gamal was qualified? Not because he can afford the luxury of exposure or the buzz surrounding his imminent rise to power, would this mean he can lead a country. He’s certainly not more qualified than others who can’t afford to get a camera to follow them around. Those ‘others’ would definitely shine and rise in a more welcoming system. But that’s another story.

So, if you rid yourself from the de facto proposition that it’s only the NDP that can rule — relying of course on the experience of the past 28 years where no other regime came close to power — then you can eliminate the one-and-only-Jimmy hypothesis from the argument. At least until the end of this article.

Plus, Jimmy won’t bring about any change. His existence in, like his rise to, power needs to be protected by a police state. Such a police state feeds on the current corruption, the venomous social structure, the ailing education and whatever else that plague this country. Thus for the younger (seemingly more progressive) Mubarak to remain in power, he has to keep many of the ills of this country intact.

But what can we do? Or to be more accurate, what can the politicians who publicly oppose Jimmy’s rise to power do?

To be realistic — because before answering such utopian question a dose of reality is needed — the NDP does control everything. Even though I would like to think that the presidential elections in 2011 would be a do-or-die battle for opposition and for many of us who hope for change, the fact is there isn’t much hope. At least not for 2011.

This doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t anything to do. There is. A lot.

It’s never too late.

This will unfortunately bring me back to the annoying question, specifically the part about being no other option.

Opposition has been relatively successful — so far — in meeting in the same room. Politicians representing different ideologies have temporarily let go of these differences to agree on certain principles: The need for change and the rejection of the inheritance of power, i.e. JO.

That’s commendable for sure. But a change in course, in strategy, is indispensible.

The discourse of merely calling for change that worked with the Kefaya Movement years ago has to mature now. The opposition forces that are merely campaigning against the JO are slowly and unknowingly shooting themselves in the foot. It’s because they are united against one thing without providing an alternative, their own option, i.e. UOO.

With two years to go before the elections, the UOO needs to be groomed for power — starting today, if not yesterday. For the public to take the united opposition forces seriously (that if they stay united), they have to be presented with a UOO that would stand in strong comparison with JO. A UOO that the public and the opposition can rally behind.

Even if the UOO doesn’t win (which right now sounds like the plausible scenario), the opposition would have put the wheel of change into motion.