15 Minutes #GE2017: Who to vote for?

The general election is fast approaching, and I thought I’d write about it on my blog. However, to stop it just turning into a massive rant I’m keeping it simple and to a 15 minute timer. So here we go.

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Ever since Theresa May announced the snap election a few weeks back the British press has been working itself up. The parties have been scrutinised, they’ve made announcements and they’ve started pitching their manifestos.

Now, I think voting is something everyone should do but I can understand people’s hesitation and doubts over our current system. I’m living in a different constituency at the moment, one currently held by the Conservatives and it leaves me in an odd position of not knowing who to vote for.

Under a proportional representation system it would be simple enough, and I would just pick the party I agree with the most. However, the first past the post measure that we employ in the UK means that there has to be some tactical voting, which sucks as it means voting against someone instead of for.

I’m currently inclined to vote for Plaid Cymru, as I respect their leader, agree with their policies and as we blunder into Brexit talks, would like someone to speak up for Wales in a way that I don’t think the other parties will.

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However, Plaid aren’t much of a force in the Vale of Glamorgan and so it’s likely to come down to Labour vs the Tories.

The Tories are right out of course. Their austerity push has just caused people to suffer and there is a startling lack of empathy about them. Witness how the NHS is doing in England under Tory rule. I also don’t like the “no deal is better than a bad deal” argument and the bullishness approaching Brexit.

And frankly, I don’t trust the Tories to serve the public properly. And I don’t want to see the NHS slowly fall apart until they can justify scrapping it. Look at healthcare in the States, and you realise that for all it’s flaws, the NHS is a brilliant creation and something we should be proud of.

So, to stop them do I vote for Plaid and hope they have an upswing in support? Or do I vote for Labour, a party I don’t have much warmth for.

Here’s the thing, I regard Labour as better than the Tories, but that’s taken a beating in my lifetime. It was a Labour government that lied to the public and entered an illegal war which has caused far more problems than any it solved.

And the party hasn’t helped itself over the last year or so with some monumental gaffes, infighting and by failing to stage a meaningful opposition to the Tories. Theresa May isn’t a strong PM, but she’s never really had to look like one because Corbyn has been so ineffectual on the opposite side of the house.

He seems a decent bloke, and some of his ideas are sound, but I can’t see him as a leader and I think Labour are so fractured that they would struggle to hold it together. May might have pushed the “strong and stable” line to hard, but at least the Tories all seem capable of falling in line behind a leader. Labour seem to have split, and there’s a nastiness to both factions. They’ve made it alarmingly easy for the Tories, by looking massively incompetent and disorganised in opposition.

Worse yet, Corbyn has announced that he won’t make a coalition with other parties, which seems foolhardy. If both of the parties fail to secure a majority he’ll be in an impossible position, either holding to his position and allowing the Tories to form a coalition and retain power, or else go back on his word and catch hell for it.

No, I think as a party leader you have to acknowledge that if you don’t get a majority you’ll do your best for the public and form a coalition with like minded parties.

As for the other parties? Well, there’s not much there:

  • The Lib Dems- They have a few decent policies and have cleverly set themselves up as the anti-Brexit party after Labour put up very little resistence to May’s plans. But the sting of 2010 still lingers and they don’t seem to have much of a chance.
  • The Greens- I admire the Greens for their enthusiasm, and they have some decent policies, but they haven’t got a hope, have they?
  • UKIP- Never.
  • Independents- They may be well meaning but I can’t think of one who actually made it to Westminster, and once there they are a lone voice. That being said, with the right manifesto and the right candidate it’s a possibility.

I guess I still have some thinking to do on this before I go to the polls.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: The Elephant in the Room by Jon Ronson

Finally the US Presidential election is drawing to a close. The process is so long and convoluted that by now everyone just wants it over with. I’m hoping that Hilary Clinton emerges as the victor because despite her flaws the alternative is terrifying.

Donald Trump is an irresponsible narcissist who would be too much if he was a fictitious character. Nobody would buy it. But sadly truth is stranger than fiction and The Donald (contender for lamest nickname ever) is a walking, talking embodiment of some of the worst personality traits out there. That he has made it to the final two is depressing.

As with the Brexit result in the UK, Trump’s success has emboldened bigots and racists. They see the popularity as a sign that the tide is turning and more people are agreeing with them. After the election, regardless of result, the hornet’s nest of hate, fear and anger which has been stirred up will not disappear overnight.

Trump has found favour with the far right and the “alt-right”, which is the focus of this short book by Jon Ronson. It focuses on an old acquaintance of Ronson’s, Alex Jones who he met while investigating conspiracy theories for Them and who some may know for his intense rants online on topics like government cover ups, Satanism and Justin Bieber.

Jones in full flow

It’s an interesting and well done read, with Ronson amiable and honest in his writing. He admits that, despite Jones’ more out there theories, he likes the man. He talks about attending Trump’s rallies and of the almost cult like atmosphere, of how the fringe appears to have taken over the centre.

It’s hardly new ground, although I did learn some more about the background of Trump’s associates and it’s interesting to have a snapshot into the supporters. It’s almpst sad that Jones is shown to have fallen for Trump’s platitudes and attempts to win his support in a way a more experienced media figures saw through.

Ronson also touches on how polarised politics have become and how entrenched positions have become, it’s an interesting look at the current political landscape in the US as they prepare for their election.

Verdict: A short, well written piece by Ronson which gives a quick look at the fringe players in the Trump story and his rallies. It’s not comprehensive but it’s still a decent and insightful read. 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Playing the Enemy by John Carlin

In 1995 less than half a decade after it’s first democratic election and the end of apartheid South Africa hosted the Rugby World Cup. The nation’s triumph at the tournament was viewed as an optimistic sign for the country and helped to heal the wounds on the nation’s people. This magnificent book details the story of South Africa leading up to the tournament, the challenges it faced and the driving force behind South Africa’s rebirth, Nelson Mandela.

Carlin’s writing is masterful and the research that has gone into it is evident in the wealth of back story and the interviews with numerous figures from all corners of the political landscape and the players involved in the historic tournament.

With obvious and unapologetic admiration Carlin discusses how Mandela emerged from prison a smart and savvy politician, a man who had used his time to understand what made the Afrikaners tick and who used this insight in a remarkable charm offensive that would win over life long enemies. Mandela is portrayed as being intelligent and shrewd, and Carlin acknowledges that he played the game of politics brilliantly, but it is hard to criticise a man who used politics to promote unity and peace. A man who could easily have sought vengeance and retribution but understood that understanding and unity were better for his people.
The book details the secret negotiations Mandela began in prison and his work upon release to lead the ANC to victory. But it also shows that he understood the need to involve all peoples in the new country he wanted to make.

And rugby forms a key part of this. Mandela understood what it meant to the Afrikaner population, how the years of boycott and isolation had hurt them and how to use the return of the Springboks to the international stage as a carrot to spur them to peaceful reconciliation. But he was not bound to how the green jersey was linked to the former violent regime in the eyes of the black population and the struggle it would be to win them over to cheer for a team they had long despised.

Carlin goes to great lengths to capture this, talking to both sides and capturing the rabid, near religious fanaticism of one side and the deep rooted loathing of the other.

The rugby itself takes up a small section of the book, with the politics, and more importantly people being the main focus. The interviews with Mandela, Desmond Tutu and others reveal the emotional tumult that led up to the tournament. It is the players who are most moving, athletes who had been indifferent or ignorant of politics coming to understand that they were key players in uniting their country. Mandela awoke in them an understanding and compassion, overturning the deep seated beliefs they had been raised in. That these players became true believers, who played for more than glory, more than pride is a moving story, and the response of a tense, conflicted nation is inspiring and heartwarming. 

Several times reading I was choked up, marvelling at the story and the strength of men like Mandela and Tutu who show none of the resentment one could easily understand in men who suffered under the apartheid system. It’s no wonder Hollywood took to this story (Invictus) as it marries the themes of redemption, forgiveness and triumph so well it could almost be too good to be true.

Of course, Carlin knows that South Africa didn’t become a peaceful, perfect Utopia, but this story shows that it emerged stronger and more united than any would have believed in the early 90s as it teetered on the brink of civil war.

Verdict: Sensationally written this is a moving, involving and inspiring work which shows how sport can be a unifying factor and the skill and success of one of modern history’s greatest figures, Nelson Mandela. A great read even for non rugby fans. 9/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


15 Minute Blog: Out and Down

I could write for hours about today’s events, but let’s keep this brief, shall we?

Britain has voted to leave the EU. Yesterday, reassuring MWF I had said that I felt the British people would do the right thing and not gamble the future on nostalgic nationalism, fear and intolerance.

I gave my countrymen too much credit.

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And so we are out.

It feels unreal, and watching Nigel Farage celebrating is enough to chill the blood. This is the face of the British future, a rich, upper class toff cheering after he duped a nation into voting against it’s best interests.

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Areas like Neath Port Talbot voted to leave despite the fact that it is the EU that provides funding for these deprived areas. And now they have decided to shut the door, and must hope that a Tory government in Westminster matches that money.

Hope.

That is all I have left. The hope that our fears are not realised and that this is a step toward a better and brighter Britain, but I doubt it is.

The whole leave campaign has been built to play to the national character’s worst traits- misplaced nationalism, fear, intolerance and greed. Fear of the other, the different.

People who still see Britain as a global powerhouse, the country that ruled the world. But we’re not anymore. We are a small country, with no great industry left and must hope that we can forge trade deals on our own. That we can stand alone after leaving a network of support and cooperation.

Should the Leave gamble fail, we can’t just hit a reset button. And the next few years could get rough.

And going forward we seem to be lurching to the right. Anti-migrant feeling was stoked during the campaign, and they made out that somehow we had lost Britain and needed to “take it back”, and once that xenophobic genie is out if the bottle, we ain’t getting it back in. Bigots like Britain First and some UKIP supporters will be emboldened by this, and minorities must be anxious about what our future holds.

The whole Leave campaign played the ill informed masses like a fiddle. It used revolutionary language about “taking control”, “a new era” and “people power” but it was an act.

A new era? We will still have a Tory public school boy in Downing Street, it will just be a different one and Farage and Johnson are not the anti-establishment figures some view them as. Johnson is a dyed in the wool Tory, and Farage is just another toff who decided that he had a better chance carving out a niche with UKIP than as a Tory. That they convinced the working class voters that they were standing up for them beggars belief and celebration over David Cameron stepping down feels foolhardy.

Yes, Cameron is gone, but it will be another Tory who takes over and we will still be following the same theme. In fact we may even see them grow more right wing and able to do more now they are free of the EU and it’s policies. The hydra’s head regrows.

I am trying to stay hopeful. But as the future stretches out before us it seems a dark and uncertain path, and I expect there to be many stumbles on the way.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Votey McVotefarce (see what I did, there?)

Yesterday was election day here in the UK, with the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and English councils being decided. There were also mayoral elections in London and other cities.

As a lecturing do-gooder I urged my “friends” on social media to get down to the polls and vote, but at least I didn’t write a whole blog about it this time.

Election day is full of frustration as people whine about how pointless the whole thing is. If I hear that “if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal” quote one more time I will explode. It’s almost as bad as the “all are bad as each other” argument. Really? You’re putting the Greens, who want us to look after nature, at the same level as Britain First, a bunch of moronic racists?

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There are clearly parties that are worse than others, and that you disagree with less, so you have a preference. State it! At the very least your vote will diminish the numbers for the part you like least, and they may loose their deposit.

So, your vote does matter, and you should use it!

Although it is hard making this argument as after a day devoted to democracy the government then torpedoed a vote.

You probably heard that earlier this it was decided that the UK needed a new Arctic research boat. No big deal, but then it caught fire, because of the arrival of a well intentioned idiot, who decides that the population would get to suggest and vote for the name of the ship.

This is the British public who love a laugh and chance to take the mickey. This was a free vote, and the British public have illustrated that they will pay for this opportunity. Don’t believe me? Jedward, Irish talent voids made it to 6th place on the X Factor!

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So, after a few suggestions of questionable names, one took on a life of it’s own.

Boaty McBoatface.

You can see why it took off. It was silly without being offensive, and it does make you smile. The first time.

It gained steam and stormed to an impressive lead, prompting some to complain that it was an insult to arctic researchers, demeaning and awkward to use on the radio.

So, democracy wins, launch Boaty McBoatface!

Ummm, no.

They decided it was silly and named it Sir David Attenborough.

Now, I have nothing but affection and respect for Sir David. Don’t all Brits? But it seems unfair to ignore the will of the people, even if it is a name we don’t object to.

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No disrespect, sir.

If you ask for a vote you have to honour it. It’s your fault that you didn’t put in some kind of selection process or filter, you left the door open and the jokers stormed in. Deal with it.

Anyway, rant over. Despite my ire can we stop the Boaty McBoatface gags now? It’s all played out.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Votey McVotefarce (see what I did there?)

Yesterday was election day here in the UK, with the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and English councils being decided. There were also mayoral elections in London and other cities.

As a lecturing do-gooder I urged my “friends” on social media to get down to the polls and vote, but at least I didn’t write a whole blog about it this time.

Election day is full of frustration as people whine about how pointless the whole thing is. If I hear that “if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal” quote one more time I will explode. It’s almost as bad as the “all are bad as each other” argument. Really? You’re putting the Greens, who want us to look after nature, at the same level as Britain First, a bunch of moronic racists?

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There are clearly parties that are worse than others, and that you disagree with less, so you have a preference. State it! At the very least your vote will diminish the numbers for the part you like least, and they may loose their deposit.

So, your vote does matter, and you should use it!

Although it is hard making this argument as after a day devoted to democracy the government then torpedoed a vote.

You probably heard that earlier this it was decided that the UK needed a new Arctic research boat. No big deal, but then it caught fire, because of the arrival of a well intentioned idiot, who decides that the population would get to suggest and vote for the name of the ship.

This is the British public who love a laugh and chance to take the mickey. This was a free vote, and the British public have illustrated that they will pay for this opportunity. Don’t believe me? Jedward, Irish talent voids made it to 6th place on the X Factor!

image

So, after a few suggestions of questionable names, one took on a life of it’s own.

Boaty McBoatface.

You can see why it took off. It was silly without being offensive, and it does make you smile. The first time.

It gained steam and stormed to an impressive lead, prompting some to complain that it was an insult to arctic researchers, demeaning and awkward to use on the radio.

So, democracy wins, launch Boaty McBoatface!

Ummm, no.

They decided it was silly and named it Sir David Attenborough.

Now, I have nothing but affection and respect for Sir David. Don’t all Brits? But it seems unfair to ignore the will of the people, even if it is a name we don’t object to.

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No disrespect, sir.

If you ask for a vote you have to honour it. It’s your fault that you didn’t put in some kind of selection process or filter, you left the door open and the jokers stormed in. Deal with it.

Anyway, rant over. Despite my ire can we stop the Boaty McBoatface gags now? It’s all played out.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Revolution by Russell Brand

To be honest it took me a while to get into this book. I found the early stages a bit of a slog and feared that this was where Brand and I would part ways. It seemed a shame as I’ve long been a fan and find him an interesting, funny and clever person.
The first couple of chapters, laying the groundwork for his awakening to the need for change and the fact fame wasn’t the answer he’d searched for, are interesting enough but, for me, lacked Brand’s trademark energy, that swirling, surreal drama he brings to things, mixing the philosophical and the more base aspects of humanity.

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Luckily, he began finding his feet soon enough, perhaps realising that despite his serious subject matter he could still allow little flights of whimsy and let his personality show. Once this begins happening with increasing frequency the book really takes off.
Brand writes about the revolution he wants, the great change he feels needs to come to change the flawed, corrupt world we live in now. Throughout he discusses different theories and approaches for a better world, boiling them down into his own theory and hope- a peaceful awakening that sees the public take control of their future. An end of corporations and greed, and the installation of a new system of small, self contained communities governed by true democracy, where leaders work in service of the community not in the interests of themselves or companies.
It’s rabble rousing and you’d have to be very entrenched in the current system not to see that Brand has some good points, especially as he highlights the massive gulf of inequality which exists in our world and the unfairness of our system. The arguments he sets forth are researched, thoughtful and all stem from a basic love and respect for humanity and its potential.
Sure, when he talks about meditation or his belief in God he may lose some, but it’s never too in your face or “this is how it should be”, more a case of “this works for me, it might work for you and it might make the world a better place” (avoided going all Jacko there). And for many Brand himself will be enough for them to disregard his opinions or theories, which is a shame as their bases on basic principles that most of us share (a belief in fairness, compassion and a desire for unity).
I found myself warming to the book and many of the ideas that he puts forward. Only a fool would argue that our current system works, and a greater fool would be needed to push the angle that we can’t do better. We can, we have to.
Does Brand have all the answers? Is the revolution just around the corner? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hope for change and start taking steps to put into action the changes we want to see.
His writing, as he gains confidence, is insightful and full of humour, never getting too bogged down. It’s fuelled by optimism and love for his fellow man.
But Brand is no fool and has done his homework, he acknowledges that previous revolutions have failed, with those who have seized power being corrupted and that this one must be different, and that he is not putting himself up as our new leader. In fact he seems to know that coming from him some of these ideas will be rejected outright, acknowledging his flaws and mistakes with openness, and discussing that trying to live a better life is a daily struggle. That his ego, selfishness and sense of individuality can be hindrances to be a better person.
I’m going to end on a quote from the book, which I feel shows Brand’s intelligence and why he shouldn’t be written off. It makes a good point too.

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Verdict: After a slow start I really got caught up in this book, it’s hard not to feel Brand’s passion which courses through the book or to argue against his basic ideas. Not everyone will be a fan, or agree with everything he says, but it’s hard to deny that Brand has poured his soul into these pages, filling them with humour, hope and love. Viva la revolution! 8/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


10 Minute Blog: Use your vote

Tomorrow is the general election, and I’m going to wander over and exercise my democrat rights by casting my ballot. Who I’m voting for is still a little undecided in my head, but I’m sure that by the time it comes to leave my mark I’ll have chosen someone.

I was going to write a Buzzfeed thing today about how people should vote, but it’s all been said before (others don’t have the right so it’s disrespectful not to use it, every vote counts, you have to show how you feel etc.) and so I decided not to.

Hopefully most cats know why it’s important to use your vote.

Even if the party you want loses, at least you’ve had your say and that’s what matters. People know just how many people feel about certain things. What I find especially sad is that people are fine to Tweet and update their political gripes, but some still refuse to vote. Nobody cares about your Facebook status, regardless of how many people have liked it, what matters is your vote.

Years ago, back in 2010, which was a different time I was kinda excited to vote in my second general election. Things had got interesting after the TV debates and like a lot of folks at the time I agreed with Nick. I was optimistic that the Lib Dems would be part of a more progressive move into the future.

Cleggmania running wild in 2010.

Cleggmania running wild in 2010.

I asked one of my coworkers, who was never backwards in coming forwards with an opinion who she intended to vote for.

“I don’t vote. Pointless, isn’t it?” She replied.

I was a bit stunned and asked what she meant.

“Well, look at Margaret Thatcher, almost everybody hated her but she kept getting reelected. So why bother?”

As we were at work I just let it slide, but part of me wanted to shake her and set her straight.

“Do you not think that part of the reason Maggie kept getting back in was because your opposition only went as far as whinging in the pub?”

Voter turnout in the 80s was higher than in recent years, but a massive number of people didn’t vote (there hasn’t been a turnout of above 80% since 1951). Let’s say half of them were anti-Tory, they could have swung at least a couple of seats, and who knows what could have happened.

Political “what ifs?” are extremely pointless, would we really have been better under Neil Kinnock? Some might jump in right away with “yes”, but we’ll never know, for all we know he could have been a disaster.

The point is that even if you vote for a losing party you’ve made your voice heard. You’ve shown that there’s an opposition. You’ve shown what you want to happen, and that’s important. If one party gets a lot of votes but still loses, it’ll hopefully make the winners think about how they’re going to proceed.

Even if you vote for a joke candidate, you’re still sending a message. A message that you don’t care for the major parties, that none of the represent you, but you still want to use your democratic voice.

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That’s far better than not voting, because all that tells people is that you don’t care enough to walk to the polling station. And if you don’t care now, you can’t complain if some douche gets voted to represent you, because your vote and those of others might actually have made a difference.

Would you look at that, I wound up writing a why you should vote thing anyway.

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Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Interview: Elin Walker Jones, Plaid Cymru candidate for Cardiff North

Sipping coffee outside on a mild April afternoon talking to Elin Walker Jones is a bit like chatting to one of your mum’s friends. “Nice” isn’t a word that gets used a lot in politics but Walker Jones is nice, she talks in a soft, friendly manner in an accent that carries the influence of her Carmarthenshire childhood and the North of Wales, where she’s worked.

Perhaps “nice” isn’t used because it can seem condescending, it can hint at blandness or dimness, but neither of these can be applied to Walker Jones, who throughout our talk exhibits intelligence and passion.

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The major focus of this passion is inequality, a theme which crops up frequently. It’s in the books she’s read and her heroes (see below), and she sets out her stall early stating that “an unequal society is not good for anybody”. It would seem that this is her driving force in politics, to try and help restore some balance, and it explains why she’s chosen Plaid as her party

She talks with great emotion of how Welsh voices are unheard, and of how the country is not on the same footing as Scotland. There’s mention to the pledges made by the three main parties made “on bended knee” to the Scotts before the referendum, and while she supported the Yes campaign she confesses to being saddened by how Wales appears to be getting left behind.

Walker Jones is critical of the Barnett formula, and feels that Wales is being let down, stating that if Welsh funding was increased to match what Scotland gets per head that Wales would be £1.2bn better off.

But she doesn’t criticize Scotland, in fact, having visited Edinburgh during the build up she was delighted by the way it effected and invigorated public debate in politics;

There were people talking about politics everywhere…The interest in politics, when so people are disillusioned with what we have, the fact that so many people were engaged is miraculous.

There’s hope that the resurgence in Scottish nationalism will inspire the people of Wales to take steps to change it’s “poor relative” status.

Walker Jones acknowledges that Plaid Cymru have always faced an uphill struggle in the Cardiff North constituency, in 2010 they earned a mere 3% of the vote, and while polls suggest their following has improved, it’s still a tough fight, with 8 candidates in the running, but she still believes strongly in her party, and why it matters, arguing that Plaid “is the only party answerable to the people of Wales”.

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She seems aware of the party’s reputation and that the talk of independence can alienate some voters, and is keen to address that the party is not about separatism. “It’s not about separatism” she states, “it’s about having an equal voice, it doesn’t mean taking more than our share, it means having a share.”

Warming to her theme she continued, “It’s about being sister nations at the British table, rather than somebody down below, getting crumbs from the table. Sitting at the table, with everybody else and having an equal voice. We’re the forgotten nation at the moment, and that saddens me.”

The Plaid stance has always been about Wales deciding for Wales, and that’s something that Walker Jones agrees with wholeheartedly. She alludes to the recent calls for “English votes on English issues” and suggests with the majority of Westminster seats representing England this is what happens anyway, but she moves on quickly.

I’m impressed throughout by the lack of negativity she displays regarding the other parties, near the beginning of our chat she says in passing that “politics should be honourable, or what’s the point?”. The only time it really comes up is when she states that Plaid are “very happy to work alongside any party, except for the Tories, that benefits the people of Wales”.

Her only other criticism is reserved for the discussion of the NHS, and it’s clear she has some distaste for the way it’s used as a political football around election time, and believes the time for a rational and legitimate conversation is once everything is settled, and the electioneering can stop.

With her background in psychology Walker Jones is keen to preserve the NHS, although she acknowledges the challenges and expense it faces. She also hopes that it can be used to dispel some of the stigma surrounding mental health, “We need to get much better at talking about these things”.

This is an area that she regards as needing improvement, and that education is key, not only with regards mental health but with other issues, and Walker Jones believes in the importance of the Personal and Social Health curriculum.

“Academic subjects are really important, nobody would dispute that, but, as a psychologist, I think it’s absolutely crucial that we celebrate and highlight the importance of talking about all those things at a very early age, so that it becomes a natural part of conversation.”

She feels that schools need to improve in this area, that teachers require more specified training to deliver this curriculum and that it stops merely being assigned to whoever has a free lesson to cover it. But she worries that this is unlikely to happen, she identifies school counselling services as an area needing improvement and says this is why “cuts are so desperate” because it will be one of the first things to get cut, due to not being monitored in the way exam results or attendance is.

In keeping with her nice demeanor, Walker Jones is strongly opposed to war and the Trident programme (“That’s easy,” she replies when asked about it, “scrap it!”) and feels that the £100bn could be used elsewhere.

Where, for example?

Perhaps in the rehabilitation and support provided to ex-service personnel. An area where she feels a more statutory approach is required, as opposed to leaving charities to shoulder much of the burden.

Our conversation drew to a close and I found myself impressed by Walker Jones, by her passion, commitment and intelligence.

I only hope that in Cardiff North she doesn’t finish where nice guys tend to.

6 Questions

What would you chose as your entrance music?

“That’s a really tricky one, because I really like all kinds of stuff. I guess when you first started asking the question I was thinking, maybe, of stuff like the traditional Welshy stuff like Hogia’r Wyddfa with ‘Safwn yn y bwlch’.”

She reveals that at the birth of her first son she had “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” but confesses that probably isn’t fitting for a non-Royalist. With a variety of musical taste so many to chose from, Walker Jones arrives at a compromise “Maybe a medley?”

“Dafydd Iwan would be good. Bit of Maria Callas perhaps, as well. And definitely some of the Welsh folk songs, because they’re great to walk to, I probably wouldn’t dance in, though”

What book has most shaped your world view or effected you the most?

City of Joy (by Dominique Lapierre),” she begins, impressed by it’s depiction of the lives of the poor in Calcutta and “how they look after each other”

Although she confesses to not having much time to read fiction, and her other selections are non-fiction, the first The Spirit Level (by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett), she choses because of how it shows “how social inequality correlates with social difficulties. In societies where there isn’t so much social inequality, like Finland, there are fewer social differences” and Nudge (by Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein) which is about “how you can change people’s behaviour in small ways”

Which important British figure would you chose to be on banknotes?

“It wouldn’t be British, they would be Welsh” she replies with a smile. “Either Byddug or Gwenllian…when I was a kid I used to live in Carmarthen and my grandmother lived in Trimsaran, and we used to pass Kidwelly…you’d pass a field called Maes Gwenllian, her head was cut off in battle with the English. She was a heroine, trying to protect her family and her country”

“Hywel Dda would be another one, his laws are amazing. He was really sensible about women as well, he believed women should have equal rights.”

Do you agree with an increased tax on the super rich?

“Yes.” Walker Jones’ response was immediate “I believe in trying to redistribute power and wealth, which is one of our party’s main principles, that an unequal society is not good for anybody.”

“The trickle down effect they keep talking about hasn’t worked. I haven’t seen any evidence of it” She continued. “The people at the top are getting richer, and the people at the bottom are getting poorer, and that’s just not on.”

Where do you stand on the legalization of cannabis?

“I would decriminalize cannabis, in particular,” Walker Jones began “and think about decriminalizing some of the other drugs. Because it’s not the drug users you need to be penalizing. You need to be providing rehabilitation and support for people to come off drugs.”

“There are medicinal uses, acknowledged medicinal uses, so why should you punish people for using stuff that helps them get through their day when they’re in so much pain?”

Why should people vote? In general, and for you, specifically?

“It’s really important that people use their vote. As a woman, you know, people have died, thrown themselves in front of horses so I could vote, so I absolutely think it’s important to use that vote.”

On the subject of disillusionment, Walker Jones encourages involvement- “If people feel that politics isn’t representative, get involved! Set up your own party!”

“There are 8 candidates in Cardiff North, one of them must reflect your views, to some extent or another”

vote

 

This wasn’t intended as a pro-Plaid piece, I’ve reached out to all of the candidates for interviews.

For more info on the Plaid policies click here.

Still undecided? Take this quiz to see who you’re most in line with.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


15 Minute Blog: Dave and the Brain Fade

Another 15 minute timed writing. Went for 15 because I was scribbling by hand and I can type quicker than I can write, which is weird. Typed up as written, but tidied up a little.

Does it matter that David Cameron doesn’t really like football?

Not really.

Does it matter that he lied/exaggerated his following of Aston Villa?

Not that much.

Does it matter that he or the Tory PR thought he should lie about it?

Kinda.

Cameron’s “brain fade” (a term I rather like) which came when he urged folks to support West Ham United, when he’d previously stated he was an Aston Villa fan, was daft, and given undue press coverage, but most missed the main issue.

Probably the kit similarity that threw him

Probably the kit similarity that threw him

Instead of calling him a liar and/or fool, why don’t we discuss how daft it is that a politician feels they have to fake an interest in football.

Not everyone likes, football, and that’s fine.

Not following the beautiful game doesn’t make Cameron out of touch because for millions of Brits footy isn’t a big deal. For some it’s something they actively loathe.

Cameron not liking it doesn’t make me think any less of him. I’m not a Tory or Cameron fan and that would be the same even if he came out as a Swansea fan and revealed he had a chest tattoo of Cyril the Swan.

cyril

PR seems to have gone nuts with this “man of the people” stuff, but who are “the people”?

Folks are diverse. Heck, even within football fans there’s a massive difference. There are 92 teams in the football league, and all of them have fans.

Why not stop trying to be “man of the people” and just be themselves?

You don’t like football? Fine.

Your music taste isn’t cool? No worries?

Don’t give a toss about the X-Factor? Right there with you, brother.

Don’t lie to us, though, because you’ll only get caught out, or look desperate as you try and show you’re “just like us”, like those awful teachers who try to be down with the kids.

Another issue in all of this was highlighted by Caroline Criado-Perez, the feminist who headed the campaign to get more women on banknotes.

austen banknote

CC-P pointed out the ridiculousness of Cameron being lambasted and seen as less masculine for not liking football. Why is liking football seen as being essential to manliness in our society? Does not liking it make Dave seem less manly or rather less of a “bloke”?

Being a man is a rather odd concepts, ask people and you’ll probably get different answers from them, and that makes sense, there are around 3.5 billion men on Earth and there are few, if any, things that apply to all of us.

You can like football, tennis, cricket or none of the above, you’re still as much of a man as the biggest sports nut.

I mean, football isn’t just liked by men, there are lots of women who like the sport.

A real man, for me, likes what he likes. He doesn’t pretend to care about things just to impress others.

That’s where Cameron went wrong, in my opinion, he should have told the PR folks to sod off and confessed that he’s not really that fussed on the sport.

Personally I’d have respected that a lot more.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.