How I learnt to Love Wales and Being Welsh

I think one of the things that would surprise sixteen year old Chris the most is how much thirty-three year old Chris feels about Wales. I wasn’t a patriotic kid, and didn’t feel any real affection or pride in my Welsh heritage. Welsh was the language of school, and the books we studied there. Sure, there’d occasionally be something which broke through like Pam Fi, Duw? but a lot of the Welsh things I was exposed too were kinda naff.

The change has happened slowly over the years, partly because of my time at university. Although I attended a Welsh university, we Welsh students were the minority, and most of the students seemed to be English. It was these English students who shaped my growing love for Wales.

There was the normal things you expect from English students- sheep shagger jokes, whining about the bilingual signs and, of course, telling us we weren’t a real country. English people then get really huffy when you point out that if Wales isn’t a country, then neither is England as both are part of Britain.

The Welsh students banded together, especially when the Six Nations started up, and we were lucky enough that our first year, 2005, saw Wales win the Grand Slam.

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It wasn’t just the rugby victory that started to win me over, it was starting to realise just how Wales had been treated. South Wales, the area I grew up in still bore the scars of Thatcher’s war on the unions, with mass unemployment and closed down factories, mines and failing steelworks.

As time went on I learned more about how Wales was routinely overlooked, poorly funded and treated as a poor relation or joke. Finding out about Welsh towns literally flooded to create a reservoir to serve England, about attempts to kill the Welsh language and how Wales was just used for it’s resources. It made you realise how hard people had worked and fought to keep Welsh culture alive.

It made me proud. It made me angry. For me the words of Phil Bennett before a match against England captured my feelings towards Westminster and how Wales was treated:

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It made me appreciate the Welsh language more, regret all the times I saw it as a pain or dismissed it as a dead language, cursed my parents for sending me to a Welsh language school and complained about the dire novels we had to read.

There are still English people who complain about the Welsh language. Laughable arguments about the signs being too difficult for them and dangerous, when all they need to do is ignore the first line. Who grumble that they go to places and the Welsh speak Welsh. Who whinge about how money is wasted on Radio Cymru and S4C.

Sod them.

The Welsh language has endured similar attacks over the years. Banned in schools, marginalised and underrepresented, those channels and stations were the result of hard fighting and lengthy campaigns. The bilingual signs a massive victory in ensuring our heritage was respected and returned to prominence.

I’m glad every Welsh kid is taught some Welsh now, I only wish they were taught more about the attempts to destroy it. How speaking Welsh is a sign of rebellion, of resistance, of a culture refusing to let itself be erased to satisfy it’s oppressors.

I’ve tried to embrace Welsh in new ways. I watch S4C when I can, I’ve sought out Welsh language music and even looked into reading some Welsh books.

I’ve even been inspired to find a new way to engage in the language thanks to an anti-Welsh tweet. Some gammon who chose to live on this side of the bridge but refuses to respect his new home made a sarky point about how the buttons for the Welsh option on ATMs is never as worn as the button for English. Well, since reading that I always pick the Welsh option now, so that they know it’s used and appreciated, and as a thank you for all the people who stopped it from dying.

In the words of Dafydd Iwan, “er gwaetha pawb a phopeth, ry’n ni yma o hyd” (“in spite of everyone and everything, we’re still here”)

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

 

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15 Minutes Blog #GE2017: The Trouble with Trident

The hate filled rag that is the Daily Mail today used it’s front page to attack Jeremy Corbyn. This is standard fare for the paper, which is so Tory it may as well be publisher with blue ink.

The reason for the attack was that Corbyn refused to answer if he would use Trident, the UK’s nuclear weapons, to “defend Britain”. I’m sure to the core readership of the paper this is further evidence of the hippy’s weakness as a potential leader and he should have answered the question.

The problem is that you can’t use Trident to defend Britain. It doesn’t stop a nuclear attack on the UK, not in a weaponized sense. Trident won’t shoot Russian nukes out of the sky. It works because nobody with nukes will attack us because they know we can retaliate. 

Mutually assured destruction is how the nuclear arms situation works. Nobody fires because they know if they do, that’s all she wrote.

This always makes me wonder if perhaps we could save money and bluff. Say we’re renewing Trident, keep the subs milling about but actually use the cash to shore up the NHS on the quiet. Or fund school lunches. You know something useful that wouldn’t potentially end mankind.

Corbyn has been attacked for not agreeing with the continued funding of Trident. But it’s a reasonable thing to object to. In times of austerity why continue to pay billions upon billions for a weapon that will probably never be used. Why not sit with other nuclear powers and discuss this? Find some way to end the stalemate that has reigned since the USSR built it’s first nuke, kickstarting the tense face off of the Cold War.

A British PM would only use a nuke in two situations- if they went nuts and fired first, or as a retaliation. Neither is a defensive move. If Russia, for example, wanted to it would only take around 10 bombs of 100 megaton payloads to essentially wipe out Britain aside from a few folks in the Highlands and other remote areas. That’s every major town and city gone. (You can work all this out on the depressing Nukemap website).

At that point firing our nukes isn’t defending ourselves, it’s a final, needless retaliation. 

Who could morally justify firing at that point? We’d be down and out, and the last action of Britain in the history books would be lashing out. Condemning millions of innocents to death without hope of victory or any greater strategy beside a vengeful “f××k you” from our death bed.

In that situation you hope a leader would react with compassion and not rage. To resist the urge to fire back, to stop the death and destruction there and not add more to the radioactive pyre.

The nuke question is routinely trotted out. Corbyn wouldn’t give the “if necessary” answer because quite frankly it will never be necessary. The other nuclear powers can’t use theirs for fear of what it would unleash. So, why not just say “no, I wouldn’t use nukes”.

Well, Corbyn would have been attacked for this. Look at the lefty loony who says he won’t slaughter millions and leave countless others suffering and disease, what a wimp!

I would be far more worried of a PM candidate who could glibly answer yes to the nuke question or worse gleefully announce that they would have no remorse pressing the button. 

But thankfully none of the leaders seem that cracked. Although, has anyone asked Paul Nuttall?

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


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.

screaming lord sutch

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.