Fighting and Dying For Your Rights

Tomorrow is the day of the general election in the United Kingdom and at every election I generally say something along the lines of people fought and died for you right to vote so go and use that right.

I feel that this is losing something as I may have used that line at least 3 times in the last two years, so here are just a few people who actually died in order for you to be able to vote. So now you can begin to understand the human cost of the rights you take for granted.

Here are just three people who died fighting for the belief that every man and woman should have the right to choose their representatives in parliament.

  • Samuel Holberry- Who died in prison, he was arrested for planning a protest in Sheffield as part of the Chartism movement, that would see every man with a vote and a wage for every MP so it would not just be the rich who could afford to stand.
  • Emily Davison- Who in protest for a woman’s right to vote threw herself in front of the Kings horse at Epsom Derby and died of wounds sustained.
  • Mary Clarke-Who died mere hours after being released from a police station where she was imprisoned for acts of protest

These are just three people who died for your rights, and doesn’t begin to mention the 22 who died in the Newport Rising and the hundred more injured, or the hundreds of men who were imprisoned or transported for fighting, and doesn’t mention the hundreds of women who were beaten, jailed, force fed and molested so that you could go and tick that box in secret.

Lifting The Veil On Politics: Local Government

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This is the third in a series of posts trying to de-mystify politics for everyday people.

What on earth does local government do? Its a tricky question to answer. There are 55 unitary authorities in England and 22 in Wales and whilst the duties of each individual council differs from council to council, most are responsible for the maintenance of highways, social care and education, as well as small schemes provision and local jobs creation schemes.

Councils will be made up of directly elected councillors which will then form a cabinet and decide on matters of education, social care, housing etc. Councillors will work with permanently employed officers of that council to set a budget and deliver policy for the areas that are devolved to that particular council.

Most people have the misconception that councils are funded entirely by council tax. This is wrong. Whilst council tax is my highest monthly bill after housing, in order to cover the entire cost of running a council I estimate that my council tax would have to go up by about 1000%. Councils, get somewhere between 75-90% of their funding from central government. So this is why it really annoys me when people complain about council services, using the old line “I pay my council tax”  to justify whatever they’re griping about, because the majority of the councils money comes from Westminster or the Welsh Assembly and actually seems to be going down year on year, whilst council tax goes up and up, without being too much of a burden on the rate payers.

Hopefully this post answers some of the questions  you have about local government, and with the elections coming later this year, you’re bound to have at least one or two that need answering.

Elections Are Coming

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This May in 22 local authorities in Wales will be holding elections . So make sure you register to vote, I’ll be reminding you at regular intervals. Register to vote here.

Voting is one of the most important of civil rights, people have fought and died for those rights so don’t waste them. Councils do so much that effects your everyday life, from paving roads to running our children’s schools, from managing social care to emptying our bins, and its important you decide who should be in charge of those decisions. So please, please register to vote and then look at the issues and vote for who you think would be the best for you and your family.

The Lazy Ramblings Of A Lazy Guy (On Being In Love)

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I was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  1. ON BEING IDLE.
  2. ON BEING IN LOVE.
  3. ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
  4. ON BEING HARD UP.
  5. ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
  6. ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
  7. ON THE WEATHER.
  8. ON CATS AND DOGS.
  9. ON BEING SHY.
  10. ON BABIES.
  11. ON EATING AND DRINKING.
  12. ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
  13. ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Being In Love 

Have you ever seen someone and known that they would be a terrible distraction to your life. That was how I would describe it, that feeling of knowing that this person is going to really change your life. That knowledge that this is going to be massively inconvenient.

That’s how it all begins then you slip into it, the early days are all wine and dinner and flowers and dancing, but then comes the big pants and netflix, the cups of tea, the farting and the lack of make up, if you can get through that, that is true love. The enduring real world version of the thing.

Foreigner wanted to know what love is, well its two people who have decided to just give up and settle with each other because they find the other person somewhat less detestable than the rest of humanity, that my friends is love.

This is the second in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man.

 

The Lazy Ramblings of A Lazy Guy (On Being Idle)

 

The Man Down My Local (1).pngI was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  1. ON BEING IDLE.
  2. ON BEING IN LOVE.
  3. ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
  4. ON BEING HARD UP.
  5. ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
  6. ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
  7. ON THE WEATHER.
  8. ON CATS AND DOGS.
  9. ON BEING SHY.
  10. ON BABIES.
  11. ON EATING AND DRINKING.
  12. ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
  13. ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Being Idle

Laziness is both a blessing and a curse, there is nothing more satisfying than spending a day lazing about on the sofa, especially when you know that there are plenty of more important things that you could be doing, and therein lies the curse. Having to put aside that bliss, can prove difficult and indeed a real hardship and can even lead to outright resentment. Or at least this is how I feel. I’ve now reached the point where I actually hate to have to do things. When people interrupt my doing nothing I really do get a little bit angry about the whole thing.

Since the advent of the internet the whole staying in thing really has taken off, with the world of online streaming services and takeaway foods that you don’t even have to speak to people to get, the world of insular laziness has actually become more and more of a easy thing to achieve.

Laziness and indeed idleness itself is a state of mind, its where you sacrifice any sort of social life just to achieve the pleasure that comes from doing nothing. It’s hard to get into the head space required to want to do nothing but watch Game of Thrones in your pants while eating cereal straight from the box.

There are some people who couldn’t be lazy if their lives depended on it. They just lack that lack of drive. They have too much motivation, too much determination to just get things done. The world would stop without those people, without them we wouldn’t have anything. But thanks to those people the rest of us, those lazy fellows can enjoy the things those great enablers have given us. Thanks to them we can vegetate until we fuse to with our sofas, until bed sores set in and until we have to wash ourselves with rags on sticks.

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The world takes a dim view of laziness, but to those who say this is say to you…meh I’ll tell you later.

 

This is the first in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man. 

An Iron Constitution.

One of my main interests is constitutional law. To most people its a pretty dry and boring subject and I could see why they would think that.

I like looking at the hypothetical questions that are posed and trying to figure out what would happen, this is why when the Scottish independence referendum was taking place my mind was racing with questions like: if Scotland were to vote independence, would the field MP’s in the 2015 elections.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been rereading some Christopher Buckley books, namely No Way To Treat A First Lady and Supreme Courtship, these books are fictional satire but raise some interesting questions about the way the American political and legal systems work (or don’t). Such as is if the President’s wife clocks him for sleeping about is it treason? or whether or not a Judge Judyesque TV judge has the relevant legal credentials to sit on the Supreme Court.

I like the absurdity of all, but the fact that it’s not beyond the realms of possibility is what makes it so enjoyable and also so scary. I often feel that the current presidential elections could in fact be a plot in one of Mr Buckley’s novel’s, a massively racist, misogynistic right wing, real estate selling, borderline sex offender running against a former first lady to a philandering former president…. what part of that doesn’t sound like satire .

One of the legal questions I have to ask though is can a presidential candidate take office if he’s currently under investigation for tax evasion, rape and various other felonies? Or can impeachment proceedings begin before an inauguration? It almost makes the British political system look tame by comparison and this is the system that has 22 anti EU UK Independence Party Members of the European Parliament.

Dr Brexit (Or How I Learnt To Stop Worrying & Love The Abomination)

So that happened. The people of the United Kingdom (but not Northern Ireland) voted to leave the EU. After months of muck slinging and misinformation Britain narrowly voted to leave the European Union. This left Prime Minister David Cameron to be the first politician to keep a promise as he resigned his premiership , thus triggering a short leadership contest best described as mother doesn’t know best.

As well as this the Labour Party seems to be determined to simultaneously implode and rip itself apart, with the majority of  party MP’s wanting to remove “leader” Jeremy Corbyn from power and Mr Corbyn refusing to leave office triggering a party wide leadership election based on the Vladimir Putin electoral system.

Add into this 6000 extra reported hate crimes that have been logged since the Brexit vote was cast, the fluctuation of the markets that look like a cutaway diagram of Wales, and several declarations of  war on the baby boom generation,  this whole thing is beginning to sound like some sort of satirical farce, one can almost hear Malcolm Tucker exclaiming CHRIST ON A BENDY BUS whilst R.E.M plays in the background.

This is why after a month of anger, bitterness and depression I’ve decided to see the funny side of Brexit. So here are some of the funniest/ stupidest things I’ve seen regarding Brexit after polling day:

  • Google reports the most popular (non porn) search the day of the Brexit results was “What is the EU?
  • After being urged to vote leave by J.D Wetherspoon’s founder Tim Martin the firm lost £18,Million in value thanks to the post brexit slump.
  • An odious man of my acquaintance (whom I will not name for legal reasons) who campaigned strongly for brexit has now found himself fired from a leading academic establishment (which I will not name for said same legal reasons) because his position was paid for by a European Grant.
  • Proposals are now being drawn up by various special interest groups to cease the subsidising of public transport for the over 60’s in Wales in order to make up the shortfall of European Money coming into Wales (almost 80% of over 60’s in Wales voted to leave the EU)

Do you have any examples of poetic justice stemming from the post brexit fallout currently engulfing the UK?

Foreign Secretary, A Eunuch Experience

Unless you’ve been living under a rock ( and under the circumstance this seems a rather sensible option) you’ll know that after voting to leave the European Union (I’m not bitter) the Labour Party has been in turmoil with members of Her Majesties Loyal Opposition finally uniting behind Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn (albeit in the same way Brutus et al united behind Julius Caesar) and that in the same time the Conservative Party has managed to stage a leadership contest and swear in a new Prime Minister following David Cameron’s resignation.

After a very brief leadership race the Conservative Party has selected The Right Honourable Theresa May MP as the new Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. After being asked to form a government by Her Majesty the Queen, Mrs May got straight to work picking her new cabinet most of the choices were fairly sound but the one that drew most controversy was the appointment of former London Mayor Boris Johnson MP as Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Boris Johnson
Secretary of State For The Foreign and Commonwealth Office: The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Boris Johnson was one of the leading figures of the Brexit movement (the campaign to leave the European Union) and as such was tipped to replace David Cameron as the next Prime Minister. He enjoyed much media notoriety as Mayor of London, his blonde haired buffonish charm and unapologetic upper class demeanour make him somewhat of a marmite figure across the country, but lying behind the Etonian oaf exterior is a political acumen sharp enough to cut glass.

When David Cameron stood down as Prime Minister, thus making the fallout from Brexit his successors problem, Boris, knowing this, decided to bide his time as most from the Brexit camp saw the premiership as a poisoned chalice. So when Theresa May became Prime Minister Boris had to be given a top job purely because his campaigning and media profile demanded it. Mrs May knows that she had to give Boris a cabinet position because as dangerous as having Boris in the cabinet is, he would be more dangerous as a back bencher.

Now that brings us to the position Mr Johnson was actually given, Foreign Secretary. You may ask what does Foreign Secretary do? The answer is not much. He may have a whole department to run but Mr Johnson has become the most powerful eunuch in Whitehall. Most major foreign policy decisions are made by the Prime Minister, most diplomatic actions are taken by ambassadors and other civil servants and now international trade has a new secretary of state and whole new department, and even Brexit, the most important foreign policy of a generation is being handled by its own department.

So what does that leave for Mr Johnson? Not much. He is now essentially The Secretary of State for Taking Blame, whenever British troops are killed in the middle east, he’ll be trotted out to sweat on question time, or when British Tourists are killed abroad he’ll be the one saying how sorry the government is. From the Prime Ministers point of view she can also send him abroad when and if he starts making a nuisance of himself in the press, or if it looks like he’s getting a little to popular among the back benches any number of foreign crises can be arranged.

I think that its clear to see that Mrs May subscribes to the theory that anyone who says keep your friends close but your enemies closer clearly doesn’t have many enemies.

American Presidential Candidates At A Glance

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Its that time again when the great circus that is American politics is looking for a new ringleader, the man (or woman) to try and get as many acts on message and in the right place at the right time. This is something that seems to happen every four years. I cant believe its been four years since the international community was treated to the absolute bore that was Mitt Romney going up against the political irrelevance that is the incumbent, President Barack Obama, a man whose greatest achievement in two terms of office has been a second term in office. But enough about the legacy of President Obama (or lack thereof) and on to the next inhabitant of the oval office.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney 2012
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney 2012

For those not in the know and who are we kidding there are many who just don’t care and have never bothered to look too closely into how these things are done. America is a two party state. Representing everything from the neo-fascist to the centre right is the The Republican Party (sometimes know as the GOP) and representing everything from the centre left to the borderline communist you have the Democratic Party.

The Logos of the Deomcrat's and Republicans
The Logos of the Deomcrat’s and Republicans

Now in order to select a presidential candidate both parties hold open primary elections where members of the party vote for who they want to represent their party in the final push for presidency. So the four main contenders on the side of the democrats are:


Hillary Clinton:
who was a former first lady to president Bill Clinton, she became the first first lady in history to hold elected office as senator for new york in 2000 and stood for president in 2008 (losing in the primary to Barack Obama), during the Obama presidency she served as Secretary of State until 2013. Mrs Clinton is avid supporter of women’s rights and is an active campaigner against wage inequality. (find more about their campaign here)

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

Lawrence Lessig : is an Ivy League academic, attorney, and political activist. He is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. (find more about their campaign here)

Lawrence Lessig
Lawrence Lessig

Martin O’Malley : has served as the Governor of Maryland and Mayor of Baltimore after beginning his political career as a Baltimore City Councilor in1 991. He is pro immigration and as governor, he made illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children eligible for in-state college tuition, and in 2012, he also oversaw the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Maryland. (find more about their campaign here)

Matin O'Malley
Matin O’Malley

Bernie Sanders: is the senator and former congressman for the great state of Vermont serving as chair of the senates committee for veteran’s affairs  between 2013 and 2015, and before coming to Washington was mayor of the City of Burlington, Vermont. Mr Sanders is known as a leading progressive voice on issues such as income inequality, universal healthcare, parental leave, climate change, LGBT rights, and campaign finance reform (find more about their campaign here)

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders

And here are the many more contenders for the Republican Nomination:

Jeb Bush: Former Governor of Florida, son of former president George Bush and Brother to former president George W Bush. (find more about their campaign here)

Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush

Ben Carson: Was the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland until his retirement in 2013, and is now an author and political commentator. (find more about their campaign here)

Dr Ben Carson
Dr Ben Carson

Chris Christie: Current Governor of New Jersey and former US attorney for the district of New Jersey. (find more about their campaign here)

Chris Christie
Chris Christie

Ted Cruz: Is currently a serving senator for the state of Texas and also a former solicitor General for Texas. He is pro outreach and thinks that growth and opportunity should be the hallmarks of a republican government. (find more about their campaign here)

Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz

Carly Fiorina: Former Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett Packard and former advisor to republican John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. (find more about their campaign here)

Carly Fiorina
Carly Fiorina

Jim Gilmore: Former Governor of Virginia and former chair of the republican national committee and former attorney general of Virginia. (find more about their campaign here)

Jim Gilmore
Jim Gilmore

Lindsey Graham: Current sitting senator for South Carolina and former congressman for South Carolinas 2nd and 3rd districts. (find more about their campaign here)

Lindsey Graham
Lindsey Graham

Mike Huckabee: Former Governor of Arkansas, former Chair for the national governors association, has previously stood in the 2008 presidential primaries losing to John McCain. (find more about their campaign here)

Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee

Bobby Jindal: Is the Incumbent Governor of Louisiana and a former US Congressman for Louisiana’s 1st district. (find more about their campaign here)

Bobby Jindal
Bobby Jindal

John Kasich: The Governor of Ohio and former member of congress for Ohio’s 12th district where he served as Chair of the House Budget Committee from 1995-2001. Before leaving Ohio for the capital he served with distinction as a member of the Ohio State Senate for the 15th district. (find more about their campaign here)

John Kasich
John Kasich

George Pataki: Former Governor fo New York, and member of the New York State Senate for the 37th district and former representative for the 91st district on the New York State Assembly as well as a former Mayor of Peekskill. (find more about their campaign here)

George Pataki
George Pataki

Rand Paul: Incumbent Senator for Kentucky since 2011. (find more about their campaign here)

Rand Paul
Rand Paul

Marco Rubio: US Senator for Florida, former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and former member of the Florida House of Representatives for the 11th district. (find more about their campaign here)

Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio

Rick Santorum: Is the current Senator from Pennsylvania and former chair of the Senate Republican Conference as well as a former Congressman for the 18th district of Pennsylvania. (find more about their campaign here)

Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum

Donald Trump: Conservative Billionaire Chair of the Trump Organisation and WWE Hall of Famer. (find more about their campaign here)

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

So ladies and gentlemen there you have it a quick rundown of whats happening across the pond, whose who and if you are left with any burning questions please feel free to comment.

Jolly Old Local Government

I was outraged to find today that a delegation of councillors from Torfaen County Borough Council have just yesterday,  at the rate payer’s expense jetted off to one of UNESCO’s world heritage site for a jolly old outing.

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Using hard won council funds a delegation of councillors led by council leader Bob Wellington traipsed areound this site of unique world heritage looking at the key examples of capital investment and beautification…all at the tax payer’s expense.

Bob Wellington Leader TCBC
Bob Wellington Leader TCBC

The delegation of councillors trip also included visis to a state of the art medical facility and a new educational establishment all at a cost £20.1 million. All of which is in an area that in less than 20 years has had over £50 million spent on it.

Using council funds for lavish private transport and to fund entertainment expenses all on their jolly outing, it’s this sort of excess that makes people despair of local government.

Still it’s nice to see Blaenavon is getting a look in.

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