A long time ago in a galaxy far far away….those are the words that started the entrapment of a million imaginations. In 1977 George Lucas introduced us to a universe of wonders on a scale never before seen on the big screen. In this universe of wonder and excitement a complex back story of history and interwoven character arcs has led to the development of a whole mythos of Grecian proportions.
As this is first and foremost a political blog today I’m going to take a look at the political system that governs that galaxy far far away.
During the Old Republic the galaxy was governed by a United Nations like body called the Senate comprised of delegations from all member planets of the Galactic Republic and forms a nominal constitutional democracy with an elected chancellor as its head. Senators received one vote in all matters both procedural and substantive. The Chancellor was elected from within the Senate for a set term, with the Senate able to give the Chancellor emergency powers as well as remove him or her from office when necessary. The last elected chancellor was the former senator of Naboo senator Palpatine following the crisis that ensued by the Trade Federations illegal blockade and occupation of Naboo.
Traditionally, the Chancellor could only serve a limited amount of time; however, Palpatine stayed in office much longer, due to the prolonged Separatist Crisis as well as the threat posed by the “Jedi Rebellion.” The crisis occurred when several of the Republic’s member Star Systems and organizations united in order to separate from the Republic. Thanks to representative Jar Jar Binks of Naboo (yes that Jar Jar Binks) the senate granted Chancellor Palpatine emergency powers which led to the creation of a clone army, the Death Star and managed to cement Palpatine as first Emperor of the Galactic Empire.
With the help of his ally Grand Moff Tarkin and Padawan Darth Vader the newly crowned Emperor Palpatine dissolved the senate to the all but powerless advisory “Imperial Senate” before disbanding it completely, through the use of militaristic policies The Emperor crushed the separatist movement and the majority of the Jedi uprising. Palpatine ruled with absolute authority until the battle of Yavin when the First Death Star was destroyed and the Rebel Alliance began recruiting in massive numbers until eventually when the second Death Star was destroyed following the battle of Endor leading to the restoration of democracy and the death of the Emperor.
I hope this fills you in on the political landscape of the galaxy far far away.
Having taken a little break from blogging due to my health (I’ll live), I’m back with some new rambling self indulgence. In the past I’ve tried to keep this blog free from taking sides in elections or when it comes to party politics, but given the crap that comes out of his mouth, I can’t not talk about Donald Trump.
Its like something out of a satirical work of fiction where a massively racist right-wing, real estate mogul, reality TV star is now the front runner for the Republican nomination for president of The United States of America. This man, who has been declared bankrupt four times, could possibly be the next person in charge of the second largest economy in the world. During the course of his campaign Mr Trump has managed to offend Muslims, Mexicans and even major players within the Republican Party.
One of the Apprentice (US) hosts policies is a ban on Muslims entering the the United States and some form of identification for all Muslim Americans (I would suggest a six pointed star, but I think someone may have already used it). Basically Trump is saying that all members of the Muslim community are terrorists, which is absolutely ridiculous, by Mr Trumps own logic, all white Christian Americans are members of the Ku Klux Klan and that all Irish People are part of the IRA.
Now leaving aside the obvious parallels between the 2016 US Elections and the German elections of 1932 (and another prolific racist with a comb over), fellow members of the Republican Party have been condemning Trump left, right and centre, but trumps policies aren’t just old hand me downs from 80 years ago, they’re genuine antiques from the 2,200 year old Ming dynasty. Yes that’s right one of would be president Donald Trump’s policies is the building of a giant wall spanning the length of America’s southern most border. And why? Because according to trump most Mexican’s are all drug smuggling rapists.
The worst part of this is that people seem to be responding to this, as Trump is now the favourite to win the Republican Nomination (with a projected win of 8%), I have to ask is this the beginning of some Orwellian nightmare or the climax of some form of practical joke? or to quote R.E.M is this the end of the world as we know it? And could the world be facing the Premiership of President Trump?
I have to ask how this has happened? You may think that Mr Trump has a right to say whatever he wants because of freedom of speech (which unfortunately in the US he does, as enshrined in the US Constitution) however if he were standing in the UK I do feel that he would be facing charges for inciting racial hatred under section Section 29 (A) of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act (2006).
Over the past few weeks the terrorist group ISIS has been busy with an attack in Paris, Beirut and Mali. With death tolls in their hundreds and the world rallying its support for the victims, ISIS definitely has Great Britain’s attention.
the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is an extremist militant group, self-proclaimed to be a caliphate (Islamic government) and Islamic state. It is led by and mainly composed of Sunni Arabs from Iraq and Syria. As of March 2015, it has control over territory occupied by 10 million people in Iraq and Syria, and through loyal local groups, has control over small areas of Libya, Nigeria and Afghanistan. The group also operates or has affiliates in other parts of the world, including North Africa and South Asia.
The group proclaimed itself to be a worldwide caliphate, with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being named its caliph (Leader)As a caliphate, it claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide, and that the legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organisations, becomes nullified by the expansion of the caliphate’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas. The group originated as Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad in 1999, which pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2004. The group participated in the Iraqi insurgency that followed the March 2003 invasion of Iraq by Western forces. In January 2006, it joined other Sunni insurgent groups to form the Mujahideen Shura Council, which proclaimed the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in October 2006.
After the Syrian Civil War began in March 2011, the ISI, under the leadership of al-Baghdadi, sent delegates into Syria in August 2011. These fighters named themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and established a large presence in Sunni-majority areas of Syria
After an eight-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties with ISIS in February 2014, citing its failure to consult and “notorious intransigence”. In Syria, the group has conducted ground attacks on both government forces and rebel factions in the Syrian Civil War. The group gained prominence after it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in western Iraq in an offensive initiated in early 2014.
Muslim leaders around the world have condemned ISIL’s ideology and actions, arguing that the group has strayed overwhelmingly from the path of true Islam and that its actions do not reflect the religion’s true teachings or virtues. It is my feeling that those who would take something as beautiful and good as Islam and twist it and try to justify such horrors have strayed so far from the true path and teachings of the Prophet Mohamed that there is no hope for them. I’m not even a religious person (a catholic primary school beats that out of you) and it just astounds me that anyone could use teachings on how to live a loving and peaceful life, and a life full of charity, could ever find a way to use Islam to justify a single act of terror let alone this whole war. No true Muslim could do this.
And while the world is focused on these attacks in Paris and Mali and Beirut, I cant help but wonder what is coming next? Sun-Tzu teaches that shows of strength and force are often feints to distract from the subtleties associated with warfare, and in this modern age of technology could these brazen displays of terror be hiding darker acts of cyber terrorism?
In his book Lights Out A Cyberattack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath the anchor of Nightline Mr Ted Koppel has set out a bleak vision of an unprepared government in the event of a cyberattack on the 3 main power grids within the United States. His book looks at what plans are in place by the US Government and finds the results worrying, with interviews with cabinet members and those ready to take their own action in the event of an attack Mr Koppel has certainly opened my eyes the dangers that we face in the modern world. A coordinated cyberattack on the Bank of England or the NHS could destroy the British economy and plunge this country into anarchy.
It just goes to show that in this modern age of laptop computers and personal tablets that the stylus is mightier than the sword and the knee jerk reaction may be to throw a tonne of money and half as many bombs into the middle east but I implore our government to be smart, the last thing that the middle east needs is yet another invading army, what is best for Britain is that we get our house in order (and I don’t mean silence during PMQ’s) strengthening Britain’s cyber defences is the safest thing for the British People, the biggest threat isn’t going to be a dozen blokes with bomb filled backpacks it’s going to be the spotty specky guy that was picked on in school and couldn’t get a girlfriend, but is oh so good with computers, and they’ll be working night and day on new ways to spread the “vision”that has taken a hold of them.
Remember remember the Fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot.
I take a lot of pride in the history of Britain, but one of the main things that baffles me is that year on year every 5th of November we celebrate the life of a terrorist…although burning his effigy isn’t exactly a glorious tribute.
In recent years Guy Fawkes has become a folk hero and his image is a used as a symbol for anti government feelings and a voice of civil discontent. Works such as Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta have romanticised Guy Fawkes as a freedom fighter trying to throw of the yoke of a totalitarian autocracy. In the Graphic Novel the eponymous V takes up the mantle of Guy Fawkes in order to overthrow a fascist dictatorship that has swamped Britain in an almost Orwellian dystopia. It is worth mentioning that one of the most prevalent images associated with Guy Fawkes now is the mask of V from V for Vendetta and is now even the symbol of online hacktivists and vigilante group Anonymous.
But here’s the rub Guy Fawkes wasn’t actually anti government, he wasn’t even anti monarchy, he was just anti King James the 1st. The reason that Guy Fawkes chose Westminster Palace was fairly simple, firstly it was accessible from the river, secondly the labyrinth of cellars provided a decent hiding place and thirdly it was a place he knew the king would be. The initial bombing was planned for the state opening of parliament an event in public during which the king would have to be in attendance and stay for the duration. Guy Fawkes actually had a great admiration for the work of government and the only reason he was caught was that he was stupid enough to warn a member of the House of Lords about what was going to happen. And the rest is history.
So how has Guy Fawkes gone on to become the symbol of anti government feeling? Well blowing up parliament will do that. But in this day and age Guy Fawkes is seen as the last honest man to enter parliament (a claim which I find highly insulting). I think that sometimes though it’s nice to have a reminder of what people are capable of when they are unhappy with the status quo and whilst I don’t agree with his cause and certainly don’t agree with his methods I think that Guy Fawkes does symbolise that sometimes the actions of those in charge need to be questioned and that positions of power are only as stable as the people that put them there.
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.
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.
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.
It’s been in the press recently that the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, is calling for the abolition of the Trident Nuclear Defence Program, possibly giving rise to the “threat to national security” line that the Tory Party have been spreading, if only as a threat to its budget.
Under the terms of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons there are five states recognised as nuclear weapon states, China, France, Russia, the US and the UK (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council).
Mr Corbyn has suggested that he would like to see Britain’s nuclear deterrent scrapped when next year Parliament will vote to renew trident, during said vote Labour Party MPs will most likely be given a free vote on the issue. The revelation that the candidate for Labour Leader that was backed by the Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament is in fact anti nuclear weaponry.
I can honestly say that I’ve never been anti nuclear, in terms of the energy market I’ve often thought that nuclear energy offers a cheaper alternative to fossil fuel all whilst providing opportunities for employment for hundreds (similar to the shale gas industry). But whilst being pro nuclear energy I’m also pretty anti war, but I do recognise the politically reality of the world in which we live, which unfortunately does call for armies and guns and bombs, and whilst I may not like it I do recognise the need for them. So whilst Mr Corbyn may wish for the end of the bomb I somehow don’t see it happening any time soon.
But I should point out that if the French have the bomb we definitely need the bomb.
So today I was going to do a massive post about the political conferences of the week but illness precludes me from doing so, also it would probably be better to do a post mortem of conference season after all the conferences are over.
However in order to keep my content fresh and new here is a piece about the upcoming Welsh Assembly elections. For those that didn’t know there are approximately seven months until the Welsh Assembly elections (as well as the elections to the Scottish Parliament, Various English local authorities and the London Mayoral elections all taking place) so here’s a quick guide to the election in Wales and a brief history of the Welsh Assembly:
Candidates will be fighting for 60 seats on the 5th May 2016
There are 40 constituency seats that will be fought on a first past the post system
There are also twenty seats that will be decided on a proportional representation system.
Each registered voter will receive two ballot papers one for their constituency and one for their region.
The average turnout for assembly elections is between 45%-50%
There has never been an outright majority government in the Welsh Assembly the closest is the Labour Party with 30 of the 60 seats forming a government.
The Welsh Labour Party has been the majority party at every Welsh Assembly Election and has formed all four Welsh Assembly Governments.
There have been two coalition partnerships in order to form Welsh Governments, the first being between The Welsh Labour Party and the Welsh Liberal Democrats from 1999-2003 and between the Welsh Labour Party and Plaid Cymru (The Party of Wales) from 2007 until the most recent election in 2011 which saw the formation of a Minority Government of the Welsh Labour Party.
The Welsh Conservatives are currently the only party represented in the Welsh Assembly that has never formed a government and is currently the official opposition the Welsh Labour Government by dint of being the second largest party in the Assembly.
Polls for the election will open at 7 AM on Thursday the 5th of May 2016 and Close at 10PM with results being counted and announced thereafter.
Hope that clears everything up for you all and now I know that like the rest of us politicos, you’ll be counting the days until the election…is over. Have a lovely weekend people.
Now to start off let me say that I am not, nor have I ever been a member of a trade union. Like them or loathe them trade unions have done a lot of good. Without them there would not be a minimum wage, and speaking plainly, workers would have no rights whatsoever, without unions there would be no race relations act, no age discrimination laws and no gender or sexuality discrimination legislation.
Ok so taking a look at it the Trade Union Bill, which went through its second reading this week, is like something straight out of a Thatcherite nightmare. On the surface the bill basically sets out to completely cripple the union’s mandate.
The right to strike has all but been abolished, calling for a 50% turnout and then majority vote before a strike can take place. Now to put this 50% turnout rule into context it would mean that the Welsh Assembly would only have 4 sitting members and the Scottish Parliament would be down to under 50 members and not a single British Member of the European Parliament or Police and Crime Commissioner would be able to take their seat, as well as the Mayor of London Boris Johnson (the turnout for the London Mayoral Election was a measly 38%).
Other provisions of the bill include naming the leader of a demonstration (usually no more than a dozen blokes stood around a drum freezing their backsides off). Double the notice unions have to give before a strike (Arthur Scargill can tell you the effects of letting people know you’re going to strike months in advance). The end to the collecting of union subs direct from salaries.
As well as this businesses will be able to employ temporary workers to cover strike action (a provision of the bill which flies directly in the face of the union movement). On top of this and what is possibly the most reasonable part of the bill is that political contributions from union subs will now be an opt in system as opposed to an opt out system. Now I have no problem with unions funding the party that most matches their goals, but I have always thought that it should be up to the individual member to decide if they wish to support that party as well.
So the implications of this bill are that unions will never be able to strike again and the way the main opposition party in Parliament is funded will be irrevocably damaged.
Here’s hoping it has better luck in the committee stage of the bill and that it gets shafted in the Lords. I guess the Government subscribes to the idea that it wont get better if you picket.