Guy Fawkes and Guy Fakes

Remember remember the Fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot.Guy Fawkes

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.
V for Vendetta
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.

Guy-fawkes-1
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.

Anonymous

Alrite Me Old China

President Xi Jinping
President Xi Jinping

Yesterday, the General Secretary of the Ruling Party of Peoples Republic of China, President Xi Jinping, began his state visit to the United Kingdom.  President Xi’’s state visit has including meeting Her Majesty The Queen and the royal household, an address to both houses of parliament and fish n chips in a pub.

Yesterdays address to the joint Houses of Parliament began with the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow speaking about the links that Britain shares with China and Asia as a whole, whilst tactfully not mentioning years of colonialism and The First Opium War, The Second Opium War, The Boxer Rebellion and The Korean War, all whilst praising President Xi’s progression of the Chinese economy and the work he has done to improve human rights.

Speaker John Bercow Looks On As President Xi Addresses Parliament
Speaker John Bercow Looks On As President Xi Addresses Parliament

Looking on from the audience the Prime Minister and The Leader of The Opposition who had been forced by protocol to sit next to each other looked as though the only thing stopping them from stabbing each other was the presence of witnesses.

When President Xi took the podium he began by thanking the Prime Minister for the hospitality that he has received whilst in the UK, echoing the sentiments of every visiting head of state since time began, speaking of the friendship between the peoples of Great Britain and of The Peoples of the Peoples Republic of China.  He went on to talk of building future links with Great Britain, and has actually put his money where his Mao is thanks to £30 billion of investments into UK industry that was announced yesterday morning ahead of his visit. He spoke of the history of China and showed off an impressive knowledge of the history of British democracy (putting my own knowledge to shame) saying that the Peoples Republic, like Britain has shown “[That] people are foundation of a country” and that people need to be taken care of in order to build something great.

President Xi then began praising the British legal system and saying that it has been a foundation of the legal system of the Peoples Republic of China, and then President Xi began talking of the history between The United Kingdom and The Peoples Republic of China, stating that Britain was the First Western Nation to recognise the new Peoples Republic of China under Chairman Mao Zedong and Britain was also the first nation to buy Chinese Bonds on the open market. Steering away from the topic of Sino-Anglo conflict President Xi went on to pay tribute to 24 Chinese nationals who fought alongside the British at Normandy and said “what’s past is prologue” and that Britain and China could look forward to much international cooperation.

The joint session of parliament was then closed by the Speaker of the House of Lords the Baroness D’Souza who praised President Xi’s record in government and paid tribute to the late Lord Howe for his work with Sino- British relations, before ending with the hopes that President Xi and his lady wife enjoy their fish n chips.

Now this was a lovely speech delivered in his native Mandarin and healthily looked forward to an idealistic vision of Anglo-Sino diplomacy but I couldn’t help feel that there was more not being said, human rights and opium wars aside China seems to finally be thawing towards the UK, giving billions of pounds in investment (not to mention the amount of our foreign debt that the Chinese own). It seems that whilst all this is going on there are still many great walls that will need to be overcome , China is still holding a grudge regarding the Dali Lama’s visit to Britain and even with billions of pounds and renminbi at stake will hundreds of years of empire building and colonialism be easy to put aside? Confucius say ” time will tell.”

Drop The Bomb

bombIt’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.

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

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.

Right To Assembly

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:

The Welsh Assembly as seen from Cardiff Bay
  • 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.

Union Bill For Idiots

Trade Unions have always been a part of British politics
Trade Unions have always been a part of British politics

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%).

bill_of_rights_0 (1)

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.