The Best Trump Cartoons

Donald Trump has become both a satirists wet dream and worst nightmare all in one go, the orange handbag of a man provides pure fodder for comedians and cartoonists alike, but the reality of it is, half of the stuff he comes out with just seems to far fetched the moment it hits paper.

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Children In Politics

I read an opinion piece today (over on the New York Times Website, check it out here) about Children attending the rallies of President Donald Trump. Whilst I would never take my child to a massive Trump rally (or any size trump rally to be frank), a lot of the comments I read were pretty negative about children attending political events regardless of where they were on the political spectrum, which hit home pretty close because I can’t count the number of political and civic events that my daughter has attended either with myself or with her mother.

Marianna Campaigning for me
Marianna Campaigning For Me 2017

The comments ranged from calling it abuse, to brainwashing, neglect and indoctrination? But is exposing your child to your political beliefs bad? I certainly don’t think so. Getting a child involved with politics from a young age is a good thing, at least to my mind. From a few months old, my daughter has been attending council meetings, and came with us to literally hundreds of civic events during her mothers tenure as Deputy Mayor, and then as Mayor, and continues to come with me in my role as Vice Chairman of Cwmbran Council.

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Marianna At The Mon And Brec Canal Consultation Event

Marianna has attended Gay Rights Campaign Days, Military Parades, museum openings, Mayor Makings, Holocaust Memorial Services and disability support groups, countless shop openings and prize evenings, and all because her Mother and Myself are both councillors. And she loved it, I’m not saying she wasn’t bored, and in some instances didn’t know what was going on, (at the age of 3 or 4 months old she attended the selection of the  candidate to be our local Member of Parliament), but all this involvement with the political world has actually helped with her development, over the past year, shes gone from a shy and timid girl, to the point where she’ll actually engage with and contribute to conversations with Members of Parliament and the House of Lords.

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Marianna Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Voting Rights

Her engagement with politics, especially at the local level, has given her a sense of civic duty and a good helping of community spirit, she often makes complaints about the state of litter and dog fouling in the local area, and has been helpful in doing her bit to improve our local community.

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Marianna Standing Up For Trans Rights

I think though, my favourite moment of Marianna’s political involvement , is the during the 2017 general election, when she came with me to the polling station and then after casting my vote, she then decided to have a screaming fit because she couldn’t vote herself.

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Marianna and I Attending 2018 Armed Serviced Day Celebration at Cwmbran Community Council.

And from my own point of view, I love being able to share this part of my life with my daughter, how many parents out there would love to be able to involve their children in more aspects of their life, I get to take my daughter to work, and hopefully she takes in both her parents trying to make their corner of the world a better place to live in.

The Greatest Satires

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I work in the world of politics and I love it. I really do, I’m actually one of those people that enjoy their work. But one of the things I love the most about it, is the absurdity of it all. And this is why I love things that poke fun of the absurdities of the political world so here are some of my favourite pieces of satire from literature, film and television.

The Thick Of It

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The BBC’s television show that focuses on the life of the Secretary of State for the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, and day to day trials and tribulations of senior government, from a hostile press to an even more hostile to director of communications, this series is full of swearing and having worked political press, its right on the money. Peter Capaldi as Malcom Tucker is manages to paint a comedic genius and a satiric masterpiece.

Boomsday

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Cassandra Devine, “a morally superior twenty-nine-year-old PR chick” and moonlit angry blogger, incites generational warfare when she proposes that the financially nonviable Baby Boomers be given incentives (free Botox, no estate tax) to kill themselves at 70. The proposal, meant only as a catalyst for debate on the issue, catches the approval of millions of citizens, chief among them an ambitious presidential candidate, Senator Randolph Jepperson.

With the aide of public relations guru Terry Tucker, Devine and Jepperson attempt to ride “Voluntary Transitioning” all the way to the White House, over the objections of the Religious Right and the Baby Boomers, deeply offended by the demonstrations taking place on the golf courses of their retirement resorts. A hilarious look at the mess that social security is in, and as the retirement age has recently gone up, maybe a blueprint for the future?

Yes Minister

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Set principally in the private office of a British Cabinet minister in the fictional Department of Administrative Affairs in Whitehall, Yes Minister follows the ministerial career of the Rt Hon Jim Hacker MP, played by Paul Eddington. His various struggles to formulate and enact legislation or effect departmental changes are opposed by the British Civil Service, in particular his Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, played by Sir Nigel Hawthorne. His Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley, played by Derek Fowlds, is usually caught between the two. The sequel, Yes, Prime Minister, continued with the same cast and followed the events of the premiership of Jim Hacker after his unexpected elevation to Number 10 upon the resignation of the previous Prime Minister.

Man Of The Year 

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A late night TV host runs for president and wins owing to a computer error, the film follows Robin Williams as president Tom Dobbs as an independent president not beholden to special interest groups, and until recently, the thought of something other than voters determining the outcome of an election seemed like satire, but now, who knows

Veep

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A look at Vice President of the United States Selina Meyer as the hapless and almost powerless vice president, trying to gain a toehold in the muddy cesspit on the Potomac.

Youth Politics

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I actually got a little bit angry today, which in itself isn’t a big deal, people get angry all the time, its healthy to experience some emotion. But it was the thing I got angry at which was bizarre. It was a question on a questionnaire, asking if i’d ever been involved with a youth council, or youth parliament. It was a reasonable question on a questionnaire asking for youth (under 30) responses to the role of town and community councils.

But youth councils and student politics are one of those things that I seem to have a great disdain for, I think it harks back to my time in university, when people were campaigning g for NUS elections I was actually campaigning for my first City Council election (I lost, it was depressing, I’m over it), and I even said it at the time, on the student Television network, that I really didn’t give a damn about student politics, because I was busy with the real thing.

And this is how I feel about youth councils, youth parliaments, funky dragon (the youth Welsh Assembly) and to a lesser extent model UN’s, it just feels like playing. The word youth or young attached to anything is almost an apology. It screams please don’t take us seriously, we’re only young. It loses all credibility, just at the title.

But that being said, I get why young people don’t feel confident putting themselves forward in what I’m going to call “real politics”, its still seen as the domain of the middle aged (and older), and to someone fresh out of their teens it can be pretty intimidating, and in a few cases pretty boring (if I live to be 1000, the only argument regarding standing orders that I want to be involved in starts “can we stop dicking about with standing orders and get on to the something important”.)  I know that the you may feel that you don’t have the experience to be standing for office, but the only way to get experience is by doing, and this is why playing at some Mickey Mouse version of politics, that’s safe and doesn’t really make much of a difference, and isn’t really in any way reflective of what politics (especially local government) is really about.

Now I have to ask why the under 30’s of today are scared to seek out office? Mari Black became a member of parliament at 19, William Pitt became Prime Minister at 24, I became a councillor at 27 and I’m not the youngest member of Cwmbran Council, my wife became a borough councillor at 23 (and became Mayor at 28). So as you can see age isn’t a bar to office, and in a nutshell I feel this is my real problem with youth councils et al, its that they almost convince otherwise very clever and capable young people that, just by their existence, they are too young to stand for the “real” political posts out there.

30 Before Thirty (Comics & Graphic Novels)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the Comics and Graphic Novels that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

Grant Morrison’s 18 Days

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Camelot 3000

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Miracle Man: A Dream Of Flying

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All Star Superman 

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Preacher: Gone To Texas

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The Crow

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Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes

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Alan Moore’s: Saga of The Swamp Thing

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Marvel 1602

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Saga: Volume 1

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 The Order: Die Mensch Machine

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The Complete Scarlet Traces 

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Button Man

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Ronin 

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Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow 

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The Infinity Gauntlet 

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Amazing Spider-man: Kravens Last Hunt

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Promethea Book 1 

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Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus 

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Multiversity 

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Son Of Superman 

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Hellblazer: Original Sins 

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The Authority: Relentless 

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Hellboy: Seed Of Destruction 

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Doctor Who: Emperor Of The Daleks

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Death: The High Cost Of Living  

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JSA The Liberty Files 

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Alice In Sunderland 

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Daredevil Yellow

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The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

30 Before I’m Thirty (Books)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the books that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

A Princess of Mars- Edgar Rice Burroughs 

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War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy 

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Ulysses- James Joyce 

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The Iliad- Homer

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Journey To The Centre of the Earth- Jules Verne 

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Frank Sinatra Has A Cold- Gay Talese 

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Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog)- Jerome K Jerome

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The Time Machine- H.G Wells

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Lolita- Vladimir Nabokov

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Animal Farm- George Orwell

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The Last Of The Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper

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The Man Who Would Be King- Rudyard Kipling 

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Treasure Island- Robert Louis Stevenson 

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Stardust- Neil Gaiman

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A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court- Mark Twain

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Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years- Sue Townsend 

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The Fight-Norman Mailer 

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The Turn Of The Screw-Henry James

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The Stand- Stephen King

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Notes Of A Dirty Old Man- Charles Bukowski 

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Children Of Hurin- J.R.R Tolkein 

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Idylls Of The King- Alfred Tennyson

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Confessions of an English Opium Eater-Thomas de Quincey

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Little Women- Louisa May Alcott 

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A Little History Of The World- E.H Gombrich 

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The Mysterious Affair At Styles- Agatha Christie 

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Who Censored Roger Rabbit- Gary K Wolf

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Zen And The Art Of Motor Cycle Maintenance-  Robert M. Pirsig

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The Day Of The Triffids- John Wyndham 

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Winds of Winter- George R.R. Martin (Because surely this’ll be finished before the TV series)

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

 

 

 

 

Lifting The Veil On Politics: Town and Community Councils

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I was recently asked to consider standing in the upcoming election for my local community council (Cwmbran Community Council) and it really hit me, that I have absolutely no idea what it is that community councils do, so a little research later, here we are.

Community and town councils can make a significant contribution to the
localities that they serve. Community councils can provide facilities and support initiatives to respond to local needs, can organise and promote community events and can advocate and represent community interests. They work well within the structures of existing borough councils because due to their large nature, borough councils would have to take to broad a view in their decisions, whereas community councils have that local knowledge to know what needs to be done.

Community and town councils provide amenities that directly enhance the quality of life and visual appearance of Welsh communities – from floral displays to bus shelters and
Christmas lights. They played the leading role in organizing events to mark the Millennium and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, and are a vital source of funding for local community groups, sports clubs and charities, investing around £1 million in the
voluntary sector across Wales each year. A former colleague of mine who serves on a community council in The Vale of Glamorgan once described community councillors as the lords of small matters, because they were often dealing with things such as where to put litter bins, getting street signs moved, having bus stops cleaned and deciding how much money should go to the grandmothers choir and baroque ensemble. It does sound trivial, but you would soon notice if public bins were overflowing, streetlights weren’t working and bus stops smelled like urine.

Possibly the most important thing they do (at least from my point of view) is organise community events, anything from local village fairs and choir battles, to school plays, family fun days, outdoor cinemas and full on music festivals, community councils are the backbone for these events, the councillors and officers are the ones that give the funding and put in the hours to make sure their community is a better place live, work and play.

 

Happy Saint David’s Day

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Saint David’s Day is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March, the date of Saint David’s death in 589. The feast has been regularly celebrated since the canonisation of David in the 12th century, though it is not a national holiday in the UK.

Traditional festivities include wearing daffodils and leeks, recognised symbols of Wales and Saint David respectively, eating traditional Welsh food including cawl ,Welsh rarebit, and Welsh Cakes and women wearing traditional Welsh dress. An increasing number of cities and towns across Wales including Cardiff, Swansea and Aberystwyth also put on parades throughout the day.

The day also marked some interminable display of the Welsh Language going on in schools, suffering through that was always a hellish experience. I actually make quite a quick study in languages, speaking about four conversationally and being able to spout the basics in 7 more, but Welsh is something I’ve never been able to get my tongue around, you need both a lisp and severe throat infection to really get it and I lack both. Being a Welshman who doesn’t speak Welsh is actually a pretty common thing, about 85% of Welsh residents report having no ability to speak Welsh, and yet over 99% report speaking English. Yet every official sign and form (from the public sector only thankfully) has to be in both English and Welsh, which is ridiculous, how many trees have died just to preserve a dying language. It’s also worth mentioning that the number of Polish speakers in the UK is almost double that of Welsh speakers, but we don’t see council tax bills in Polskie do we?

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.