Don’t let the Tories steal your underpants, Wales.

It’s time to decide, Wales. It’s time to decide if we still have a detectable pulse, or if the beating heart of what was once a distinct Welsh political spirit within the sorry mess we still refer to as the ‘United’ Kingdom, has finally flat-lined.

Are you going to vote on June the 8th? And are you going to make your decision based on the best interests of Wales, or are you going to let yourself believe that your vote will have any bearing at all on the overall outcome?

What’s it going to be?

We can either decide to sit up and demand to speak to the anaesthetist (we were awake all along and we have felt every single damn thing you were doing to us) or we can just quietly slip away, and let them wheel us to the morgue.

Because we have a few ways we can play this. One way I would summarise as ‘everyone for themselves’, and the other, more interesting way, I would suggest, is more along the lines of ‘let’s play this as a team, Wales’.

Because there’s a way we can play this election that will be better for Wales, no matter what the outcome overall. We need to vote tactically, but not the way you think.

Because is it just me, or does nothing about politics in the UK make sense anymore? Apart from the obvious stuff, like a prime minister who is terrified to meet with her electorate, and has no policies just soundbites (I’ve started following the Conservatives on twitter, but it took me a while to work out whether I was following a spoof account… check it out, it’s beyond parody). They are (sorry, she is) Strong. And Stable. Genuinely.

And not just because we are living in a topsy-turvy world where the villains have inherited the adulation of the masses, and the would-be heroes of the show are so busy getting tomatoes pelted at them, we can no longer even hear their lines.

Jeremy Corbyn was interviewed on Radio 4 earlier – he talked sense, of course, but unfortunately it’s too late for that. Old fashioned stuff like common sense, fairness, social justice etc just don’t sell anymore. And in UK Politics PLC, where everything is up for sale, you can have sound, fair, re-distributive policies until they are coming out of your proverbial, but they won’t get you very far (even if you attach them to a Brexit flag in an attempt to make them more visible).

So what are we going to do in Wales? Its a pretty dire position in which to find ourselves. The prospects are bleak for the UK project, which is clearly sliding faster and faster down into a slippery, right-wing abyss. In Wales we appear to be greasing ourselves up to slide on down with the giddy, gleeful Ukippers, dressed more respectfully as they now are of course, in their Tory pearls.

But is it too late, or is there still time to re-assess whether we make the jump?

Ambling around aimlessly as so many people in Wales have been for so long, in the land known as ‘complacent, lifelong labour supporter’, has left us as a country it seems, prone to being easily hoodwinked by anything resembling an idea.

Suddenly, last year, the aimless amongst us stumbled over a dressing up box. It would have gone unnoticed probably, except that it was sitting under a big neon sign saying ‘kick the establishment here’ (the other side  of course, said ‘Brexit – screw yourselves over good and proper’).

Inside the dressing-up box were some unseemly costumes, not at all flattering compared to our usual attire, but we have been getting them out and trying them on none-the-less. We have discovered, in some cases, that we had something similar at home, but we’d just never thought it was suitable to wear in public.

And with this new look, comes a new attitude. A change of heart, with a change of clothes. We have tried on the Ukippers’ jaunty flat cap, the cheeky ‘salt of the Earth millionaire’ look, and the kitten-heel with leather trouser look of the Tory fetishist.

Some people, it seems, have looked in the mirror and thought, hm, this is a good look for us.

Really, Wales?

There are a range of accessories in the box too, which we are busily playing dress-up with. Many of them sparkle but they are all fake. We might think we look all that, but if only we had a mirror, we would see what a dog’s dinner we are really making of this.

Because none of this suits us, and actually, a lot of what’s in this box is bad for us. We’re not behaving very well now that we’ve tarted ourselves up either, we’re being a bit racist and fighting amongst ourselves, if we are honest about it.

And where do we think we are going, with all this fake jewellery on? Who do we think we are kidding with all this bling? At the end of the day, none of what’s in this box is real. We can keep sharing out the cheap feather boas, and laughing because it tickles, but at the end of the day, those feathers are all dropping out.

And, shit. While we were trying this stuff on, someone has run off with all our clothes.

All of our clothes.

Like, everything, even your pants. Because you may have thought they were your pants, like, your underwear, and even though you just wore them everyday, and you didn’t appreciate them because they were just there (they were quite new as well, you had only had them since, you know like 1999) now that they are gone, you kind of miss them.

Maybe you should have changed them once in a while, looking back.

So, shit. What are we going to do?

Don’t worry. I have a proposal.

It’s very simple. It requires us collectively, to just get a grip of ourselves, and vote as a team. Team Wales. Because there are several things we just need to accept.

1.The Tories are going to win the election.

2. They are going to do so with a landslide.

3. This is going to be very, very bad for people in general. How bad will be on a sliding scale, but unless you are a millionaire (quick where’s that jaunty flat cap?) basically a Tory Government for the next 5 years on a massive majority is horrifically bad for anyone who relies on things like wages and public services to get by, rather than say, offshore bonds and the interest on their inheritance.

4. A Tory Government is going to be very, very bad for keeping the powers that Wales has, in Wales.

5. The way we vote in Wales will not influence the overall outcome (it never does).

I really, really wish that none of the above were true. But given that we all know that the above is the case (if you aren’t sure about number 3, then you need to put that feather boa back in the box, and accept that kitten heels don’t suit you, then go and google ‘wage stagnation’, ‘in-work poverty’, ‘the rape clause’, ‘mental health care’ and the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ to name but a few things).

If you are in ill-health, or disabled, or on a low income, or studying, or if you have elderly parents, or children or grandchildren who are in school, and you still want to put that feather boa on, then you need to look in the mirror when you do it.

Look yourself in the eye.

Can you do it? Or do you blink?

Because I think you know, deep down…

So. Given all of these things, we need a plan.

The most plausible approach at this point feels like either running around in a panic, gorging on alt-left news media sites (or alt-right I guess, but if you hang that way you probably aren’t here reading this), and repeatedly checking tactical voting sites and the latest polls to see if you can make any sense of how to vote in ‘the farce generally known as a UK General election’.

If it’s any comfort, this will no doubt be the last one, because once Scotland leaves, it’ll be known as a ‘rUK General Election’. Or an ‘England and Wales General Election’ if Ireland unifies.

Hell, that’s unwieldy, we’ll just call it an ‘English Election’ for short shall we?

Anyway, none of these strategies are the best one, I would suggest.

I would suggest instead that what we need is to elect some MPs, as many as possible ideally, who actually give a shit about Wales.

Now, this has long been the territory of Plaid Cymru, no surprises there. They have been banging this old drum for so long, we’ve practically got bored of hearing about how they are going to stick up for Wales, and the interests of people who live here.

Thing is though, they do.

Jeez, they are just so predictable like that. Change the record already. Showing up for votes on issues that effect Wales. Voting for devolving more powers to Wales when they are offered. Working hard for Wales.

Yawn….

Voting against Article 50 because, you know, it was all based on lies.

Opposing Tory welfare ‘reforms’ and cuts.

It does sound like sticking up for Wales’ interests, I’ll admit, but it’s just so boring.

It would be much more interesting if they spiced things up a bit. Said one thing and then did another. Threw a bit of ant-immigration rhetoric into the mix, just to appeal to, someone, somewhere (probably in Skegness).

Sticking up for Wales is just so Plaid Cymru, no one wants to hear about it.

Although this week, someone else has decided that this story is quite a good one. Good old Carwyn has finally, after 107 years as First Minister, pushed back his chair, and #stoodupforwales.

But, oops!

It’s too late Carwyn. Despite the fact that the UK picture is so dire that even I, momentarily, wanted to give you a hug (just for effort) or at least help you out of your chair when you #stoodupforwales on Monday. Unfortunately Welsh Labour haven’t got a good track record on this.

It doesn’t take more than five minutes on they work for you, to come up with a long list of examples of times when Welsh Labour MPs have not #stoodupforwales. Or, actually, when they have stood up, but then they have also unzipped, and relieved themselves all over Wales and the constituents they are supposed to serve. If we are being completely honest. And you started this standing up analogy, Carwyn.

To be fair, Plaid had already nabbed ‘defending Wales’ (Tarian Cymru, is way cooler). While Carwyn is still getting to his feet (it takes a while when you haven’t exercised in this long, the joints are achy, and you are easily distracted brushing the crumbs from your lap) Plaid are off. They are in battle, they’ve been there all along.

There are only three of them, at the moment, but they are plucky. And I know who I would rather if it came down to it in a showdown between Theresa May and Wales, Voldemort style. Who do you want, Liz Saville Roberts, Jonathan Edwards and Hywel Williams (think passion, articulate conviction and showing up) or Stephen Kinnock, Christina Rees (who?) and Chris Bryant (think, um, not actually there).

Apparently, when Liz Saville Roberts speaks in Parliament, a hush descends and people listen.

Which is not common, in the Commons.

Would you like people to listen to Wales?

So. My proposal is that we think about this from a Wales angle. Rather than a UK angle. And from this angle, from this side of Offa’s Dyke, there is only one sensible way to vote.

There’s only one way to make sure of two things:

  1. That anyone ever notices us again, ever. Because if we roll over and vote like England (i.e. getting our knickers in a knot, listening to the mainstream media and believing that there are only really two options – HA DID WE SAY TWO?!! One of them is an idiot…. Left wingers are unelectable…. Vote Tory… Mmm, you look just exquisite in those pearls darling).
  2.  When we are headed for hell in a handcart, under a Tory UK Government, we have people in Westminster, with an honest heart and a genuine passion for Wales and a desire to see the best done for those who live here.

Because as much as I do actually want to hug Carwyn Jones this week (despite all the times I have compared him to various forms of rice-based puddings, I do think he has good intentions, deep down) unfortunately he’s not the boss.

He may have done a very good job of not mentioning you know who this week, but when it comes to Westminster, we aren’t voting for Carwyn. I genuinely appreciate Welsh Labour’s efforts to make this about Wales, it makes a change, but there are two major holes in their plan.

The first, is that despite the parlous state of the media in Wales, some of us here have actually noticed that things like health, education and housing are devolved. So when you make promises like ‘no grammar schools in Wales’ in the context of a General Election, that’s just an itsy bit patronising to your electorate.

Don’t you think?

I know that Mayhem and Jezzer don’t know what’s devolved (they make this embarassingly clear every time they visit Wales). Theresa May was at it again this week talking about plans for education in EnglandandWales, poorly briefed, or Freudian slip?

But I think (hope) that you have a better handle on the ins and outs of devolution at this stage Carwyn.

So, cut it out, please? I think you can do better than promising that Labour in Westminster will do things that Labour in Wales already have the power to do. Or are you proposing that we give devolved powers back to Westminster? Because at best, your election launch is confusing, and at worst it’s down-right disingenous.

Sort it out.

The second fly in the ointment with this approach is that Labour MPs from Wales do not answer to Carwyn. He is not the boss of them. He may have Wales’ best interests at heart (if we believe that from deep down under the duvet, he is trying to do the best for Wales) but the evidence suggests that Welsh Labour MPs do not share that aim. They serve their UK masters. They have proved that with every time they have failed to show up for debates about Wales. Every time they abstained on votes to devolve more powers to Wales. Every time they have voted with the Tory Government on policies that will hurt people in Wales, or damage our public services by supporting the politics of austerity, taken us into illegal wars (looking at you, Anne Clwyd, Chris Bryant and David Hanson) or given away our money to pay for Nuclear weapons we will never use.

It’s too late to stand up now, Labour.

You had your chance to stand up for Wales, and you chose not to, so we are going to vote instead for those who have a track record of defending Wales.

So. Let’s think like we want to win. Let’s play this one like a team. Hell, if for no reason other than it will be the only way to make sure that Wales is ever mentioned, ever, ever again.

If you want to make sure that your vote counts for something, vote for the only party that doesn’t answer to UK masters, and that consistently show up and vote in our interest, rather than their own.  Do this wherever you are in Wales, but especially if you are somewhere that you quite like, with people that you care about and public services that you would like to keep.

If you live in a country called Wales, rather than EnglandandWales, and you’d quite like to keep it that way, it’s time to vote as a team.

#voteplaid, #defendwales, #tariancymru

Who will win the General Election — The Media will

Well here we go it’s that time again, Parliament has stopped and it’s time to tell us the sheep  (that is the public) how we should be voting. To be fair the majority of us know exactly how we are going to vote in the General Election already but what about the undecided. The undecided might only count for a small proportion of the overall vote but is always crucial.

So how do they decide well look to the media for your answer, we had the silent majority who denied Scotland independence in 2014, the quiet tory-lites in England who returned the Tories in 2015 to power and the silent anti-euros who shocked us just last year but these were all positions our media backed scared you should be but hope lives.

Well if you are like me and stay in Wales the media will have you believing that the Tories are gonna topple  Labour and send wales Blue(I shudder at the thought) but I think the shock could be the rise of Plaid. Plaid the Welsh SNP are slowly rising if you believe the word on the street and listen I’m not saying that plaid are gonna rip thru Wales winning all the seats but I expect their numbers to rise in every seat and will have a great chance of improving the number of seats they have at Westminster.

But what I will also say (with a heavy heart) the Tories will run Labour close in wales but not because Labour voters are joining the Tories but actually the demise of UKIP with there voters flocking to the Tories giving them a boost in numbers which no doubt be reported as a landmark moment for the Tories in Wales but it ain’t.

Well my homeland the country of my birth Scotland the land I love most (sorry Wales I still love you ) should be a lot simpler to predict if you believe the media SNP collapse from 56 to maybe as low as 46 out of 59 with the Tories picking up the majority of the seats, well I got one thing to say BOLLOCKS. I know that might sound a bit harsh but I just can’t see it , there the media’s reasoning for this is that SNP supporters are fed up with SNP going on about Indy and would rather send another Tory MP to Westminster than a SNP , Labour , LibDem  or Green well I am not buying it right I get people voting to stay in the UK or leaving Europe but to vote Tory no way.

I remember a woman in my grans street as a kid  running for the council as a tory candidate, my gran always spoke to her and never had a bad word to speak about her she even had her in for a afternoon cuppa but did she vote for her NO she didn’t . If the Tories do gain voters from anyone  it will be Libdem or ukip and it wont be enough votes to stop the SNP and Labour well Scottish Labour under Dugdale might do slightly better but they lost all there voters to the SNP and I cant see them going back any time soon.

Now Northern Ireland well having seen the vote at the last election earlier in the year and the lack of coverage in the media so far i’m guessing they expect Sinn Fein to do well at the expense of the DUP. Now I will be honest I don’t know half of what I should know  about Irish politics and have to rely on what my friends on social media tell me but could this be the year Sinn Fein send back more MPs than the DUP probably not with way the region is divided up but expect the DUPs vote to drop if not the number of MPs. But whisper it, the talk of an united Ireland is growing on both sides especially with the young.

Now we come to England the deal maker when it comes to who rules the UK. It wont surprise anyone if I say the media has got it down for a cakewalk for Theresa “the Chosen One” May but will it be. Yes UKIP like in Wales is gonna collapse and  there voters will drift to the right to the Tories( who would have thought the Tories would be more right-wing than UKIP) so will swell the Tory numbers and the Lib-Dem revival is a nonstarter but once again any small rise will be lorded by the media because they are Tory pink and as long as its not Labour or SNP media are happy to give a pat on the back . But I think Labour are gonna surprise a lot around the UK, are they gonna win maybe not but I think ex labour voters and young voters are gonna vote Labour again especially in the north of England.

The people of North England voted to leave Europe yes and they got there wish so given the choice between Labour and the Conservatives I believe they will vote for Corbyn even with the daily media attacks because when it comes down too it Corbyn is at least trying to help the people and give hope rather than the Tory siege mentality of  Europe, the SNP and every one else are trying to destroy Britain and sell our babies . But in the south of England it will be covered in Tory blue apart from the Greens in Brighton and the odd spot of red and Yellow as per usual.

So who do I think will win the Election(or should I say bought) well I can’t bring myself to type that answer but why them you ask well that’s simple the Media. As I said its the undecided who will swing it and the media will play unfortunately the biggest role in that. You see The Conservatives have no policy of any substance but do the media report it , no its Corbyns a hippie SNP want to burn your grannie alive, the LibDems well who cares about them and the Greens won’t get a mention.

May has jumped around like the hooded claw with the media chasing her like the anthill mob never quite catching her out even though they have the tools HSBC scandal( not a word) , MPs scandal from last election (not a peep) , the fact she seems to be intent in upsetting the whole of Europe before negotiations and telling everyone it’s there fault (priceless),  does more U turns than your granny in the dodgems (hey who’s counting) wants to take Britain back to the 14th century (well hooray) and the cuts to NHS, disability, police, armed forces, schools and the list goes on well apart from Trident (Yes Yes Screams the Daily Mail) you can see why I think they will win and the undecided will vote for them because that’s the only option the media are giving them.

But don’t expect the landslide the media are predicting but lets face it if they return with even 5 more seats it will be reported as a landslide and a mandate to do what ever they(or the media tells them) to do and we will all cry as we return to the dark ages or will it be the election that saw Scotland decided to vote for Indy, Ireland to reunite and for Wales to start asking the Question do we want to go it alone ( fingers crossed)

 

 

 

A Tory victory will spell disaster for our education system

 

 

 

 

Two senior teachers in a primary school in Hampshire are quitting the profession after having had enough with government policy. Too much accountability, too much testing if kids and a complete lack of trust in a teachers professional judgement.

will education suffer under Mays Government

 

Problem is many in teaching  can’t afford to leave even if they agree with what’s become a serious problem with our education system.. It’s a sad reflection on our society that it’s actually government policy to squeeze schools of money which is just a crime in my view, but also constant testing and checking up on teachers leads to a lot of disillusionment.

Government should place education, health care and social care as top 3 priorities and not anything else. The quality of people’s lives leads to a healthy society and we don’t have that which is an appalling state of the nation. What is alarming is that there is no consensus at national level on this.

Kids new form of school transport under our currant tory government

The Tories want to destroy state education and to turn the clock back in so many ways. The teaching unions are divided and too many Labour MPs have been wasting their time climbing the greasy pole than contributing to the betterment of the people they should be representing. I despair for the future of our education system if the Tories get in on June 8th.

featured image Theresa May    Sack Race  Education Sign

You can follow Leighton on twitter at @leightonkib63  and at his webpage LEIGHTONSIMPLYRED

 

Wales voting Tory is almost like the end of humanity!

Channel 4 seem to be peddling a story as well now as the BBC that opinion polls are putting the Tories ahead of Labour in Wales for the first time since about 1859. We’ll soon find out for real I suppose but even the thought of it is making me physically sick. Why? What might be provoking my fellow Welshmen to be contemplating such a hideous action?

Of course it’s all Jeremy Corbyn fault according to his enemies and to those who blame Jeremy for all the problems of the world. Labour was doing so well in Wales that he’s come along with his hard left stances and Welsh people just don’t buy socialism like this. What utter rubbish. EVEN if you did think this WHY does it necessarily follow you would vote for a Party Aneurin Bevin called “lower than vermin?”

Let’s first deal with the myth that it’s all Corbyns fault. Labour just about has a majority in the Senedd due to Dafydd Ellis Thomas. Labour should be flying in Wales after 7 years of Tory misrule. But Welsh Labour has been stagnant and bereft of ideas for some time. It’s stuck in a mentality that Welsh people will always vote Labour and taken the Welsh people for granted. People in Wales have become more disenchanted than vote for anyone. Plaid should have picked up the mantle and much as I like Leanne Wood, they haven’t made the progress they ought to have done. Basically Labours misfortune in Wales pre-date Corbyns election as national Labour leader.

So let’s now discuss why any sane Welshman would vote Tory. I think you need a PhD in logic to work this one out but I will try. “Mrs May is a strong leader” I hear done say on tv. String? She’s already had more change of mind than toucan remember and she failed to stand up to Trump on her visit to the racist bigot. She has resorted to threatening her EU partners and has poodle like followed American imperial ambitions around the globe. She voted for disability cuts and supported the austere government cut backs to the NHS and education. If that’s strong then I’m a Dutchman.

There is NO LOGIC for most Welsh people to vote Tory. They have not changed nor reinvented themselves. They are the same old Tories. They support tax cuts for the wealthy. They allow big companies to pay little or no tax and they bungled into a referendum that need not have been held just to appease their rabid right wingers. They have destroyed the industrial base in Wales and helped Wales become one of the poorest parts of the Eu. They don’t deserve to be a party in Wales let alone vote for them. Welsh people do do do are either rich, deluded, forgetting their history or all three. I am ashamed as it is that Wales voted Brexit but to contemplate Wales voting Tory would be a kick in the teeth for all those Welsh people who have stood up to the vile philosophy that this party espouses. It’s Corbyn tho is advocating policies to rescue Wales from the abyss and how people think the Tories are doing a good job doesn’t say much for our education system….think on pobol Cymru!

You can follow Leighton on twitter at @leightonkib63  and at his webpage LEIGHTONSIMPLYRED

featured image Welsh Dragon

#GE2017: The Real Issues

Politicians will tell you that they have your best interests at heart. That they want to make ‘the country’ (which country, Wales?) a better, fairer place. That they will ‘grow the economy’, create jobs, fix the mess the other lot have made.

But it will be easy enough to spot the biggest bullshitters, from the things that they don’t talk about.

Not even your toenails grow forever

We need to talk about growth. It has become an addiction, and like all the most hopeless addictions, we are in denial. We have allowed ourselves to be sold a dream of infinite economic growth. All UK politicians subscribe to this (with the occasional refreshing exception like Caroline Lucas).

There is no alternative, apparently.

But anyone with any experience of almost anything in the real world, knows that this can’t possibly make sense. Nothing grows forever. Most of us who aren’t politicians have noticed that we live on a finite planet, with a fixed amount of resources. The global economy cannot and will not grow forever.

Instead, we are going to have to start talking about other ways to measure our economy and whether or not it is functioning well.

Lots of people are having this conversation (people like enlightened rebel economists such as Cardiff Uni’s Calvin Jones, and Kate Raworth from Oxford Uni) but, oddly, politicians are not.

It’s as if they have forgotten that they were elected to serve people, and instead are beholden to the economy in which people live.

So next time someone tells you that Wales can’t be independent because it is too poor, it’s just worth raising an eyebrow and instigating a conversation about what constitutes a healthy, sustainable economy.

Because this won’t feature in the upcoming election talk. We’ll just get sold short again by the duplicitous usual suspects. For as long as we are all chasing the non-existent pot of gold at the end of the economic rainbow, it will distract us from asking how we might measure our economy to scrutinise whether it is actually working as it should (growth or no growth), and whether if we were focused on something other than GDP we might design something better.

Is economic growth a worthwhile end in itself anyway, even if it were possible to sustain it forever, if in the process people are left behind?

Maybe toenails is not the right metaphor here, I guess they can grow pretty long if you let them. But what is it doing to your socks? Can you still walk? Do these things even matter?

People are shafting the system, and its not who you think

There are a small number of people getting very rich at the moment, and they are the same people telling us we need to tighten our belts. You know that, and I know that. But what I notice is that even though we all know it, an uncomfortably high proportion of us are still minded to blame the ‘welfare culture’ for our problems.

So we are in a pretty tight spot. A vicious circle. A momentous feedback loop.

The people holding the public purse strings (they don’t keep their own money in purses, there’s too much of it, so they keep it in offshore bank accounts where its safer from the dangers of things like tax) are calling all the shots. And the shots they are calling right now go like this:

We need to reign in public spending because of the National debt (which they caused by failing to regulate the banks and then bailing them out with our money).

So we are going to cut spending on mental health, youth provision, women’s shelters, the arts, libraries, social care, policing, education etc.

You know, non-essential stuff we don’t really need (well, you might but we don’t because we’re privately educating our children and have a security guard).

Oh. Spending on health went up? And the prison population increased? Inequality and poverty levels worsened? (Scratches head whilst searching for causal relationships).

Well, that’s all very expensive, so we’re going to have to tighten our (your) belts a little (a lot) more. Looks like we’ll have to cut housing benefit, and the Personal Independence Payment (disability living allowance), and remove child support for third children because its all you (poor) people having too many children that are causing the problems.

You don’t like that in Wales? Well, deal with it. Because we make the decisions, so get back to us when you have grown your economy and stop squealing about the fact that you can’t because someone else owns all your resources, you pay rent to the Queen for your own seabed, and you are too busy running food banks.

And so on and so forth.

But on the whole, this massive, fundamentally flawed assumption on which all of our politics in the UK has been based since the financial crisis in 2008, will not be mentioned by any of the major parties in the run up to the election.

The assumption that the answer to all our woes lies in cutting public spending goes essentially unchallenged.

This assumption will not be discussed. It will just be taken as a given, and then the only remaining discussion will be about the detail. Who should be shafted, and how much and how quickly.

We’ll just be offered a range of very slightly varying flavours of the same dish. This dish is austerity. The side orders on offer aren’t any more appealing, they are poverty, inequality, division and blame.

Its served up to us by those who will later dine on fine food and the best wine that money can buy.

So we need to change the menu.

Or better still, take our custom elsewhere entirely.

Anyone fancy getting together and setting up a restaurant around the corner? We could put on a range of affordable meals, simple but nutritious, organic local produce, bring a bottle. If you can’t afford it, we’ll work something out. Everyone welcome, stay on for late-night banter and we’ll carve you a rose out of a water melon.

In case it passed you by, that last bit is a reference to Oz Urfa, an amazing Turkish restaurant on City Road. I’d suggest you go there next time you are in Cardiff, but they aren’t carving roses carved out of water melons there anymore, or amazing food with charming service either because despite winning the Taste of Wales Best World Cuisine Award in 2016 the Home Office deported their chef and so they had to close.

Obviously, the wider metaphor was about an independent Wales. An independent Wales in which, incidentally, we could have made our own decision about whether to let Faruk Yavuzel stay in Wales to continue flame grilling award winning food and contributing to his local economy….

Anything that doesn’t come with a set of multiple choice answers

Like, whose fault is it that we are in this mess?

This will be discussed, but the answers will be multiple choice and the only ones available will be:

a) Foreigners

b) The EU

c) Poor people

d) The elite (but not the economic elite, just people that read books or are in the judiciary etc)

Multiple choice answers that will not be available include:

e) Tax-dodging billionaires

f) Bankers

g) Politicians that privatised your public services and that now receive an income from their shares in the resulting companies

Other accounts we are overdrawn on

There’s just this small thing, nothing really. Its hardly worth bothering about, so I hesitate to even mention it here.

It’s just this thing, you may have heard of it, it’s called…

Planet Earth.

Not the BBC documentary featuring David Attenborough and dung beetles.

The actual planet.

The one we live on.

So I’m not sure if you have been following this, but whilst the Brexit reality show has been playing out on the main channels, there’s been this gripping drama going almost unnoticed.

The plot is bordering on unbelievable. If it wasn’t based on a true story, you wouldn’t believe it.

It’s based on these crazy people (‘the human race’) who live on Planet Earth. They inhabit this planet for hundreds of thousands of years, including the most recent twelve thousand during a geological period known as the Holocene, during which they have developed agriculture, and civilisation and then industry, in part due to the unusually stable climate which has characterised this period of geological time.

And then, in the space of a generation, they stuff it up.

They bust through at least four out of nine recognised ‘safe limits’ for their planetary system (atmospheric carbon/climate change, nitrogen and phosphate loading, biodiversity loss and deforestation) within the space of about forty years.

Their population trebles, their consumption quadruples, their energy consumption goes up tenfold. Inequality goes through the roof.

The impact that all of this has on the planet, its climate and its natural regulatory systems, is so great that this time is designated as a new geological era. The human race, through its own actions, brings to an end the stable geological period known as the Holocene, and instigates the beginning of the Anthropocene.

Their impact is now great enough that it will be visible in the fossil record.

The human race has become an extinction event.

But their politicians don’t talk about this. They don’t mention the fact that they are overdrawn on their environmental accounts.

They ignore the warning signs.

They put up a smoke screen and betray everyone and everything, by not acknowledging that with power comes responsibility. That with leadership comes tough decisions. With elected representation comes a requirement to act in the collective interest and call out vested interests.

We have voted those interests into power. That’s why on the subject of the real threats we face, we hear…

Silence.

Anything about Derry, Barnsley, Motherwell or Bangor

Since Thatcher, and globalisation, local economies have kind of been put on the back burner. We’ve all watched it happen. First the major extractive industries go, then the manufacturing. Then a whole tranche of local businesses that are supported by the spending power of the people formerly employed in those sectors.

Making stuff has been replaced, in the main, by the jiggery-pokery of the finance sector, overwhelmingly located in London. It’s pretty much all MPs can see. It parasitises our economy. The money system, invented to make it easier to trade and barter the real stuff that people in Derry, Barnsley, Motherwell and Bangor make, and the services they provide, has hijacked the whole of the economy. More money is traded in fancy packages of nonsensical risk every year, than actually exists.

And it effects everything. Property is bought up, and lays empty (although not so much in Barnsley) because the system has flipped reality on its head. Instead of money representing stuff, as intended, stuff has started to represent money.

That’s OK if you earn a living in stocks and shares and the splicing, slicing and dicing of debt to be sold, resold and profited on. But if you live in Cleethorpes, or Glasgow, Carmarthen or Omagh, its likely that your world revolves more around real things. Food that you can eat, water you can drink, energy that powers your home.

So listen out for those candidates that talk about localism. And call out those who have a ‘High Speed 2’ mentality (it’ll all be fine if we can just get to London quicker). Or a ‘City Region’ mentality (it doesn’t matter if there are no jobs in Blaenau Gwent, just travel to Cardiff).

Because soon, we are going to have to figure out that the economy is not an end in itself. And that it isn’t exclusively located in London. It is a construct that we use to describe the way that goods and services circulate around our society, and the benefit (and harm) that they cause in the process. So next time your local candidates talk about ‘the economy’ call then out. Pin them down. What does this mean locally? What does it mean in terms of real outcomes for real people? Why has the money stopped circulating, where has it gone (there isn’t less of it, as we are told, it’s just not reaching most of us).

What are we doing about that?

What does it mean for Bangor?

What does it mean for Wales?

Tax is a good thing.

It pays for stuff. End of.

Politicians and their rich backers would like us to universally demonise tax. It’s the ‘enemy of the people’ (that’s a dangerous phrase we are likely to hear more of). But we know that isn’t true. Not all tax is equal for instance. Some is progressive, so you pay more the more you can afford, or to look at it another way, the more you benefit from shared services (like the NHS which looks after the health of the employees that help you make a profit) the more you contribute.

Some are regressive, so you pay the same tax on tampons, even if you are so poor you can’t afford them and so you just don’t go to school when you have your period.

Some are nominally progressive, like Council Tax, but not really, because there is a cap, so the most well off people in London whose house may be worth many millions, pay the same as someone in Wrecsam who paid £200K for their house.

So give us a break, lets stop talking about ‘Tax Relief’ as if tax is an affliction we must cure, and start talking about Tax Justice.

And while we are at it, let’s campaign for an independent Wales and then we can introduce a fair system of tax that works for the majority of people, rather than rich people who want to get richer without paying their way. They might not use the NHS, but last time I checked they drove on roads and most of the people they employ on zero hours contracts were educated by the tax payer.

Performance review

In most jobs, your continued employment is contingent on regular performance review.

Pay increase is performance linked.

MPs not so much.

In this role, you get paid even if you don’t turn up. You get re-elected (or not) based not on whether you have actually voted in the best interests of the people you represent (or, heaven forbid, the planet on which we all live) but, largely at the whim of the tabloid press.

In Wales for instance, if you are a Labour MP, and like Chris Bryant in the Rhondda you haven’t even bothered to turn up for important votes on the devolution of more powers (like policing and control of our natural resources) to Wales, you’ll likely get let off the hook for failing your electorate.

Maybe.

To boot, you will glibly continue to espouse a policy of further devolution, criticising those who might have had enough of your bullshit and for whom independence for Wales is looking better and better, despite the fact that when further devolution is offered, you don’t vote for it.

In short, if we aren’t careful, we are rewarding mediocrity, hypocrisy and duplicity. So do me a favour, if you are even considering voting for your incumbent, check out their voting record and then ask yourself whether they genuinely have the interests of their local constituents at heart.

If you are in Wales, ask yourself if any of them really do. And then ask yourself how we can make some genuine change here. Ask yourself which party sticks up for Wales’ best interests, time after time after time.

Then get yourself to a hustings and ask candidates some difficult questions about the first five things on this list, and the things on your list, which no doubt once you start to write it, is quite long.

We didn’t choose to have this election, but we are choosing who to vote for, so lets make it an informed choice.

And don’t tell me you are voting X, Y or Z because your family always have. Just imagine explaining that to your grand children when they ask why you didn’t demand change when you had the opportunity.

The time has come, let’s make our voices heard.

You can follow Sandra Clubb on twitter at @tywodlyd and at her blog page indymam.wordpress

 

 

This time make it about us, Wales.

As the above graphic shows, votes in Wales have only changed the outcome of the UK General election once since 1945. Ever feel like your vote doesn’t count for anything?

In case you’ve any semblance of doubt left that Theresa May has anyone’s best interests at heart other than her own, at least now we know.

Now she has made it perfectly clear that she is only out to look after Number One. Well blow me over with a feather, I never saw that coming. Although of course I did, unlike Carwyn Jones who spent today tweeting jovially about what a surprise it all was, and that if, unlike him, you saw it coming, he’d just love some tip-offs from you for the bookies.

Well that’s about the long and the short of it isn’t it Carwyn, for a lot of people in Wales. But I’m surprised to find you so frank on social media about your personal financial prospects, and the likelihood that a trip down Bet Fred, or a tenner’s worth of scratch cards might be looking like your best bet before long.

Although we are in Wales, so, you know, we are pretty much just shafted and can’t do a thing about it.

Can we?

Well how about we grow a pair (of tits, in case you are wondering), and sort this mess out?

Because we are going to have a General Election, like, soon.  In the life of an Electoral Returns Officer we may as well be having the election in about 5 minutes for all the time we have to plan it (trust me, I know because my brother is one, and if I didn’t have five hundred other good reasons to be angry with you Cruella, then shafting my brother’s life for the next two months would be reason enough).

Whilst I’m on this topic, the timing of this election one month after Local Authority elections in Wales and Scotland, as well as non-metropolitan areas and Mayoral seats in England, is just galling.

The message is loud and clear:

‘You can take your poxy local politics and go stuff it up your… This is about ME. Me, me me.’

Actually, given that Theresa May’s constituency in Maidenhead is not involved in a local authority election, save for a lone by-election because two people requested it, it’s entirely possible it has escaped her notice that some of us are involved in an important local democratic process here.

After all, it’s not like we’re deciding who will make decisions and control spending on education, social care, planning and other important local issues. It’s not as if quite a lot of the things effecting our daily lives are in the mix here. We’ll just put that all to one side, and make way for the Theresa show, so that we can spend all of the next month ignoring the local elections and focusing on whether or not our PM feels like she has a mandate or not.

Or maybe she hasn’t noticed, or doesn’t care, because they aren’t having local elections in London boroughs. We’d be excused for taking this as proof of what we have long suspected, that The City is all that matters to the political elite in Westminster.

More probably it’s neither of these things. She does know and she does care, of sorts, and she is trying to rig the whole process and overshadow the local democratic process by souring it with the poisonous Westminster political narrative. So that our decisions about our children’s educational future, and whether or not greenbelt land will be built on, will be based on internal spats within the England parties, rather than scrutinising local candidates on their manifestos.

It’s just another imperial show of force.

Well guess what, Theresa May.

We’ve had enough of your strutting and your disregard for what is going on in our lives.

You are here to serve us, not the other way around.

So I take offence. And like many others, I doubt your motives. Because anyone with an ounce of sense can see that this isn’t about uniting the UK Government around Brexit. You’ve already got the official non-oppositional opposition party backing your every move. This is about shoring up your precarious position within your own party, and locking us all in for five years.

Because the next five years are going to be unrelentingly, horrifically bad, and you know it.

They are going to be bad for the majority of people in the UK.

They are going to be bad for Wales.

They are going to be bad for the UK itself, which is going to implode.

They are going to be pretty shitty for you, I imagine, because you will be presiding over this appalling descent into further poverty and divisiveness and that’s going to be pretty awful (unless you just abandon yourself to the delerium of blind faith, which it seems like you are already more than half way to doing).

So I guess there is only one real option open to you now. To take this opportunity to cash in on the fact that there is at least one other politician in the UK who is less popular than you are (do you still owe Rupert that pint?) and seal in our fates for the duration of another term in Government. And then I imagine that you are going to just go underground, and ride out the next five years from a secure location.

Meanwhile, the Theresa droid is programmed with a dozen of your best trite soundbites, and will repeat them ad infinitum until we all stop listening (we nearly have).

You might make the odd appearance in real life for EU negotiations, but not many. The droid will do less lasting damage to international relations.

So.

We’ve got a few choices here Wales.

Choice Number One: Re-tune our radar

There will be tidal waves of coverage of this snap election. Most of it will be pumped out of London. We can choose to switch that off. Mute. Don’t buy that paper.

Instead, lets amplify the small voices that have been starting to reflect more of a Wales perspective on things. Listen to Desolation Radio if you aren’t already.

Fund Nation.Cymru if you can (they are launching earlier than planned due to the election).

Follow Bella Gwalia and read the articles by bloggers from across Wales that are shared there.

Watch this film on YouTube produced by Wales in the Media, from the recent Yes Caerdydd Indymedia Fringe event.

Share links to decent commentary about Wales, by people in Wales, where it exists, and if you get drawn into arguments that feel borrowed, that aren’t about what is best for the people where you live, challenge that.

If you don’t feel that there is any decent commentary, start some. Talk with your friends and colleagues about Welsh politics, and if what they think is Welsh politics turns out to be English politics, then gently re-tune their radar.

Choice Number Two: Kick the right establishment in the you-know-whats this time

There are as many reasons people voted for Brexit in Wales as there are flavours of Jelly Bean, and you are pretty sure that at least one of them is unsavoury.

But some of the strong and valid themes that did emerge were a desire to send a clear message that people had had enough. That they were sick of the status quo, that it wasn’t working for them.

People saw the only opportunity they had really had in a long time to give the establishment a massive kick up the proverbial, and they took it.

The truth is in Wales, there’s a different establishment, closer to home, that is more deserving of this treatment.

So we have a choice to send this message to Westminster now, in both the local elections and the general.

Personally, I am going to do this by voting for Plaid Cymru.

Almost regardless of their manifesto pledges, it’s the clearest way to show that Wales is a distinct political entity. They are the only party that is genuinely focusing on Wales, its people and our future. They aren’t perfect, there’s a lot I would change, but they are our best hope and it’s only by voting for them in large numbers that we can send a lightning bolt up the political establishment in Wales and the UK and show that we are actually awake here.

If we want to have any leverage, and any differentiation from England in the future, we need Plaid to become a genuine political force to be reckoned with. For that to happen we need to elect them.

Do you genuinely think any of the other parties care about Wales?

Choice Number Three: Show them what we are made of

There’s going to be a topic on the agenda that hasn’t really been there in recent elections.

Can you guess what it is?

Are you curious?

Since the last major election of any kind in Wales, YesCymru has joined the political landscape. Even as recently as the last Assembly Elections, the indywales movement was still only stirring. Now it is thriving, growing, recruiting newly indyconfident activists, gaining media attention and making a name for itself amongst civic movements.

We are part of the discussion now.

We aren’t going away.

And we can shape the debate.

So bring it on.

I’ll give you a tip for free here too Carwyn. If you are wondering what to do with that fiver your auntie gave you for your birthday, pop down the bookies (there’s lots in town, they’re where all the real shops used to be) and put it on an independent Wales. My feeling is that it’s going to go sometime between now, and 2033 (that’s just sixeen years, not long but long enough).

Be a nice nest egg for your retirement when that bet comes home. Keep you in Jelly Beans at least.

#####

You can join yescymru here 

The next meeting of Yes Caerdydd is at 8pm on the 27th of April, upstairs in the Tiny Rebel, Westgate Street. Other local groups are springing up in places near you, check them out on FaceBook and Twitter, and if there isn’t one yet.. You know what to do.

You can follow Sandra Clubb on twitter at @tywodlyd and at her blog page indymam.wordpress

 

Britain is not the UK

I am so sick sore and very bloody tired of this confusion.

This will be a very very short post.

BRITAIN IS NOT THE UK.

Britain is a land mass.

The UK is a union (hahaha) of member states. Namely Scotland and England.

Wales (god help them is an add on) are they even on the map? You might want to check they’re still there, seems like British Labour In Wales have been let loose with the crayons again..

wales

And Northern Ireland doesn’t even get a look in at the Olympics. Team GB tosses them out in the cold.

So, can we do our very very best to unpick the annoying Britain = UK (+ a whispered NI)

One of the most confused articles I saw on this recently was to do with the railroads, now there’s irony for ye. Look at this article. Oh hell, I only just noticed it’s from @OwenJones84 I assume it’s that Owen Jones.

It may seem trite it may seem over egged. But language is very very important. Without having a sodding framework we can’t communicate. So every time you see Great Britain / Britain / UK mixed up. Ask yersel, what the hell are they meaning?

You can follow Cath Maguire on twitter @scarycath or at her blog page talkingmince

featured images  Map of GB by Brian Falconer

Why Welsh independence is a no-brainer

 

People will tell you that Wales is too poor, too Welsh and too dependent to be independent. But, like me, you aren’t stupid, and therefore no doubt you are starting to see the circularity of these arguments…

You’re also probably starting to realise that it’s almost impossible to list all of the reasons why Welsh independence is a good idea. But I’m not bored of writing these pithy lists yet, and if you aren’t bored of reading them, then here’s my latest thinking on why anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together, is taking a good look at Welsh independence right now.

Because if you are in a burning building and the people supposed to be in charge are holding flame throwers, you at least want to know where the nearest exit is

OK, this is not a subtle analogy, but these are not subtle times. I don’t think I even need to elaborate, do I…

Optimists are the new Nationalists

Call it what you want, optimism, curiosity, a refusal to be told something isn’t possible, a stubborn insistence on evidence based reasoning…

Being an advocate for Welsh independence has traditionally been associated with the term ‘Welsh Nationalist’, but oddly, in the eight months or so I have been actively involved in this movement (as opposed to sitting at home waiting for someone else to do something about it as I was previously), I have hardly heard the term ‘Nationalist’ used, and I have never once used it to describe myself.

I get that there is a strong case for reclaiming the term ‘Nationalism’ in the context of Celtic independence, and that there is a difference between Welsh/Scottish and British Nationalism. It’s very important to make this distinction too, since some people are so determined to conflate the terms, and even to equate Celtic Nationalism with racism.

I’m not denying the validity of inclusive, civic, Celtic Nationalism, it is a fine thing and should be celebrated. But I think that in Wales the landscape has shifted. You don’t have to identify with old school ‘Nationalism’ to think about Welsh Independence and to try it on as a way of looking at things, or as a vehicle for solving some of Wales’ problems (although of course you may choose to).

To be curious about Welsh independence is not to assume an identity. It is to adopt a frame of mind. To agree to maintain an open mind

That’s all.

The status quo is no longer the status quo

Change can be scary. We’ve been part of the United Kingdom since, like a really long time. I get that. I get that it’s easier to stick with what you know.

The thing is, from where we are standing right now, in March 2017, you can kiss goodbye to pretty much everything you thought you knew.

I’m pretty sure that when we (or whoever inherits this sorry mess) looks back at this time in Planet Earth’s history, by which I mean last year, this year and maybe the next 5 to 10 years, people will have a lot to say about it.

But the dominant theme is likely to be ‘holy shit, that was a rough ride’.

Let’s just re-cap.

Robots are about to inherit the Earth (it an Artificial Intelligence thing, and an automation of jobs thing, but it doesn’t look great for you or I or our children’s employment prospects).

For our part, the UK is about to crash out of the biggest trading union in the world, maybe with no safety net whatsoever, just as almost every other country in the world is busy joining trading unions.

We are on the cusp of a now almost unavoidable global climate apocalypse, with implications for absolutely everything, but most crucially for food and water security, and in terms of the refugee crisis that will follow when many millions of people lose their homes to rising sea levels and desertification.

The far right are on the rise across Europe, and Russia has interfered with America’s free and democratic election process to install a despotic authoritarian in the White House.

So you tell me.

Do you think we should do things exactly as we have for the last 600 years, or do you think its worth revisiting some topics that haven’t had an airing for a while? Perhaps we should dust off this Welsh Independence issue, in the light of some new circumstances?

Because when big changes happen, it’s usually best to adopt a position that allows you to appraise the options and effect the outcome to best advantage/minimal damage, for yourself and those around you. You want to have a say in the way things settle out, rather than flying by the seat of other people’s pants.

Just ask yourself who you trust right now.

I bet you didn’t vote for a Red White and Blue Car Crash Brexit

There is almost nothing that Unionists like saying to Wales more right now than ‘well don’t blame us, you voted overwhelmingly for Brexit afterall‘, before mumbling something about turkeys, and Christmas, and trying to hide a very large, red bus up their own arse (or more probably, yours, just bend over would you…)

Well you may have voted to leave the European Union, and I respect that, I really do.

But I bet you didn’t vote for a ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, ‘screw the economy’ (especially the Welsh economy) ‘who needs an export market anyway’, Brexit.

I bet you didn’t vote for a sadomasochistic Brexit  (‘while your backs are turned we’ll privatise your underpants, remove your human rights and make you eat them while we sit back and pleasure ourselves’ kind of a Brexit, which it turns out is just an excuse for Theresa May to act out all of her most twisted fetishes).

So given that what Wales thought it was voting for, turned out to be a strong laxative, forcibly administered, and given that we are already pretty dehydrated, why don’t we pause and regroup?

We don’t have to take the kind of medicine that Westminster is prescribing for Wales.

We can seek another opinion.

It’s called our own.

 

Learning to ride a bike was difficult, but you did it

(Unless you never did, in which case, have I mentioned I am a qualified cycling instructor and my rates are very reasonable?)

So my point here is pretty obvious. Lots of stuff seems daunting, improbable even, at the beginning. There’s an element of ‘no pain no gain’. My daughter is learning to walk right now, and I’m not pretending there isn’t going to be a lot of tears and gravel imprints to the forehead before we get there.

But we get over these hurdles. We take risks because we know that we’ll be glad we ventured.

I’m willing to scuff my knees and ride out some turbulent times for a better future, are you?

It’s not a good time to be a sacrificial lamb, and Wales is famous for sheep so you do the maths…

This isn’t about the Welsh lamb industry (although it could be). It isn’t even about the risk that Wales disappears so far up it’s own stereotype that we become invisible to the outside world, ceasing to exist at all except on the ‘Traditional Welsh Cawl Recipe’ tea towel your Aunt Bev once bought in Criccieth.

It’s about the fact that if you made a list of all of the vulnerable groups that Westminster is shafting right now, you’d see immediately that Wales is disproportionately affected. People on a low income. People claiming out of work benefits – and people on in-work benefits, people dependent on long term sick or disability benefits.

People whose health has been adversely affected by a lifetime working in heavy, polluting industries, but who haven’t reaped any of the profits.

People who didn’t happen to inherit an estate, or a peerage or go to Eton.

There are a large number of people in the United Kingdom at the moment that are being crushed by the cruelty of the system imposed by the British State. It’s not a phenomenon unique to Wales of course. Many of the people disproportionately affected by ‘we’re all in this together austerity’ live in the North of England, and Scotland for instance. And not as many live in the South East of England, which is coincidentally where most of the power is based.

But given that rather a lot of the people that are on the ‘getting shafted’ end of the Tories’ austerity jolly, do live in Wales, how about we review whether this is a party we still want to be at? Ask ourselves, and everyone who came with us, if we are still having fun?

We aren’t likely to see anything but a Tory Government in Westminster for a very long time, and given that Wales gets a Tory UK Government at least half of the time despite never voting for one, shall we get together and have a chat about whether we still think this system is working for us?

Or shall we just knuckle down, plan ahead and open a few more food banks?

Better take out some health insurance too, because I heard that ol’ kinky boots is going to flog the NHS to Donald Trump, and I’m sure she won’t let a little thing like devolution get in her way.

(When Wales says ‘no’ it means ‘yes, more’, in Sadomasochistic Brexit World after all..)

Because I do not want my name on bombs that blow the heads off Yemeni toddlers

Actually I would rather that bombs did not blow the heads from the bodies of Yemeni toddlers.

It’s hard to treat this topic lightly, so I won’t try to. But we need to talk about it. Because if you, or someone you know, is inclined to feel that the British State is a benevolent force for good in the world, and that we in Wales should continue to be associate with its international policies and its ‘look the other way and pocket the cash’ approach to arms dealing with war criminals, then we need to agree that it means that you and I, and Auntie Bev (you can use this argument with her), are all culpable too.

Is that the price you want to pay to call yourself British?

Because Boris Johnson looks to camera, and without blanching, brushes off the fact that the UK still profits from selling arms to Saudi Arabia, including bombs that we know will end up killing innocent people.

So I am looking at Boris Johnson and I am thinking, FUCK YOU.

How short is the money trail that leads back from those bombs to Boris Johnson’s pocket do you think? Or to the pocket of a Tory donor? How long after leaving office will Boris wait before he accepts a seat on the Board of BAE?

So you can take your Union Jack and use it as a marketing tool to make profit from war and state sponsored genocide if you want, Boris.

But you are not doing it in my name.

Not any more.

 

There’s no ‘W’ for Wales in BAE. Where do you think the profit is going? And would you want it even if it was coming here?

Given the price?

So we can all keep writing to our MPs about things like this, or we can cut them off at source. What about if we all just stand up at once, and leave? Just say we’ve had enough, and we are leaving (the UK) on principle?

(Ideally, do both, write to your MP and list all the reasons you are pro independence for Wales, you could use their voting record to help you compile your list).

It’s not good karma to end on the topic of dead toddlers

So we need one more thing on this list, something upbeat. But don’t forget about those toddlers.

Actually I need to build back up to upbeat, so here’s a penultimate thing, for free

Independence is sexy. It just is. Check out almost anything from the Scottish Independence Referendum campaign. Do a Google image search and tell me, who looks like they are having a fun, inclusive, sexy time?

‘Yes’?

Or ‘No’?

Its palpable. And enervating. It blows the ‘heart’ or ‘head’ argument about independence right out of the water.. When you look at images associated with the ‘Yes’ campaign for Scottish Independence, you feel it in your loins

Hell, it makes me want to just rush up there and have a whole load of Scottish babies.

Who do you think is getting it on more, when you look at those pictures?

‘Yes’?

Or ‘No’?

So even if it weren’t obviously going to go for ‘Yes’ in Scotland the next time around, even if we just waited it out, ‘Yes’ would just out breed the Unionists out of the equation if we waited long enough.

Young people are overwhelmingly in favour of independence compared to older generations anyway.

All this is also true for Wales, so let’s do it.

‘Let sleeping dragons lie’, is not a thing.

Sleeping dogs, yes.

But not dragons. Sleeping dragons should always, always be woken up.

So go on, wake your dragon. She’s just snoozing anyway…

####

You can find information about safe ways to wake sleeping dragons here.

You can follow Sandra Clubb on twitter at @tywodlyd and at her blog page indymam.wordpress

How to be #indyconfident for Wales.

It’s possible that you have wanted an independent Wales for a long time. Perhaps your whole life, which may be sixty years or more by now, if you are wise and rugged. Or maybe you only started thinking about it when you moved here, like me eleven years ago, and so it is a feeling that is as old as your Welsh citizenship.

Maybe you have only recently realised that it is what you want.

Whenever you started thinking about Welsh independence, and regardless of how rugged you are or not, it is likely that your ideas and feelings have changed over time.

That they are still changing.

Mine certainly are: why do you think I write so much?

When I look back at the first blogs I wrote about Welsh independence, only 8 months or so ago, I realise how much has changed. In me, and in the world.

I still stand by what I wrote back then, but I have since embarked on a thought experiment, and it has changed me.

This experiment has been partly played out in my own head, and on this keyboard, and in these words which you are now reading. By writing about an independent Wales, and how we might get there, I have explored ideas and topics that I had not previously tried to get to grips with.

The other part of the thought experiment has been going on in collaboration, with trusted co-conspirators. In person, and online. In meetings, gardens, parks. On twitter, by email and WhatsApp. We have been co-creating a new narrative. Inventing a new lexicon.

I am glad that I have been blogging right from the start, because it has recorded the journey I have been on, and when I read back I can see that I have learned a lot. I have refined my thinking, and I have gained a great deal of insight into how I originally thought about Welsh independence, and how that has changed.

And that is what fuels my writing, mostly. Reflection on our relationship with the notion of independence. For I believe that this is where the key lies. It is inside us. All of us, and we need to understand the mechanism by which we unlock it.

So when I am campaigning for Welsh independence, although I am expressing myself, a lot, mostly here between you and I, actually what I am doing more is listening.

Listening to myself.

Listening to other people.

I am like a safe breaker. Listening for the clicks. Trying things out.

Click.

Click. Click.

Because a great many people, including those who dearly, earnestly, passionately desire Welsh independence, are looking elsewhere. And they aren’t listening out for the things I am listening out for.

And that is why they aren’t as indyconfident as I am.

This conclusion I have come to, that the key to Welsh independence lies in me, and you, and all of us, is important.

It is one of the key realisations that happens when you move from being indycurious (wondering, and wanting, and starting to ask about Welsh independence) to being indyconfident.

To be indyconfident is not to believe that Welsh independence will be easy. It isn’t to believe that it can be achieved quickly, or that it will be straightforward, or that there will not be hurdles.

But it is to acknowledge that people in Wales have the capability and the right to rise to this challenge.

That we don’t have to deny that it will be testing, or declare how we will overcome every difficulty. We just need to admit that it is our challenge to own.

And this is to see the whole debate anew.

Because until you are indyconfident, you are still in chains. And the chains that bind you are the demands that others, and ourselves, have put upon the goal of Welsh independence for so long.

These questions are very familiar.

Most of them start with ‘How?’

You know the type, I won’t dwell on them here.

Most of these questions come supplied with a demand to be met. A condition to be satisfied before the debate is allowed to move on.

You are asked to supply ‘the numbers’.

You are told to go away, and come back when you have ‘a plan’.

Uh huh.

So that’s the nub of it. That’s what lies at the heart of being indyconfident. It is realising that these are all of the wrong questions.

Because ‘how?’ implies a forgone conclusion. It implies we know where we are going. But how can we know that?

No one can know what an independent Wales can be. No one. Not until we get there.

And by everyone’s admission we are a long way off (although a lot closer than we were a short while ago).

An independent Wales is not a fixed thing. It is the combination of the hopes and dreams, the aspirations and imaginings, of you and I, and everyone in Wales who wants to engage with building it.

So how can anyone possibly ask you for a plan?

How can they possibly ask you to provide a budget?

Before we start answering any questions about how, and how much and how long and at what cost, we need to ask a lot of other questions. Questions that start more like ‘what’ (like what do we want) and ‘why’ (like why is it important) and ‘who’ (everyone).

Because the other thing that is noticeable about feeling indyconfident is that you change from a state of opposing something (like being part of the UK, or being ‘swallowed up’ as if as a region of England) to actively seeking something that previously you didn’t know you were lacking.

A vision for what Wales could be.

And you notice this lack in others around you. Principally those in a position of notional leadership. This is the biggest change in myself that I have observed in the last 8 months. I have gone from a position of passive desire for Welsh independence, based mostly on a rejection of the things I don’t want about the UK, to a position of active engagement with Wales’ future.

I’ve sussed out that we don’t have a vision.

Where are we going?

Apparently, we are on a ‘devolution journey’. A what? A ‘continuum’. Well no wonder everyone fell asleep.

Excuse me for putting my hand up (again) and asking difficult questions (I am doing that a lot lately, its another symptom of indyconfidence). But don’t we owe it to ourselves to aspire to something a little more, well, aspirational?

So this, this realisation is one of the biggest things about being indyconfident. And trust me, people notice when you start rocking up in rooms full of people, like rooms full of third sector professionals (because that’s where I rock up when I’m not being Indymam, or Mam). When you rock up and ask questions like ‘so why are we here, collectively, what are we actually trying to achieve, what do we want for Wales?’

A lot of people sit up, and many of them want to talk over coffee. And some of them look perplexed, and quickly fire off an email to head office in Swindon.

But they’ll catch up.

Because I thought that I could keep my indycuriosity in a box, and just get it out in certain company. And maybe I could have done, if it hadn’t turned into indyconfidence, maybe. Probably not. I thought it was a hat I could wear, and choose to put on, or not, depending on who I was talking to.

But it isn’t a hat, and it isn’t in a box, and it doesn’t need to be. Because it is something that I bring to everything now, and it is just a new way of looking at things.

It can be exhausting at times, because it feels like every single conversation is a head rush of data. I feel like I am a hard drive, downloading information all of the time. Because I have re-tuned my antennae (mixed metaphors I know, but this is kind of a stream of consciousness) I am noticing all of the signals that before I used to miss. Or that if I picked them up, I thought it was just me.

Because of the new lexicon that we have been co-creating, I notice, all the time, when people ‘other’ Wales. When they talk about West Wales instead of saying that they went to Aberteifi. That we other ourselves for an audience that isn’t familiar with our geography, even though we are.

I notice when people talk about ‘leadership’ but they are talking about England, not our leaders in Wales. That it hasn’t occurred to them that we need leadership, or that we should expect it, or that we can demand it (and then vote for someone else if it doesn’t materialise).

I notice all of these things anew now. And sometimes I gently query, but mostly I am listening. And understanding. Because I have come to realise that the journey to Welsh independence will not be, for the most part, made up of numbers on a spreadsheet, of figures in a budget.

It will be about people. It will be about understanding the psychology of desire, of hope and optimism.

It will be about relationships.

And that is the other thing that characterises indyconfidence. It is a chemical reaction that occurs when you take your indycuriosity, and you put it out there, and you mix it with the curiosity of other people. Together, it creates something altogether more interesting and a lot harder to ignore.

Some of the things you thought you understood, you see differently.

Some of the doubts you had, clear.

Some of the fear you had, dissipates. And in the place that these feelings lay, something else moves in. Something powerful that you couldn’t possibly have expected until you started connecting with people. Connecting with people that inspire you.

Hope moves in.

So if you are sat reading this, and you are thinking about your next move. Don’t wait. Because also reading this, are some people that are going to play a very big part in your life over the next few years.

You just haven’t met yet, but you will.

Keep a journal.

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You can follow Sandra Clubb on twitter at @tywodlyd and at her blog page indymam.wordpress

 

I Don’t Want To Go Forward To The Past (I Want To Go Back To The Future)

Like around 16.1 million others I awoke on Friday 24th June 2016, bewildered, astounded and profoundly saddened at the EU referendum result to leave, the detailed outcomes and what was soon to be the consequences that my fellow citizens had unleashed on the United Kingdom based on lies, innuendo and speculation.

There are 100 things that could be said that are wrong, that were worrying and manifested before during and especially after polling day. I will focus on a few only as the chain of events unleashed since Friday is filling up every space the internet can cram it all into.

The country I loved has changed overnight, the people I would have always trusted and respected as a default have made me question that approach and I have made a decision to be more discerning with every person I interact with. I don’t want to go forward into the past, I want to go back to the future, the future we were about to embark on as a country.

 

  • The murder of Jo Cox, she must never be forgotten. A statue in her honour should be prominently displayed in Westminster for all to be aware of her life and her work. When the British Constitution books of the future are written I believe that students should know what happened to her and why.
  • The racism and casual references to immigrants and negative connotations linking crime, terrorism and world war three to people who are our neighbours, our friends, relatives and in my case my own parents.
  • The young people, the 16-18 year olds who didn’t get a vote at all unlike in the Scottish Independence referendum, and the 18-24 year olds of which 75% of them voted to remain.
  • The lies: all of the money we would be getting back to spend on the NHS, the Turkish people flooding in when they  join the EU, the trade agreements that we can make because “they need us more than we need them” and the lies, damn lies and statistics, resulting in a leave campaign where experts were dismissed as gloom merchant stick in the muds who should be ignored. Then the 90% of press reporting.
  • The behaviour and attitude of politicians who put their own party and their electoral opportunities before the good of the country, posturing, evading, scaremongering on an unprecedented scale both disingenuous and in some cases cruel. The oxygen of publicity given to hatred, liars, apologists and racism by foreign owned newspapers, bitter political editors (one in particular), hidden agendas and weak know it alls.

 

I can’t see a progressive future for the country with hatred and division being sanctioned, young peoples’s views being ignored, finger in the air see which way the wind blows politics rather than a determined plan of action. Since when did our vision become based on “well we’ll see what happens shall we?” Since when did we arrive at a point where many people couldn’t care how much regret and pain these events would cause?

We have allowed ourselves to be caught up in a nightmare, led by people at the front (not leaders) chanting “I want my country back”. What are they talking about?

A country that sat within the world of division and hate, the Berlin Wall still standing with countries run by Communist Dictators and the U.K. on the other side of that wall, Apartheid regime in South Africa with Nelson Mandela still in prison and our Government doing deals with the oppressive regime, Northern Ireland and the troubles with all of the atrocities that we never thought would come to an end or a different type of country back. The country of the Coronation, the Festival of Britain , the Swinging Sixties, village fetes and long hot summers. That isn’t the same childhood I had being the son of two immigrant parents, for although we had lovely tolerant friends and neighbours and lived in a wonderful place, there was often an ignorant bigoted comment, but as the European relationship improved so did life for my family improve, but let’s not paint a picture that I heard recently (which I will paraphrase) of “let’s get back to the days of those nice immigrants we used to have, not these sponging terrorist types we have these days”.

Get real shall we.

We had a vision that the world saw at the opening ceremony of the Olympics less than four years ago, a progressive tolerant nation, one that extolled the virtues of our diversity and inclusive practical approach to disability and equality, not just tolerance but celebration.

I want that country back, the United Kingdom that held hands with the rest of the world, we are a forward thinking nation who has instantly gone from standing in the front row of the family photograph, being at the main table for the family decisions, and one of the central players in the biggest economic and political union in the world to be out the back with the empties in one fell swoop. The genie can never be put back in the bottle.

I feel that we have lost something precious that can’t now be replaced. My passport was British and European Union and that was how I identified myself, a British member of the European Union. My family are still members of the European Union but I am not.

I’m not a sore loser but I admit we’ve lost much more than we’ll ever know and yes, it hurts.

You can follow Joseph Conaghan on twitter at @ConaghanJoseph and at his blogpage  Joseph Conaghan’s Blog:JOE BLOGS