Fill the gap. Concerning that vacant seat at the cross-party, anti-Brexit meeting.

This is going to cause me some trouble I can tell.

Two things this week have triggered me to ask a couple of questions to, quite frankly our best hope of stopping austerity, Jeremy Corbyn. Before I go on, as stated before I am in favour of any progressive party, with close family ties to the Labour party, yet scrutiny is a must for progression. I am lucky enough to be a friend of Leanne Wood on Facebook due to the fact that our families have been neighbours in Penycraig for generations, and of course I support her views on greater decentralisation to Wales and anti-austerity. This week Ms Wood confirmed what I had been trying to ignore for years now; the fact that Welsh Labour are not effective enough.

At a Plaid Cymru speech in Cardiff on Monday, Ms Wood stated that Plaid would reverse Labour’s “lack-luster” and “unambitious” tendencies in the Welsh Assembly and in Westminster. Wood is right on the ball here. Labour do a good job at defending the many against the few in England, but they have totally forgotten about the ‘other parts’ of the UK. Wales have been absolutely vital to any success Labour have achieved at voting time, but it seems that Labour will not “empower the people, because they do not trust the people.” For any success in the future Corbyn needs to invest in and assist the socialist movement in Wales.

We have always been the forerunners in the welfare state, from Lloyd-George’s ‘War on Poverty’ to Nye Bevan’s creation of the NHS. The lack of thought that Labour is giving Wales at this moment will take its toll in time if not currently addressed, even though they hold the majority in the assembly. Wood went further, stating that Welsh Labour are “leaving behind the community,” yet I believe they are leaving their roots behind. My great-grandmother, or Mam Gard as we used to call her, was a Labour councillor and hopeful mayor of Rhondda until she lost her fight with cancer. She epitomised everything about Welsh support for the party, a tea-addict, wife of a coal-miner and voice of the community. Like her the rest of us Welsh are proud, social warriors, fighting for equality, so much so that I can keep on adding names of Welsh figures which have proved vital to the Co-operative, Labour and Liberal movements until nearly everyone in Welsh history were added. Investiture into Wales will mean a stronger UK.

‘Two hands. That’s what the Labour movement means, should mean. You support me. I support you. Whoever you are. Where ever you come from. Shoulder to shoulder, hand to hand.’

These effectively are just some of the words that changed my outlook on life. They feature in the film Pride. Queue the link of nationality and sex to the reference. Yet again they mean just as much now as they did during the strikes or the creation of the unions. Surprisingly, it is Labour who needs to remember this. Again, I am a Labour/ Plaid voter, but this needs to be said. There was a question on BBC’s Question Time last week in London: ‘Why don’t Labour use the General Election as a second referendum?’ 79% of Labour supporters want a second referendum. 65% of Labour voted remain. 53% of Wales want another referendum, with a majority of 5% voting remain this time around.[1] The evidence is concrete, align with the other progressive, anti-Brexit, anti-austerity parties and use combined power to give the people what they now want. Without going too far into Brexit as, although it is vitally important, there are far too many commentaries. But one thing is important, there is a clear indication from these polls that the situation as well as voting decisions have changed and so should Labour’s “lack-luster” defence of the EU. When will Corbyn support the rest of the opposition to block the government?

C(The damaging photograph of the vacant seat, courtesy of @CarolineLucas)

[1] All taken from various YouGov polls. Here’s the link to the website: https://yougov.co.uk/

Britain is ‘at breaking point’ and it’s not about immigration. Why we need to properly fund the NHS.

‘Discontent arises from a knowledge of the possible, as contrasted to the actual.’

These are the words of my greatest hero, Nye Bevan, of course founder of the NHS, Britain’s greatest peacetime achievement. But they still have great meaning today.

I have discontent with the way the Tories are failing time and time again to properly, efficiently fund the NHS. My knowledge of the possible is that it can be done. We can fund the NHS efficiently, in order so patients aren’t being treated in corridors.

Let’s be honest, right now few things could be worse than the ‘actual,’ but this just means that we can save the NHS. The NHS have had to cancel thousands of operations due to the lack of funding, despite Hunt describing them as ‘better prepared than ever.’ Before Christmas Day, hospitals were already recording more than 95% bed occupancy.

Recently me and one of my best mates were talking, suddenly he comes out with “the government are doing all they can to force the NHS to go private. The way things are going there is no choice but to sell.” Although this is very sad, it’s very true. This is not just the opinion of a couple of guys in a coffee shop, Jim Mackey, the head of NHS Improvements stated that ‘things are looking tight’ heading into 2017’s winter. He told this to the Health Committee. Nothing was done. Less money than before. Less provisions. Still no resignation or firing of Hunt from his post. What is more, the chief executive of NHS Provisions, Chris Hopson, back in early October 2017 told the NewStatesmen that the NHS was ‘stuck deep in the red zone’ and needing a rubber dingy thrown to it otherwise it would drown. Still not enough funding.

‘It [the NHS] will last as long as there are folk left with their faith to fight for it’ – AB

Unfortunately it seems like Hunt and May would rather put their faith in free-market economics, leaving the NHS stranded to be bought up by men with big briefcases full of hard cash. But who cares? Their corporate mates will be the ones who buy up the poor NHS, their mates will also do them a favour in return, isn’t that how a deregulated market produces?

Anyway enough of my opinion on free market economics. The NHS is becoming ever so near to its very own breaking point. How many more experts, officials or nurse’s stories do this government have to listen to until they final recognise that there is a problem with the lack of funding for the NHS, and that we have the money to put into it? £1bn for Northern Ireland, £350 million a week from the EU…

‘No amount of cajolery can eradicate from my heart the deep burning of hatred for the Tory party’ – AB.

“We’re all human”

These are the words of a rough sleeper in Windsor imploring for the council to retract their comments and their call for the police to remove rough sleepers from the streets in the run up to the Royal Wedding.

I’m not exactly a Royalist myself, I have nothing against the family as they know nothing else than being the royals, the younger generation have done a lot for many different charities already, including mental health charities. Yet I would like to humour Ms Wood and her comment at calling the Queen “Mrs Windsor,” it was quite funny.

Anyway to come back on track with this blog. I was planning on doing a piece about how we should make the link between Young’s advocacy for Free Schools and his backwards, misogynistic and homophobic remarks, however joining the band wagon and all that. Plus there is something more important than a middle class boys anger at how totally shit non-state schools are; homelessness. I know it is a massive topic but I will mainly be looking at rough sleepers.

I was absolutely ‘triggered’ to hear over Christmas my parents recognising the ever growing amount of homeless, rough-sleepers on the streets of sunny Bury St Edmunds, and how they were deeply saddened. Of course I wasn’t surprised at their caring as they are naturally caring people, it was the fact that anyone else noticed this. Coming back from Swansea I was surprised to see any rough sleepers in my hometown, let alone the same amount. (Not a read on either place). The first time I had taken this ever growing indication of a broken economic policy was visiting Cardiff. I, alongside the other half, have kept up-to-date watching the Cardiff based ‘Living on the streets’ documentary. We regularly see the documented rough sleepers from the show still on the streets in the city and then some. Recent counts by the city council have put the number of rough sleepers at 74 (November 2017) which is inevitably on the rise. Likewise 2,000 people are in temporary accommodation just in the city. Whereas around 7,200 houses were threatened with homelessness in 2016, a total of 313 rough sleepers and a rise of 63% of seeking emergency bedding in Wales alone. ‘Shelter Cymru’ state that austerity and benefits cuts have taken effect, yet claim that mental illness and substance abuse are the main two factors as to understand why people become homeless. YET, there is a direct link between austerity, mental illness and substance abuse, consequently homelessness also.

In terms of the hometown I did some research looking at the two main local newspapers and can I say what a fucking load of disgusting they were!

The East Anglian Daily Times ran with the headline ‘Volunteers help rough sleepers on their turf in BSE.’ ‘Their turf’ supposing these people were intruding and should be helped to fuck off. One of the volunteers stated that “I think we stop people from begging on the street at least a few days a week” which is fantastic, of course it is, anyone with a right mind would agree, yet it is the tone of the article as a whole which suggests that it eradicates a nuisance more than making sure people don’t have to go through the utter humiliation of having to beg.

The Bury Free Press is hardly better. The larger of the two ran with this subtitle: ‘A new council officer is helping ease the plight of growing rough sleepers in BSE.’ The plight. The plight. To give you the definite definition of the word ‘a dangerous, difficult, or otherwise unfortunate situation.’ One could argue that the newspaper is stating that anyone in this situation is unfortunate. But again the tone of the rest of the column makes it abundantly clear this is not the case. In addition it could have been worded completely different to suggest that the newspaper or council had any sympathy for these people. The report also states that there are ‘24 rough sleepers in Bury St Edmunds alone.’ When seeing this statistic I immediately thought that 24 out of 30,000 is firstly abhorred to have any rough sleepers, but nowhere near as many as Cardiff; a population of 361,000. Unfortunately with the statistics previously touched upon, Cardiff’s City Council estimates 74, just 50 more than suburban Bury.

Of course I could keep writing about how austerity is the sole and overriding factor as to why so many people are homeless or rough sleepers, yet there is a much greater message to remember here. These rough sleepers are people. They are human. And there are going to be more people displaced and forced to live on the streets so there is another thing to keep in mind. Keep arguing why they ended up there, but more importantly KEEP HELPING THEM. Food, warm drinks, blankets even if nothing else change in your pocket. I’ve seen recently the media saying ‘beware of the criminal gangs imposing that they are homeless to get money off you.’ But seriously, the reason that people are forced to act like a rough sleeper is the same reason there are rough sleepers; lack of money. No one will ever be able to tell the difference unless that homeless person finishes up for the day, pulls out their car keys and drives off in a 17 plate. Just give, and remember how lucky you are to read this article on your laptop or tablet.

Tired ass Tory

This is an article I wrote for the Drag Magazine Pink Trash available to buy from February 2018.

I’m sitting here with my pot of freshly brewed tea, listening to yet another drag queen on Spotify, the other half cringes how I have a playlist titled ‘Ru-pulanza’ but I think I’m witty, and all I can think about is thank fuck I am not your average person. This in itself is weird, I come from a middle class family from a middle-class, Conservative ‘Flower town’ which doesn’t have a Primark nor a drive thru of any sort, yet I am an ardent progressive socialist. Why? Because even though I have crippling anxiety I love talking to people, and funnily enough so do most millennials.

Not to throw too much shade at my hometown, but moving to Swansea changed me. I can be out for a start. Beforehand I decided to give up playing rugby intensely, leaving a void which sent me into a chasm of depression, until I joined the inclusive team, then I really saw everything. A team made up from completely different members of the LGBT community and the most supportive allies you could imagine, all with different problems and abilities; but no one judges.

So what am I trying to get at? This team and my uni friends give me a safe haven from the bullshit of life outside my Swansea bubble. It’s time to re-open the Burn Book and glue down a picture of BoJo, the epiphany of the out-of-touch political elite who dominate Westminster. (I could have easily chosen, as Frankie Boyle describes as the ‘living monopoly logo,’ Mogg). This man, and ultimately the party he leads fails time and time again to listen to the majority of us millennials. Sorry May, but you’re more of a body shield taking every hit for the party. The majority want a properly funded welfare system, to stay in the single market and a properly proportional taxation system, taxing the ones who can afford it the most. Yet this is never going to happen as we are never taken seriously. Constantly attacked for our over indulgence of social media, which although means that there are trolls we are more connected. 

Hang on! Statistics from the YouGov polls on the 2017 General Election show that the most intelligent of us, the ones with a degree or higher, are more likely to vote for the party which is most likely to implement these policies; the Labour Party. (49% voted Labour, where 32% voted Tory). Hmm, funny that. Let me hit you with more stats; turnout for 18-24 year olds averaged out at just below 60%, whereas for the over 70s, 84% of them turned out to vote. Don’t think this is a sign of laziness. We can all now use postal votes, even I had to, this snap election caught me off guard and the holiday to Gran Can was already booked, every gay guy has to visit the Yumbo once right? This statistic proves nothing else than apathy within our generation. The remedy- start listening to us otherwise there won’t be any way of recovering from the most devastating austerity hit since 1815 (after the Napoleonic wars if you’re wondering). We want a country to inherit. ‘Strong and Stable’ is good, but I’ll settle for one that doesn’t discriminate. Rupaul finishes and on comes Bowie.

So apart from the lazy persona placed upon us by the generation on top of us, there is another stigma which I want to tackle; that we are easily offended. The elderly generation believe that we live in a world where political correctness has gone too mad, what they are missing is the fact that we are aware that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can hurt just as bad. My dad asked me whilst I was going through my worst mental illness period, ‘Why are so much of your generation diagnosed with anxiety and depression?’ Now don’t get me wrong, we inflict just as much shit on ourselves on social media and the over airbrushing of celebrities, yet there’s a much bigger problem- pressure to succeed. There is pressure to own your own house by a certain age; have a secure job; be a high earner in order to set up a family (a traditional family, you know, man and woman, and natural children). But that is never going to happen due to house prices rocketing and the reduction in social mobility caused by years of neo-liberalism. With this in mind a comment about someone’s sexuality, gender or their appearance is going to do nothing apart from adding to the overbearing pressure upon us. I know it will be hard for people who have never been marginalised, but at least try not to be a dick.

The biggest issue the elderly have with our generation however, is the fact that we believe we could make a change. They believe we have some picture of Utopia where no one is ever offended. Well actually this is pretty manageable, open up a bit more and learn about other people. Before we move on can I just point out two things, the idea of a Utopia was first created by a conservative, Catholic martyr called Thomas More funnily enough, but most importantly I cannot think of the word Utopia without replacing the word euphoria with it to the tune of Loreen’s song, oops is my gay showing again?

So what is the best way to tackle them? Go out and vote, vote anyway even if you do not believe it will make a difference it will. An extra share of the votes for the progressive parties will shift the general political spectrum of the UK, opening up the opportunity of greater openness and serious tax reforms. In the meantime go to as many Drag shows you can, support your local queens who epitomise our openness and can do attitude. Hey we might actually be able to send one off to America and get further than the third show!? Ultimately keep being proud of yourselves, battle on and one day we can shape a better climate for more people to live life without restraints!

Oh and fuck Trump!