I have moved!

It's been a long time since I've written on this blog. I think it's about time to update it with news: I have moved over to Tumblr, a website I far prefer for blogging.

 You can find my Tumblr here: www.writergamerfighter.tumblr.com

 Whilst not politics focussed, it is far more active than this blog, although for hard political writing this is actually still the place I intend to publish such articles - I simply have not actually written such content in a while.

 - Huw

Set your phaser to kill, Mr Huhne

Tonight is, perhaps, one of the most important episodes of Question Time that has ever been broadcast. Every liberal in this land, I hope, is just waiting to watch the British National Party getting torn apart in a live debate. Let me get this out of the way immediately - the decision to allow Griffin to sit on the show was the right one. They let UKIP on and - as I have shown before - they have a very similar support base. Sadly, for all those who are anticipating a 40 minute long fight, Griffin will play it safe - a Farage clone who will spew meaningless words and attempt to, like so many far-right politicians before him, "hold his nose and enter the Reichstag".

Some are suggesting that the BBC are pandering to the BNP. I prefer to take the opposite view and point out exactly who will show up with the pitchforks and firebrands. No, not the crowd - although I would relish watching Griffin attempt to preach hatred to every single ethnic minority in London - but the panel. I'm afraid I don't know much about Greer or Warsai, but then you see Jack Straw. Now, Jack Straw is probably the most influential MP from the north west and one with an excellent record (unlike, for example, Kitty Ussher in Burnley) of fighting the BNP despite over 20% of his electorate being of South Asian origin. He's on the wrong side of the fence, but he's actually one of the few Labour MPs I do not actually dislike. In short, I suspect that Straw is going to be exceedingly effective in demolishing the BNP if Griffin makes a single mistake.

Now, onto Chris Huhne. Huhne has perhaps the easiest platform out of all the three party representatives. He's not the government, he's not anywhere near as easy a target as the Conservatives and because he's a Lib Dem the one that everybody knows will be utterly dogmatic and forceful in his anti-BNP arguments. In short, he could be entirely dull and uninteresting - by our standards - and still rip Griffin to shreds. But we don't want him to do that. If Huhne has ever wanted to prove his credentials as one of the brightest stars in our party, this is the day he can do it. We don't want Huhne the Lib Dem. We want Huhne the superhero, utterly demolishing not only the BNP's standpoint but exposing every single word that Griffin speaks for what it is - vacuous, racist nonsense.

PS: Here's a game - if you had an ideal panel of four to take on the BNP (one Labourite, one Tory, one Lib Dem and one other) on Question Time, who would you pick? I'd actually say that Straw would be on my list for Labour but for the Lib Dems I'm not sure - I would pay to see Paddy Ashdown simply bounce every single argument back at Griffin with added "I was a paratrooper, you were a National Front organiser" punch...

Politicians are people?

I'm a fresher, born and bread in a place that the Liberals forgot (Accrington). I came to Aberystwyth fully knowing that it was a LD seat with a sizable number of LD councillors placed all over Ceredigion. I am admit, however, that I hadn't quite grasped the concept in the title. To me, pre-Aber, politicians and especially elected officials were some form of superhero, held aloft on great wings made from ballot papers - a copy of On Liberty in one hand and their latest speech in the other.

The nice thing is, they're actually not.

I've met Mark Williams, MP for Ceredigion. He's a really enthusiastic guy with a lot of convictions and a really good speaker as well. On the Lib Dem social night on Wednesday I got to talk to, at great length, the mayor of Cardigan, Mark Cole (who has basically convinced me to go to Welsh Conference...) and discovered that he too is actually a human being. Looking back, I really wonder why, in over a year of talking on LDV to people from across the party, I hadn't grasped this concept earlier. I think I have one or two theories, and one of them is quite an important thought.

Firstly, you have the simple fact that I'm an idealist, and the fact that being in Accrington isolates you from politics all together like some black hole absorbing light means that that was exacerbated. But the most important theory is that it's to do with the media. We see politicians of all shapes and sizes - some writing articles, some on Question Time or Any Questions?, some talking to some random journalist about the latest scandal or development. You don't see on a regular basis, though, them going with a few friends for a pint, or talking about the latest football results or doing a whole manner of other things. That's why when we see, for example, Lembit Opik doing Bargain Hunt, we immediatly comment, despite the fact that hundreds of other well known faces and thousands of people have gone on the show.

What is the impact of this view that we appear to have grown that politicians are seperate, better, than the rest of us? Obviously, it is bad for candidate selection, but is it more than that? Perhaps as media coverage of politicians increase, people become switched off whilst jokes are made about politics being showbiz for ugly people. Perhaps we need to have a serious look at how we portray our representatives as a whole and convince society that these people are not superheros from another planet but actually just teachers or students who just decided to have a go.

PS: Apologies to the two Marks for singling you out!


I'm pretty sure that at Cameron Towers right about now there is a party going on, celebrating the fact that Murdoch has finally decided to throw his hat in the ring with the Tories. There's doubtlessly more optimism in the Conservative ranks, too. But the real question is whether to most voters the opinions of the press - and especially The Sun - actually matter on voting day.

Let's go back a little. "It was The Sun what won it" was one of the more popular theories why Labour won a landslide in '97. The theory went that due to the prelevence of the media in the way many ordinary people thought on important issues, the backing of said media towards one canidate must undoubtedly have impacted the vote. This theory, brought 12 years forward, is why this shift has been so exceedingly interpreted as a major event. The question is, is that right? Granted, The Sun has a huge readership, and alongside the rest of the Murdoch empire it has the capability to print as much propaganda as it likes. Also granted, assuming the so often held steriotype that voters are stupid, opinions in the press tend to leak out into public thought. But there are major problems with this issue if you factor in the twelve years since 1997. In 1997 there was no blogosphere, no Twitter or Facebook and indeed only the most rudimentary of forum software. Alongside that is the huge increase in the population of the 'net in those twelve years. Obama understood this in his campaigns to become the president of the US in an internet campaign that went beyond everything that had come before it. There is a general consensus that the position of the newspapers has gotten more and more untenable as not only people find their news on the internet they also now thanks to increased communication get their opinions from it as well. I'm somewhat guilty of lifing opinion straight off the internet - it's one of my fatal flaws - but I know I'm not alone in the matter. Overall, the impact of the Internet must have a lessening impact on the effect of Murdoch picking Cameron.

The Internet is not the only thing that has changed since 1997. For one, the economic circumstances are somewhat different. Major fought an election following several long and painful recessions, but Brown will be fighting after a very sharp shock of a recession. Unlike Labour in 1997, the Conservatives will have genuine problems finding a credible position to attack Labour's former economic policies on which engages voters. Major precided over a relatively poorly run and tired Tory party that couldn't agree on Europe. Brown precides over a tired Labour, but it is still New Labour - a party with a recorded history of well run campaigns. It is important to remember at this point that Brown has never actually lead Labour into an election, so we have no real idea how the 2010 campaign will be conducted.

To conclude this somewhat rambling monorail of thought, it is in my humble opinion that the impact of the swing of The Sun really cannot be considered to be the be all and end all of the week's news. The impact of The Sun itself is far less than it used to be, but more importantly in my mind is that we are looking at different times with different opinions. I'm not confident enough to predict that this is meaningless, but I'm relatively sure that it's not that large of a story.

Getting back into the mix

Well, I suppose because I am actually at university now I probably should blow the dust off this thing and get back to blogging about stuff again.

University is a weird place. It's especially weird for folks like me who are quite closed and not what you'd call fond of drinking, but there is something irrepressibly likeable about looking out a window and seeing academia. And alcohol. Boy is there a lot of alcohol. Aberystwyth has more pubs and clubs per square mile than anywhere else in the UK, and so far I've found that people tend to enjoy trying to get a drink as as many places as possible every evening. This could just be Freshers Week, of course. In other news, it hasn't rained – a miracle in Wales – and my flatmates are a great bunch.

Let's get off what I've been up to (that's for Twitter, if you're interested I'm there under Huw_Dawson) and onto politics, shall we?

The last few days have been full up with good blogging material that far better writers than I have gone over, but I'll just put my perspective on things. The conference – to me – looked like far more of a positive event than Mr Neil painted so energetically on the BBC coverage. Even the darkest cloud – that of the tuition fees argument – was happily blown away when nice old Mr Cameron decided to tell everyone that the Tories would cut loans and grants for everyone except the very poorest. I've talked to many History/InterPol students here and it looks like the the conference was a hit, especially the Mansion Tax. So go tell everyone who says differently to jump in the lake.

Expect daily updates from now on! I plan on writing a lot about what I've been reading about to do with my History and InterPol topics, so hopefully there'll be more interesting stuff here soon than me rabbiting on about not much.

It's a stunningly bad habit of mine to leave perfectly good projects to rot due to lack of interest. This probably would be one of them. What is clear, however, is that I've been away when things were interesting - now that we're back to boring day-to-day politics, lets make a post about directions.

My direction is Aberystwyth University to study History and International Politics. But whilst I'm there, and this is where the blog enters matters, I intend to update this thing on a far more professional basis. That's why, over the summer, I intend to have a little fun. Hence why I replied to Iain Dale, the only other blogger I know for their blogging, as such -

"Nom nom nom nom nom.

Tory tears taste so sweet."

This is the internet, after all, and I'm a child of it. Generally discussions rise far below the high water mark of stupidity here. There is something impeccably funny, however, of using such a netchild joke to describe what was, effectively, a knee-jerk Iain Dale comment to promote his own blog post. "Tears" posts are totally disarming - they're shaped in the fashion of "dragging them down and beating them with experience" and largely disregard proper debating arguments, although I fancy if Dale wanted proper debate he wouldn't be with a party such as the Tories.

Basically it was a joke. Knowing the handbag-waving tenancies of Dale (I'd describe anybody who walks out of Cabinet like that having a hissy-fit, personally!) I don't doubt he's chalked me up in some long, dreary list of people he'd like to slightly inconvenience at some point.

So, what's happened in the last month - Brown never went, Cameron goofed slightly and Clegg sort of sat around telling the press that he was cross. I can't help thinking that the recent local election results, purely down to a cataclysmic SW result, has winded some of our drive and vigor, and the prospect of another Brown Christmas doesn't really fill us with hope or glee.

ID cards are dead, Brown's trying to fake reform whilst placing the inevitable Iraq War inquiry into a position Cameron can't use to pummel Labour more and then call an election, and the Lib Dems are hoping for a good result in Norwich North.

As an aside, Liberal Youth are being charismatically silent and invisible. During the whole Brown crisis, there should have been something - anything - to drive forward the youth opinion that Brown must go. There was nothing - not even a witty slogan. Direction is what LDY needs - let's hope that I can do something about that with my free time at Aber.

Oh! Greg Pope, MP for Hyndburn, is stepping down at the next election. I curse my young years and tendencies to be in the middle of Wales at election time, because I'd really like to be at an opening meeting for the Lib Dem Hyndburn 2010 group, if it existed.

Statistics: BNP versus Lib Dems. Also, UKIP and BNP - the far right bedfellows

For my own personal amusement, I decided to feed the Guardian's statistics on the EU election votes into a spreadsheet and pull out some graphs.

The fuchsia line of best fit is of my own addition. Using the data, I also compared Conservative to BNP, Labour to BNP, UKIP to BNP and Greens to BNP:

Con vs BNP - weak negative correlation
Lab vs BNP - no correlation
UKIP vs BNP - strong positive correlation (We're talking a clear line - a strong BNP vote corresponded with a strong UKIP vote. It's even worth a graph to demonstrate)

Greens vs BNP - strong negative correlation

The graphs are not hard to make for yourself - they'll paste without any trouble into your Excel or Openoffice spreadsheet.