So you wanna be a (boxer) politician?

Just a quick ramble ..

I’ve often thought (not arrogantly you understand) that I’d quite fancy being a politician – probably in Wales, because through the regional list system it is at least in theory easier to get elected if you are in the top half of your party’s list (I recognise there’s a few caveats to my previous statement) – and heaven forbid, I might even be alright at it.

So you wanna ..There are things I’m passionate about and I like to think I can argue and compromise with the best of them. Not afraid of hard work etc.

But then I snap out of my reverie and realise that there’s pretty much zero chance of me being selected as a candidate (if I were to join a party) and then being elected. Why you ask? Well in my opinion, it’s simple – I’ve got a digital footprint covering Hotmail, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, 9Gag, WordPress and numerous other places across the internet. Certainly I know my Twitter has been around since 2007 and Facebook since at least 2005/6.

Why is this a problem?

That is between seven and eight year’s worth of ammunition that opponents, the media or just people in general can look up, research and throw at me if they want. There have been a few stories recently of people who have Tweeted or blogged in haste and then have had to repent pretty hastily too. I actually read today about another candidate whose undoubtedly quick and unthinking Facebook comment actually made it onto page 2 of Wales’ national newspaper.

I can’t recall every Tweet I’ve posted (for the record it is north of 12,000) and I feel certain that somewhere along the line there will be something (or more than likely a few things) that:

  • I’m not proud of
  • I probably shouldn’t have posted
  • Could cause me embarrassment / be the source of a damaging news story
  • Would identify be as being in opposition to a party policy or position

Why does this matter? Well in my view, my digital footprint is probably not that different from other people of my generation, but it is likely smaller than people younger than me. This means that, in my opinion, a contributing factor to some people not getting involved in politics could be that they are or maybe concerned about what could get dug up about them from the internet.

Is it going to be a massive factor for huge amounts of people? Probably not. Could it be putting off people from entering politics? Probably yes.

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To coin a phrase .. what an omnishambles

It’s been an incredibly long time since I’ve written anything on here, due to various things (mainly – having a baby, moving house and getting a new job), but I’ve been catching up on my reading and listening to podcasts recently and I was struck by a thought .. what an absolute mess the Labour Party is in.

I should say that I am not a member of the Labour Party, nor have I voted for them. My political leanings can be discerned from previous writings on this blog.

So what kind of shambles? An omnishambles in my view.

Ok they had a bad election night. A really bad election night. But it appears to me that the Labour Party can’t even get introspective navel gazing right! Seemed right to me that Ed Miliband went after the party’s defeat, but the Conservatives have capitalised brilliantly on the lack of opposition and are making the most of the fact that Labour are (or at least, appear to be) a rudderless and leaderless rabble, totally consumed by a leadership contest which hilariously looks like it might be won by someone that apparently few who nominated wanted to see in in the first place!

For an outsider, the contest reached new levels of ridiculousness, with well known warmongering pseudo Tory Tony Blair making an unwelcome return to UK domestic politics and the brilliant bluff and bluster of Lord (?!?) Prescott adding his considerable weight to the fracas. It is now hilarious to me that Labour MPs helped Corbyn “get over the line” in terms of nominations, in order to broaden the debate, are running as far away from Corbyn as possible.
Similarly, has anyone else cottoned on to the hilarity of a traditionally left or dare I say it, socialist, political party terrified of selecting an avowed left-leaning candidate?
This segues nicely onto my thoughts about the leadership candidates.
  • Andy Burnham – a flip flopper who seems that he would just deliver more of the same, or at least change his mind so often just so everyone is really unsure about what he really thinks
  • Yvette Cooper – comes across as bland and more of the same
  • Liz Kendall – fair play, she’s said a few things that she believes, but I suspect she’ll run afoul of the great labelling machine (a Blairite or a Tory .. not sure which is more damaging)

And then finally, the man of the moment, Comrade Corbyn.

A man who (certainly this is my take on him), says what he believes and believes what he says. Now, on Any Questions (Radio 4) a few weeks ago, Chuka Umuna got quite agitated about the suggestion that the left of his party appear to have a monopoly on passion. Ironically he got quite passionate about it. But (and this is what I shouted at the radio) .. he’s not running for the leadership and I don’t think that the left of any party has a monopoly on passion – it’s just we haven’t heard any passion from any of the other candidates.

So Jeremy Corbyn, the candidate who has got the left of the party, and plenty of Unions and new entrants to politics excited. and that is no bad thing. I was also interested to see that in contrast to one of the central criticisms of Corbyn (that he would make the Labour Party unelectable), the Indy and YouGov published some data showing the majorities of people who agreed with some of his policies.

Also – it has been suggested in some quarters that he would be the candidate the Tories would most like to win. I would dispute that. My gut tells me that Cameron going up a genuine thinker, a passionate leftwinger – he’d have his hands full.

I think that part of Corbyn’s apparent popularity is down to his a) ability to appear to rise above the personal attacks and petty squabbling of his rivals (reminiscent somewhat of Blair/Brown/Mandy?) and b) to his passion – he says what he thinks and believes what he says and he is genuine.

Now, do I think he would be Prime Minister – no I don’t think so. However, could he be the leader that the Labour Party needs at the moment? I actually think he might be.

I just hope that if he does win, he injects some passion into the Welsh Labour Party.

Finally – if you got through my ramblings about the Labour party, sit back and enjoy something else that is missing from the National Assembly for Wales – great oratorical skill (and yes, a bit of passion too)

A new post for a new phase

So I haven’t posted anything online on here for a while (in fact since March last year). One of the reasons for that was time, everyday life (and I got married too!) and work commitments, but also finding things to write about.

I had a period when I was unsure what I could or should write about because of work and how some things might look to outside audiences. It was also pointed out to me that posting  online either on a blog or on Twitter can provide content which could damage oneself professionally at some point in the future. Now I’m happy to stand by everything I write or say and argue with rational people but sometimes even that means I think twice about posting.

So, what to blog about?

I hope that from time to time I will still post about things that exercise me – mainly politics-related or current affairs, although I do post on Twitter alot so I’m covered a bit (as much as I can be in 140 characters). But right now I would like to write a little about a new phase of my life – as of 25 June this year, I am a dad.

image

My daughter (about 1hr old)

So this is my daughter. She arrived early and a bit ‘not according to plan’, but she is healthy and beautiful (although admittedly I’m biased).

Some of the details of Lily’s arrival are personal but sufficed to say she was delivered by emergency Caesarean section instead of how we thought she would be. And that was a scary experience for me, for any new dad I would have thought. One minute you are talking to the mother of your soon-to-be baby and a few seconds later there are alarms and someone is telling you to get changed into a pair of scrubs.

But she arrived and even though it is over done, I’ll say it here – I was smitten. Instantly. The only simple way to say it, is that the second I held this pink, noisy, slightly messy bundle in my arms I knew that I (turn away here if you want to avoid the soppiness) was in love and there was nothing that I wouldn’t do for her for the rest of my life. Nothing would be too small or trivial. And even though she was pretty out of it from the various drugs she was on at the time, I felt closer and more connected to my wife than ever before.

I could easily go on and on about the huge rollercoaster that the last four weeks have been (two separate emergency trips to hospital, both resulting in 5 day stays – but I might touch on that at some other point), but I am rapidly learning that sleep is now a high value commodity so I will pause for now.

Hopefully when time permits I’ll write more here about my new daughter and this brand new adventure I and the missus have got ourselves into.

And maybe touch on some politics every now and again.

Dave’s dodgy dinner dates

I can’t really take credit for the title of this one, i think i must have heard it on the news or from a report on the Commons this week, but i thought it was good so I’ve stolen it.

So this whole thing is kind of about money. Money and power. Money and power and influence. And politics. Its easy to see why it attracted the attention of the media and rightly so, however i think one of the more interesting things to think about is party funding. Clearly dinners with the PM, that aren’t minuted or attended by civil servants, for party donors from the private is not right or proper and at least when pressured (they shouldnt have had to be pressured) they released the information, but its largely to down to money.

Cameron needs to court wealthy donors in the same way as Labour needs to court the unions – they need some money to run their political operations and shenanigans. However, i believe that this reliance on large companies or groups or individuals for cash not only leads to the potential for stories like those we have seen recently but also removes the political process and politicians further from us normal people.

If there were to be a cap on donations to political parties, say maybe 20k, then the parties would have to go out, fundraise, meet people, encourage them to join the party, pay their subs – all of that. It might start to mean the end of lazy politics. Imagine that .. Politicians actually getting engaged with their constituents and communities.

So how to administer the donations? Again, I cant claim credit for this idea because i heard it on the radio this week. Set up an independent ombudsman/body with representatives from a range of ages and backgrounds, across the country. This body would receive donations from a blind trust at set points in a month and then pass on the donations to the individual parties. This would mean that no party would know who had given money and that way no-one could be accused of currying favour or influence.

I would like to think (because i’m slightly optimistic) that this will change and this will make a difference. But let’s be honest .. I don’t think it will and it probably won’t. Oh and lets just wait and see the politicians blame the lobbyists for this one.