Wednesday, 29 July 2015


The 2015 UK General Election was noteworthy for a number of reasons. The number of female candidates for the House of Commons broke the 1,000 threshold, the result itself has been labelled as breaking the record for the most disproportionate result in British electoral history (Electoral Reform Society). What is particularly interesting is the performance of non-establishment parties.

Whenever economic turmoil and societal instability occurs, it is unsurprising that the electorate normally turn to political movements that are detached from the established order. In its most extreme case, this was seen in Germany during the 1930s where punitive and malicious war reparations undermined the state and economy and contributed (alongside other factors) to the rise of Nazism on the wave of discontent.

In the present day context of the UK, the factors contributing to the rise of the anti-[UK]establishment party, the SNP arguably include the 2008 Great Recession and many other factors (MPs expenses scandal, the fall of Scottish Labour). Since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the SNP have grown from polling below their Welsh counterparts to eventually forming a minority government in 2007. Then in 2011, defied belief and secured a majority in parliament in a voting system designed to discourage majority governments! Since the Scottish Independence Referendum, support for the SNP has continued to surge and now stands above the 50% mark.

What about Plaid Cymru, then?

The most recent Welsh Assembly constituency opinion poll (if we can still believe them.. *shakes fist*) has Plaid Cymru in third position behind Welsh Labour and the Welsh Conservatives.

This isn't great news, considering the success of their Scottish counterparts. Even so, Plaid are being beaten by UKIP as the anti-establishment party, who even gained more votes at the 2015 UK General Election!

There is a problem for Plaid Cymru, a party based on the principle of nationhood, it is struggling to grasp Welshness away from Welsh Labour. In addition to this, while Plaid Cymru's full name is "Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales", demonstrating clearly its bilingual nature, there is a distinct perception in Wales that you don't join Plaid Cymru unless you speak Welsh. Obviously this isn't a literal truth, but perception is as important as reality when it comes to politics.

Plaid Cymru are modelling their behaviour on the SNP, but Plaid Cymru seem to forget that the SNP are the party of government not them. Mirroring SNP anti-Labour rhetoric from the same 'Left' position as Labour are is difficult, considering that there are three other parties in Wales in which Plaid Cymru need to seriously focus on if they have a chance of dismantling the Labour hegemony in Wales.

Perhaps though, these observations are premature, and are not long-term in their outlook. In a recent survey, more people failed to recognise First Minister Carwyn Jones than those who didn't recognise Leanne Wood (a result of her presence on UK General Election TV debates). Is the tide turning? Probably not, but Plaid Cymru are in their strongest position in their history.

Increased visibility, Welsh-learner leader, proportional representation and anti-establishment all help their situation. Just don't compare them to the SNP, things will get awkward then.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The problem of the 23 year old

I'm coming to the end of my academic career (finally).

For those of you who know me (so none of you..) you will know that I have a problem of being an eternal student. Following a mediocre bachelor's degree in Geography at Aberystwyth University, I undertook a master's degree at Swansea University.

Incidentally, Swansea University was a fantastic institution and if I could be a student forever, it would be there.

Following this, I ventured in to the world of work. I managed to get employment at a consultancy firm. However, due to some significant false advertisement in the job description, I spent the next five months being about as much use as a General Studies A-Level. When it finally got to the month of my birthday I realised I had to make a decision otherwise I'd get in to a rut. So I left. I booked a long holiday in Australia and in June I left for the other side of the world.

Best. Decision. I've. Ever. Made.

I went on my own, and honestly even though I was terrified (self confessed Mammy's boy), I made lifelong friends, made unforgettable memories and grew my confidence.

Following this I decided to go back to university (again). But, this time I was to study something I actually enjoy and have an interest in. So I went to Cardiff University to do a master's in European politics. Its not been entirely what I expected and not enjoyable every second, but it was the right decision. Now I'm nearing the end of Part 1 of the degree, I'm at a cross roads as to whether to continue on to Part 2 and write a dissertation, or leave and seek employment at the end of May. Part of me is tired of being constantly poor and not being able to go see my friends who live far away and socialise with everyone. But, it's hard to know what the best choice is. Perhaps there isn't a "best choice", for if I hadn't gone to work in that god awful job in between my master's degrees, I would never have gone to Australia and had that fantastic experience.

Silver linings and all that..

I suppose then that this blog post represents a pivot in my life. If I go one way, I'll be consumed by my dissertation/hating life/loving politics or the other way of being employed/a self employed food critic that no one listens to.

I keep getting told by my family that I'm still young, I shouldn't be too worried or rush in to things, that my 20's are to be enjoyed. But I don't know if this is just me, or it's true for everyone my age, but I'm incredibly impatient. It is an impatience to make something of myself stemming from a chronic worry that I'll be a failure if I don't focus on a career in my early 20s.

This blog post doesn't really seem to have a direction. It's more like a monologue in my head. I guess I just needed to get these misgivings out of my head. I promise, the next post will be better (I hope). No, it will be better, the #Election2015 is in two days! I'll be sure to write something summing up the election campaign.

Until then, thanks for reading.



Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Harry Hole Saga

I have recently completed the Harry Hole Saga (in English) of ten books by the Norwegian author, Jo Nesbø. For usefulness' sake, here is a list of the books:

  • The Bat, 2012
  • Cockroaches, 2013
  • The Redbreast, 2006
  • Nemesis, 2008
  • The Devil's Star, 2005
  • The Redeemer, 2009
  • The Snowman, 2010
  • The Leopard, 2011
  • Phantom, 2012
  • Police, 2013
(N.B. the first two have only recently been translated - also, I have not read them...)

Normally, I am quite conscious of avoiding starting a saga anywhere other than the first book. However, at the same time I found what I thought was the first book, was also the first time I made a sincere attempt to try and read on my iPad, rather than a normal paper book. As such, the translations that were made for the first two books had not yet migrated to the iTunes store. 

Now that I am happy you understand why I have missed out The Bat and Cockroaches, I will now proceed to the main reason for this post!

As is evident by my completing the saga out of my own initiative, I did enjoy the stories surrounding Harry Hole - the maverick Oslo police detective. However, it did take me a while to get 'stuck in' to the storyline.

The Redbreast was the first crime novel I read, and it took me a good long while to get my teeth stuck in to it. I found the story, characters and places confusing. This was probably because they had Norwegian names and references. I used to read a few pages then have a couple of months off where a different book had taken my interest. It wasn't until I was stuck on a plane and had finished my paper book was I 'forced' to continue reading The Redbreast.

It wasn't until I was about a third of the way through The Redbreast, did the magic happen. The depth and detail of Nesbø's work revealed itself. His talent of harnessing mystery and suspense carries the reader on a wave of emotion through to the end of the book. Once the reader has struggled with Harry Hole's professional and personal problems, and finally come out at the end of the book does the addiction start. His, is a character one should not and probably does not like, if one to meet him in real life; Nesbø however manages to turn this antisocial, provocative (in a bad way) drunk into someone you end up, beginning to love.

The journey Nesbø takes Harry and the reader in the subsequent books do not disappoint, into one of the most satisfying conclusions I have read.

Verdict - Go out and buy all the saga for yourself, then make your friends buy them and read them.

I hope I've made a good blog post here - its my first book review and I tried not to make it into an essay, but something that would mirror a verbal recommendation I give to my friends. If you've made it this far, I thank you! Until the next post...



Saturday, 13 December 2014

My problem with Question Time

First post - politics!

On Thursday, 11th of December 2014 there was a particularly special episode of BBC's much watched show - Question Time. On this occasion, the show was being broadcast from Canterbury and included the following guests:

  • Penny Mordaunt MP (Conservatives)
  • Mary Creagh MP (Liberal Democrats)
  • Nigel Farage MEP (UK Independence Party)
  • Russell Brand (Comedian)
  • Camilla Cavendish (Times columnist)
Needless to say, its obvious why this particular episode was much anticipated and viewed. The coming together of two polar opposites was always going to be entertaining; and it is just that, I felt that this episode highlighted an underlying fault with the entire show (and in fact, political discussion in the UK as a whole).

It is inevitable that emotions will be running high when such sensitive and important topics are discussed, however an ugly debate presented itself on Thursday, and presents itself in almost every other televised political discussion or parliamentary debate.

In Parliament (and indeed regional legislatures), PMQs (or FMQs) lack any form of utility or respect within them. Questions posed to the premier are loaded either in a sycophantic manner by a government MP, or in an antagonistic manner by an opposition MP. Indeed in programmes such as Question Time there is a lack of patience, respect or control.

In particular of last Thursday's show, audience "participation" was strong, with a couple of instances where audience members heckled each other! The panel was full of jibes aimed at each other, dishonest answers, rude interruptions and a full scale failure on the part of Mr Dimbleby to chair the show.

Until these problems are addressed and remedied, I fear that political debates and discussions will never realise their true utility. 


Ms. Cavendish approached the discussion with the least amount of stubborn bias, and through some devil's advocate work, she brought about at least a bit of discussion.

This particular blog unfortunately reads like a bit of a rant, I promise not every post will be a rant. I do plan to talk about nice things too :)



Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Blog of Everything

Welcome to my blog. I don't really have an agenda here, I will post things about lifestyle, fashion, culture, food, politics and anything else that interests me. Hopefully I won't bore whoever you are too much - I in fact aim to do the opposite and enthuse readers about my topics just as I get excited writing about them.

I always love a good discussion, so please don't hesitate to post comments (as long as they're respectful) and I'll try my best to reply to get a meaningful dialogue going!

Until my next (real) post,