Monday, January 27, 2020


Shwmae from the banks of the River Lleidi!

The last week has been about dealing with the tax fraud shenanigans. Bloody hell, every time I’ve thought that it’s now being dealt with and that I can get on, I find myself back at square one. As a result things have been pretty dull and uneventful.

I’ve got into a good routine going to the gym three times a week, finding the energy to go that fourth time has so far eluded me. At the minute I’ve just been sticking to cardio while I get into the routine also I really wanted to be sure my dodgy tendon in my arm is undodgy. So the plan is this week to start doing 30 minutes of mixed weights and 30 minutes of cardio. And then after a few weeks start breaking the days into specifics: Cardio day, arm day, leg day, etc. If I still can’t muster that fourth day I’m just going to try and add 20 minutes to each session.

Thanks to the pestilence and its impact on my sleep pattern I haven’t done any circuit training this year. Usually I’d get up early and do 30 minutes before starting the day. This week will be about getting back into that routine.

Have also been blitzing my way through the Google Digital Marketing course that I mentioned last week. Currently at 56% complete. Aiming to finish that this week then gotta find some fancy paper to print my certificate on to… Unless they send out the certificate I’m not sure.

I’ve got back into the swing of Duolingo, currently in the promotion zone of the Sapphire league getting ready to move up to the Ruby league! 

I like Duolingo but it really needs to let courses like Welsh include speaking exercises. My ability to read welsh is better than it ever was in school but without speaking exercises that verbal language part of my brain is useless. Friends will say something to me in welsh and I have to repeat what they’ve said, using my fingers the same way I did in school to work out sums except each finger is a word! Then by the time I’ve worked it out they’ve walked away chuckling. Despite this the learning continues. Araf, araf, dal i mwnci.
So in lieu of anything major happening I thought I’d unleash the first of the two politics related posts I mentioned last week. I originally wrote a modified version of this way back in 2016 and it is astounding how things have developed. So I decided to do an updated version for where we are now.
I wrote it because so many people, myself included, felt powerless and unsure how to engage with politics. And those who did seem more engaged just seemed to be spinning their wheels and not getting anything achieved.
The last three and a bit years have been a Pandora’s Box of awfulness, hate crimes and the general vitriol that have slithered into every corner of rational discourse. So I’ve tried to be more informed about Welsh/UK politics. And obviously whatever anxieties I’ve felt pale in comparison to how marginalised groups feel all the time, let alone right now. But despite all the bad I was inspired by posts appearing in my social media feeds from people in the US reacting after Trump got elected. They were posting daily or weekly ‘Resistance Reports’, the reports detail how they’ve been engaging with local and national politics and even providing quick and easy actions that others can do to help (I’m sure the first one I saw was from Calvin Starnes). I really liked this idea and wondered if anyone had been doing something similar in the UK post-referendum that could provide some actions I could follow and post about in my own reports. I didn’t find anything so then I looked for any guides on the best ways to engage with my local and national politicians with the plan to set my own actions and go from there. Again I didn’t find the bounty of information I was hoping for, a lot of US specific guides but barely any for the UK. So then I just went looking for relevant information that I could use to create a rough guide for myself before setting my actions.
I ended up falling down a rabbit hole of helpful and infuriatingly unhelpful information for anyone wanting to engage with UK politics without joining a political party. So I’ve made this post a resource dump for useful links along with thoughts and suggestions that I’ve gathered from social media and other sites on how best to use them and set your own actions. I’ll try and keep this as concise as possible but I apologise if this sprawls or rambles all over the place.
Now, living in Wales means there are devolved issues that don’t apply elsewhere, same with Scotland and Northern Ireland. So I’ve tried to keep as much of this applicable to the whole UK as I could but I am planning on doing a Welsh politics post soon.
Getting started:
Getting more involved with politics doesn’t mean you have to take to the streets with placards, although this is really helpful when the situation calls for it. It does mean finding your voice and dialling it up to eleven. It means shaking off your apathy, stepping out of your comfort zone and putting in some hard work. It is no longer possible to sit back and continue on under the assumption that it’s all going to work out for the best.
Possibly the most important step is that you have to speak up. Hate crimes soared in the wake of the referendum so it’s really important that we speak up for others when we witness attacks, verbal or physical. This is extra important for white guys. Don’t scream or engage, just calmly show that hate will not be tolerated. The Hollaback group have some great resources about standing up to hate.
The same goes if someone makes discriminatory comments in front of you, call it out as unacceptable. I know it can be intimidating; particularly with family but there are ways to criticise with kindness. Don’t let this kind of behaviour become normal.
If you live in a city or large town then there’s likely to be a cultural centres and organisations for migrants or other minority groups. They often have open days or other events. Go to them and take friends and family with you. It’s a small thing but it can help get rid of the us and them bullshit that the daily mail loves to stir up. If those groups do any community work then respectfully find out if you can help. This may mean learning how to be a good ally.
As an addendum to this: it’s vital that we find ways to build links between echo chambers. Particularly with those that we support but may not think to get involved with, such as groups campaigning for racial equality. Understanding that their fights are symptoms of the same disease that helped bring about brexit and Trump are really important for being a better ally and building a stronger resistance.
That being said some of those echo chambers may not contain people who identify as liberal so some thought has to be given to find ways to embrace imperfect allies, they’re imperfections may be rooted in their privilege but if we can’t reach out to them then it’s all too easy for them to see only the fear-mongering and to adopt the mindset behind nationalismI don’t have any firm suggestions for this, I’m the first to say I find it easier to completely ignore the people that voted for brexit or look at what’s happening in America as a good thing and not debate with them, but I also realise that’s not very constructive in the post-truth world we find ourselves in. If you have any thoughts or suggestions then I am all ears. (It’s been 3 and a bit years and I still don’t have any good responses to this)
Finding out who represents you:
It’s easy to find your MP. Their profile page will contain all their contact information as well as committees they serve on, questions they’ve asked in the Commons and the results of the election that made them an MP.
You can also find out how they’ve voted in Parliament at They Work For You. There’s also links for the voting records of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Scottish Parliament. Sadly there is (still!) nothing for the Welsh Assembly due to lack of resources. (If you’re willing and able, getting this much needed section up and running could be an action!)
When contacting your MP, phone their office. Letters and emails are all well and good but they can be put to one side and ignored. Answering a phone and dealing with (polite) questions and concerns takes time. Get enough people to call on the same day or over a set period of time then that’s harder to ignore. But if like me you don’t particularly enjoy making phone calls at all, then here’s a great guide to phoning your reps when you have social anxiety. I Know that there’s an ingrained British phobia against “being a bother” but if there is a running theme to this post, it is that you need to be a bother.
Protest and petitions are fine but how effective have they been over the last three years? A tiny bit of direct action could actually make the difference. A good list of ideas is by the Albert Einstein Foundation, they compiled 198 methods of non-violent action.
MPs will often hold regular surgeries to update their constituents on various issues and listen to concerns. Go to these whenever you can, if only to stay informed. Organise a group of people to go. If you’re attending a surgery with the aim of raising a concern don’t feel you have to go armed with reams of research on your particular issue.
Politicians respond to people engaging, silence and apathy are not protests, they’re giving up.
UK Issue Links:
It was tough to decide what to focus on and direct you towards. I didn’t want to prioritise any issue that was too regional or devolved. So the links below are broad but great starting points to get informed on specific issues, get involved and find other relevant links.
Liberty (also known as the National Council for Civil Liberties) are a cross party, non-party membership organisation that campaigns on human rights issues in the UK. They’re against the snooper charter and the use of facial recognition, providing this helpful guide to protect yourself online. Become a member, volunteer or make a donation.
Keep Our NHS Public is exactly what it sounds like. In Wales the NHS is a devolved issue but across England it is taking a beating. KONP has a ton of useful information, their social media has links to NHS campaign groups up and down the country making it really easy to get involved.
Stop Funding The Hate are a great campaign to convince companies to stop advertising with the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express. They’re a really effective example of online activism using social media, so getting involved is easy and can take up very little of your time. You can also sign up for their newsletter.
Social Links:
These links are for those of you that may want to get more hands on with a group or issue and may even want to organise your own groups.
Arts Emergency are responding to increasing higher education costs by offering a network of mentors to help 16–19 year olds pursue and develop opportunities in the arts, media, academia and professions such as Law and Architecture. If you have a background in the arts and humanities then maybe consider becoming a mentor.
Do-It are a database of volunteering opportunities so if you looking to get proactive this is a good place to start.
Seeds For Change Is a great resource offering training and information if you’re looking to organise your own campaign group.
The Trussell Trust are the UK’s food bank network. Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK now depend on food banks. If you can please donate some time, money or the priority items your local bank is in need of. It really will make a big difference to someone.
The New European is a pop up newspaper that appeared during the referendum. It covers ongoing developments with brexit. It also covers a broad variety of news from around Europe which I think is important because Britain and America aren’t the only places far-right rhetoric are frothing up right now so staying informed outside our traditional news bubble is important.
Open Democracy Are an independent media platform that cover topics relating to democracy in the UK. Another great starting point for getting informed about a variety of important issues.

I know this is far from complete or perfect but if you’ve felt overwhelmed and powerless to make an impact on UK politics this should give you some options to get involved. There’s no excuses. I know it’s not going to be easy, doing good in the face of adversity seldom is. But you are needed. If you believe in democracy, diversity, compassion and equality then it’s never been more important for you to speak up in defence of them. To resist anyone who tells you that they are unnecessary or incompatible with a civilised society.

Brave Heart, Dear friends and don’t let the bastards grind you down.

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