Tories In The North – History Repeating!

Many of my age from the north of England will remember what the Tory government, lead by Thatcher, did to many northern towns and cities in the 80’s. It was a systematic demolition of working class areas and an attempt to smash working class values and principles via misinformation and lies through right wing outlets like The S*n.

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Margaret Thatcher

40 years on since Thatcher was elected as Prime Minister we now have a government that will go much further, but sadly this government has been aided and abetted by the very same people Thatcher was out to get!

The current Prime Minister is not only as arrogant but more ruthless. A man who is finding £150k p.a. difficult to live on (possibly down to CSA) but is happy to aid the demise of northern cities and towns during the greatest pandemic since the Spanish Flu in the early 1900’s.

In recent days we have seen leaders in the north, especially Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, call out Boris Johnson and his government in their attempt to implement Tier 3 status.

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Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

We have seen Andy refuse the implementation, demanding far more support for all of the low waged, the bar staff, taxi drivers and hospitality workers. He managed to unite Manchester councillors from across the political spectrum to demand greater support. Johnson promised £60m, when Andy asked for more Johnson pulled the rug from under him and told the media that Manchester will receive just £22m!

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Boris Johnson – Current PM

This is just the start of a greater programme to bring the working class towns and cities in the north into line and to create division amongst those towns and cities by allowing some areas in Tier 3 to allow gyms to open, but other areas are not allowed! Some in Tier 3 can have children soft play areas open, but other areas cannot. It is not a coincidence!

Although many divisions in the north started in June 2016 with the EU Referendum, it is nothing in comparison to todays climate. Those traditional working class, Labour supporters in the North who leant their vote to Johnson in December 2019 to “Get Brexit Done” now have to take responsibility for today’s mess. When you cast your vote it is for all or nothing!

A fair few of my friends and peers who may or may not read this actually voted for Johnson’s vision and when they see what he and Cummings have done and will continue to do to the working classes of the north I don’t want them to feel regret, I want them to feel ashamed!!!

We told you!

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Debunking WTO, and what “trading on WTO terms” really means…(by Edwin Hayward)


As EU members, we participate in over 750 international treaties.

Many relate to trade, enabling us to trade freely with the EU, the EEA, and 40+ other countries.

Other treaties cover non-trade issues, from air worthiness certificates to drivers licenses, UK and EU citizens’ rights, food safety, environmental protections, workers rights, etc.

On Brexit Day, we leave the EU. That means we lose all the benefits of its treaties. The treaties are gone in a flash, as if we’d fed them into a shredder. (That’s not the EU being vindictive, it’s just how the Article 50 process works.) Even *if* we have a transition period the treaties will already be gone, but we will be shielded from the immediate shock by the transition arrangement.

Right now, we share in trade deals with 78 countries (22 more pending). These deals cover 60.7% of all our of all our goods imports, and 66.9% of our exports.

Overnight, we will lose them all, wave goodbye to the painstaking gains of over forty years of trade negotiations.

In the absence of trade deals, we will be reduced to trading on WTO terms. WTO is a complicated system of tariffs and quotas, plus a baseline set of rules designed to make trade a little less painful and a little smoother than it otherwise would be. WTO provides a baseline for trade, but it is the absolute minimum that all rational countries seek to improve on. That’s why everyone’s trying to sign trade deals all the time.

‏In trade terms, WTO can be likened to fourth division football: it’s definitely a step up from a kickaround in the park using jerseys as goalposts, but it’s by no means a high standard. The whole point of trade deals is to improve on the basic terms offered by WTO.

Let’s talk about tariffs. WTO has an immensely complex schedule of tariffs, running into thousands of categories. Different products attract different tariffs. For example, under WTO, cars are subject to tariffs of 10%.

Tariffs are paid by importers, but of course they then pass those extra costs onto the consumer.

Right now, UK manufacturers can sell cars to the EU tariff free. But under WTO, those cars will be subject to 10% tariffs, effectively making UK-made cars 10% more expensive for EU consumers.

But all the major car manufacturers have manufacturing facilities elsewhere, including other EU countries. So if we’re reduced to trading on WTO terms, they’ll just shift production to the EU and avoid the 10% tariffs.

WTO gives us the right to control the tariffs on our imports, even reduce them to zero

if we want to. But that’s when the WTO “most favoured nation” rule kicks in.

“Most favoured nation” is possibly the most misleading expression ever, because what it really means is that *we* are not allowed to favour one nation over another in our WTO dealings.

So if for example if we are desperate for cabbages, we can set a tariff of 0% on them. That makes them cheaper, which stimulates demand and encourages more producers to send us their cabbages.

But we can’t set a tariff of 0% for just one country. If we decide to drop the tariff on cabbages to 0%, that becomes our new tariff for every country in the world. So we get flooded with cabbages from the cheapest producers on the planet.

That’s great if you love cabbages, but absolutely devastating if you’re a UK cabbage farmer.

You can’t have it both ways. Either you shelter behind tariffs to protect domestic producers, or you reduce them or cut them to zero to encourage cheap imports – and destroy your local industry in the process. The rules of WTO force that trade-off for every product sector.

But that’s only half the picture. We have no control over other countries’ import tariffs, i.e. the tariffs imposed on the things UK-based producers export to them. If we’re trading with them on WTO terms, both the EU non-EU countries will impose whatever tariffs the WTO demands.

Overnight, our exports will be more expensive. That, combined with the fact that we will no longer share common standards with the markets we export to (also covered by the treaties we will have lost) will make products manufactured in the UK significantly less competitive in the global market.

For instance, why would any overseas consumer buy a UK-made car if they can get exactly the same car from the EU or elsewhere at a lower cost?

But what if the EU were to drop their tariff on cars to 0%? That would help our car producers, because our cars would no longer incur tariffs.

However, “most favoured nation” would kick in. The EU would be forced to offer every country in the world 0% tariffs on cars. The idea is absurd. After all, the EU aren’t going to leave their domestic market unprotected just to help the UK. It would be completely irrational to expect them to.

So, in practice, trading on WTO terms will mean that everything we make in the UK will be more expensive for overseas consumers at a stroke. Some industries may be able to reduce their production costs to offset the tariffs; most will collapse.

And we will be faced with the impossible task of choosing product by product, industry by industry, which producers to protect by maintaining our own tariffs, and which to throw to the wolves by cutting or eliminating our tariffs.

If all of the above sounds grim, that’s because it is. There are no countries in the world that trade exclusively on WTO terms with other nations. None whatsoever.

Even North Korea has a couple of trade facilitation arrangements.

We will have none. Nothing at all. No country has ever torn up all its international arrangements before (quite frankly, none have been crazy enough to). So we will be in a very lonely, exclusive club.

So if somebody tells you the UK will be OK trading on WTO terms, they either:
A) Don’t understand what that means
B) Are lying to you

For example, Patrick Minford (of Economists for Brexit) is on record as stating that WTO would destroy the UK car industry, but that it would be a price worth paying for the freedom afforded by Brexit.

In other words, Brexiters see manufacturers as collateral damage, to be swept aside in pursuit of Brexit.

Perhaps you’re not so sanguine? Perhaps you would quite like the UK to keep manufacturing things?

In which case, you need to take heed of just how destructive, how damaging, trading on WTO terms would be.

Estimates for the likely damage range from 7%-10% of GDP. Even at the low end, that’s worse than the 2008 financial crash.

But unlike the crash, we’d be willingly inflicting the pain on ourselves.

And the ultimate end result would be the return of austerity, not for a few years, but for decades or generations to come.

WTO: just say no!

Edwin Hayward

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Epilepsy Research Virtual 10k

via Epilepsy Research Virtual 10k

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Epilepsy Research Virtual 10k

What is a Virtual Race?

Virtual running works exactly the same as any other type of running but the difference is that the entered race can be run at any location, at any pace, inside on a treadmill or outside in another country! All you have to do is enter a race and provide evidence that you have done it.

How Much Is It & How Can I Sign Up?

If you want to take part it will cost £10.00 and all proceeds will be going to Epilepsy Research UK.  Once you have provided evidence that you have completed the run I will either get the medal to you personally or send it in the post.

To sign up go to and donate £10.00 and in the message box just indicate it’s for the Virtual 10k.

Why Should I Sign-Up?

Well, for one thing, if you are new to running, it is a great way to stay motivated and build your confidence. Having a target, no matter how small, can be the difference between lacing up your trainers, or a night in watching TV in your pyjamas. Virtual races are especially good for people who live in remote areas, work unsociable hours, or have children or other commitments that mean they are unable to predict their windows for running, but who still want the thrill of some running bling.

Most importantly it will provide Epilepsy Research UK with much needed funds to help support and promotes basic and clinical scientific research into the causes, treatments and prevention of epilepsy.

Virtual 10k Medal

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Section 28 – A backward ideology.

It was 30 years ago today that Section 28 was enacted.  A piece of legislation that banned the promotion of homosexuality in the school place. In fact it went further than that; the teaching profession were not permitted to discuss or educate students about gay relationships. They could not promote the acceptability of homosexuality as a family relationship.

Let’s not be mistaken with regards to this legislation.  It was enacted by a Tory government that was obsessed with “traditional family values” and feared that teachers would teach students to be gay at a time when classrooms had 40+ students to a class and teachers struggled to teach them to read or write, never mind to be gay!

AIDS Dont die of ignorance 2

Iconic poster above a funeral directors.

Regardless of what politicians said in public, this was anti-gay legislation off the back of the HIV/AIDS stigmatisation, fueled by the rabid hatred of the gay community lead by the right-wing press and self-righteous, so-called Christian Tory MP’s and Peers.

Thankfully in 2003 this nasty piece of legislation was repealed and rightly so.  Something that as a Labour Party member I am proud of.

Many of today’s adults struggled with coming out during those 15 years.  Coming out was hard enough in the 80’s and 90’s but many gay men and woman had no one to turn to during their formative years.  Many teachers felt helpless when education, especially around safe-sex, failed many gay men and women.


I’d like to think that society has moved on from those dark days with many LGBTQ people living their lives open and honestly, but sadly for a large number, being gay has had a detrimental effect on what should have been a happy life. We can only hope that our children and grandchildren can be openly gay, bi or trans without fear or prejudice, but as long as we have bigots we will have hatred.

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Love More, Hate Less!

Last night the UK was the victim to another terrorist atrocity.  At 10.30pm last night the MEN in Manchester should have been filled with sound of ecstatic children and young adults revelling after being entertained by Ariana Grande, instead the night air was filled with screams, sirens and pandemonium.

This morning social media has been filled with both sorrow and rage and rightly so, but how that manifests is a different thing.

One post I read today… “We need to fight extreme religious beliefs and the bible says an eye for an eye” without any hint of irony.

Others suggesting that we should get out onto the streets and take the fight to “them”. And who are “them”, the Muslim taxi drivers who took the injured to hospital free of charge, to the Muslim doctor who treated those in need or the Muslim nurses that will be part of the victims recuperation.

Be angry by all means, but be sensible. These extremists want to divide and conquer, and as a nation we must stand together.Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 16.14.06



Today a nation mourns with Manchester, we are updated hourly with the number of fatalities, and even more sad is the news of those who had their lives prematurely taken away from them.

Without a doubt everyone with any sense of decency wants to see an end to these atrocities, but how that is achieved is a different matter.  I, like many others, wouldn’t know where to start but what I do know is that fighting fire with fire is futile, history has taught us that and sometimes jaw jaw is better than war war.

It’s time for us all to stop pointing the finger.  The KKK don’t speak for the vast majority of well meaning Christians in the same way that supporters of Daesh don’t speak for the vast majority of well meaning Muslims.  Stop listening to vile individuals like Katie Hopkins and Tommy Robinson, who go out of their way to incite hatred and brainwash the scared and vulnerable.MLK_loveilluminates_325

We should fight hatred with love and if that makes me sound like an old hippy then I’m happy with that, I’d rather be an old hippy wanting the best for all with a soft heart than an angry individual who becomes so absorbed in their own bile that they can’t see the woods for the trees.

I don’t expect everyone to see things my way, of course not, but I am happy to look in the mirror knowing that I don’t hold any prejudice towards other merely because of their faith.

Be vigilant, be brave but most importantly be kind.

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Where Did All The Running “Experts” Come From?

I only took up running in 2012 to see if I could, nothing more, nothing less.  I wanted to get fit so set myself a 4 month goal to run the Cardiff Half Marathon.

I asked my cousin, who had run a fair bit for advice and in all fairness he didn’t try to tell me what to do, but suggested that I should just gradually build it up at my own pace and to make sure I felt comfortable.

I did my first ever race in 2:14 and was just pleased that I completed it.  I didn’t
need “expert advice” or a “running mentor”, I kept it simple and basic.

guru-logoFour years on and right across the social media spectrum coaches, guru’s and experts are popping up left, right and centre offering training plans, dietary advice and access to a wealth of knowledge¹, but now more than ever this comes with a premium  £££££££.

I’ve even seen comments by so-called experts that criticise runners for being too slow; hardly the encouragement new runners want!

I’ve run a few marathons, a fair few half marathons and 10k’s but wouldn’t consider myself an “expert”, I barely recognise myself as a runner most of the time so it does concern me when I see so many people who are relatively new to running offering such services.

Just because I run a bit doesn’t make me an expert, in the same way that just because I can spot a badly made table doesn’t make me a carpenter!

I’m sure for most, their intentions are honest and genuine but I’m sure a minority are merely using their “expertise” as a cash cow.  I guess at the end of the day, if a Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 15.03.30runner wants to part with their hard earned money for information that is readily available for free online, then it is up to them.  As wise man once said “Who is more
foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?” 
(Obi-Wan Kenobi).

Personally I would rather listen to the experience of those runners who are humble about their running.  We all know runners who do marathons as as often as most us do 10k runs, those who take delight in running 50 miles across Brecon, because it may be fun and those who turn up at your club and give without expecting anything in return.

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I’m sure my personal observation will offend someone, it’s not meant to, it is exactly that,  a personal observation but I think as runners we should sometimes take a step back, look at how we are going about our running and maybe just get back to basics without over complicating things.

¹ In my opinion doing a few races over the last couple of years doesn’t equate to a wealth of knowledge.

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Runners Road to Recovery

12 months ago I was happily training for the London marathon, clocking up 18, 20, 24 miles with relative ease.

As with other marathons, a combination of nervousness and excitement made London even more special.

I had raised over £1,000 for the Trussell Trust and on the day I thought everything would


simply go to plan, and enjoyable race with a hopeful sub 4 hours time.

All was good until disaster struck at 13.5 miles when after stopping at a medical tent for pain killers for my groin, something in my hip popped. I couldn’t even put my foot down never mind try to go on very slowly, my marathon was over.

The following day I had an x-ray, with nothing showing and suspected tissue tear around the hip joint.


After 12 weeks of no weight bearing, high dosage of painkillers a new x-ray revealed a displaced fracture of the hip!

The following day I had surgery that left me with 2 screws through the hip joint plus a plate and 4 screw into my femur, but this was only the start!

After surgery a further 6 weeks of non weight bearing before I could even think about rehab.

I eventually started rehab in December 2016, 8 months after the original injury and this is where the hard work starts.

Rehab and physio was at my local hospital and was amazing. They knew exactly what I needed, they didn’t put time limits on it and encouraged me all the way.

6 weeks ago I had a go of the treadmill at physio for the 1st time. I managed 1,7km. It sounds nothing but for me it was amazing. Each week I would push it a little further to see if I felt any pain, but nothing.

1st park run

3 weeks ago my running club Caerphilly Runners took responsibility for Penallta Parkrun, I had set this as my target to return running. I’ve done a few marathons to date but finishing that Parkrun was right up there for emotion, considering I was
about to hang my trainers up for good in February.

I still have a long way to go and know that all my P.B.’s have been made. I have targeted the Caerphilly 10k for my first 10k race and the English Half Marathon as my first half in September.

Getting back has been a slow and long process, but I can now see light at the end of the tunnel. For others who suffer injury, whether small or large, you must learn to be patient and to have faith; not to rush things and believe in yourself. If I can get back to some sort of running then anyone can.

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Foodbanks – Britain’s Shame

Today was a bittersweet day!

In April of this year I raised over £1,000 for The Trussell Trust, as I fervently believe that people living in the 5th largest economy should not go without basic food.

My running club, Caerphilly Runners, has over the last couple of weeks been taking donations from our runners for our local foodbank in Caerphilly and I was pleased to be delivering a fairly large donation today knowing that it will go some way to help people and families within our community but all it did was convince me of some of the inequalities in our society.


What I saw today only emphasised today’s report by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation that reported that almost 4 million working people are living in poverty (Monitoring Poverty & Social Exclusion 2016) and whilst I was there I saw a number of people, not down and outs or ‘scroungers’ as portrayed by certain elements of the press and tv programmes, but people like me and people I know needing assistance and support to get them through a few days.

A number of factors are causing the current record need for foodbanks, and although government figures show high employment, salaries are stagnant, private rent is extortionate, benefits have been slashed and the building of social housing is almost non-existent.

These factors will see record numbers using foodbanks in December, as newly released figures reveal 45% increase in number of three day emergency food supplies provided by Trussell Trust foodbanks last December compared to the monthly average for 2015/16 financial year (Data from The Trussell Trust), this will no doubt be a larger figure this December.

I think it’s fair to say that most of society think that even the existence of foodbanks is a scandal and hope to see the day that they are no longer the norm but the exception, but I also think it’s fair to state that until we see wholesale socio-economic change, it will get worse before it gets better.





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Mumpreneur – One Mum’s Leap Into Self Employment

It’s not often that I read or hear a good life story but today I came across a new Tumblr page that belongs to a friend of over 15 years.

I wasn’t surprised at its content as I know that Mandy is a driven individual but I was pleasantly taken back by how she has combined being a busy mum of a toddler with launching her own business, all with the humour that most parents of young children can relate to.

As a new dad again, I know that I will be following the trials and tribulations contained in this new blog and hopefully it will inspire not just me but others.

To follow Mandy and her new adventure you can find her on Tumblr here >>>> mjlmumpreneur




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