Parliamentary democracy reigns supreme

Brexit

For many news outlets, the headline news was that Theresa May had lost her first Commons vote as Prime Minister.

Just 12 of her MPs was all it took to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, such are the perils of running a government without a parliamentary majority.

But for me, today was not so much about a weak prime minister losing a crucial vote, but instead about the very essence of parliamentary democracy.

Almost uniquely amongst Leave voters, it seems, I am delighted that Dominic Grieve’s amendment was passed.

After all, I voted for a departure, not a destination. I voted to leave the EU, not on any future relationship we may have with them after 29 March, 2019.

The EU has become so bloated it affects so many areas of our life that the idea we can simply walk away, or grudgingly accept a bad deal, is madness.

I don’t want that deal to be decided upon by a handful of ministers and civil servants alone.

Our parliamentary democracy means we elect members of parliament to speak and vote for us on important issues. Very few issues will be as important over the coming years as the withdrawal agreement.

Our MPs, our democratically elected representatives, must have the opportunity to scrutinise and debate any deal with Brussels before it is finalised. And if it is a bad deal, they must have the power to veto it.

After all, that’s what parliamentary democracy is all about.

And, while I would prefer to be able to have a direct say on the deal in a referendum, tonight we saw MPs guaranteeing the next best thing. 

Parliament has taken back control. Isn’t that what we voted Leave for on 23 June?

#CC17: 12 Days to Christmas

After I scraped the ice off of my car yesterday – having to use brute force to open the door which had unhelpfully frozen shut – and sat shivering in the driver’s seat, my dashboard helpfully warned me that it was -2°.

Whilst it is expected to warm up a little today, it still cannot be denied that it is cold outside. Cold. Very cold. Too cold.

And whilst the thought of putting another 50p in the meter and feeding the bloated energy giants may not be appealing, you can always rely on Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé to provide some warmth.

I’m supporting Bipolar UK this Christmas

Bipolar UK

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another
~ Charles Dickens

Christmas is about giving.

Sure, it’s nice to receive presents from your loved (and not-so-loved) ones, but nothing beats the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you brighten someone else’s day with a meaningful gift.

But while we fret about chocolates and jewellery, tinsel and turkeys, it is important to remember that for many people, Christmas can be anything but a joyful time of year.

I may not have much in this world, but I have always sought to ensure my Christmas helps others in need.

So, every year, I buy my Christmas cards from a charity supporting those who may be experiencing a lonely, sad or empty Christmas. The profits then go to helping those who need support both at Christmas and throughout the year.

In recent years, my charity of choice has invariably been the Royal British Legion, for reasons which are, perhaps, obvious.

This year, however, I have decided to support a different good cause.

This year, I am supporting Bipolar UK.

Bipolar disorder is a frightening illness which is seen in between an estimated 1% and 2% of the population. Whilst the highs and lows can be equally as distressing, the extreme lows caused by bipolar mean those who suffer are much more likely to take their own lives.

Bipolar increases the risk of suicide 20 times.

For many people with bipolar – and their families and friends – Christmas will be anything but merry. But Bipolar UK are here to help.

Every year, Bipolar UK support 80,000 individuals through a dedicated support line, network of support groups and more.

For the year ending 31 March 2016, Bipolar UK spent £825,313 (82% of its expenditure) on activities supporting both those with bipolar and their friends, families and work colleagues.

I know that the purchase of a handful of Christmas cards is not exactly a grand gesture. But, as someone with a diagnosis of Bipolar II, I also know how important support is to people in times of crisis.

That’s why every Christmas card I send this year will go some way to providing that support where it is needed the most.

If you would like to support the vital work of Bipolar UK, you can make a donation here.

The World Cup groups have been drawn

World Cup Draw

The group stage draw for the World Cup took place this afternoon – and it includes a tantalising draw for England.

The only home nation heading to Russia in the summer have been drawn in Group G, with an opening game against Tunisia. They will then play Panama and finish the group facing off against fellow Europeans Belgium.

If England progress pass the group stage – which shouldn’t be impossible with this draw – they could end up playing Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan in the first knockout round.

The European Champions Portugal will play their first game against former European and World Champions – and their close neighbours – Spain, while current World Champions Germany start their World Cup campaign against Mexico.

The full draw is below, and will be updated with the dates and times of each group stage tie shortly.

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#CC17 – Countdown to Christmas 2017

12 days. 12 videos. But only one Countdown to Christmas!

It’s that time of year again when I bring you the best of YouTube to countdown to the most wonderful day of the year.

As always, the Countdown will start on 13 December, so check back then for some festive treats in English, Catalan and more!

For now, as the season is well and truly upon us, I’ll leave you with this gem from last year’s Countdown.