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Showing posts from 2020

Celebrating familiarity in an abnormal year

Oti Mabuse and Bill Bailey won Strictly Come Dancing 2020 (Image: The Telegraph) 2020 has been a huge test for the world. All of us had to change how we lived in order to help combat Covid-19, an illness that is remains a mystery to this day. It's easy to say that 2020 was a nightmare, but the only way for us to fondly remember 2021 (this time next year) is to ensure we do our bit to relegate the virus to insignificance. I'll look forward to the day when I can have the vaccine, for example, as we hope it reduces the rate of infection to the point where we can start travelling without wearing a face covering, attending the theatre, cinema or sports arena and see our loved ones in homes and restaurants without fear. Enough of me sounding like a government press release - every year, I award a 'Person of the Year', like TIME Magazine. This year, the magazine awarded its award to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris , who from 20th January 2021 will be the new President and Vice-Pr

Less of the chummy please, Prime Minister

Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson (Image: Euronews) There is a phase that always makes my blood boil; "It's not what you know, it's who you know." I absolutely hate it because it is common practice in many industries, including the one I work in. When I first stepped into the public relations (PR) arena, I was often told that I'd have to know someone influential in the field in order to be considered for a foot on the ladder, or at least have a contact book full of journalists.  Even now, many organisations looking for PR professionals require future candidates to have people of influence they can have on speed dial. Many employers aren't looking for you, they're looking for your phone. It's a culture that's gotten on my nerves for years, but I appreciate that the buck starts with the people in power, which therefore other sectors echo. Up until recently, there was never an active buzzword to truly describe the scenarios I describe above. It is only

Britain, time to tackle Covid-19 together

Front to back: Boris Johnson and Mark Drakeford (Image: WalesOnline) Just under a year ago, Boris Johnson's Conservative Party won the general election with a big majority. When I reacted to it , I knew that the government shouldn't get too comfortable. While the Tories emerged comfortably victorious, the country was still divided and nervous about the nature of the UK's relationship with the European Union post-Brexit. Nearly 12 months have passed and I must say, I'm disappointed. While I appreciate the challenge the government is currently facing, one which nobody anticipated this time last year, Johnson and his team could have used the Covid-19 pandemic to actually heal a nation and allowed closer collaboration with Europe to combat this disease. But the opposite happened and the Prime Minister has completely lost control of the country's state. As a proud Welshman living in England for almost seven-and-a-half-years, I have never felt like a foreigner until now.

Time to reignite UK's long battle on drugs

Gone To Pot: American Road Trip; recent ITV show (Image: The Times) I am convinced one of the most contacted companies out there is Ofcom. The media regulator is often inundated with complaints about content provided by British broadcasters. More than 24,000 people complained to the organisation about ITV's Britain's Got Talent airing dance group Diversity's Black Lives Matter protest routine. The same show also received hundreds of complaints because of what judge Amanda Holden was wearing . And shock, horror, Coronation Street attracted controversy when viewers called the soap out for characters not wearing their face masks properly . These complaints I mentioned were made in the past few short weeks, and collectively almost level the number of complaints Ofcom received in 2019 . The regulator is obligated to respond to these, depending on how much of a headache they're causing. The biggest culprits, arguably, are reality and talent shows - I mentioned Britain's

A firm message to bosses: don't change things for the sake of it

From L-R: Matt Dawson, Sue Barker and Phil Tufnell (Image: Radio Times) If there's anything we've learnt over the past six months is to not take our so-called 'healthy job status' for granted. As the lockdown has resulted in companies not receiving enough income to survive and the government's furlough scheme falling short in helping struggling businesses, unemployment rate has increased to 4.1 percent from 3.9 percent in July. Meanwhile, 2.7 million are claiming benefits (August 2020), a 120 percent increase from March. Soon, we'll find out the greater picture of how the pandemic has impacted people's economics once new figures are released in October and November. But I'm not going to dwell on people losing their jobs which was deemed, sadly, inevitable. I'm going deeper into those who have lost their perfectly safe jobs; those who have done nothing wrong apart from the fact that their bosses decide a change of personnel is needed, and today. I w

The future of our young people has never looked so uncertain

Gavin Williamson (R) with Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Image: TES) In 2015, I argued that a Conservative government would never find a way to woo young people when they were excluded in key investment announcements and cut life-saving services . Fast forward five years and the Tories continue to find ways to really peeve off our youth.  What has the government done this time? In my eyes, the ministers are guilty for trying so hard to say to students that they're on their side, to then achieve the total opposite. When the Covid-19 pandemic began, it was clear that the health and education systems were to be severely tested. Thankfully, for the time being, the NHS has gone through the past six months without feeling overwhelmed or in a position of collapse. Of course, the Health Service faces challenges over the coming months, with a possible second spike of Covid-19 cases, an expected backlog of mental health and cancer referrals and the start of flu season, which killed more th

The chance to dodge the career assassination bullet

  L-R, Ellen DeGeneres; Prince Harry and Meghan Markle; Lachlan, Rupert and James Murdoch The concept of a celebrity career assassination isn't new, and when they happen, it shocks the masses. However, unlike the general definition of an assassination - that they happen in a flash - those that include the livelihoods of household names are tortuous. Thanks to social media and the 24/7 news cycle, you'll never hear the end of the downfall of the rich and famous, and there is little that the individual(s) involved can do to stop it. Over the past few weeks, we've seen three highly influential figure that have seen big exposures with their names written all over it - but are they to blame, or is this the classic case of 'death by association'? The three I'll profile here in this instance are Rupert Murdoch, Meghan Markle and Ellen DeGeneres. In the case of Rupert, no matter how many times people have tried to assassinate his career, the Aussie remains one of the m

Celebrate thinking differently to our heroes

JK Rowling (Image: W Magazine) How would I feel if I discovered Michael Parkinson supported the UK to leave the European Union? How would I feel if I discovered Jeff Stelling worshipped Nigel Farage? And how would I feel if I discovered Carol Vorderman wanted people to 'go back to where they came from'? I've chosen these hypothetical questions for a reason, as I put three individuals I've admired most of my life against issues I fundamentally disagree with. I ask these so I am able to picture the predicament those are finding themselves in at the moment. JK Rowling, creator of Harry Potter and considered a hero to many, has been absolutely vilified by some who once idolised her - purely on the basis that she has contentious views on a debate which is anything but straightforward. The debate was on specific issues around the transgender community, something that will be discussed time and time again. I don't want to dwell so much into the transgender debat

Integrate society to prevent deaths of the innocent

Black Lives Matter protest after death of George Floyd (Image: AS English - Diario AS) While the world should be prioritising on defeating coronavirus, racism returns with a vengeance to dominate global headlines and cripple communities. The shocking death of George Floyd , in the hands (or knees in this instance) of a police officer on 25th May, has provoked widespread anger and demands of justice - justifiably. The anger has come in the form of riots at large US cities such as Minneapolis , the city where Floyd passed away, as well as protests across the country, and abroad ; London, Berlin among other places expressing solidarity. Social distancing rules have been thrown out of the window in place of a collective showcase of anguish. The fact that this is a racially aggravated murder cannot be overlooked. Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 note to purchase food, a relatively minor crime in retrospect. Pleading his innocence to police officers, instead of being gi

Coronavirus exposes Britain's independence struggles

Boris Johnson with Nicola Sturgeon (Image: The Herald) If you look at the situation in most countries around the world, coronavirus (Covid-19) is largely controlled and a sense of normality is returning (with some magic social distancing sawdust sprinkled on top). In Germany and South Korea, football is back, followed by other countries over the coming weeks. Across the Mediterranean, borders are opening so people can consider going on holiday without needing to quarantine afterwards. And China has opened its factories once more. Of course, the virus is still around and, as I write this, the Americas, as well as parts of Asia and Africa are suffering pretty badly, notably the United States and Brazil . Another country that is still enduring this virus to a catastrophic effect is the UK. The country has been in an official lockdown since mid-March, and while there are some signs of a decrease in the daily number of cases and deaths, plans for the next steps are proving to b

In a crisis, every country needs a Merkel

Merkel at the front centre, as she has been in global politics for nearly 15 years (Image: Express & Star) By the end of next year, Angela Merkel will no longer be Chancellor of Germany, and I'll be one of many who will be genuinely sad to see her go. In 15 years as the biggest cheese in European politics, Merkel has almost single-handedly taken over the role as Leader of the Free World, which I argued was up for grabs in 2018 . It is difficult to deny her influence on the world stage and by her departing from it, will leave a big hole in global politics. Merkel has been Chancellor since 2005 and led her Party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to four general elections wins (federal elections, as they're called in Germany). Certainly, she had to rely on other parties to form a majority government, but it was always 'Mutti', as she is affectionately known (translated, 'mummy'), who would wear the trousers. Merkel is often trusted to lead the

Giving thanks to Corbyn for introducing Starmer

Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer (Image: I would like to start this article by expressing my delight when I heard that Sir Keir Starmer won the Labour leadership election. He was somebody who I voted for and, as I argued in January, him working with Angela Rayner as his Deputy will work wonders. They've been close colleagues over the past few years, both have respect for each other and they also have respect across the broad church Labour has developed. Starmer's leadership is at its infancy as I write this, but he couldn't have received a warmer welcome . When the result was announced, you could sense the delight and relief from previously disengaged members and Labour politicians. His shadow cabinet appointments went down really well too. 'Hurray, we have adults instead of children in Labour's front bench again,' I read many social media posts state. 'Rejoice, the Tories have a proper opposition,' cry out political commentator