Saturday 24 January 2015

Saturday Interview: Glyn Matthews

Glyn Matthews is a Socialist Party activist and former blogger from Cardiff. When he's not discharging parental responsibilities he can be found doing party work on the high street of the Welsh capital and relaxing with a few bouts of pro-wrestling. Glyn's old blog is Everyone's Favourite Comrade and he tweets from here.

Why did you decide to give blogging a go?

I used to have a lot of free time on my hands and a lot of opinions. I would get into loads of lengthy Facebook discussions that were simply lost within a few days. I was also returning to full-time education as a mature student so it just seemed like an obvious thing to do. Both to rant and to get back into the swing of writing seriously.

Have you got a best blogging experience?

I was short listed for the best welsh political blog award a few years back. I went to an award ceremony for it but to be honest it wasn't that great.

... and any blogging advice for new starters?

I think the key to any blogger is finding a niche or several niches, knowing what you write about and who to promote it.

I think a key is also to put the time in put have a good layout for the blog as well as this is much more likely to get people to read and come back again.

Do you also find social media useful for activist-y things?

I think this is very difficult to answer. I think it can be useful in many ways such as the very speedy disemination of information to counter the mass media or to organise urgent events such as counter demonstrations against neo-fascists.

However I also think there are alot of dangers for activists in social media as well. The idea that it can play as much of a role as real world activism and the sometimes undemocratic nature of online activism.

I think the real answer is as much as other mediums for activists. Use it how you can but be aware of its limitations.

Why did you give it up?

I didn't - Obviously my blog hasnt been updated for years now but it is more of an issue of time. I have two kids. One who is four is on the autistic spectrum and one who is 18 months. So along with this and working 12.5 hour shifts I just cant find the time so I would say that I am a lapsed blogger with a pending return in the future. I suppose the short answer is simple time constraints though.

Are there any blogs or other politics/comments websites you regularly follow?

A few every know and then. Yours is one of them.

Are you reading anything at the moment?

I am cuttently reading through the Game of Thrones series.

Do you have a favourite novel?

Jennifer Government by Max Barry - I would encourage anyone who has not read it to do so. I would describe it as a cross between 1984 and Brave New World, but set in the modern world

Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major influence on how you think about the world?

I would have to name two.

1. Liverpool - A city that dared to fight by Peter Taaffe and Tony Mulhearn
Undoubtedly many reading this will consider this a partisan answer but a lot of people tend to forget what it is about. I read it as a 17 or 18 year old kid angry at how corrupt the whole world was; that oil meant more than blood, that power corrupts everyone. This book shaped me a lot it showed a real example of people prepared to fight back. Regardless of your opinion on the legscy you cannot deny that.

2. Rebel Sell by Joseph Heath snd Andrew Potter a great book which argues well that counter culture is not rebellion.

Who are your biggest intellectual influences?

Well I guess I would have to answer the general body of works stemming from Marx, Engels, Lenin & Trotsky right down to the ideas of the CWI today with a few notable mentions along the way.

What was the last film you saw?

The Purge - interesting but a bit weird

How many political organisations have you been a member of?

I joined the Socialist Party when I was 17 and I am still a member today. Any other organiaation I have been a memver of along the way stemmed drom being a member of the Socialist Party.

Can you name an idea or an issue on which you've changed your mind?

There are two things that come to my mind instantly and I think I have to mention both of them.

I remember when I was around 13/14 it was around the time of the invasion of Kosovo and I was just beginning to think about the world around me. The only information I took was from the BBC and ITV news coverage but I instantly took the side of the KLA, and as a result I felt close towards Welsh nationalism for a few years but have moved far from that now.

The other change is much more recent. Since I have had children my attitude towards parenting has changed significantly in case anyone is wondering if this is a political issue.

What set of ideas do you think it most important to disseminate?

What set of ideas do you think it most important to combat?

I think it makes sense to answer these questions together because it cause and effrct. I think that it is important to show there is an alternative to austerity, that the capitalist sysyem caused the crisis and blaming benefit claimants or immigrants is a distraction from this. Easier said than done.

Who are your political heroes?

I am really not a fan of politicsl heroes at all. I think it an anathema to everything I believe. I think its all about a body of ideas devloped over time. Some people would assume I would say someone like Dave Nellist and of course I respect him and his integrity but he would never have been in that postion without the body of ideas that came before and around him or by the background work by 'unknown comrades'.

If I was pressed to name someone though I guess I would have to say the late Andrew Price. Known well in the trade union field, I first met Andrew when I was 16 as one of his students. He first introduced me to Marxism. I got to know him better when I joined the Socialist Party and was inspired by the clarity of ideas to his friends and comrades and determination to defeat his class enemies all whilst dealing with paralysis of one side of his body. This made him stand out as an inspiring figure.

How about political villains?

Same as the last question really it is not about individuals but if I had to name one it would have to be Tony Blair: he was the villian during my political awakening

What do you think is the most pressing political task of the day?

The crisis of working class political representation

If you could affect a major policy change, what would it be?

A very difficult question for any activist but I guess I would have to say to stop and reverse all privatisation of NHS services. It genuinely scares me as to where that could lead us to in the future and if we would have the same access to healthcare as we do today.

What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world?

I could write a whole essay here and still only scratch the surface so I will just say imperialism.

What would be your most important piece of advice about life?

Probably best to ask someone else

What is your favourite song?

Yapolitical by Pink Punk. It is definately not everyones cup of tea but I love it.

Do you have a favourite video game?

Any of the Grand Theft Auto games

What do you consider the most important personal quality in others?

I guess the correct answer would be human compassion but I am not gonna lie, I'm definitely thinking a good sense of humour.

What personal fault in others do you most dislike?


What, if anything, do you worry about?

The future

And any pet peeves?

Celebrity culture

What piece of advice would you give to your much younger self?

Apply yourself you lazy shit. You might regret it if you don't.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I dont have a lot but I enjoying cooking, which I've only really started doing since having kids and when there is spare time I like to read.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

I am a big Pro Wrestling fan and I think that defines a guilty pleasure for a Marxist. I cannot think if something less Marxist-like.

What talent would you most like to have?

I would love to be able to play a musical instrument of some kind. Tried it but I am just not musical.

Either that or the ability to fly.

If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true - apart from getting loads of money - what would you wish for?

We are realists we demand the impossible. - A classless society.

Speaking of cash, how, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly
to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money?

Massively. I would buy a house, share cash out to people around me who are strapped for cash. Depending how much money it was I would quit my job and never work again and finally have time to start blogging again. Why, are you thinking of naming me in your will?

If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be?

Leon Trotsky, Beethoven, & Paul Hunt

And finally ... what do you think will be the outcome of the election in May?

I think that be it a majority or some kind of coalition it is likely to be a Tory government.

I think its probably time to say farewell to the Lib Dems.