Jonathan Jennings lives in Upper Brynamman, Carmarthenshire. He is a voluntary worker for Tenovus in Ammanford and works as a copywriter for Conservative Future's website. He is also a blood relative of film actor Michael York. His blog can be found here.
What made you decide to start blogging?
I decide to blog after reading Jo’s Journal. Although I do not agree with her politics, I was impressed with the production values of her site. This inspired me to create a Conservative equivalent, but it is only very recently that the presentation of my own domain has started to live up to my original vision. Even now though, the visual quality still falls short of the gold standard set by Jo’s work and I think the same shortcomings apply to all Tory blogs.
I got the name for my blog from former WWE superstar Ultimate Warrior’s eBay username!
What is your best blogging experience?
Although it is not strictly a blogging experience (I did though post the piece in question on my blog), I was delighted when Conservative Future published my article “Here Wii Go!” as its website’s headline feature.
And your worst?
I can honest say that I have always enjoyed my time blogging. Some times have been better than others have, but I have never had an experience while blogging that I would consider my “worst”. Blogging has a therapeutic effect on me as it has kept me sane!
What do you regard as your best blog entry?
It has to be “Here Wii Go!” I wrote it at the right time, on the right themes and in the right style. It made a favourable impact on the right people.
Some (apolitical) individuals commented to me that they did not like it because it made Nintendo’s Wii console seem a middle-of-the-road item, instead of a cutting-edge piece of innovation. Yet, I regard this complaint as my article’s greatest strength, as I wrote it with the aim to appeal to gaming novices. I had to make it seem safe for my fellow Tories and non-gamers alike to try out, considering all the lurid scare stories about videogames in the mainstream media. If I had written it to appeal to the gaming community, I would have used a different style of writing.
My favourite blog is Jo’s Journal for it’s production values, comic relief and because it does raise some interesting talking points that are ripe for some serious debate. However, the site has not evolved as much as it should have and it is in danger of beginning to stagnate. In spite of this development, Jo is still light-years ahead of every other political blogger on the planet in what service her domain provides readers.
My other favourites are Iain Dale’s Diary, Istanbul Tory, Mars Hill, Man in a Shed, Oliver Kamm, Theo Spark, A Very British Dude and Shotgun’s swearblog. Prague Tory’s blog also gets better with every passing day. Serf’s Road to EU Serfdom provides a valuable public service, but is very depressing to read because of the situation it is chronicling. The Devil’s Kitchen is very entertaining, but is a pig to load on-screen and Richard Lewis Communications is wonderful to read but rarely updated.
What inspired you to get involved in politics?
I suppose it is down to wanting to take control of my own life and not have decisions that affect me made by others without my input and consent. That and egotism!
I also in despair at both the incompetence and malevolence of our political representatives, whilst believing that I could do a better job than they can. Perhaps I can, but keep me out of 10 Downing Street, as this country would probably be at war with half the United Nations (laughs)!
Jo Salmon likened your behaviour to that of a guest of a house who is rude and insulting to it's owners. Do you ever feel you go too far in your language or attitude and do you feel that you might go further with people if you were more conciliatory?
Jo Salmon is a fine one to talk about rudeness considering the way she has treated some people by bullying and intimidating them at times. I also believe that Jo twists her arguments to fit whatever shape suits her at any given moment. Nothing personal, I am just telling it as it!
Political blogs are not an online extension of a person’s home, they are campaign tools designed with the aim of winning over hearts and minds to a particularly view. When you operate a political blog, particularly one with a comments section, you are going to be asked some tough, even hostile questions from both your readers and your political opponents. If you cannot handle that kind of fire, then you had better stay out of the blogging kitchen and politics altogether, because that is just how life, political life and real life works.
Let me tell you something Mr. Burgin. At my first university (which is incidentally how I personally became acquainted with Ms. Salmon), for the first two years I went out of way to be conciliatory to people. Even when I knew that I was in the right and others were in the wrong, I would always make the first move and reach out with the hand of reconciliation. What I did I get for my efforts? Nothing but grief from other less conscientious and unscrupulous individuals who took great pleasure in trying (and failing) to ruin my good reputation. After that experience, I no longer have any patience for patronising and insincere niceties.
I have always been very intense about everything in my life. I have a short attention span and I am always in a hurry to get on with life, so much so that I find it very hard to switch myself off at night (as Jo can testify to) because I suffer from life-long insomnia. For me, I have always had the philosophy that attack is the best form of defence because in the battle for hearts and minds, people are not going to rally behind the timid and the do not knows. There are times even now where I would like to be conciliatory, but I realise that this approach more often than not causes more problems than it solves. This is more so when you come against powerful heavyweight personalities such as Jo Salmon, George Galloway, Gordon Brown and John Reid who will not hesitate to skin you alive on a point of argument given half-a-chance.
George Galloway encounter. What happened there?
Where do I begin?
It happened when he was invited to speak at student society’s meeting when I was a postgraduate at Swansea. I wanted to humble him and deflate his swelling ego after his propaganda triumph in Washington D.C. a short time earlier. I do not like the way he treats people and threatens them with legal action just for telling the truth about him and his activities. Let us just say I caught him off-guard with my attacks on him, called his legal bluff before he had a chance to use it and broke his spell over the 300-strong crowd. The details are covered in most of my early blog posts.
To be fair to Galloway, although he gave me a look like that suggested he wanted to repeatedly stab me with a dagger, and threw a few rather pathetic insults at me, such as “Rumpole”, he took his medicine like a man. I respect Galloway’s abilities as an orator and political performer, but he has used his talents for ill rather than good. I also was not intimidated by the man as during my life, I have had to face and stand up to some of the toughest, meanest and most formidable individuals around. If I had the guts and moral authority to stand up to my first university’s Pro-Vice Chancellor by comparing to Hermann Goring to his face, then there was no way George Galloway was going to frighten me.
Is there anywhere abroad that you have not been to, that you would like to visit?
Auschwitz, Canada, Israel, the United States, heaven (laughs)!
The two countries that I would like to visit the most are Japan and North Korea. I would love to visit Japan to experience its cultural heritage, visit the Tokyo Nippon Budokan to watch Pro-Wrestling NOAH’s live events and purchase some rare and uncommon videogame consoles and titles. I would really like to enrol on the JET programme and when I can afford it, I need to get a passport. I am often told that I should become a teacher, but it just does not appeal to me. It was hard enough going through the school system as a pupil and I have no desire to go back to it as a teacher, particularly as the children now wield more power in the classroom than staff. Things are different though Japan, because the children there are polite and respectful towards their elders. More importantly, these children actually want to learn and value their education.
As a historian, would-be politician and connoisseur of eccentricity, I very interested about North Korea and it’s communist regime. I suppose this interest can be put down to curiosity more than anything else.
I don’t suppose you could have a word with Iain Dale about my becoming a far-eastern correspondent for 18 Doughty Street? (Laughs)
Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?
I have only ever visited one foreign nation in my life (what an insular person I am – I have not even visit Scotland and Ulster). I have no desire to revisit Saudi Arabia given the current security situation both within the kingdom and the wider region.
If I was to return to the kingdom and I was captured by an Al-Qaeda terrorist cell, I would never give them the satisfaction of spouting their propaganda on a videotape to the West in exchange for my life. They are going to kill me anyway, so I would rather die for what I believe in as a martyr for Christ and liberty.
Who, excluding the present leader, do you regard as the best Conservative Party leader, and if different, the best Prime Minister?
The Blessed Margaret Thatcher!
With all due respect to Sir Winston Churchill, the Blessed Margaret was the better politician, the better political leader and the better human being as well since Churchill was gassing Iraqi Kurds long before Saddam Hussein was born.
Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?
This may come as a bit of a shock, but it is Sir John Major. While I was on a visit to Saudi Arabia, I had the opportunity to play Sim City 2000 on my now-estranged father’s personal computer. Playing it helped me to appreciate better how difficult it is to run a small city, let alone a nation. I find it astonishing that despite his later-disclosed character flaws, just how ungrateful British public and political opinion across the ideological spectrum has been to Major’s efforts and achievements. He spent eight years of his political career cleaning up the economic mess made by Nigel Lawson, and instead of being remembered as the man that conquered original stealth tax of high inflation and handing over an economy to Gordon Brown that had already enjoyed five years of continually-improving prosperity, what is he actually remembered most for?
Sleaze, or to be more exact, the personal and political misconduct of those on the outer rim of public office. True, there were what proved to be temporary and in hindsight rather minor blips such as Black Wednesday, the usual u-turns that almost all governments perform over unpopular policies and the lingering aftermath of the Blessed Margaret’s fall from office and the legacy of her political dominance. Major inherited an impossible situation, yet when you consider that he won a general election that nearly everyone thought he was going to lose and got the country back into economic shape despite the myriad of problems that plagued him almost non-stop, he was a bloody miracle worker.
Forgot the headlines, the adverse media coverage and the public mood. Look at his promises and what he accomplished. If you do, I think you will find that the record of his second government (1992 to 1997) is one of the very finest in British political history.
Going back to the issue of sleaze, I mentioned that it tended to occur on the outer rim of public office during Major’s premiership. Compare that scandal, to the political and personal sleaze stories about New Labour during the past decade. New Labour is rotten to the core, from Blair downwards. The scale of Blair and New Labour’s corruption puts even Richard Nixon to shame.
Favourite Bond movie?
A bit of a tough question, but I would have to go with The Living Daylights.
Favourite Doctor Who?
Another tough question. I would have to say David Tennant.
Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?
I take it that you are talking about ice cream. I not really into eating ice cream. My favourite ice cream is a Walls Strawberry Cornetto, but if I had to choose between chocolate, vanilla or mint, it would have to be chocolate.
Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?
I am not really into music, but I would most like to see Fuel. I would also like to see Fozzy again.
In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics...?
Favourite national newspaper?
I do not really have a favourite national newspaper, but do enjoy reading The Independent just to see what outrageous things columnist Johann Hari writes each time.
What would you say your hobbies were?
I am a very boring person, maybe the most boring one on the blogosphere. I like to read, to write, going on long walks, collecting things like books and videogames. I also like to take part in pub quizzes (though I never, ever drink alcohol); watch feature films and professional wrestling and playing videogames.
In addition, what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?
My three favourite songs are “Won’t Back Down” by Fuel, “Headstrong” by Trapt and “Same Old Song” by Pain.
My three favourite books are all autobiographies; “Growing Pains” by Billie Piper, “It’s True! It’s True!” by Kurt Angle and “I’m Next” by Bill Goldberg.