In Cardiff political photography largely constitutes the work of Assembly Ministers, press conferences, photocalls and activists on the steps of the Senedd.
There are visits from high profile political figures when campaigning or lobbying around the country. There was 2014’s exceptional NATO summit meeting of World leaders. But it’s unusual for the city to host UK leaders from each nation at once. This week it did just that for Brexit talks at Cardiff City Hall.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May chaired the Brexit meeting alongside other representatives from Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
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Protesters voiced and showed their disapproval of Mrs May during the meeting and as she left, for what they viewed as complicity with new US President Donald Trump. His brief reign to date has already seen much controversy. Immigration orders effectively banning those from certain countries has caused an extreme reaction across the world.
In the evening of the same day, Monday January 30th 2017, Cardiff was one of around 35 UK towns and cities to stage a demonstration against President Trump and his new travel policies. Peaking at around 1000 people, this was comfortably the largest attendance for any protest or demonstration I’ve witnessed in the city centre. On a drizzly dank evening in late January it reflected a strength of antipathy towards the current leaders of the US and the UK which is virtually unprecedented in my lifetime.
These feel like dangerous, divisive and unpredictable times wherever you are. It’s easy to think that the most visible and audible represent the majority, especially online. But this isn’t always the case. There is the echo phenomenon of hearing and reading views we know we will agree with.
A small protest outside Cardiff Castle on the day of President Trump’s inauguration saw one heckler pass on the street opposite. It was pantomime-villainesque perfection. As he walked in front of a bridal store with a big heart in the window, he almost appeared to be a caricature. But whether this was a calculated act or merely an opportunistic act of antagonistic drunken mischief, I suppose we’ll never know.
What is clear is that Trump has supporters. He wouldn’t have won the election if he didn’t, even though more people did vote for Hillary Clinton. Potentially more worrying is the large segment of wavering people who are unsure who to side with.
There are more ambivalent people who aren’t all that engaged with the news and politics. They know something is happening but it’s safest to keep out of it, easiest not to know too much, venture an opinion or depress yourself by watching the news. It could be argued that in a precariously volatile time it is those swayable people who hold the most power.
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