[sticky entry] Sticky: Introduction & Comment policy

Friday, May 21st, 2010 12:17 am
miss_s_b: (Self: Profile)
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miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
Ryan Coetzee has written an article in the Grauniad in which he details why he thinks we did so badly in the elections. Perhaps unsurprisingly his answer isn't "hanging on the every word of an overpaid soothsayer who sold us a pup of a slogan". You will be likewise be unsurprised I have some disagreements with his conclusions.
About four weeks from election day it became clear that The Fear was hurting us. We tried everything we could to counter it: fear of a Tory minority government in hock to its own right wing, Ukip and the DUP; fear of Tory cuts to welfare, schools and other unprotected departments; ruling out participation in any government that relied on SNP support; offering ourselves as the only guarantors of a stable coalition. All of it was trumped by The Fear, and on a scale we didn’t see coming.
Yes, we tried every other form of fear we could think of. But we didn't try hope.
We made a coherent, liberal case to the voters...
No we bloody didn't because you told us not to. We were the rizla trying to slip between the tories and labour, and those who wanted the "tory" value of strong economy voted tory, and those who wanted the "labour" value of fair society voted labour.
...offering both a strong economy and a fair society.
SEFS is and always was a total bag of arse. It fails the standard test (who would campaign for a weaker economy and a less fair society?) and it's meaningless bollocks. Ask the average voter what they thought of it and they'll shrug and go "it's all right". It's not distinctively liberal. It's Rizla-slipping in slogan form.
My tentative conclusion is that it is probably not possible to succeed electorally in coalition government under first-past-the-post while remaining equidistant from the two big parties. If we can’t win the fight for proportional representation, it may be that we have either to stay in opposition or pick a side.
We are NEVER going to succeed by aligning ourselves ANYWHERE on the left right axis because it's already crowded. We need to persuade people that the axis that matters is the Liberal authortarian axis because we bloody own it.
There are three options for the party now: remain in opposition unless we can change the electoral system, even if a coalition opportunity presents itself again, allowing us to be whichever version of our liberal selves we like; seek once more to reunite the left by merging or aligning with Labour, thereby creating a path to power for liberal ideas; or rebuild, take the next chance to be in government, and do it differently in the hope of a different outcome.
Does it have to be us that changes the electoral system? I don't care who does it, as long as it gets done, and there's a LOT of pressure for it now. And once that happens, all bets are off.

Look, clearly Ryan wins the argument from authority here, because the party pays him an awful lot of money to do what he does, and the party doesn't pay me anything anymore because I got made redundant, there being no funding left for my job now we have been massacred. So you can dismiss this as bitterness if you like. But I think people will vote Liberal Democrat if we give people a reason to vote FOR US. And "we're a bit less profligate than Labour, and a bit less heartless than the tories" isn't a reason to vote for us, it's entirely negative. Until some overpaid soothsayer comes up with something the voters can latch onto that's distinctly us, we're screwed.

Of course, up until 2010 we had "you can trust them to do what they say", and look how well THAT'S going now...
miss_s_b: (Politics: Goth Lib Dems)
So of course all the actual goths are hiding. They wouldn't want to be associated with something so mainstream as World Goth Day.

I (who, of course, am not a goth in the slightest) am working my way through my Hugo packet*. I am now decided how I am going to vote in 13 of 17 categories. The Graphic novels this year have some really, REALLY awesome stuff in - two of the four I've read have made me want to engage with anything else in the series. I need to read the rest of the novels to see if anything can beat Ann Leckie. And I've committed a heresy against my Whovian religion by deciding that the Orphan Black episode nominated is better than the Doctor Who episode nominated (I really didn't like Listen).

Who all else here is Hugo Voting? What have you really loved (or really hated) so far in what you've read/seen?

a million thank yous to Mary Robinette Kowal, without whom I would not have a Hugos packet. I will totally buy at least one of your books and read it as soon as I have a job again.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
- he's a gut liberal. More than that: he's a heart and soul liberal.
- he's a passionate and inspirational speaker, and we need passion and inspiration right now.
- he recognises his fallibility and owns his mistakes.
- he seeks advice on subjects he is not expert in rather than bluffing.
- I have seen him change and learn; every time I have seen this happen he has been consistently, instinctively Liberal about how he applies new information.
- he knows how the party works both structurally and culturally, and his time as president shows how well he connects with the wider membership.
- he upsets the Daily Express.
- he supports a Yorkshire parliament.

At the beginning of all this I was determined to stay neutral, and weigh things up as the campaign went on, and give each candidate a fair hearing... I like Norman Lamb, I really do. His work on mental health in particular has real personal value to me. BUT he doesn't have some of the qualities that I think our leader needs right now. Don't get me wrong, whoever wins we will have a capable leader whom I will support; but right now I think it's Time For Tim.
miss_s_b: DCI Gill Murray looking disapprovingly at her phone (mood: not important)
Those of you who know my allergies will know that I can't have chocolate. What you may or may not know is that my chocolate allergy is racist. Whatever it is about chocolate I'm allergic to is in the brown bits. I can eat WHITE chocolate til it comes out of my ears. It's very annoying, even apart from the fact that I abhor racism and all it's workings, because of course most of the depth of flavour and things are in the brown bits, and white chocolate is mostly just fat and sugar.

Anyway, having tried all the white chocolate I can (tesco own brand is horrid, Sainsbury's is yummy, Green & Blacks is OK, Montezuma's is AMAZING) I just have a couple of questions:

1, who is Mr Ritter?
2, what sport did he play?
3, why is his white chocolate with whole hazelnuts in it so yummy?
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
Prompted by this article on the BBC news website and the ensuing discussion on twitter.

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 14

What book would you swear your Oath on?

View Answers

On Liberty
4 (28.6%)

The European Convention on Human Rights
5 (35.7%)

A traditional religious text (Koran, Bible, etc.)
1 (7.1%)

A less Traditional religious text (Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Principia Discordia, etc.)
1 (7.1%)

Something Else which I shall detail in the comments
3 (21.4%)

I'm not sure what the rules are for courts, these days. I suspect they're a bit more stringent than parliament. I know most courts let you choose a religious text if you are going to swear by almighty God to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God, but I don't know if you get a book to hold if you're affirming, or what they do with people from polytheistic faiths... Google gives me an article about the situation in Norn Iron and a .pdf of what happens in courts martial, but nothing concrete on English law other than lots of people saying it needs reforming...
miss_s_b: (Default)
... or, indeed, read the books. Trigger warnings for much of what is under the cut.

Spoilery McSpoilerpants )

I'm genuinely interested in why this particular instance has been the straw that broke the camel's back for so many, including geek girl website the Mary Sue.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Kill me)
We all know that a when gentleman who is married gets elevated, his wife becomes a Lady, but when a lady who is married gets elevated her husband gets precisely knack all - this is, of course, why the beloved Hon Lady Mark is known as such.

Now we have same sex marriage, what happens to the wife of a baroness or the husband of a Lord?
miss_s_b: Peter Falk as Columbo saying "just one more thing" (Fangirling: Columbo)
I received a DM from a friend on twitter today, which read:
Probably a really stupid question but err… would a filthy leftie treehugger be welcome in the LDs?
to which my response was
Well they made ME chair.
You don't have to like everything the party has ever done (or proposes to do now) to join. We're a democratic party. While obviously you need to have some areas of overlap just to fit in, if you don't like party policy, you can work to change it. I know, I've done it and succeeded.

I'm not saying it's easy, and you've got to put evidence in front of people and persuade them, but at least it's possible which is more than I can say for either of the labservative parties. You join them, you fork over your money, and you do as you're told. You join the Lib Dems and we want you to contribute - yes money, although not very much; but also ideas and arguments. We thrive on arguments.

If that sounds like the sort of thing you could join in with, you know what to do.
miss_s_b: DCI Gill Murray looking disapprovingly at her phone (feminist heroes: DCI Gill Murray)
I read Dan Hodges' controversial article in the Speccy, and one bit jumped out at me:
In the final days of the 2010 campaign, Balls telephoned an MP friend. ‘I’ve just had Alicia Kennedy [Labour’s deputy general secretary] on,’ said Balls. ‘She says I might be in trouble in my seat and I should get back there. What do you think?’

‘Get back there now,’ his friend said. Balls did and clung on by 1,101 votes.

This time, no call arrived. There are some in the Balls camp who think that was no accident.
The fascinating bit is not the conspiracy theory (yawn) but the idea that a top rank Labour MP might have to ask for permission to campaign in his own damn seat. I'm just going to repeat that: a top rank Labour MP might have to ask for permission to campaign in his own damn seat.


Now, I'm the first to be jealous when a coachload of Labour activists turns up in a seat just because that's what they've been ordered to do, while our activists are all failing to even get on the coach*, but are they so used to centralised orders that a shadow cabinet member with a 1000 majority won't try to defend his own seat unless he's told to? That's just terrifying.

IMHO the ideal is probably somewhere between the two, but if I have to choose I'll go for catherding over mindless automata EVERY time.

*because one of them wants to drive, and one wants to go on the train, and one says it's OK they can cycle there from their house, and one refuses to come because nobody asked them specifically they were only asked in a round robin email, and several would rather do it on a different day to the day the coach is available, and several more turn up after the coach has left because they're running on goth time and then get offended the coach didn't wait for them...
miss_s_b: (Politics: Goth Lib Dems)
The Liberal Democrats have a lot of internal organisations that revolve around an identity or an interest. They are normally referred to as (S)AOs, or (specified) associated organisations, even though those terms don't apply to them all. An SAO is slightly more powerful than an AO in that it can submit motions to conference in its own right, but some of the AOs have enormous membership. Some unofficial groupings are treated in the same way as (S)AOs for all practical purposes. Add to that the fact that many of them have an acronymtastic name, and it can all get a bit confusing. This is my rough and extremely biased guide to the ones you really need to know about, but for a list of all the official ones you can check out the main party website here and here. Certainly some of the ones listed in the second half of this are going to be very offended by my views on them; I'm damn straight certain this post isn't going to be republished on Lib Dem Voice.

Firstly, the ones I know through either myself or a partner being a member:

LGBT+ LibDems (SAO) Affectionately known as Plus, the artist formerly known as DELGA is the group within the lib dems that campaigns for the rights of the entire alphabet soup of gender and sexuality minorities. The reason we are not DELGA anymore is that we felt the need to represent all of the alphabet soup was more pressing than retaining the words "Gay Action" in our name*. You do not have to be a gender or sexuality minority person to join, just in favour of fighting for our rights.

HSLD (AO) Humanist and Secularist Lib Dems are comprised of people of all religions and none. We fight to prevent the intrusion of religion (any religion) into places where religion should not be going. We reckon that if one religion intrudes, that is bad for both non-religious people and people who believe in other religions than the one intruding. HSLD are definitely high speed low drag.

Lib Dem History Group (unofficial) I don't actually contribute to Lib Dem History Group, but I devour the Journal of Liberal History, which you get delivered to your door by being a member.

ALDC (SAO) The Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors is absolutely stuffed full of experts on effective campaign techniques, and they run amazing training events. They also run election alerts, so that everyone knows when a by election is going to happen. They are the engine of the famous LD by election juggernaut. Despite the name you do not have to be a local Councillor to join - I never have been - and in fact they have recently started referring to themselves as the association of LD councillors and campaigners, but they haven't added an extra C yet...

Secondly, the groups who cause waves within the party:

The SLF (unofficial). They're justified, and they're ancient and they drive an ice cream van. No, sorry, that's the KLF. The SLF are a huge grouping of people who label themselves social liberals. There are very few people within the party who wouldn't call themselves social liberals, and of those who wouldn't it's because the term social liberal has come to refer to the left of the party, rather than a set of beliefs. Therefore the SLF tends to lean left merely by virtue of the people who are prepared to join it. I lean a lot further left than most of the SLF, but I have never joined because I see them as a pointless splinter group, in the same way that the People's Front of Judea look upon the Judean People's Front**. The numbers of people who HAVE joined show that I am in something of a minority in that opinion; I'm OK with that. Most likely to be found claiming to both represent the left of the party and to represent the entirety of party opinion at the same time.

Liberal Reform (unofficial) If the K, sorry, SLF are the left-leaning splinter group, Liberal Reform are the right leaning ones. Most likely to be found containing people who disdain "identity politics" (while adopting the identity of a Liberal Reform member) and who blithely refer to themselves as Classical Liberals despite having never read Mill and being unaware that he referred to himself as a socialist. If the SLF are the Judean People's Front, these guys are the Popular Front, sitting down the front looking grumpy and flipping the bird at everyone else. The SLF are their deadly rivals. You can tell this by the frequency with which members of both say things like "I don't know why people think we're enemies, we should totally be working together!". Liberal Reform are most likely to be found spouting managementspeak bollocks, and failing to understand that actually, being poor is quite hard.

The Carbohydrate Groupings (extremely unofficial and urine-extracting) The Carbohydrate Groupings were mostly specifically formed to take the piss out of the SLF and Liberal Reform. Lib Dem Biscuits are a young and thrusting group of new people who want to make sure we all have something to dunk in our tea. Lib Dem Friends of Cake disapprove of what they call "the biscuity entryists". Lib Dem Tarts and Lib Dem Friends of Pie disdain both cake AND biscuits and fight with each other as to whether pastry cases should have lids or not, and who is the best at outrageous innuendo. Paddy Ashdown famously endorsed Lib Dem Friends of Cake on national television. IMHO all four of them are more useful to Liberalism and more fun than the SLF or Liberal Reform. Your mileage may vary.

Green Lib Dems (AO). I'm not going to take the piss out of this lot because they do a lot of good work, and I honestly keep meaning to get around to joining them.

Lib Dem Women (SAO). I was a member of one of the two groups that merged to form this, and I left at merger. I was happy as a member of the Campaign For Gender Balance, because they didn't specify any genders to balance, and thus were not exclusionary. Lib Dem Women have a tendency to believe in the gender binary, and as I am implacably opposed to the gender binary we're just never going to get along. I have a lot of admiration for many of their members though.

Liberal Democrat Christian Forum (AO) - mostly to be found piling in to the hall at conference to defeat any motion or amendment which restricts faith schools.

EMLD (SAO) Ethnic Minority Lib Dems campaign for the rights of BAME people. Like Green Lib Dems, these are people who do huge amounts of great work, and I'm not going to take the piss.

There are lots more groupings within the lib dems, of varying degrees of power and influence, and this list is only the ones I have noticed having an impact. Ones I would like to see having more impact on policy include ALDES, if only because they have the best logo, and LDMHA. Inevitably, i will get comments recommending different groups, or arguing with what I've put here. That's fine, we're all Liberals :)

* I am still sad that we don't have Gay Action in our name any more, but I feel, as a bi person, that the sacrifice was worth it.


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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.

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