miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b: (Mood: Belligerent Wheel of Fortune)
I'm not going to give these people the publicity they clearly crave by linking to their poisonous words, but those of you who think it's acceptable to use someone's death to rake over old coals or score cheap political points - Salmond, Oakeshott and (inevitably) Öpik among them - need to take a good long look at yourselves.

A man has died. Even if he wasn't the much-loved person he clearly was, even if everyone hated him, it is not appropriate to use a person's death for your own ends, even if you think those ends are the noblest ends there are. When someone has just passed you need to leave some time for people to process it before you start making snide little asides or even blatantly laying into them. As [personal profile] matgb just said to me, they could leave it till tomorrow. Or even the afternoon.

And finally, if your comments lead people to say things like this:
...it's maybe a sign that you do the classless thing a bit too often. Grow up and let people grieve before you loose your poison on the world. Thank you.

ETA: this post from Dr Nerdlove has some good advice for you guys and your ilk.

RIP Charles Kennedy

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015 09:11 am
miss_s_b: (Mood: Bugger)
Everyone in the Lib Dems (and many beyond) is feeling this one, and I'm no different. Like many others in the Lib Dem family, I couldn't call Charles Kennedy my best friend, but he meant a huge amount to me none-the-less. My first conference I went as a steward, because if you work conference you get in for free. One thing that most people outside the party (and even many people within) might not know is how Charles was revered among the stewards at conference - because even when he was leader and always after he always made time for a stewards' thank you party, and he didn't just stick his head in, he really had time for them and was genuinely grateful for how they made conference possible.

So my first conference, having worked my arse off at the least popular stewarding post because I was the n00b, I went to the steward's party. And was welcomed joyously by Charles. And every conference after he always said hello, and remembered my name. A couple of times we'd end up in the smoking zone having a companionable rollup. My second autumn conference we went back to Bournemouth and I'll never forget being sat on the wall by the Marriott Highcliff with Charles, kicking our feet and smoking a fag apiece like naughty schoolchildren behind the bikeshed and chatting about nothing much. I was - still am, really - nobody in the party. But Charles didn't give a rat's arse about who he was supposed to talk to.

He was a witty and inspirational speaker. He was a principled Liberal, and he stood by those principles even when others condemned him for it. But I'm going to remember that man who always had time for others, no matter how low down the pecking order they were. If you judge a man by how he treated those society considers less than him, then Charles Kennedy was a King.

My thoughts today are with those who knew him better than me, but also everyone else whose life he touched in little ways like mine. We've lost a good one.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
... are many and varied. Perhaps for their knowledge of party systems and what needs to change. Perhaps for their ability to present a compelling case for liberalism to the world. Perhaps for their endurance and stalwartness.

What I don't understand is people passionately declaring their allegiance for one or the other based on a particular policy position. Much as the media would like to believe otherwise, policy is not made at the whim of the leader in our party. Yes, the leader has some advantage in publicising what their policy priorities might be, and yes, the leader can pick and choose from policies voted on at conference to push or to ignore. But the fact remains that policy is voted on by conference in the Lib Dems, not made up on the hoof by the leader.

And even if that were not the case:
  1. Tim and Norman agree with each other on more policies than they disagree and pretending that they are lightyears apart just sets up a false scrap where there is agreement.

  2. Both have been coming out with policy statements - I've not seen ONE of these that isn't either already party policy or aligned with existing policy, and I'm reasonably sure that neither has come out with one that the other would utterly condemn.

  3. It's utterly nonsensical to fervently support one candidate because they believe in a policy position that the other also believes in and has publicly stated they believe in.
So can we please stop with this "I support $candidate because they are in favour of $policy" crap? It buys into a stupid, bullheaded media narrative which sets up a false adversarial tone and does neither candidate any favours. Yes, I'm supporting Tim. But that doesn't mean I'll be wailing and gnashing my teeth if Norman wins. Either candidate will make a fine leader and I'm not going to join in any Punch and Judy bollocks.

... I'm doing a Canute again, aren't I? :/

PSA: Anon Commenters

Friday, May 29th, 2015 11:34 pm
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
While I am happy to host debate in the comments to my blog, I do have a comments policy and I would be obliged if you'd all stick to it. None of it is particularly onerous, and certainly not as onerous as dealing with an anon commenter who persistently refuses to adhere to said comments policy, and who is verging on nastiness towards one of my regulars.

I will no longer be approving any anon comments with no handle attached. And even with a handle, don't be an arse.

Thank you.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
One of the big successes the Labour party had in the last government was the creation of the term "bedroom tax" for something which is not even a tax, and the blaming of the coalition government for it when it is something they started*. Labour are really good at blaming other people for things they started and/or wholeheartedly embraced - tuition fees, privatising the NHS, etc. - but what I'm really interested in is the use of language to fight a perceived injustice.

One of the most consistent trends of the last ten years (again, started by Labour) is the punishment of the poor for being poor. Benefit caps, having to jump through arbitrary hoops to continue receiving a meagre JSA, ridiculous work capability assessments, all of these are equally embraced by both Labservative parties. I was working at the CAB under Blair, and a huge amount of time was taken up by appealing disability benefit decisions, etc. And part of the reason these things are accepted by the general public is that they have swallowed the Kool Aid that people on benefits are scroungers - to the extent that even people on benefits, while they assert their own right to receive benefits, will none-the-less think everyone else on benefits is a scrounger.

The problem is that most benefits don't actually benefit the person in nominal receipt of them. The claimant doesn't see any gain from soaring housing benefit because it goes into their landlord's pocket, not theirs. Tax credits mainly help employers who either can't or won't pay decent wages. JSA conditional on workfare benefits all those employers who get subsidised to "employ" a free workforce rather than people they actually have to pay and train. So I propose a change of wording.

Housing benefit is easy. Housing benefit is Landlord's benefit. When you refer to it as Landlord's benefit you are calling it what it is. Tax credits, I propose, should be called "Exploitative wage top up". There's a whole raft of disability benefits which should be called things like "paltry amount grudgingly given to try and keep you out of hospital" or something similar.

What benefits do you think should be renamed?


* yes, I am aware that the LHA has some differences from the private sector version, but it's the same concept.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
Tone policing is when someone says "you would have a good point, if only you would sound less angry and more reasonable when you say it". It is generally used as a tactic to shut up people who are talking about how they are being oppressed or exploited by various systems, by those who support and benefit from those systems. Sometimes those who are (or claim to be) on the side of those who are oppressed and exploited by a system will use tone policing because they genuinely think that if only everyone was nice then the oppressors would listen.

Such is the case with Iain Roberts' recent article about "demonising the rich" on Lib Dem Voice. I've met Iain, several times, & he's a genuinely nice, well-meaning, conscientious Councillor. And yet in that article, and more so in the comments to it, he comes across as a smug, self-satisfied, arrogant, patronising arsehole. I am dead set certain that he isn't any of those things, and also that this is not the tone he was going for when he complains about the tone of people on the left, but it's an inherent problem when you tone police people who already feel like you are not on their side.

His article has a germ of a point: in order to stem the rising tide of inequality "the rich", however you define them, need to be brought onside. Where I differ from Iain is that I don't think if we all just ask nicely it'll magically happen. History shows that asking nicely is all well and good, but a big legislative stick is the only thing that actually works.

So to those who say "you may have a point, but you'd be more persuasive if you were less angry" I say this:

You may have a point, but you'd be more persuasive if you sounded less like an apologist for oppression.

How about maybe we ALL think about our tone when speaking? I'll try to be less angry and sweary if you stop using a tone that's guaranteed to MAKE me angry and sweary?
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 (as does Norman to be fair).

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.

About This Blog

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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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