miss_s_b: (Fanigrling: Rumpole)
Just a quick entry today: Very pleased to see that the lovely Julian Huppert has won the parliamentary beard of the year vote even though I voted Thurso.I note that this was despite the desperate, misspelled, last ditch efforts of the Labour candidate for Calder Valley. As our own, dear, beardy candidate ACMcG said:Julian's defeated opponent was much more gracious:Anyway, props to Julian for winning, AND for coming up with that hilarious punning hashtag; commiserations to King Beard Thurso for only managing third despite my vote, and may there be more beards of all parties in parliament come 2015.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
One of the more disturbing things to come out of the Calderdale Council cabinet meeting on Monday night was that they are apprently planning to sell off the Pellon Network Centre. So while money can be found for pay rises for council officers, and for iPads for councillors, and for the long-debated strip of land hubwards of Sto Kerrig Halifax library plans, there's no money left to keep open a much needed community resource in a deprived area of the borough.

Now I could use this for political point-scoring. I could say "see, this is how Labour prioritise things! I bet they try to blame it on ConDem cuts!" and other such things. But frankly that would be cheap, and would miss the point. The point is that the centre is well-used*, has had a bucketload of public and private cash poured into it**, and is a valuable community asset which it would be senseless to flog off for short term gain.

James Baker, councillor for the ward in which the centre is situated, has set up a website with a petition which I'd be grateful if you would sign. This is a Lib Dem campaign because James is a Lib Dem, but I'd like to think it's more important than what colour your rosette is.





*Youth services operate out of the centre, it is also home to a jobs club, a computer club, an art club and a Saturday morning club with fun activities for parents and children.
**Action Halifax allocated £112k of European money and some more from the Single Regeneration Budget, the Council added another £70k as match funding, private money came in from Pennine Housing, the Community Foundation (£10k of Jennifer Pearson's money via the Stephen Pearson Memorial Fund) and others. Total costs came to about £250k of public and private money.
miss_s_b: (Who: Six (ot3))
So the date has been set for the first same sex marriages in England and Wales.



Caron has had a fantastic idea:I have to say, I get really cross when people give a long list of people who are "responsible" for same sex marriage, from Cameron down, and leave Lynne off it. It wouldn't have happened at all without her. SO I am BANG alongside Caron's suggestion.

Who's with me?

ETA: I shouldn't be as amused as I am that 29th March is also Norman Tebbit's birthday, should I? *cackle*
miss_s_b: (Who: Six (S.P.C./Eyebrow))
Those of you who have been to conference know what I'm talking about. You'll be sat having a quiet pint in the bar, and in walks Lord Ashdown. There is an instant change in the atmosphere. The sexual tension in the room goes through the roof. All the people-who-fancy-men sigh wistfully, and all the people-who-don't-fancy-men try to look that bit more impressive, while knowing it's futile.

It's hard to believe for someone who hasn't seen it happen; you don't get much of a sense of it from seeing the man on the telly or anything like that. I know this because I have been trying to convince a recent recruit to the party of the power of the Paddy Effect. She thinks she is going to be immune to it. She thinks I'm joking about how potent and irresistible it is. She thinks she'll be the one sat in the bar at Spring conf wondering what the hell is going on while everybody else has a minor meltdown.

I think she's wrong. Hence the poll:

Poll #14678 The Paddy Effect
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 13


Have you ever met anybody who is immune to the Paddy Effect?

View Answers

What?
5 (38.5%)

Don't Be Stupid
3 (23.1%)

Such a Thing Is Not Possible
6 (46.2%)

I wish to lie and say "yes" but I know I'm lying
2 (15.4%)

ticky box
9 (69.2%)

miss_s_b: (feminist heroes: Liz 10)
That would be... me. Those of you who were active on twitter last night will already know this, but I thought I'd beter mention it here, too.

Suspect this is going to prove very interesting indeed :)

Was great to catch up with a bunch of people at the AGM too, especially Hilary, who I haven't seen for FAR TOO LONG. Only real fly in the ointment was that Northern Rail made us have to get a taxi to get there, so that's twenty quid down the drain. But you know. £20 taxi fare vs being made chair? I think that's just about a win.

Of course now the accusations from a couple of people I am close to (you know who you are and where your games workshop crap is, the pair of you :P) that I am part of the establishment are coming in thick and fast. Now I am chair I am going to have behave myself, right? Be on message, in volume, over time? Outgoing chair Mick Taylor actually outright said the best way to tame a rebel is to give them some responsibility when we were initially discussing the idea of me standing... This is a man who had his lengthy hair in a french plait at the candidate selection last week LOL. So yes, the idea of me becoming Establishment is very amusing... Perhaps I am Establishment within the tiny world of the Lib Dems, but then perhaps in that world I already was. I suspect it will be a very long time indeed where an openly bi/poly metalhead who refuses to conform to Westminster standards of dress and flagrantly abuses ellipsis will be seen as Establishment by the wider world. And TBH? That's perfectly fine by me. ...no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity etc.

As for my plans for chairing... Watch this space. Mick's term doesn't actually run out till 31st December, so the local party has a little while to get used to the idea. But I have various ideas... >:)
miss_s_b: (Politics: Goth Lib Dems)
So tonight is Alisdair's housewarming party, and this morning I tweeted:You guys know me. My uniform is combats/jeans and a t-shirt with something geeky on it. Formal dress is not something I do. But I do have, in the depths of my wardrobe, several options. Sadly I am still too fat for the blue taffeta ballgown. However! Some fool offered a donation. So I shall pledge as follows:
  • the one donation already promised gets me into whichever formal clothing people vote for in the poll below

  • Five donations and I shall wear high heeled shoes as well

  • Ten donations and I'll go the whole hog and put make-up on for the first time this year
These are your options:

formal clothing options
Purple mid-calf column dress

formal clothing options
Black/silver satin ankle length column dress

formal clothing options
Black suit

formal clothing options
Purple suit (the one I turned up to regional conf in)

Poll #14548 What should I wear?
This poll is closed.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 12

Which formal clothing should I base my dress around this evening?

Purple column dress
4 (33.3%)

Black/silver satin column dress
5 (41.7%)

Purple suit
2 (16.7%)

Black suit
1 (8.3%)



Do vote in the poll. Also if you want to donate, stick it in my paypal:



...and I'll transfer it over to the party (plus the couple of quid balance that's already in there anyway). It's all in a good cause. We need a fighting fund to get Alisdair elected, because Calder Valley really needs a decent MP for a change...

Get voting and donating then :P

ETA: deadline for the poll is mid afternoon, btw. There'll be no point in voting when I've already set off for Hebden Bridge; but you can donate to the party whenever you like, obvs ;)
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
... the lovely Alisdair Calder McGregor.

(You can find him on Twitter, linked in, blog, LDV articles, G+)

alisdairrailway

You'd vote for that, amirite? I totally would :)

Hustings was a lot of fun last night. Questions to candidates were very broad ranging (some of them longer winded than others LOL) and the turnout was not bad, to say what horrible cold miserable Halifaxness we had to endure to get to it.

On the evidence of last night, Alisdair is going to make a bloody awesome candidate. Pretty much everything he said in answers to questions was clear and succint. No rambling off on tangents. Lots of useful political points. And peppered with big meaty doses of Liberalism. Definitely a parliamentary candidate I can get behind. Which is handy, really, because he's already started dishing out orders to me...

I'm not going to make a secret of the fact that I wanted Alisdair to win this from the beginning - it'd be hard to with my imprint on the bottom of all of his literature - but I do want to say that had Janet won we'd still have a great candidate. So commiserations to Janet.

And forward to 2015. I guess there's going to be a lot more leaflet designing for ME.
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Sam West)
Lib Dem Voice need money.
I need beard porn.
What would people say to a beardy Lib Dems calendar? It'd be like Calendar Girls only beardier*

This idea has been being chucked around by all the swines who are off to Manchester on the piss while I fold leaflets tonight several lovely people on twitter this afternoon and I think it's a good one.

Would my fellow beardthusiasts pay for such a thing? And how do we narrow down the pool of hot beardy Lib Dems to actually put on the thing? I mean there's LOADS of them. I live with two!



* and almost certainly less naked. There's a limit to what you can persuade even Lib Dem men to do with a strategically placed Focus Leaflet, in my experience.
miss_s_b: (feminist heroes: river song)
After Debi's posting of pictures of a 32 year old woman in her sports kit we had some discussion, and thus I present pictures of a 36 year old woman in her sports kit )
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
I have seen this campaign referred to in very sniffy and dismissive terms by various MSM outlets. And yet, over the last few days the number of friends and lovers I have spoken to with totally unjustified anxieties over their physical appearance has gone far beyond what I am comfortable with. Let me give you a flavour:
  • "Who's going to fancy a fat balding little hobbit like me?" - this guy has a beautiful expressive face, and his smile lights up a room like a sunrise.

  • "I did it with [new boyfriend] with the lights on! And SOBER!" - a girl with a chest I would cheerfully kill for, and those of you who have met me know I am not exactly lacking in that department ;)

  • "I'm too fat" - a guy with an arse that rivals Nightwing's

  • "I couldn't be seen out without my Fat Burqua!" - a lady who has the kind of figure that would make Rubens bite through his paintbrush in his frustration at his utter inability to capture it's beauty

  • *bursts into disbelieving laughter when I tell him he has good skin* - I've held newborn babes with coarser skin than this guy. The skin of his torso resembles nothing so much in it's smooth tactile translucency as polished marble. And don't even get me started on his eyes...
Now I'm no stranger to beating myself up about percieved physical flaws. But something I have noticed over the years is that whatever I percieve to be a flaw someone will find incredibly attactive. For instance, I detest my belly. I'd really love a six pack. And yet one of my partners loves it so deeply, with it's kneadable layer of fat and stretchmarks and operation scar, that since I have been losing weight he has been actively mourning it's passing.

We all have things we dislike about our physical selves, and society and the media encourage that, mainly to sell us shit we don't need. We all think we have something that's too fat/thin/bald/hairy/big/small/etc. But whatever that thing is that we feel that way about, somebody we know worships it. Now, I'm not saying that if you dislike a part of yourself you're wrong, and if you want to engage in some self improvement that will make you feel better then you knock yourself out. But don't ever, ever think that anybody else will judge you as harshly for it as you do yourself.

I'm reasonably sure that several of the people in the list above with have accepted what I said to them, but also mentally added "but it's just Jennie saying that, and she's mad." We are so conditioned to look only on our own flaws that we don't compliment each other in case someone looks too closely at us in return and spots our flaws. And that's sad because we all then end up in our own self-reinforcing miserable cycle of paranoia.

The Lib Dem Campaign for Body Confidence is important, as far as I am concerned, because if it makes people I love worry less about piffling flaws with thier physical appearance, then they will have more spoons to sweat the more important stuff, and THEN we can get on with making the world a better place. And the rest of us can help with it, too. Try not to condemn yourself for your imperfections. But also if you have a friend or partner with a physical feature that you love, tell them. If we can all compliment each other a bit more maybe I'll get less disbelieving reactions next time I tell someone I think some part of them is beautiful.
miss_s_b: (Default)
  • The corpse of Lady Thatcher (maysherestinpeace)

  • Catholicism

  • Anyone whose favourite Doctor is David Tennant

  • Stuffed Jeremy Bentham

  • A rabid she-wolf

  • Tony Blair

  • The guy who puked down my legs on Sunday evening.

  • The Abominable Doctor Phibes

  • The entirety of the Young Conservatives, circa 1986

  • Marxism


(Context is for cowards, but you might want to look here on LDV)

ETA: for those pointing out that of course I would LOVE to embrace the Abominable Doctor Phibes: well, yes (and his Missus). So he definitely belongs on the list :P
miss_s_b: (Pratchett: Nanny Ogg)
People seem to find the technical language around politics in general and LibDemmery in particular to be slightly confusing. With that in mind I thought a glossary might be useful; this post is meant to be taken entirely seriously and is in no way humourous or mere gratuitous filth.possibly there are some of you who don't want to see this )

Happy to amend the list with any suggestions from readers which are appropriate and sensible. Remember folks, Lib Dems do it with a Focus you won't believe ;)
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
I have in my hand a piece of paper. Well, two pieces of paper and a booklet of manifestos. They arrived in a brown envelope, and are much more pleasing than the normal types of things that arrive in brown envelopes :)

Yes, it's the time of the year for LGBT+ LD elections, and they're even more exciting than normal this year because we're not just electing the exec, but the chair too. So I have 16 pages of manicfestos to read and then I get to choose who to vote for. I'm not going to tell you who I'm going to vote for, but I am going to give you a couple of Dos and Don'ts for Manifesto writing, in case you're ever standing for election for a party body
  1. Do: Put your name on it. Seriously, if I have to flip to the back of the book to see whose manifesto I'm reading you've lost my vote already.

  2. Don't: have huge walls of text in tiny font. The tl;dr reflex is hard to suppress when you have many manifestos to read. I will read it, because I am conscientious like that, but many people won't.

  3. Do: actually say something. Not just managementspeak. Say something of substance: what you believe in, what you plan to do, ANYTHING.

  4. Don't: think that a pretty design will make up for not saying anything. Pretty design is good, don't get me wrong, but content is king.

  5. Do: use pictures - but don't overuse them.

  6. Don't: patronise people. If you're talking down to people, or they feel like you are, they won't want to vote for you.

  7. Do: make people laugh if you can. This might be controversial, and certainly I only mean this for internal elections, but the person who will be getting my #1 for exec member in this election is getting it because (s)he made me LOL.
Good luck to all the candidates in this election (even the one who didn't submit a manifesto at all, bless him). I know who I'm voting for; I hope the other members of plus do too :) The voter number on the top of my ballot paper has 40 digits in it, so I guess the membership has gone up a LOT since I was a member of the exec... ;)
miss_s_b: (Mood: Sorry)
The eagle eyed amongst you might have noticed that I won blog post of the year at the Botties for this post.

I did not react well, which is one of the reasons why it has taken me this long to blog about it. I am very flattered, and honoured, but I am NOT good at taking a compliment, and some of the consequences of winning an award were a bit triggery* for me, and I might have gone off on one in a semi-public fashion on one of the Lib Dem email lists and upset lots of people. This was silly and ungracious, and given that I think one should own one's mistakes I am apologising for it in an even more public way.

So thank you to the judges for picking me, and sorry to everyone who had to witness my meltdown. At least it wasn't blog of the year... Can you IMAGINE how awful I'd have been if I'd won THAT? In return for being given an award I promise to keep swearing and offending people, keep teasing Tim Farron on twitter, and not become a tool of the establishment. You guys have to promise not to nominate me again next year, OK? I don't think anybody wants to go through this again.

Anyway, regarding the OTHER awards, my predictions** were somewhat accurate, apart from the small matter of not predicting my own win. I don't have to eat my membership card for Julian Huppert, which is a bonus. The one prediction coming true that I am really sad about is Vince Cable winning minister of the year over Lynne Featherstone. I love Vince, you all KNOW I love Vince, but basically all he has done this year is not fuck up as badly as he did last year. Lynne delivered same sex marriage. And in 20, 30, 100 years' time, THAT is what this government will be remembered for, and she deserves more bloody recognition for it. In my opinion anyway.



* one nano-second after winning my phone went mental with "x is now following you on twitter" notifications, and among the names was one that I really REALLY did not want to see. Those of you who know me well will know which one and why.
** here and here
miss_s_b: (Mood: Vyvyan Twos Up)
I've only been nominated for the Big Botty, not even won it, still hoping I don't, and already the ribbing has started:

Sam Phripp: "She's a darling of the establishment. Tut tut."
Andy Emmerson: "I heard Nick telling people how much he loved Jennie and how he wanted her to work for HQ"
Sam Phripp: "I heard he said she was always on message in volume over time... True story."
Andy Emmerson: "In fact I heard Jennie was personally fed lines for blogging from the establishment; people like Clegg"
Richard Morris: "I heard Nick is thinking of changing his surname to Rigg in a kind of tribute"
Andre Whickey: "I heard Jennie only didn't get made a Baroness because Clegg wanted more independent-minded people in the Lords"
Richard Morris: "I also heard he thinks of himself as just keeping Sheffield Hallam 'warm' until Jennie is ready to stand"

You're all swines :P

ETA:
Andy Emmerson: "are we included in your announcement that you're taking a job as a Clegg Spad?"
Andre Whickey: "the economy motion will be called "the Jennie Rigg motion" so it will pass... "

I'm sure the hilarity will continue on twitter for some time to come...
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
If you are a voting rep, please please PLEASE go into the hall for F17 at 17.00 Sunday evening and vote for the reference back. If the reference back fails then please vote against the motion, whether it is amended or not. The motion as submitted is terrifyingly illiberal, technologically illiterate, and will almost certainly be counterproductive. The amendment selected for debate by FFC takes all this badness and adds internet pop-ups to it too. I have no idea what FCC were on when they accepted this motion, nor when they selected the least popular and most senseless amendment from those submitted for debate, but I wish they'd stop taking it.

The motion is supposed to protect children from internet porn. It won't protect children from internet porn, but it WILL make it much more difficult for them to obtain information about sexual health, and also access a whole host of other information on the internet, including this blog. The ONLY way to prevent the harms which internet porn does to children is to EDUCATE both parents and children. Burying our heads in the sand and hoping the magic technology fairy will fix things is a recipe for disaster.

If you're unsure as to how right I am on any of this there are a bunch of people wandering round conference with this flyer. Talk to them.

Thanking you in advance.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
This makes this post somewhat more difficult than I was anticipating... ANYWAY. I am going to tell you who I would like to see win and who I think WILL win (with as many single intenders as I can fit) and we'll find out tomorrow how right or wrong I am.

CategoryWho I want to winWho I think WILL winComment
Blog of the Year (The Big Botty)Zoe O'ConnellDavid BoyleI nominated Jonathan Calder for Liberal England, mainly because I can't believe he's not won it already. David Boyle has been consistently good this year, though... The field is a good one, with no one blogger who will obviously stand out as "THAT'S the winner!" to everybody. Frankly, I'll be happy as long as neither I nor Count Packula win, because neither of us needs it. Zoe's blog deserves to be much more widely read, though, and on that basis I'd like to see her win it.
Blog Post of the YearSarah BrownCount Packula's pretty picturePeople like Infographics. They annoy me, because they're great big long unwieldy lumps of stuff that take ages to load, and I can't read them properly on my phone without zooming in and out all the time, but apparently I'm in a minority. Sarah's post, though, is hands down the most important and must-read one on the list, and fully deserves to win.
Tweeter/Facebooker of the year@stackee@LordBonkersI think this one is as wide open as the Big Botty to be honest, and it all depends on whether judges value dry Lib Demmery or humanity or both as to who wins. It could be any of the nominees, but I've plumped for Lord Bonkers because Rutland's award cabinet needs fresh metal.
Tim Garden AwardLynne Featherstonetoss up between Tim Farron & Julian HuppertI don't think Jo Swinson or Tom Brake use twitter in the way it's meant to be used. They put stuff out but they don't interact as much as the other three do. Julian and Tim are digital natives, and it shows; Lynne is a bloody good twitterer too, and given that there's not much to choose between the three I want her to win for basically sexist reasons. Girls doing politics AND tech? Hell to the yes.
Best LD Online CampaignGold GuardTeam EastleighThis is another one that's wide open and any of the nominees could win it. On that basis: anyone but me, please, judges.

The public vote has now ended for Non Lib Dem Online Campaign (English Disco Lovers FTW!) and Photo (YAY Doctor Huppert!) so all we need to do now is sit back and wait for the ceremony. I'll not be at the ceremony myself, but I'll be keeping my eye on twitter to see who wins. I hope those who DO go the ceremony have a good time, and whether I win or lose have a gin or several for me :)
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
The first thing to say here is that several people had difficulty completing the survey: if this happens to you my advice would be to wait half an hour and then go back to it, that's what worked for me.

On to the meat of this post then: you can't get back into the survey once you've filled it in, so this is from memory, and the list of categories on Lib Dem Voice.

CategoryWho I voted ForWho I think will winComment
LD Councillor of the YearPauline NashAlex FolkesAll the nominees in this were not big national figures, but Alex is a blogger. More of us have heard of him therefore he will win.
Favourite Tory MPSarah WollastonP Bone & N DorriesFelt physically sick at some of the nominees for this. P Bone & N Dorries will win bcause annoying them is the most palatable option.
Favourite Labour MPStella CreasyGenuinely don't knowFelt physically sick at some of the nominees for this, too. Frank "Misogyny" Field FFS?
Online Campaign (non-LD)?English Disco LoversI don't think I got to vote in this. Can't get back ino the survey to find out...
Best Photo??Definitely didn't get to vote in this.
LD minister of the yearLynne Featherstonesomebody pale and maleLynne definitely deserves to win, but she won't, sadly. Of course, if she does I'll be chuffed.
LD MP of the yearJulian HuppertJulian HuppertI will be utterly stunned if Julian doesn't win.
Other ParliamentarianLiz BarkerNo ideaLiz deserves to win for her work in the Lords on equal marriage. No idea who actually WILL win.
Best Commentatorcan't rememberdon't careThis list was shocking. The only woman on there was Polly Toynbee, and they were ALL old media. Clueless Tory shill Nick Robinson being nominated was a particular shock. What sort of idiot rates him?
Best broadcasterCathy NewmanEddie MairWould have put Martha Kearney on my prefs list if she'd been there. And somehow there was another nomination for bloody Robinson.

I'll do a similar list for the judged categories (who I want to win/who I think will win) when all the nominees are revealed. As for those above? Well, it's an advert for getting more people to nominate next year, that's for sure. Nick Robinson nominated for TWO awards? Frank Field? Eurgh. Anyway, if you're a member of the LDV forum you should have your email for voting. Get on and do it. I don't know when the deadline is, but it's BOUND to be before Saturday night...
miss_s_b: (Default)
So Sarah Teather announced, via an article in the Observer, that she will not be standing again for her seat in Brent. Various people expressed various emotions on receipt of this news. The Lib Dem Voice comment thread, at time of typing, is approaching 200 comments. Despite the attempts of various people to inject notes of sanity there has been a massive proliferation of straw men in that comment thread, which can basically be divided into two camps: the Sarah Is a Great Loss and the Sarah is Not Such a Great Loss camps.

I fall into the latter camp. My stated position is that because of her vote on same sex marriage, after many years of cheerfully using lots of LGBT activists to work for her, I feel that I would rather spend my limited leaflet delivery time on another MP/candidate at election time. I agree with a lot of her OTHER positions, but because there are MPs/candidates who share those positions AND voted the way I would have liked on same sex marriage I would prefer to donate my time to those people.

For this I have been accused of being a single issue politician (because I am talking about this right now means it is the only thing I have ever cared about), sexism (because Sarah is a woman and I don't want to deliver leaflets for her, despite the fact that I have also publicly condemned Gordon Birtwhistle, John Pugh, and all of the other MPs who voted against), racism (because Sarah has been an anti-racism campaigner therefore if I don't want to deliver leaflets for her I must be racist), obsessed with sex (because equal rights for LGBT people is only ever concerned with sex and not human rights or anything) and of WANTING DISABLED PEOPLE TO DIE (no, I don't get that one either). And pretty much everyone who has said these things has ALSO gone on at great length about the "vitriol" being flung at Sarah.

To make that clear: saying you'd rather deliver leaflets for someone else = flinging vitriol. Accusing someone of being sexist, racist, and a eugenicist? Fair comment. As for the single issue politician thing... If I was FORCED to be a single issue politician I would be the most vocal (and probably the only) campaigner for Colin Baker to be permanently recognised as the best Doctor Who. If only because that's SUCH a minority campaign that it needs all the help it can get.

Anyone who doubted the importance of leaflet delivery in the Lib Dem psyche? I think today has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's more important than pretty much anything else. It's just a shame that we're all spending valuable leaflet delivery time arguing about something that's not going to be changed by any amount of invective on any side.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)


My question is asked at 8.42, and got a pretty positive response on twitter. Clegg's answer was interesting, and not as ducky as the last time he failed to answer a question from me. He keeps saying my name, which makes me giggle.

I do like that the party does these webinars, although usually they are at a time when I can't participate live. I was quite happy that I got chance to join in today. The next one with a Lib Dem minister will be on Monday 2nd September at 7pm (when I am at work) with Mike Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland, and I'd fully recommend anyone who has an interest in the topics he plans to cover to take part. Those topics are:
- The Scottish Referendum
- Being a Lib Dem in government
- Party conference in Glasgow
... and you can register here if you're a party member, and if you meet the computer equipment criteria (sadly party top brass don't seem to have grasped that we are a party of non-conformists and some of us use, for example, Linux or other non-standard operating systems). IMHO this is one of the things that makes it worth joining the Lib Dems - our top brass are accessible to members in a way that top brass in many other parties most certainly aren't. Now if only they would do what internal party democracy tells them to... ;)
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Vinny P)
Still not dead.

Diet going reasonably well (see sidebar) although I am having to resort to things like creme fraiche instead of cream and similar. I had strawberries and creme fraiche at work yesterday and Brendan asked me how it was; I explained that it was like having a wank because you can't go to the orgy, in that it scratches the itch but is just not the same. The pain in my abdominal region isn't gone but it is reduced, so the diet is having the desired effect.

Am coping reasonably well with doing armpits for August, although I am looking forward to the first of September and shaving again. My pit hair is very weedy and thin, but I still feel really weird with it there. It's been an interesting psychological experiment for me in how much patriarchal norms have infected even me... I was going to do a picture but I figured I'd ask if you guys want to see one first. It feels a bit weird to be putting pictures of my armpits on the Internet.

Climbed Pen-y-Ghent with Holly, my dad, Roxy and Spike today. Having done Malham earlier in the month I think we're probably going to make it a reasonably regular thing. It's good for all of us and Holly likes getting out into nature. She wants to do Ingleborough next. Doggies loved it. Spike is now asleep on my feet and Roxy is dying on the other sofa.

Oh yeah, and the nominations are now closed for the LDV awards. Any of you who have been daft enough to nominate me might like to note that I've changed my blog title after nominations have closed but before the awards because I'm evil. Anyone who can identify where the new one comes from might win a prize. those of you who follow me on twitter might have an unfair advantage in that regard...
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
I sent off my nominations for the Lib Dem Voice Awards today. I am sad that they are no longer the Blog Of The Year awards because I used to like calling them the Botties. But other innovations are more welcome, and I am genuinely excited about getting to actually VOTE for a few of the botties this year!

If you haven't nominated yet, perhaps seeing who I have nommed might give you a few ideas. Or might make you realy angry and make you want to nominate someone else. Whatever; I'm sure Caron will be happy to recieve your missive. Procedure for nomming is here and the deadline for noms is Friday.

My noms are under the cut )

Finally, if you want a bit of cheery listening, Caron did House of Comments last week. Check it out here.
miss_s_b: (Default)
It's August, the Westminster Bubble is mostly free of Actual News, so the commentariat turns to navel-gazing. Why, they opine, WHY is poitical party membership falling off a cliff? It's particularly plaintive this year as the Tory party is rumoured to have dropped below 100,000 members - as recently as 1990 they were over a million, down from a peak of nearly 3 million. There are a lot of comment pieces about this in the mainstream media, and most of them seem to me to miss the salient point.

When one joins a poltical party, what does one get for one's money? It seems to me, not very much.

Chance to become elected

You are much more likely to become elected if you are a member of a party than if you are an independent. And yet, the number of us living in safe seats, and the number of seats available in the first place, means that most mmbers of political parties won't get the chance to become elected, and that's even if they wanted to. Lots of people would rather not be. And those who do become eleced still need the supprt structures provided by a party, so there need to be lots of members who are not (and don't want to be) elected to office.

Chance to influence party policy, and thereby the law of the land

This depends on the party. In the Lib Dems, the Greens, and the Pirates there are strong demoratic structures, and party policy is determined by members. I have been very proud to see policies that I have been involved in the formulation of become actual laws (shared parental leave, for example). In Labour and the Conservatives it sees to me that internal party democracy is weaker, although I am sure people will correct me on this if I am wrong. UKIP I have no idea.

The problem is though, that if your party DOES get into government, there's always the chance that the leadership will ignore party policy in favour of whatever the Daily Mail says. I strongly suspect this, or at least the perception of this, to be behind huge amounts of the falloff in Lib Dem membership the last couple of years.

The bottom line is that if you want to influence party policy, and thereby the government, you're much better off if you can afford to spend money directly influencing public opinion in a swing seat, because then all the parties will rush to pander to you. Beating your head against the brick wall of party machinery can sometimes achieve cracks in the wall, but mostly it achieves a sore head.

You can get information from the party about what's going on

This can be quite useful. Although the information is quite partisan, it's still going to give you more than you get from the mainstream press. The thing is you have to sign up for a lot of this even as a member of the party. I get to see this every day at work. My work colleagues are signed up to different email lists to me. We all sometimes get stuff that the others don't. People unaware of how these things work are going to miss out on a lot.

You can help select candidates for office

Well, you CAN, if you're someone who is good at getting in with the local party heirarchies. Most people who join a political party never go to a local party meetng.

You can get to meet famous politicians

See above.

It's a badge of honour

Uh, no. Normal people percieve EVERYONE who joins a political party, of whatever stripe, as weird. This is because, with less than half a milion people (I'm not counting Union affiliate members of the Labour party here, partly because many of them aren't Labour supporters, and partly because union membership is in steep decline too) being card-carrying members of any political party, we ARE weird.

It's a social club, and you can use it for networking

Again, this only really applies to people who go to the local party meetings. It's not a social club for the armchair member. For me, embedded as I am in the party, the Lib Dems are my family. But having kept in touch with various people who have left for various reasons, it's clear that those friendships, once forged, don't die just because someone is not a member of the club any more.

It's a public statement of what you believe in

So is a t-shirt, and a t-shirt is cheaper.



The list above just came from the top of my head, but it's obvious from it that although there are benefits for people who want to be activists, for the armchair member there is very little. And even for those who want to be activists, all too often you pay your subs, turn up to a local meeting, and discover that you have to spend ten years delivering leaflets "voluntarily", all the while paying your subs like a good little soldier, before anyone will listen to a word you have to say. Even those of us who have reached the rarefied position of having something of a voice regularly get told to shut up and deliver leaflets by those higher up the chain.

To me the reason membership of political parties is dwindling is blindingly obvious. For the vast majorty of members, you pay your money and you get nothing at all. The next biggest group are the group who pay their money and get roundly abused and expected to work very hard for the privelege of having paid. For a vanishingly small number, the benefits listed above become worth the money. But for most people? Why in the hell would you hand over hard-earned cash, particularly in today's economic climate, for a big pile of bugger all? You might as well go down the pub (while there's still some pubs left) and spend your money there.

If political parties want to stop the decline in membership they need to offer something that people think is worth spending money on. I don't see it happening any time soon...
miss_s_b: (Default)
(now officially Lib Dem Blog Post of the Year. Gosh)

There's always a lot of jockeying for position in any political party, but it appears to be particularly strident within the Lib Dems in the lead-up to this September's conference in Glasgow. In the blue corner, there is much talk of anti-Clegg "lefties" and "socialists" trying to scupper the 2015 manifesto by making it skew too far left for coalition to be possible with anyone other than Labour - ignoring how left-skewed our manifesto was in 2010, and yet we still managed coalition with the Tories. In the red corner the talk is of "the leadership and their lackeys" trying to scupper the 2015 manifesto too far right and the membership already deserting in droves will go into freefall and the sky is falling, the sky is falling.

The reality is almost certainly a bit of both, and I find myself in the yellow corner, increasingly lonely and bemused. I'd quite like our manifesto to be Liberal, and bugger left or right.

I fear that the background to this is that both sides are positioning from what they fear might happen, rather than what is likely to actually happen. The media and the Westminster bubble have settled on the idea that the Lib Dems will be wiped out, or certainly lose lots of MPs, in 2015. I think both sides in this particular debate have drunk that Kool Aid. Thus we get Clegg's 87% Straw Man that the membership doesn't want power and they are naive idealists and they are hampering him from taking the party forward; because if we lose lots of seats in 2015 Clegg can then turn round and say I TOLD YOU! It's your fault, you unrealistic idealists! Meanwhile the other faction are saying that if we lose lots of seats in 2015 it'll be Clegg's fault for selling out the party's principles, for buying in to Osbornomics, and for not listening to the membership.

Both factions are becoming increasingly entrenched, I have good friends on both sides, and it bothers me that both sides are acting out of fear, rather than rational thought.

The media narrative that we are doomed is flawed. Pretty much all of the commentariat base their assumptions on who will win and lose seats on uniform national swing. As Lib Dems we should surely know that this is utter bollocks. A swift glance at any list in any newspaper of seats that the Lib Dems are predicted to lose should surely show that. Yes, we might lose a few. But we're not going to lose Adrian Sanders, for example, or Greg Mullholland, or many others who appear without fail on such lists. To say we are is to ignore the realities on the ground in those individual seats.

Well, I say we're not. The reality is, of course, the more entrenched and fearful both sides become, the more self-fulfilling the prophecy becomes. If the party is too busy warring within itself to campaign properly...

Nobody knows for sure what will happen in 2015. But I'll put my prediction on the table right now: it'll be a mirror image of 2010. In 2010 everybody wanted Labour out but nobody wanted the Tories in. The electorate detested both main parties, and Clegg had painted himself as a breath of fresh air. There were huge numbers of protest votes and spoilt ballots. A lot of the protest votes were for the Lib Dems, but because they were spread pretty evenly across the nation, they didn't translate into actual seats. Nobody got an overall majority. In 2015 everybody will want Cameron out, but nobody will want Millibland in. The electorate now detest THREE main parties, and Niggle Farridge has managed to paint himself as a breath of fresh air. There will be even lower turnout, even higher numbers of protest votes, and nobody will get an overall majority. UKIP will get a big slice of the protest votes, but it will be spread evenly across the nation and won't translate into actual seats. Labour will be the biggest party, but not by much. Coalition will only be mathematically possible with Labour though, just as in 2010 it was only mathematically possible with the Tories. But the Labour party don't WANT a coalition like the Tories did, so the negotiations will fall down, or produce a coalition deal that won't pass the triple lock, and Labour will form a minority government - thus if the red corner ARE positioning for coalition with Labour, they're on a hiding to nothing because Labour don't and won't want it.

At the end of the day, though, we can't know whether I'm right or wrong on that till it happens, and therefore we can't control for it. The electorate is a fickle beast, and trying to pander to what we think they might want, whether starting from the red corner OR the blue corner, is futile and self-defeating. Instead, perhaps what we should adopt for policies is what we think is right, what we think will work to achieve the desired outcomes of a stronger economy in a fairer society (TM Lib Dem HQ) and try to persuade the public that what we are going for is right and will work?

I know, I know, I'm doing my King Canute impression again, aren't I?
miss_s_b: (Default)
So according to the Torygraph, Cleggy is looking for laydeez to ennoble, to correct some of our woeful gender balance issues in parliament. I don't necessarily support this option, given that I'd quite like to see the HoL reformed, and it'd be even better if we could get more ladies elected to the commons, but given our standing in the polls at the moment, I suspect that option isn't going to be a viable one.

That said, I can think of several who deserve to be ennobled.

Helen Duffett is the first to spring to mind. Helen is someone who most non-libdems won't have heard of, but EVERYONE within the party knows due to her hard work, dilligence, and sensitive manner, even when dealing with total arseholes. Caron Lindsay would be another good choice. Zoe O'Connell. Sarah Brown*. Susan Gasczack. Holly Matthies (if she CAN be, being an immigrant and all). Linda Jack would certainly put the wind up a bunch of people...

These ladies are not people I agree with on all matters, but they are good liberals, hard working, and have soldiered away for the party for long years often without the recognition they deserve.

Of course, if Cleggy is feeling mischievous and wants to annoy the Tebbits of this world, I myself would not object to being ennobled. But I think Satan will be skating to work before I get THAT phone call.



* this Sarah Brown, although there are a couple of other Sarah Browns in the party.

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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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