miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
The electorate were misled. Don't get angry at them; persuade them to get angry at the lying arseholes that sold them this crock of shit and told them it was shinola.

The shittiness of the crock of shit is already becoming apparent, but there's no use screaming I told you so at people who already feel crap because they were duped. Telling people they were wrong when they know they were wrong only leads to them doubling down and blaming immigrants, "benefit scroungers", women and LGBT+ folk even harder.

Don't tell them they were wrong, tell them they were tricked. Tricked by the same Bullingdon Boys they thought they were sticking two fingers up to. And then tell them what they can do about it, if they want to.

Show them that there are some politicians who will tell them the truth.
Show them that there is a better way.
Show them liberalism.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
We won Warley. Not only did we win Warley, but we won it with a stonking majority.
We held Elland. Not only did we hold Elland, but Pat's majority is something to warm the cockles of any lib dem heart.
We held G&S, despite the tories throwing everything they had at it, and despite the much beloved sitting lib dem councillor standing down.

We lost Calder. We lost Janet. We lost Janet at least partly due to blatant lies from a Labour candidate I had previously believed to be honourable - no more.

But: where we work we win... well, where we work more than any reasonable person can be expected to, and for several years, we win three times out of four.

We have Ashley on the council, and he is a man who knows his policy onions. We have Pat Allen still, and she is a lady who has more principles than you can shake a stick at. And we have a new mover and shaker in Paul Bellenger, who has the enthusiasm of ten men. We'll miss Janet, the hardest working councillor the Calder Ward has ever seen, but we'll survive, despite mourning her loss.

Outside of Calderdale: Wales is very depressing. Scotland is actually quite cheery. Rotherham is legitimately terrifying. Eastleigh is glorious. Watford? Oh Watford. I love you so much. And London? London has rejected the blatant racism of Lynton Crosby as passed through the prism of Zac Goldsmith and has elected its first muslim mayor. I don't approve of everything Sadiq Khan stands for, but he's at least competent, and London has a muslim mayor. I'll accept that. I'll accept that because it will make the racist arseholes REALLY ANGRY, and we're going to be seeing a lot of racist arseholes given the Labour>UKIP shifts.

My party hasn't made Justin Trudeau gains, but it's made gains, and it's made gains in council seats (albeit from a low base) for the first time since I joined the party. The tories are up for electoral fraud in a whole lot of tory/Lib Dem marginals, and I am ITCHING for the bye elections...

For the first time in a long time, it feels GOOD to be a lib dem. There's a lot of reasons for that; some of it is regression to the mean and some of it is us not being in coalition any more, but I actually credit a lot of it to having a steady, yet reliably liberal, hand on the tiller. So thank you to Our Glorious Leader, Timothy of Farron. And thank you to all the footsoldiers who pounded the streets for little thanks: I thank you all here, every last one of you. You're awesome.

Onwards and upwards, my fellow lib dems. And, despite the sad blight of the loss of Janet Battye (which will hurt the people of the Calder Ward more than they yet realise), it genuinely does feel like we've turned a corner.

Team Cockroach FTW.
miss_s_b: Captain Kathryn Janeway (Feminist Heroes: Janeway)
I just noticed I haven't posted an actual post for ages and it's all been linkspammy, probably because I've been spending most of my Expressing Myself spoons on drawing things and putting them on instagram, so I thought you'd all appreciate a little update
  • Item: I am standing in the council elections. Again. The last 2 years I got exactly 103 votes. I am hoping for a modest increase to 104 this year, because Alisdair will be able to vote for me, living in my ward as he does now.

  • Item: Mental and physical health things are more-or-less under control at the moment (she says, hoping not to jinx things).
    Mentally, I've had less than the usual hiding-under-the-duvet days since surviving The Februaries, and I'm managing to mostly stick to my exercise-away-the-mentals schedule. These things may or may not be related. I am now at the level of fitness where it is almost impossible for me to consume the number of calories I am burning, so the weight has started dropping off again. I may be able to fit into nice clothes by autumn conference, which will help with self esteem and things. We shall see.
    Physically I'm still having some debilitating pain days, but not so many, and managing to at least swim, even when I can't manage the weights because of a pain day. I am lucky that if necessary I can work from home, so it doesn't actually impact work. Speaking of which...

  • Item: Job continues to be good, and interesting. Every day is a different thing. I approve of this. A lot of what I get to do is research things so that the boss can spend 5 minutes reading my summary email, rather than three hours googling. I now know lots about various things I never even considered knowing about before. Yay learnings!

  • Item: Daughter appears to have developed some bits of executive function; she's by no means perfect, but is getting into the routine of wake - shower - breakfast -brush hair and teeth - get dressed - go to school in a morning, and come to mummy's office - do homework - go home - get changed - eat tea in an afternoon. It's only taken nearly two years...
    (Seriously, given how awful I can be with executive function, I am incredibly proud of her. At this point in my career at the same school I already had the school detention record under my belt; she's doing WAY better, and it's not entirely due to having a diagnosis).

  • Item: Doggies continue adorable. As do boys. Mum and Dad are both good...
I think that's about it, really... Hope you lot are all good. I do try to remember birthdays and stuff but I'm pretty rubbish at that.

*big hugs for everybody*

(especially you, Duffett, I know you're out there)
miss_s_b: Kate Beckett aiming a gun (Feminist Heroes: Kate Beckett)
I suspect that in certain quarters this is not going to win me any friends. I don't rightly care. Those of you of a nervous disposition might want to scroll on past right now...


Hello those who are still here. You may or may not have noticed that sexual harrassment is something of a hot button topic in the lib dems, and indeed politics in general, at the moment. This is because, despite years and years of being told over and over again, some people (mainly, but not exclusively, men) refuse to get it. I am therefore going to put this in very simple terms.

The worst thing about sexual harrassment is the absolute, wearying, relentless inevitability of it. If you present as female, wherever you go there will be some arsehole, normally a man, and I'm afraid the rest of this post is going to be entirely in gendered terms because that's my experience*, who views you as nothing more than a receptacle for his knob and treats you accordingly.

And yes, #NotAllMen. But enough men. Enough men for it to be a hazard in every single public place. Enough men that other, nicer, men don't stop from sexually harrassing because they don't even notice it happening, or if they do notice they brush it off, dismiss it, or even think it's funny.

And yes, women don't always tell such men that their advances are unwanted. Because we know what happens if we do.

I can hear the cry building up right now:
But waaaaaaaaah what is a man who wants a shag and fancies a woman supposed to do! We're not even allowed to talk to women any more! It's so unfair! Our entitlement to consequence-free sex is being taken away! etc. etc et bloody cetera.
You know how I know that cry is building up from the men who view women as nothing more than pieces of meat? Because on every single fucking article some poor woman writes about this, that's what the comment section looks like. Waaaaah not allowed to be friendly. Waaaaaah not allowed to give people a hug. Waaaaaaaah not allowed to flirt. Waaaaaaaaaaaaah not allowed to grope somebody and then pretend it was just an affectionate gesture. The species will die out if we can't conduct mating rituals without paying any attention to one party's feelings on whether or not mating should occur!

Boys, when you say shit like that, you are fooling nobody. Right out of your own mouth comes the evidence that you think of women as sperm receptacles first and human beings second, because you know what? Nobody who wasn't worried they are a sexual harrasser would talk such utter bollocks. You are not entitled to a shag just because you want one, go and have a wank just like everybody else does when they fancy someone who doesn't fancy them back, and stop bloody whining like Kevin the teenager because you can't get your end away.

You are absolutely allowed to talk to women. I speak to men all the time. I spoke to several only this morning. Quite a lot of the men I spoke to, we were both in a state of undress (I went to the gym and swimming). Only one man sexually harrassed me today (today was a quiet day for entitled arseholes, I guess). Most of them were lovely. But that one man is enough to make me keep my distance a little bit more from all men, because who knows if any of them is Scroedinger's Rapist. So if you want women to feel safer and easier talking to you? You, as a man, need to notice, call out, and stop sexual harrassment.

You are absolutely allowed to be friendly to women. "Being friendly" and "trying to get into the pants of" are not synonyms though. I have lots of friends that I don't have sex with.

You are absolutely allowed to hug or have other affectionate contact with women if they are your friends, and you know for a damn straight fact they are enthusiastically consenting. If you've just met someone in a bar, putting your arm around them marks you out as a creeper, guys. And just because nobody has said anything does not mean you are not being marked as a creeper. You put your arm around someone and they immediately tense up? You take your arm away. Not rocket science.

You are absolutely allowed to flirt with women. The trick to this is: is she flirting back? If she's got a genuine, open smile, if she's responding to you in kind, then flirt away! If she's backing away, answering in monosyllables, looking at the door, giving you a glassy smile rather than a genuine one... You need to back the fuck off and shut the fuck up because she is not interested in you. She may not outright say "Look, mate, I'm not interested", because as the links above show, that can get you beaten, raped, or killed. Learn to read body language, and you will be fine. Guys who master this skill are way more attractive to women, because when a guy treats us with respect we feel such relief that he's not One of Them...

Ah yes, Them.

You see, the thing is, the research shows that actually, pretty much all men understand this. But the sexual harrassers, assaulters and rapists are the ones who trot out the shit about grey areas and being confused by it because that's how they get away with it. So I'm sorry to break it to you, boys, but every time I see one of you coming out with some of these gems, I think to myself "that dude is an uncaught rapist". Quite a lot of you are, you know. Many of you will cheerfully admit to it, so long as nobody uses the 'r' word.

And as long as nice men, normal men, men who aren't sexual harrassers, assaulters and rapists, keep letting this shit get trotted out again and again by their mates because "Simon** wouldn't do that, he's a good guy" or "David***'s such a gentleman, though" then this situation is going to continue.

And we're going to keep having the "but whyyyyyyy don't more women want to join our club?" discussion for years and years to come. Frankly, AWS isn't even a sticking plaster on this.



*I know sexual assault, harrassment, and rape happens to men too. I know survivors of male rape have it extra difficult in terms of not being believed, and not getting justice. I rage about that too, just not in this post. OK?
**Not all Simons
***Not all Davids
I just picked those names randomly. Sorry.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
... may be interested to know that she is writing a book based partially on the speech and Q&A she gave us. If you would like a copy you can back the kickstarter here.

The amount being asked for the Kickstarter is symbolic — £1,008 is the fee for UK citizenship *after* you’ve already passed the so-called citizenship test and paid thousands in visas, which Holly has. I've gone for the signed copy, myself.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Sympathy)
I think after the last few days there are a few of us who need hugs, but also a few of us who are feeling like we've had our space invaded once too often, so I thought I'd draw up terms of reference for the AO I jokingly coined on twitter this evening:

1, lib dem friends of cuddles exists to further the idea of comforting contact between sentient beings. Cuddles, hugs and cwtching are all within our remit.
2, a cuddle without consent is not a cuddle, it is assault. Asking for consent does not need to be verbal but it needs to happen. Opening your arms and inclining your head so the other person can lap into your arms is fine. Grabbing them is not*.
3, lib dem friends of cuddles are absolutely encouraged to proselytise the cause of cuddles within and without the party, but must never pressure or guilt trip anyone for not wanting cuddles.
4, We are happy to work with sister AOs in the cause of furthering happiness within the party, especially Lib Dem Friends of Gin, and also LDFO Cake, pie, biscuits & tarts.



*actually one of my favourite moments of lib dem conference was when I was having a weepy moment and someone said "is it OK if I pat your knee". This does not "ruin the moment" or take away spontenaity, you guys. It was really sweet and thoughtful and nice.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
... but only because so many people I care about made such impassioned pleas (and in some cases told me their own tales of teetering on the edge of leaving).

I'm not the world's happiest bunny right now. But I'm clinging on.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Post Feminism)
... having baronesses soft soap me. I blame [profile] sassyscot for this.

I'm not going to lie. I'm weakening.

State of the SB

Friday, February 12th, 2016 03:52 pm
miss_s_b: (Britishness: cricket)
Item: I'm currently taking a tw'oliday from twitter - there's so much horrific news at the moment, and it's hurting and affecting people I know and love, and it hurts being bombarded by it several times a day, so I'm taking a break. It won't be forever, probably just a couple of weeks. Just to build up my resilience.

Item: I have been incredibly impressed by hp-for-business customer support the last couple of days. Not only did the lady sort out the recalcitrant printer that had proved resistant to both mine and Alisdair's best efforts, but she rang me back today to check that things were still OK and it was still working (it was).

Item: I've taken to instagram like a duck to water. I'm pretty active (user name is jennierigg) and I'm mostly posting pictures of my doggies. The accounts I am following fall into four categories: 1, People I actually know; 2, accounts which post pictures of cute doggies; 3, accounts which post pictures of hot guys with beards; and 4, artists I admire - mostly tattoo and comicbook, but not exclusively. Oh, and there's also the amazing collision of 2 and 3 that is Hot Dudes With Dogs.
If you want to be bombarded with pictures of my doggies, occasional gym updates and photos of food, and comments on your photos do feel free to follow me there.

Item: Mental health has been... Not bad but not great. I have been quite low through the end of January, and the nightmares have been about 3 times a week. However, touch wood, things seem to be picking up. I'm slightly anxious about getting a Case Of The Februaries, but also hoping that the Februaries just came early and I got them out of the way in January. I did write up the nightmare I had the other day, and writing it out helped. I then gave it a cheesy happy ending. If there's demand I might post it.
A thing that's helping mental health a LOT is that I'm getting in a reasonable amount of reading time recently. Current OMG WOW SHE'S AMAZING author is Tananarive Due. Thoroughly recced to all of you.

Item: Physical health is pretty good. I'm not doing much cycling because the canal path is still buggered after the floods in late December - although [personal profile] matgb is on about taking me road cycling soon, despite my nerves - but I'm doing really well at the gym and in the pool, and getting some decent walks in every so often. I've got pretty impressive muscles at the mo.

Item: A week today I am going to go for the first appointment for my next tattoo. I has the excite! This has been ages in gestation; Matt has been sending me rough sketches by email, and it's going to be amazing. He's a genuinely awesome artist too. Really exciting. So that's probably going to go on Instagram; it'll also affect my swimming a little bit, because I'll have to not swim for a week after having it done. Boo. Shall have to do treadmill or something equally dreadful for cardio. :(
Hmm. Maybe rowing machine? Rowing machine is not that dreadful...

Item: Daughter continues fabulous. She's really settled in at the old Alma Mater, and has chosen her GCSE options this month
*pauses to pass smelling salts to those who remember her being born and are now feeling faint with age*
Doggies are also great, and very snuggly. And I'm coping OK with having all my boys under one roof, even if it is a bit crowded and a bit rubbish not having my own room any more.

Item: Job continues pretty good - I honestly think if I'd have still been in my old job I would have had a total breakdown two or three times in the last few months. So yeah, I'm really glad of Job. The work itself is fun, the pay is better than any job I have ever had before, and I'm not overburdened. It's pretty cool. I'm still getting used to not having to scrimp for every penny, and trying not to splurge every payday, which is harder than it looks. But I'm getting there...

Item: LibDemmery... I'm not even going there. Everything is hanging on York at the moment. We'll see.

So, yeah, that got longer than I expected. Um. Sorry. But you're all now updated on everything. I think...

Let me know if you'd like to see my nightmare.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Not London)
... Anyone got space for a little one Friday the 19th and Saturday the 20th of this month? I'll bring my own toothpaste...

The nearer to Westminster the better, FYI. Got a lib demmy thing to go to.

(may be a while answering comments as work is concentratey this morning, but don't worry, I will get there)

ETA: now have offer, thanks folks :)
miss_s_b: DCI Gill Murray looking disapprovingly at her phone (feminist heroes: DCI Gill Murray)
Several years out from working in hospitality/retail I am starting to recover from my primal loathing of Christmas, such that this year I am prepared to indulge in some Christmas wishes. These are specific to the party, and not connected with my general and ongoing wishes for world peace, vast amounts of cash, and unlimited gin and brandy. I think those three can pretty much be taken as read.

This year I wish:
  • That the media would pay less attention to Labour tearing itself apart and more to the horrible things the government is doing, so that people realise just how much the government need opposing.

  • That our leader carries on mostly the way he is. AFAICS he has only made one misstep; that's not bad in over six months, and certainly better than the last one managed for any six month period of his leadership. It's still weird having a leader I voted for, and I'm still not sure I like it when I'm so used to being a member of the awkward squad, but it's growing on me.

  • That more of the members of the Liberal Democrat Group in the House of Lords are awesome like Liz Barker, Kath Pinnock, Ros Scott, Brian Paddick, and many others; and less of them are awful like the triumvirate of horror that is Carlile, Greaves and Rennard. Signs are good for this wish to come true, from everything I'm seeing of late.

  • That my fellow bloggers, tweeters, and commenters on Lib Dem Voice start to give each other a bit of a break. You don't NEED to leap in all guns blazing and straw men a-gogo every single time someone says something that slightly bothers you. Sometimes it's better for all concerned just to let a thing slide. Also, if you're writing an otherwise excellent article about how people should be more reasonable, it's probably not reasonable to include a long aside about how all straw men are fuckwits.

  • Linked to that last, I have several wishes to do with the Epps/Liberal Youth ongoing soap opera of awfulness
    1. That the various members of Liberal Youth whom I love would stop being horrible about my dear friend Gareth Epps
    2. That my dear friend Gareth Epps would stop giving lots of members of Liberal Youth reason to be horrible to him, and ammunition for so doing
    3. That none of those mentioned above will descend into "but HE/THEY started it!" as a justification for continually being horrible to each other
    4. That all of them will learn to just walk away, and not leave nasty messages in public about this ongoing childish spat which only prolongs the problem on all sides of this "debate"
    Honestly, genuinely, I love people on both sides, and if they would all stop screeching "splitters!" at each other and fight the Romans instead we'd be in a much better position. Apart from anything else it's excruciatingly embarrassing to watch.
Now, lets all have a nice chorus of Wouldn't It Be Nice If Everyone Was Nice. It'd certainly make my life less stressful...
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
... I think we've just done the worst.

I remain to be convinced that airstrikes will help to defeat Daesh, because you can't blow up an idea. I remain to be convinced that NOT blowing up bit of Syria would help either. I'm in a paralysis of indecision about the whole thing. One thing I am sure of, though, is that from the point of view of gaining an electoral advantage we've just done the worst possible thing.

- Our glorious leader announces, after much handwringing, that we're going to whip our 8 MPs to support airstrikes, pissing off a good 40% of our activists just before a by election;
- Cameron, intentionally or not, pisses of half his Labour sycophants by talking about terrorist sympathisers so he now has much weaker support from the red team;
- The foreign affairs select committee, despite the best efforts of Uncle Crispin, announce that they think airstrikes are a really bad idea;
- we now look like the rump that's left of us is still supporting the tories even though we don't have to, and even though nobody else thinks it's a good idea.

Still, on the plus side it's taken a good five and a half months for our new leader to make such a monumental tactical fuckup, and further on the plus side so few people are paying attention to us these days nobody is going to notice or care, and if they do they'll just shrug because supporting the tories needlessly is what we're for, right?

I think the time has come for me to see if I can find Dave Page's Patented Desk made of human hands so that I can headdesk and facepalm at the same time.

UPDATE: quote from my twitter feed: "sad but unsurprising to see the rump lib dems being lickspittles"

*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

UPDATE 2: and another, as pointed out by Andrew in the comments below: "It's easier to have contempt for the Lib Dems than Tories in the same way it's easier to have contempt for Grima Wormtongue than Saruman."

Several people I really respect are considering their party membership this morning, including one who has been a member for 20+ years and served on a lot of Federal committees. I am just really really depressed.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Liberal)
Me: "Just think: in thirty years I'm going to be Shutty."
Him: "Nahhhhh... in thirty years you'll be Mick Taylor. Ten years after THAT you'll be Shutty*."
This little snippet of conversation I had recently with a LibDem activist from a neighbouring local party has been preying on my mind today, along with the maxim "all it takes to go from Liberal to Conservative is thirty years without changing a single opinion".

Both of the names mentioned above are people I would class as proper, dyed-in-the-wool Liberals. I also think it's fair to say that both of them have never stopped engaging with the world around them, with both younger and older people, and people from cultures not their own. They don't fit with the maxim because neither Mick not Shutty has ever stopped learning, growing, and changing. Neither of them has ever stopped paying attention. I'm not saying I agree with either of them on All Things, part of the point of this is that I don't**, but I know that any opinion either of them advances has been reached by deliberation, not a jerking knee.

There are people in the party, though, who aren't like that***. They only ever listen to people from their own cohort, and when they talk to people of different cohorts they talk at them not to them, and they start to become like the person in the maxim. They sit in their own little echo chamber, and if any person who doesn't agree with them in any way happens to come to their attention, they get very confused, scared and angry.
  • They start telling people that they aren't proper Liberals because they aren't doing as they are told****
  • They tell people who don't agree with their outdated views on x or y thing that they aren't proper Liberals.
  • Their war cry is "shut up and go deliver some leaflets"***** because people not of their cohort shouldn't contribute ideas, they should just be cannon fodder.
It's desperately, desperately sad. It drives people away from the party, and it hampers our campaigning ability, and it doesn't make anyone any happier, least of all the people who are confused, scared and angry and screaming about how nobody these days is a proper Liberal like wot they are.

So I hope that in thirty years I do turn into Mick, and then possibly after that Shutty, because the alternative is too awful and depressing to contemplate. But given my hatred of false binaries I'm hoping there's a middle way: when I grow up I think I'd like to be Pauline Nash. Or maybe Jeanette Sunderland.



* Shutty being Lord Shutt of Greetland, who has the most encyclopaedic knowledge of what has happened in Calderdale and it's predecessor areas in the Lib Dems and Liberals for the last fifty years. Mick Taylor being slightly younger and slightly more firebrandy.
** I've had political disagreements with both Mick and Shutty. Mostly, it was fun having a discussion with a person who genuinely wanted to actually discuss things and get to the truth of a matter, rather than shout down an opponent. Sometimes one of us will persuade the other, sometimes we'll agree to disagree. We always listen to each other, though.
*** thankfully not in Calderdale
**** which half a second's rational thought would tell them is a contradiction in terms
***** delivering leaflets, not canvassing, because we wouldn't want the people not of the echo chamber to actually talk to voters.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
This is what I said:
You're probably drowning under a tsunami of emails about this, so I'll keep it short. I'm not going to trawl through the ins and outs and the rights and wrongs because that's been done ad nauseam, and is probably being done elsewhere in the tsunami. However, I am going to point out a political reality: somebody needs to tell Lord Rennard that if he loves the party as much as he professes to do he needs to stop trying his damnedest to destroy it, and the tiny amount of remaining credibility it has. I think that message could possibly do with being hammered home to the forty unelected fools who thought they were being clever by voting him onto FE too.

That is as much as I can say while remaining civil. I really am incredibly angry about this.

I hope others manage to remain civil too.
I am posting this publicly because I am a liberal, and I believe in openness and transparency. I am dead set certain there are people reading this who will disagree with my stance on this matter and think that Lord Grabbyhands deserves to be allowed full privileges because of what Webster said. I haven't seen him comply with Webster's conclusions* and so I don't think that he can be said to have done everything required of him to make amends. I'm broadly sympathetic to the idea that he should be allowed full privileges IF he apologises and commits to changing his ways. I see no evidence whatsoever that this has happened, or is likely to in the future.

But honestly, Lib Dem Lords, we have a big by election to fight. We're trying to recover from a rout at the general election. What on Cthulhu's green earth made you think that slashing open this festering wound was a remotely good idea? Idiots.



* not only that he should apologise - as opposed to giving a half-arsed mealy-mouthed faupology - but that he should commit to changing his ways.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
You'll be pleased to hear that my answers to this aren't quite as long as those to the governance review, because there were not as many questions to answer as the review doesn't cover as broad an area.

that said, I'm still putting them under a cut )
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
This gets quite long and involved, guys. There were a lot of questions in the governance review paper, and I've answered every one of them. As such, my answers are under the cut )
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
I keep seeing proposals from my fellow Lib Dems for legislation, or amendments thereto, or policies, or whatever, that ask for "half men and half women" or "50/50 male/female representation".

STOP IT. Please, please stop it. Apart from the fact that these people always list men first, which strikes me as indicative; apart from the fact that the population is more than 50% women anyway, by most statistical measures, so these things ought to be majority women even if you do believe in a strict gender binary; the gender binary is bullshit and pretending it isn't erases the very existence of people who do not conform to it. Half men and half women leaves no space for those who identify as neither, or both. Intersex, non-binary and genderqueer folks make up about 0.4% of the population, at a conservative estimate. Now, that might not sound like a lot, but it's about 250,000 people in the UK. Bear in mind also, that that's in a society that rigidly enforces the gender binary, and regularly does not give the option of declaring that you are neither or both. We all know how the proportion of repressed social groups "goes up" the less repression there is, as people stop having to hide their actual selves. I think we can therefore say that there are at least 250,000 people who are neither exclusively "man" nor exclusively "woman" in the UK.

These people are people and deserve to at least have their existence acknowledged. Can we PLEASE stop erasing and automatically excluding them by not even remembering their existence when formulating policy? It's not hard. If you're really wedded to having a numerical target - which I personally am not, but that's a whole 'nother blog post - don't say "50/50 men/women", say "50% women"**. That knocks the women down by 1% to give some wiggle room and leaves the other 50% totally unspecified. Easy, right?



*and yes there are some trans and some cis in all those categories, and that doesn't make a difference to my point
**definition of woman = a human being who identifies as a woman. That's it. Yes, trans women are women. Anyone denying this basic fact in the comments to this blog will be given the shortest of short shrift.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
OMOV is going to come up again at conference, and it's one of those ideas that superficially seductive, and, to be honest, I lean in favour of just from a simplicity point of view. However*, there are some arguments against which I think need to be answered before I'll consider voting for it. I'll outline them below, along with some ideas which could mitigate (although not necessarily solve) each one:

1, Entryism. Yeah, I know, we're the Lib Dems, who's going to bother? But the current system of conference reps does at least mean that someone who comes to conference with a voting pass has at least been given a cursory glance over by their local party. This could be mitigated by having a length of service clause (you can't vote till you've been a member for a given amount of time) but that wouldn't deter really determined entryists, and would mean that the one person you've thought of as a natural lib dem, who your local party has been courting for years, would also be denied a vote when under the current system they aren't. Also people who continually let their memberships lapse due to forgetfulness would be perpetually unable to vote. This could be mitigated by people signing up for direct debits.

2, Geographic concentration. This is already an issue - wherever conference is closest to supplies the majority of voting reps for that conference. I can't see OMOV making this any better, and I can see it potentially getting worse. A lot of policies we vote on have different applications in different regions. This could be mitigated by allowing online voting, but that opens up whole new vistas of cans of worms.

3, Tyranny of the Majority. Y'all just knew I was going to bring up John Stuart Mill at some point, didn't you? Dear old JS. If you have OMOV, and geographic concentration, and entryism, you run the risk of packing of policy votes. Now, arguably, this already happens. We've all** been in the hall for Julian and Evan's traditional "get rid of faith schools" motion/amendment, which it's quite clear the hall is going to vote for, and then the payroll vote come rolling in and vote it down. The payroll vote is smaller now, but that doesn't mean other packing factions won't emerge, and OMOV would make it lots easier for them. Packing of votes necessarily means smaller local parties/AOs/SAOs get less says, and I, for one, am in favour of diversity of opinion. This could be mitigated by retaining the current conference rep system.

4, Single Issue Pressure Groups. People would turn up en masse to vote on one motion. Can you imagine what 38 degrees would do to conference? This could be mitigated by retaining the current voting rep system, or by the long service requirement

5, Doesn't solve the problems it claims to solve. Becoming a conference rep is touted as a major barrier to participation in conference by proponents of OMOV. I have never known of a local party that does not have difficulty filling up all their available conference rep slots, even the ones that believe the emails that come from head office telling you you're entitled to less than you actually are. If turning up to your local party AGM and putting your hand up when the chair says "Who's going to conference, then?" is an insurmountable barrier to participation for a particular individual, I don't think that OMOV will make them more likely to participate. Maybe it will for a few, but not the majority. And yes, there IS a problem with moribund local parties in some areas, but OMOV doesn't suddenly invigorate them. No, the major thing that prevents people participating in conference is that it costs a small fortune, and again, OMOV does not solve this. This could be mitigated by not telling people a system is going to do something it demonstrably isn't and can't? IDK.

Now, I'm not actually dead set against OMOV. As I said at the beginning, it has a beguiling simplicity. But I would like to see genuine solutions to the problems I have with it before I vote for an unknown system over one that I know, and know works.




* up yours, Govey
** for a given definition of all
miss_s_b: (Who: Dalek Pest Control)
Waaaaaaaay back in the mists of time I was very active in Harry Potter fandom. Bear with me, because there is a point to this. The official Harry Potter website forums had a very active mod team and a very restrictive policy on what was suitable for posting on a forum aimed at children*. After some degree of protest about this, a quite large group of us went and set up our own forums. I did most of the building and running of those forums. Some time after that, and after much growth of the site I was running, a group of people decided they didn't like how I was running that website. You know what they did? They went off and set up their own.

Not one of us at any point in any of those processes had their free speech infringed: the WB were perfectly within their rights to decide that babies are not a fit topic for children to possibly stumble on a conversation about**. I was perfectly within my rights to decide the policies for my site, and the people who moved on from it were perfectly within their rights to decide the policies on their site.

You see, the thing is, if a person, or a set of people, have made the effort to build something - be that a house, a blog, a website, or anything else - those people have the right to decide what they will and will not put up with within that place. If you want to build a website or set up a blog where people can come and shout obscenities at you, you can do so, just as if you wanted to let people into your house to shout at you you could do so. In a lot of cases it won't even cost you any money.

The thing is, whatever you decide to do in terms of comments on a website, there is going to be someone who doesn't like it. So you have to decide which people you want to make unhappy. In my view, the vast majority of websites - including lib dem voice - are far too nice to the sort of arseholes who make everybody who just wants a civil discussion unhappy. And that makes the people who just want a civil discussion unhappy, and when they're unhappy they go away. And then the only people you have commenting on your website are the arseholes. There is lots and lots of research out there on this, but even without the research it's perfectly blindingly obvious that websites with incredibly "free" comment policies quickly become cesspits of bile.

To be specific about Tony Greaves: a peer of the realm does not have his free speech infringed by being banned from a private website when he has been repeatedly told that his behaviour towards other people on the website is unacceptable and he needs to tone it down. He is perfectly free to be published elsewhere, or even set up his own website, as are any of the rest of us who don't like the way lib dem voice run their comments and/or forum. As, indeed, I don't, and therefore I have.

In my view it would do Lib Dem Voice good to have some competition. I am a Liberal, and I don't like monocultures and overcentralisation. Lib Dem Voice was set up by and is run by volunteers. There is nothing to stop other people doing what they did, and making a success of it. All it would take would be time and effort. Admittedly, quite a lot of time and effort, but the people who run lib dem voice have already put that time and effort in, and therefore it is their site and they can decide what they will accept people doing on it. I personally think that the Liberator Collective are best placed to set up a site in competition to lib dem voice at the moment, and I'd actually quite like to read such a website. Tony Greaves is a member of the Liberator collective regular contributor to Liberator and I'm sure would be welcome to contribute to any website they might build***.

So, liberator people: instead of being whiny entitled idiots and complaining about censorship when someone won't let you abuse them on their own website, how about putting some effort in yourselves and building your own?



* I got banned from it for tlking about being pregnant with my now 12 year old daughter, which I personally think is a little censorious.
** stupid and wrong, but within their rights.
*** corrected after being contacted by someone who IS a member of the Liberator Collective.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Brain Hurts)
50/50 sounds so seductive, doesn't it? It sounds so fair. But it's not fair, and in fact makes marginalisation worse.

I have a lot of friends who are genderqueer, or intersex, or otherwise outside of the narrow gender binary represented by 50/50 campaigns. You probably have friends who fall outside the gender binary - it's nothing like a rare as we are traditionally led to think. If you follow a 50/50 gender campaign you are reinforcing the false gender binary, and locking out of power anyone who does not adhere to that false gender binary. That's not just illiberal, it's morally wrong, and discriminatory against a group of people whom our society already treats like crap.

Please stop doing it, fellow lib dems. Please? Because every time you do your lack n of consideration for those who do not conform to an extremely narrow view of what humanity is becomes painfully obvious, and I for one thought we were better than that.
miss_s_b: (Default)
... which has remained screened and will continue to remain screened for not sticking to my comments policy. I am going to pull out one point from it, however.

Anonymouse says: It just won't wash to say - or to imply - that you think it's morally wrong for homosexuals to express their love physically, but that you're still a liberal because you support their legal rights.

No, no, no.

That's EXACTLY what liberalism is. Liberalism is legislating for the rights of people to do things that you personally disapprove of, because as long as they aren't harming anybody else it's not within your gift to intervene. If you can't grasp something this basic about Liberalism, then I'm sure everyone else can understand why I'm not unscreening the rest of your comment.

Liberalism isn't about purity of thought, about everyone being in agreement, about Borg-like adherence to conformity. That's the antithesis of liberalism. Liberalism is about defending the rights of people to do things you detest, because even though you detest their actions, they are not hurting anyone else.

I think people who drink mass-produced lager are the scum of the earth and morally reprehensible. Doesn't mean I'm going to do anything to stop them doing it. Doesn't mean I didn't live with one for ten years. I think people who prefer cats to dogs are utterly wrong. I'm deeply in love with one of those people right now, as I type.

And yes, the example you gave in your comment, dear anonymous, was intentionally far more inflammatory than those I give above. I know people who would agree with the view in your example, as well. And yes, I think those people can be liberals, so long as they actively agitate for the rights of people to do the thing they disapprove of.

Now don't get me wrong here, I think the very concept of sin is utter bollocks. I'm not going to defend the view that homosexual sex is a sin, because I don't agree with the concept of sin, and even if I did, I wouldn't think that any number of people of any gender enjoying themselves sexually would be a sin anyway. But I absolutely am going to defend the person who expresses that view from some sort of permissiveness thought-purity test. The question is not what Tim Farron (or anybody else's views) are of morality. I don't care if my leader thinks it's morally indefensible to eat cheese on a Tuesday, so long as he defends my right to eat cheese on a Tuesday.

Tim Farron's voting record is there for all to see, and the fact that the mainstream press are trying to misrepresent it to bash his private religious convictions is something that I, personally, find far more reprehensible than him having religion.

I'll say it again:
I'm an atheist.
I'm bisexual.
I'm polyamorous.
I voted for Tim Farron in the leadership contest, and I do not regret it.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
For devotees and attendees of the regular Not The Leader's Speech event at conference, where we all meet in the pub, download the text of the leader's speech, and work out what point we would have walked out at anyway, I have some bad news:



Of course, if there IS a point where I would walk out of Tim's speech... Well, I'll just have to walk out. From the front row. In front of all those TV cameras... It better be a damn good speech, Tim. That's all I'm saying.
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? :/
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...

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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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