miss_s_b: (Mood: Grateful)
So last night's dreams involved rescuing Brian May from badger cullers and hiding him in the space under the sofa (leading to Dream!SarahBrownCambridge asking me if I still had a guitarist in my sofa at one point)... ANYWAY. One thing one would obviously do if one had Brian in the sofa house would be to filk Queen songs. Allow me to present Dreamer's Poll:

Oh I used to be your MP
Used to be your pride and joy
I used to represent you
Just like any other boy
But now you've found another candidate
And left me like a broken toy

Oh it's someone else you're meeting
Someone else you're votin' for
Honey though it's fleeting
Know just what I have to do
If you don't like me when you're wakin'
I'll go to sleep and dream that you do

Oh take me take me take me
To the dreamer's poll
I'll be right on time
And I'll dress so fine
You're gonna vote for me when you see me
I won't have to worry
Take me take me
Promise not to wake me till it's morning
It's all been true

(etc)

Anyhoo, I have an action day to get to. Laters!
miss_s_b: (Mood: Liberal)
So, in case you're wondering what we got up to in Glasgow, here's us speaking from the stage.

Firstly, our lovely PPC for Calder Valley, Alisdair Calder McGregor spoke several times... )

Todmorden's own Ruth Coleman-Taylor spoke twice ) and also filled a good half of the first Today at Conference )

My lovely treasurer Dr Mick Taylor also spoke twice )

Sarah Noble spoke twice too )

Oh yeah... And I spoke agin gender quotas )
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Cthulhu the Six!Fan)
Like shoring up your support if you're a tory leader.
Like legitimising the demonisation of muslims that you've been insidiously supporting for ages.
Like dropping bombs on people who can't fight back and you'll never have to meet.

I'm sorry.

I recognise that there IS such a thing as a just war, and that the ISIS (or whatever they're called this week) probably is as near to a just war as we're going to get. But I don't think any of our politicians are doing this for just reasons* and I have too many family and friends in the forces to EVER celebrate going to war. Ever.

So if you're going to do gung ho cheering for this, do me a favour? Don't do it in front of me, or I will find it very difficult to remain civil.



*and I include the leadership of the Lib Dems in this. We appear to have found yet another untapped reserve of people who were clinging on to supporting us to piss off. YAY!
miss_s_b: (Default)
Firstly, Calderdale Local Party has it's policy working group meeting to consider amendments to motions this Saturday. If you have an amendment to a motion that you need support for, email it through to me or Alisdair and we'll put it in front of PWG for consideration for our support.

The other thing that will happen at PWG is that we will consider our OWN amendments. There are several motions that I have an eye on for some minor tweaking (and probably some of the things I am thinking of will be accepted as drafting amendments by the submitters of the motion) but there is ONE motion in particular that I think has the potential to be as controversial as Floella Benjamin's motion on censoring the internet protecting children was.

Heartbreakingly, that is the Crime motion which has had Julian Huppert's name applied to it. After the farrago over DRIP I am less surprised than I might have been, but it's still depressing to see him put his name to something so chock full of sneaky legalese, hidden authoritarianism, and puritanical attitudes. My problems with this motion are so many and varied that I am actually considering doing a full speech against it, rather than trying to amend it. But what do YOU guys think I should do?

Poll #15928 F13 Conference motion on Crime
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 10

In response to the bloody awful Crime motion, Jennie should:

Speak against the motion at conference
7 (70.0%)

try to get lots of amendments submitted
7 (70.0%)

do a line-by-line fisking of the thing on her blog
7 (70.0%)

despair at the damn thing being accepted in it's current form
3 (30.0%)

none of the above
0 (0.0%)



ETA: I should say that I am not against SOME of the proposals in this motion, and that's what makes it so frustrating. I'd really love to vote for some of them. But there's not enough there for me to want to support the motion as a whole.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Liberal)
I can't help but notice, these days, that many people do not have an understanding of what Liberalism is. Others often have their understanding altered by the USian usage of the word, which is more akin to what we in the UK would call socialism. So I asked on twitter this morning whether people would welcome a series of blog posts on the very basic tenets... And was met with a resounding yes.

Because this is me, these pieces are going to be conversational rather than academic in tone, and posted sporadically rather than to a schedule; hopefully that won't put off too many people. It's also, obviously, going to be just my take on it. Your mileage may vary. Other people may have equally valid viewpoints. And all the other stuff one puts in the standard Liberal disclaimer.

In the beginning was the word, and the word was John Stuart Mill*

I have deliberately chosen a religious form of words for that heading, because that what it felt like to me. I was in my second year of university, having studied various philosophers from the age of 15**, when I took a module called State, Self and Society. It had one set text, and that set text was this.

At the time, all I knew of JS Mill was that he had a line in the Drunken Philosophers Song***. I was at the time rather fond of Kant, but knew that a lot of philosophy could be rather dry****, so I wasn't particularly looking forward to reading On Liberty. And then I read it.

It was - still is - the closest thing to a religious experience I have ever had.

Now, for those of you who don't have the time or the inclination to read Mill and Taylor's beautifully constructed, logical and passionate prose, and want a Cliff's Notes version... Well, I feel sad for you, but I can understand. If you do get the time, sit down and read the whole thing, it's not long and it is gorgeous. But the bit we are going to concentrate on today is...

The Harm Principle

The Harm Principle, exactly as stated in On Liberty, goes like this:
The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right... The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
Now, rather like SEFS*****, people will quite often quote the first clause of this without bearing in mind the most important bit. In my view the pivotal part is His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant - pivotal because it leads onto the bit about the opinions of others. Many people read the first part of the harm prinicple and think that it means you can't do anything that might upset other people because you would be harming them by upsetting them; this is why the second, emphasising, sentence is so important. If you are upsetting someone else by harming yourself, they still do not have the right to force you to stop******.

This is the bedrock of Liberalism, as far as I am concerned

You should be able to do what you want, as long as you're not hurting anyone else. Nobody should be able to force you to stop doing something because they disapprove of it, or because they find it distasteful. The only reason you should be stopped from performing any action is to prevent you from harming somebody else.

There are, of course, other principles which Liberals hold dear, and which apply in many or most situations, but for me the Harm Principle is the absolute basic test that everything must pass. Thus, I am in favour of the legalisation of all drugs. I have no problem with any person having whatever relationship structures they wish to have, so long as everyone involved is fully informed and consenting. I am in favour of assisted dying, because anyone denying you your right to die at a time and place of your choosing is doing you far more harm than you are doing them by asking them to help you*******.

...And I am looking forward to having spirited discussions about those three, and any other examples people wish to come up with in the comments, because I'm a Liberal and we love to debate :)



Coming Soon (not necessarily in this order):

  • Free Speech: what it is and what it isn't
  • The Liberal approach to Education, and why Education is fundamental to Liberalism
  • Non-Conformity, and why celebrating it rather than just tolerating it matters to Liberals
  • Why Liberalism is Intrinsically feminist, anti-racist, pro-LGBT+-rights, etc.
  • The Liberal Approach to the Elimination of Poverty********
  • The Rule of Law, or why Liberalism is not Anarchism
  • Bodily Autonomy and Consent: not just about sex.
  • Weatherwaxian Liberalism: "Treating People As Things" as a Root of Social Evil
  • Solving The UNIT Dating Controversy: or why Liberalism Appeals to Geeks and Why Most of Us Are Obsessed With Scifi



* And, of course, Harriet Taylor, but to go too deeply into her contributions in this post would be to go off on one tangent too many, even for me. Lets put it this way: there is a pretty solid and compelling view that Harriet did as much of the stuff Mill is credited with as he did, and was only not credited herself due to overwhelming patriarchy, patriarchy which Mill himself abhorred.
** thank you Mr Rushton for including the Ethical Theory and Practical Ethics modules in A-level RE :)
*** Clearly dear old JS was only poorly after half a pint of shandy because they'd watered his beer down with nasty lemonade.
**** especially philosophy written by English lawyers and politicians, having tried and failed many times to get through more than a page of HLA Hart's The Concept of Law without falling asleep.
***** Stronger economy, Fairer Society ENABLING EVERYONE TO GET ON IN LIFE
****** Mill and Taylor do, of course, make some exceptions for those not capable of self-determination due to mental incapacity or youth, but even then, argue that these people should be allowed to self-determine in so far as is possible within the limits of safety.
******* although of course, you only have the right to ask; the person you are asking absolutely has the right to say no, particularly under the current law where helping someone to die could result in you going to prison for murder, which is a pretty serious potential harm to yourself.
******** NB: this is different from Vlad the Impaler's approach to the elimination of poverty, which was to put all the poor people in a barn, lock the doors, and set fire to it.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Tough)
The party's headless chicken response to this whole farrago has been utterly disappointing, and Rennard's utter inability to see what damage he is doing to the party he claims to love due to his own massive entitlement complex is sickening in the extreme. We have already lost enough people over this - many of them, Susan G especially, worth ten of an over-rated & out-dated campaigns strategist - so I won't be leaving the party.

It is true that Lord Rennard has not been found guilty of any crime in a court of law. He should not be subject to any legal sanction for his alleged actions. He is free to associate with whomever he wishes to associate, so long as they wish to associate with him.

HOWEVER I am not a court of law, and just like Lord Rennard I am free to associate with whomever I choose. Therefore I will say now, and publicly, that any room into which Lord (allegedly) Grabbyhands walks, I will walk out of. It will be safer for both of us that way, I think.
miss_s_b: (Self: Innocent)
So, who wants to bid for a slot in my Liberal Youth Election Sweepstakes? How long will it be before one of the elected officers resigns in a fit of pique? One week slots are available from the announcement of results. We're playing for pride only here, folks, I don't encourage gambling.

I reckon it'll be about 6 months, so I'm claiming week 26.

Any other takers? I'll edit you in to a list below

WeekTaker
Before result declaredNick Barlow
1Lucy
2Sarah Noble
3James Moore
4Minnsy
5Matt Downey
6
7Josh Dixon
8
9
10Ryan Cullen
11
12Paul Lewis
13Ab Brightman
14James King
15
16Alisdair Calder McGregor
17
18
19
20
21
22
23Andrew Hickey
24
25
26Jennie
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52Debi


PS: I would hope it goes without saying that, even for pride, I will brook no officers resigning in their own slot :P
miss_s_b: (Mood: Liberal)
This one being my partner, [personal profile] magister, who used to work in immigration and was so incensed by Nick's speech last week that he resigned from the party. He posted about his reasons for doing so here, and he has just texted me to tell me that he has received confirmation of cancellation.

After Shirley Williams on the NHS, after Julian Huppert drank the home office kool aid on DRIP, after secret courts, after this, I really am genuinely wondering if Clegg is systematically going for properly pissing off what remaining pockets of support we have left in a perverse attempt to see how low we can go.

Still waiting for Greg Mullholland to tell me pubcos aren't all that bad, or Lynne to go all patriarchal, mind. If either of those happen, it'll be ME sending my card back in pieces.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Brain Hurts)
So, a couple of years ago Labour pulled out of a stable Lib/Lab coalition on Calderdale council despite the agreement having a year still to run because they thought they could go it alone in a minority administration. Last night that administration was finally toppled, after a series of scandals where the cabinet appointed by the minority administration kept ignoring the will of full council, in a no confidence vote. Labour are screeching about this in very personal terms in every medium that will afford them airspace. Apparently toppling Swifty from his rightful seat of supreme executive power that he gained without even a majority* is a betrayal, and a conspiracy cooked up against Swifty and the rest of Labour by foul evil nasty people.

This only makes sense if you understand one thing: Labour people think anything Labour = objectively, unquestionably good and anything not!Labour = bad. A moral judgement has already been made before any action is ever taken. Tories, of course, are ALWAYS evil, but Lib Dems and Greens can be acceptable; IF and ONLY if we are doing whatever Labour want us to do. As soon as we show any sign of not-supporting Labour in any way they scream that we are BETRAYING them. Because obviously, the fact that we all joined another party doesn't mean we don't support Labour REALLY, it just means we like other coloured shirts or something. And as soon as we become BETRAYERS we are automatically WORSE than the Tories. Tories can't HELP being evil, you see, but we made a CHOICE to be evil by not supporting Labour.

So it was OK for Labour to stab us in the back and kick us out of coalition because Labour are good and Lib Dems are bad.
But it's a BETRAYAL for us to vote against them in a no-con, even after they have stabbed us in the back and kicked us out of coalition, because if we want to be good we should be supporting them, not our own political beliefs.

I would laugh at this sort of "logic" were it not that so many of the electorate accept it unquestioningly :/



*or even a watery tart throwing a sword at him.**
** honestly, if I went round saying I was an emperor just cos some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away***
*** and I'm not even called Dennis.
miss_s_b: (Default)
I've got the support of one local party and a bunch of signatories already, but if anybody else wants to join in you've got about an hour. I have been assured by both former and current members of FCC that publishing it on my blog is not a problem, so the text is below the cut )
I realise that the wording is a bit techy, but I think it's necessary to root it in the terms of the court ruling, rather than just attacking DRIP per se.

If you want to add your name, email me your full name, party membership number and the name of your local party in the next hour or so.

Update Motion submitted and acknowledged recieved by FCC. Fingers crossed they accept it :)
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
I GET that DRIP is significantly less awful with the Lib Dem input than it would have been otherwise. I GET that Lib Dems in government fought hard to get the measly concessions we have got in a horrifically authoritarian bill that will give future secretaries of state for the home office carte blanche to introduce all the powers of the snoopers' charter without parliamentary oversight. I GET that we are the junior partners in a coalition and we can't have everything all our own way. I get that compromise is the only way anything would ever get done under this government, and I voted for the coalition at special conference in full and total knowledge that I was almost certainly signing the electoral death warrant for my party.

You know what?

There are some things that absolutely should be red lines. And when the name of your party is the Liberal Democrats you do NOT shill for a bill which is so profoundly illiberal and undemocratic on the basis that we made it a bit better by inserting a sunset clause (which the next majority govt of EITHER of the the other two big parties will gleefully repeal, even if it DOES take primary legislation to do so) and some bits of safeguard which AREN'T EVEN IN THE BILL but are to be put into a statutory instrument at some point maybe.

No. Fuck that shit.

What next? Greg Mulholland is going to try to tell me that pubcos are OK really and it could be worse?
Adrian Sanders is going to say that it's OK to torture animals if you don't kill them?
Lynne Featherstone will tell me that cutting is fine if you only take off ONE of the labia and not both?

Enough. Enough of this right now.

I want my party back, and I want the people in it that I looked up to and respected to start behaving like they did when I looked up to them and respected them, not like shills for the bloody authoritarian tories.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
Calderdale Liberal Democrats' Policy Working Group met on Saturday night and we've written a motion for conference expressing our dismay at DRIP and what we feel the party's policy response should be. We do realise that DRIP will be pushed through before conference, but the motions deadline is Wednesday (when DRIP will be in the Lords) and we think this is the best way of getting the parliamentary party who are selling our principles down the river (for not even 30 pieces of silver or anything) to take notice.

I'm not going to publish the text of the motion here because conference office might take a dim view of that, but if you're interested in putting your name rank and serial number to it, message me in some way to let me know. It so far has the support of Calderdale local party and a few individuals, but the more the merrier.

My email is jennieDOTriggATgmailDOTcom if you want to contact me.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Kill me)
So [personal profile] matgb and I were listening to Radio 4 over breakfast, as we do in this household, and some Tory politician said something, and Mat got this look on his face that was somewhere between wounded and confused and said "when did the Tories get so incompetent?"

I shrugged, intending to express the thought that as far as I was concerned they always had been, but he elaborated:
No, seriously, you used to know where you were! Lefties were well-meaning but incompetent; right-wingers were evil but capable*. Now both of them are evil AND incompetent! How are we supposed to cope with THAT?
While I initially thought this was just an expression of Adams' Law**, and he was merely demonstrating his elderliness, I do think Mat's little outburst is an illustration of how many people who are far less politically engaged than Mat and I feel about politics.

People used to know, broadly, what the main parties stood for:
  • Labour are for the workers, and for redistribution of wealth on fairer grounds.
  • Conservatives are for fiscal responsibility and low taxes.
  • Liberals are for maximising freedom - both from and to - within the constraints of the harm principle.
  • Greens want to save the planet via environmental campaigning.
  • UKIP want to take us back to some mythical 1950s paradise that never actually existed.
  • The Loonies are for taking the piss.
et cetera, et cetera, et bloody cetera. The thing is, each of the parties - certainly each of the top four - has, in either local or national government or both, betrayed those core principles often enough that voters don't actually believe a word any of us say any more.

And yes, at the moment it's worse for the Lib Dems than it is for any of the others. But it was Labour before us, and the Tories before that, and each time one of the parties has a crisis of trust with the electorate that party goes down in trustworthiness, but none of the others come back up again. Nobody thinks Labour are better now than they were towards the end of the Blair years, it's just that we Lib Dems are EVEN WORSE. And whichever party it is who has the shit thrown at them next time will be even worse than us; we won't be rehabilitated in the eyes of the public, it's just that there will be somebody even LESS trustworthy.

And thus the spiral continues. Voter turnout at each election gets steadily lower and lower as the layers of natural support for each party give up and stay home. The politicians*** turn to ever more cynical methods of getting their remaining supporters to turn out, and that just exacerbates the problem.

So how do we fix it?

Well, I can't be the one who tells the Tories and Labour and the Greens and everyone else what to do, but for the Lib Dems? It's very simple. We are Liberals. Lets behave like Liberals. We believe in open justice, so no more backing secret courts. We believe in freedom from poverty, so no more turning a blind eye to the tories on their systematic screwing of the poor and disabled via the benefits system, and no more unjustified attacks on Oxfam either. We believe in the freedom to communicate ideas, so no letting Teresa May resurrect the Snooper's Charter. This list could go on forever; there are myriad ways in which this party in government has failed miserably to live up to our core principles, and to articulate clearly where and why compromise has been reached when it has.

It needs to stop. It needs to stop now.

Sadly, I don't think it will. The one man with the power to put an end to all the ridiculous infighting we're having at the moment, so we have the opportunity to rebuild and build better, has shown absolutely no inclination to do so. Our parliamentarians appear to be happy to sacrifice themselves**** on his altar. It's entirely possible we're going to go back to being just an asterisk, for "no discernable level of support".

Now I don't think my party is going to die. I, for one, am not prepared to let it. Liberalism is a way of life, not just a tickybox on a ballot paper. But things carrying on as they are means we are just going to get more and more damaged and debilitated, and it will take longer and longer to come back once we do start to rebuild. And if those parliamentarians who are clinging on to Cleggy and supporting him through this are doing so because they think they are going to be the ones to do the rebuilding when it all comes crashing down? Oh dear. They really don't know what we're like, do they?



* Aside from the fact that conflating lefties and Labour (or Tories and Rightwing) gives me the heebiejeebies, this is basically another way of stating my belief that Lib Dems are closer to Labour on aims but closer to tories on means of achieving aims.
** Adams' Law states that anything that is in the world when you are born is normal and ordinary and just part of the way the world exists and works. Rule 2, anything that is invented between when you are 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary and world changing, and you can probably get a career in it. Anything that is invented after you are 35 is against the natural order of things.
*** and, for the avoidance of doubt, I include myself in this
**** and the remaining councillors and MEP
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)

My government’s legislative programme will continue to deliver on its long-term plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society. My government will introduce a Bill to enable the eating of brains and the gnawing of limbs by undead politicians. Undead yes, unperson no.
... I may not have been paying the fullest of attention to dear old Lizzy. I'm glad that she's a Lib Dem though, because only a Lib Dem would have put SEFS in the very first sentence of a speech but forgot to include the "enabling everyone to get on in life" bit </petpeeve>

In brief, my thoughts on some of the announcements:
  • Small business, enterprise and employment bill: could be interesting, especially the pubs bit.
  • Infrastructure bill: is a mixed bag I can see leading to a LOT of disputes unless VERY carefully drafted.
  • Social action, responsibility and heroism bill: I bet this will be used for farmers who shoot people in the back a lot more than it will be used for ACTUAL have-a-go heroes. Not that I'm cynical.
  • Recall of members of parliament bill: seems to provide powers so narrow they will never actually be used, and thus be utterly pointless.
So... could be worse. And certainly not like a Labour Queen's Speech announcing more legistlation than you can shake a stick at (thankfully). But it could be a damn sight better as well, and the married couple's tax allowance thing really sticks in my craw.

For a more nuanced reaction, Caron's post on LDV is worth a read.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
I wasn't going to blog about the whole leadership thing, because what good would it do? I am desperately, desperately sad that the party's response to our disastrous showing in the recent elections has been to turn inwards and fight each other, but it's not like I can't recognise the symptoms of self-harm, and I realise that trying to tell a self-harmer to stop doesn't make a lick of difference if you can't do something to stop the pain that self-harm is a response to.

So why did I decide to blog about it after all? Because Matthew Oakeshott has fallen on his sword, and the mainstream media* have leapt to the conclusion that the leadership crisis is now over.

There's a few inconvenient facts that fly in the face of that conclusion:
  1. Oakeshott going does not stop the various local parties who have already scheduled EGMs under 10.2(f) from having those meetings. I am aware of nine, so far**. That's nine local parties who have actually scheduled EGMs. I have heard rumours of many, many more who might be doing so. This is way more serious than some bloke who nobody took seriously anyway wasting money on some polling.

  2. LDs4Change may have views coincidental with Oakeshott's - and they may have gone about things in a similarly half-arsed, stupid, and unconstitutional way to the methods he uses - but that does not mean that they are, or were, run by him; or that because he is gone, they are gone. As Nick Barlow said on twitter: LDs do not need an agent provocateur to be angry with the leadership***.

  3. Oakeshott going does not solve the quite legitimate concerns that many have about Clegg's leadership. If anything, it makes Clegg feel vindicated, makes him dig his heels in, and thus makes change from his various problematic positions less likely.

If the party is to survive this without being seriously damaged, this boil needs lancing, and it needs lancing NOW before things get even more pus-filled and manky. And I can only see one way for that to happen. Clegg needs to call a leadership election himself, and then stand in it. Do the John Major option. Tell the party to back him or sack him. If the recent poll for Lib Dem Voice is accurate then the party will back him and all this will go away. If the poll's not accurate then all this, and Clegg, will go away.

Either way, we cannot afford to let this fester for much longer. The poison is seeping into all sorts of places, and I, for one, do not wish to see people I love tearing each other apart any longer.



* and several of Clegg's more ardent supporters...
** although only Cambridge have announced it publicly.
*** and lets face it, even those who agree with Oakeshott think he's a prize arse who nobody listens to, and who is the kiss of death for any campaign he gets involved in.
miss_s_b: Peter Falk as Columbo saying "just one more thing" (Mood: And another thing)
I like cake. I like biscuits too. I also like pies and flans and muffins and buns and tarts (especially tarts). I like them shop bought and home made. I like them hot from the oven and cold from the fridge. See, I'm a liberal, and a poly one at that, and I think we are best served by variety and diversity.

Just because one is fond of cake does not mean it is reasonable or healthy to only ever eat cake, or to condemn others for liking pie or biscuits. There's room in a healthy diet for all manner of baked goods, or even an unhealthy diet.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
So, I went to the Euro election count last night. So did a lot of other local political types. Our MP, Craig Whittaker, was there, along with our new councillor for Brighouse. Labour's PPC JoshFG - in fact loads of Labourites. Some Greens. Myself, and a small hardy band of masochistic Lib Dems.

You know who wasn't there?

Not a single Kipper. Not one. You know why? Because they treated the election count the same way they will treat the positions they have been elected to - with an utter breathtaking arrogance. One of the ones who has been elected to replace the lovely, hard-working, intelligent Edward McMillan-Scott has already declared that he's not going to go to any debates*:I have woken up in a dystopian nightmare where people who think that all politicians are corrupt, lazy, lying bastards have voted for the most corrupt, lazy, lying bastards of them all because at least they are honest about being corrupt, lazy, lying bastards. Oh yeah, and immigrants. Evil evil immigrants, coming over here, taking our [insert precious thing here]. As the joke** goes:
A car mechanic, an Immigrant and a banker are in a room with ten biscuits. The banker eats nine biscuits, and UKIP says to the car mechanic: watch out for that immigrant, she's after your biscuit
.
People from several different parties have asked me to defect to them in the last couple of days. I can understand why they have done so. Things were not great at the ballot box for the Lib Dems, and several other parties see me as a way to massively increase their diversity quotient in one go. It's not going to happen, though. I am not going to join Labour or the Tories and the inevitable Dutch auction of barely-veiled racism that started before the Euro count had even begun. When my child(ren) ask What did you do, mummy, when the fascists were rising and people were falling for their bullshit? I want to be able to hold my head up and say I fought them, and their poisonous ideology, and their vile insidious racism, and I couldn't do that if I joined Labour or the Tories with their appeasement policies***.

I'm not going to go Green because, while they are bang on with a lot of the social issues I care about, their grasp of fiscal matters is even shakier than mine, and I want to be in a party that has at least SOME people who understand economics in it. And I'm not going to go Pirate because, lovely as they are, they've got even less chance of getting anywhere than we have at this point.

So no, Liberal I am and Liberal I remain. As the lovely Jonathan Calder reminds us, from the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success - as long, of course, as there are still gardeners.

So who's going to pick up a trowel and join me?



* although the point was well-made by WhoCat on twitter that with UKIP's views, we're probably better off if they DON'T turn up to any debates
** not a very funny joke, I admit.
*** apart, of course, from all the OTHER reasons for a dyed-in-the-wool Millian Liberal feminist not to join either of those two equally repulsive parties - but this post is not about THOSE reasons.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
Somewhat like "hard-working families" I am starting to have an instinctive "ugh" reaction to the use of this phrase. "Where we work we win" implies that all one had to do is deliver more leaflets, make more phone calls, knock on more doors, and the election is in the bag. While those things certainly help, other things are necessary too. It also implies that all those people who DIDN'T win on Thursday only have themselves to blame for not working hard enough; while this is undoubtedly true in some cases it's a horrific insult in others. So yeah, if I never see that phrase issuing from head office again I won't mourn.

Other things:

1, if you want to get rid of the leader, there are several methods outlined in the party constitution. Anonymous willy-waving is not one of them. I suspect that all LibDems4Change have achieved is to annoy people who might have been on their side had they been approached reasonably, and made it less likely Clegg will go.

2, Calderdale council has a fantastic new councillor in Marilyn Greenwood, but it will be massively the poorer for the loss of several of the other councillors/candidates we had standing. However, you have to deal with things as they are, not how you would wish they might be.

3, Election counts are, for the most part, like the Christmas day football match in the trenches; whatever Flag we are there under most of us are capable of civility. I spent a lot of Friday having pleasant friendly chat with people from all parties and none. But there's always one, isn't there? I'm not going to name names but I was very amused by one particular person's hamfisted attempts to patronise me, and his purple face of rage when he didn't win the seat he felt entitled to ALMOST made the rest of the pain worthwhile.

4, When life gives you lemons, bugger lemonade, slice them up and put them in a gin and tonic. And then have another gin and tonic. And then another. But before you do all that, make sure you have someone lovely there who will fry you pig-based things and give you hugs the morning after. Those people are worth more than any electoral news.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
... Today is polling day in the European and lots of local elections.

Y'all know I want you to vote Lib Dem. I'd be really happy if you went out and voted Lib Dem. But I recognise that not all of my readership is of that persuasion, and I respect your democratic right to make up your own mind. If you're not going to vote Lib Dem, though, please do go and put some sort of mark on your ballot; even if you hate all politicians. If you spoil your ballot that sends a much more effective message than just staying at home. Also it'll give me something fun to look at when it comes to the count :)

You don't need your polling card to vote, and polling stations are open till 10 o'clock tonight.

Thanks guys.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
... has been mostly spent knocking on people's doors and talking to them, or shoving leaflets through people's doors, all in the name of Lib Demmery. I shall be singing Letterboxes with more than the usual amount of fervour at the next Glee Club, especially given my injuries*.

Today I alone I have knocked on doors in five different wards, and travelled through a further three on my way between the various canvass sessions. This chairing lark is not all just signing stuff and telling people to shut up in meetings, you know. And the thing I love most about it? Apart from the stunning landscape I get to look at pretty much everywhere in this borough, the people are so lovely. Even those against us (and such strange people do apparently exist) are uniformly lovely about it. One of the antis called me "flower" and wished me luck today; you don't GET that in many places.

Props to all those from m'team who have been out doorknocking with me, especially Mick who has been doing it every day like a one-man canvassing machine, and our MEP Rebecca Taylor who has been in the area too. Also Abid and Chris, and Ruth and Margareta, and Janet and Mike, and Mat; and last but by no means least, my lovely Calder Valley PPC Alisdair who has been to NEARLY as many sessions as me.

So yeah, I'm knackered, but happy, having basically spent my entire "holiday" working. If you'd have told me ten years ago that this is what I'd be doing now? I'd have laughed in your face.



*I actually found myself mumbling lines from it, especially from the "should be subject to regu-la-a-ations" verse - e.g. as I knelt down to push something through a low one muttering "all at waist height" etc.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
Sometimes something happens which reminds me how broad a church our party is. Not talking about the left-right axis here; everyone knows we cover the full range of that and have the factions to prove it. I'm looking at the vertical axis.

There are people in the Lib Dems who are liberals. Then there are Liberals. Then there are LIBERAL!!!!1!eleventy!!'s*. Then there are people who joined up because they thought we were cuddly and nice and want to compromise on everything; or because they wanted something equidistant from labour and the tories on the left-right axis and hadn't considered the vertical axis at all.

I don't think those in that last group and I will EVER fully understand each other.



*For the avoidance of doubt, I'm definitely in the multiple-exclamation-mark cadre.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
So this lunchtime I had an interesting conversation with a Green on Twitter. I have a lot of time for Greens; I agree with a lot (if not all) of their aims and I think there are many areas in which Greens and LDs could work together. But I'm not, and never will be a Green.

If you're a Green your main aim is saving the planet. This is a laudable aim, and not in my view one that any sensible person could oppose. But it's not the be-all and end-all of my politics. The Green I was talking to told me that a good third of his personal politics were staunch Liberalism, and expressed surprise when I said 100% of mine were. Where Greens want to save the planet full stop, I want to save the planet because that will enhance and increase personal freedom.

All the policy aims I support, I support because they will enhance and increase personal freedom.
  • I support the educational policies I support because they will enable people to make informed decisions and thus increase personal freedom.

  • I support the reduction of poverty and wealth inequality because you can't be free if you can't afford to eat.

  • I support a lot of green aims because you can't be free if you don't have a safe planet to be free ON.

  • I support freedom of movement within the EU because you can't be free if you're restricted as to where you can travel.
I could go on, but you get the idea.

Now I may disagree with other Liberals on the best way to achieve any or all of these aims, or even whether these aims would increase personal freedom. But that's OK. I'm a Liberal, and am happy to have discussions, or even stand-up rows, in the cause of freedom. I'm also willing to look at evidence and change my mind if necessary, that one or other of my aims might not increase personal freedom. But at the end of the day, it all goes back to that.

What matters is that we should all be as free as humanly possible*. That's why I'm a Liberal. If you're one too, do join up. You'd be welcome.



* within the strictures of The Harm Principle, obvs. You can't be free if someone else is restricting you by harming you physically or mentally, after all ;)
miss_s_b: (Self: Tattoo)
A lot of people have been retweeting their first tweet the last couple of days. I didn't bother with mine (mostly because it was the incredibly dull "signing up for twitter"), but I have been dragged into another exercise in nostalgia today. I'm writing a thing which involves me knowing when I did something, so inevitably, to find out, I trawled through my blog archives and found lots of stuff from back when I was a proper blogger and used to write actual posts on a regular basis...

So here, for your delectation, is a slew of landmarks in my personal journey of Lib Demmery:
It's vaguely worrying that I have been a Lib Dem for more than seven years now; if you'd have said to me (say) seven years and one month ago that by now my identity would be so wrapped up with the party* I'd have been completely disbelieving.

Any of you lot want to share any exciting landmarks - whether Lib Dem or not - with me?



*Day job is working for the party, volunteer time is taken up by chairing and doing various other things for the party, my three regular partners and various irregular ones are ALL members of the party... It really is quite scary -_-"
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
As usual conference was BUSY and I am now knackered. In no particular order here are some of the things I did:
  • Voted in lots of debates. LOTS of debates.

  • Spread the news about my workplace among various party people, which will hopefully get us lots more work coming in.

  • Was very proud of various members of my local party who submitted questions and amendments, and spoke from the stage. Special props to my lovely candidate for Calder Valley, who was not only speaking lots, but spoken about (described by Joe Otten as "the next MP for Calder Valley, Alisdair Calder McGregor, talk about nominative determinism" LOL); my treasurer Dr Taylor, who moved our amendment to the Power to the People motion; and my regional exec rep Sarah, who made her first speech at her first conference on the Digital Bill of Rights. It got to the stage where there was a tangible sense of affectionate weariness in the voice of some of the people chairing the debates when they said "...and now I call X person from Calderdale" LOL.

  • Raised something in the region of £300 for wearing a dress to the posh candidates' reception, which prompted a raised eyebrow from Our Glorious Leader and an accusation of "looking girly" from Farron. Pictorial evidence here and here.

  • Did productive networking with various MPs and MEPs and other folks, including the usual "nice suit Brian!" "nice hair Jennie!" *cheek-kisses* interaction with Brian Paddick, a promise to hunt out my old "Munt not Manure" stickers for supreme BAMF Tessa Munt, a good long chat with presidential hopeful Pauline Pearce the Hackney Heroine, and admiring Jeremy Browne's new beard.

  • Rocked Ilkley Moor at Glee.

  • Reconnected with various fellow members of the Awkward Squad and promised to make t-shirts for autumn (I am SO on this). The only problem being, as Gadsden pointed out, that EVERYBODY is going to want one...

  • As usual, ran into lots of old friends and new, but missed others. Was v pleased to see (albeit briefly) such people as Helen Duffett, Daddies Richard and Alex, Susan Gasczack, Bobbi White, Tim Oliver, etc.etc. And I met the AWESOME Maelo Manning's mum! Was sad to miss Stackee (though she was there) and various people who didn't make it (Jenkins!).

  • And, inevitably, found a good pub which does GREAT food. I think the poor Mason's Arms got a bit overwhelemed by the influx of Lib Dems by the end of Sunday afternoon, but they really were very good. Saturday lunchtime there were just a few of us Awkward Squad types in there; Saturday evening there were a reasonable number more. Sunday lunchtime it was RAMMED with lib Dems. So this is me 1, thanking them for being a great pub and putting up with us all, and 2, recommending them to anyone who is in York in the Castle area.
Today is likely to involve a degree of unpacking and recovery. And answering emails. And then back to work tomorrow...
miss_s_b: (feminist heroes: Sarah Jane Smith)
1, Policy Working Group

You may or may not have seen ACMcG's call for submissions to this on Lib Dem Voice. We meet tonight, under cover of darkness but in a definitely non-smoking room (boo) to discuss the various amendments that people have asked us to support/oppose for Lib Dem Federal Conference. If anybody has any last minute submissions, email them to me in the next couple of hours because I'm going to be printing off copies to hand round the meeting very soon.

And if you're a Calderdale Lib Dem type person, do feel free to come along (and email me for directions if you need them).

2, Dress

Goddamn you people, we're pretty much half way to McGregor's target now. Largely due to one completely insane person donating fifty quid. So if the rest of you want to get in on the act, the paypal link and explanation of what the hell I'm talking about is here.

About This Blog

picture of Jennie Rigg

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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