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: (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: (Hobby: Scrabble)
You'll forgive me if I don't join in the party line of wild applause for Our Glorious Leader's latest announcement. Youth unemployment IS important, but I think that "solving" it by dealing a double whammy to their parents is short-sighted at best.

If large corporations are offered subsidies to employ school-leavers, then they are not going to employ people who cost more money, like the parents of school-leavers. And if, as rumoured, this subsidy is to paid for by a freeze on tax credits, then the very small children that Clegg has been baqnging on about being the key to the problem for years will suffer, along with their parents, so that the likes of Tesco can line their pockets at tax payers' expense to employ young people with it costing them less than minimum wage.

So: Tesco get even richer, young people get forced into crappy insecure jobs, and parents of young children suffer both lower job prospects and lower rewards should they actually GET a job.

In what way is ANY of that something that offers hope?
miss_s_b: (Default)
So the Lib Dems took a battering last week. A lot of postmorteming is going on, and the consensus seems to be that what happened with tuition fees is the issue, and that we cocked up. Well, when I say "we", I mean those of us who had votes in parliament and toed the government line.

I still think that the leadership don't get what the problem is. People know that we are the junior partner in the coalition. They know that we couldn't be expected to enact Lib Dem policy on tuition fees because the Tories would never have let us abolish them. Bleating on about those facts is only making things worse. To an extent, it's not even what happened with tuition fees that's the problem in itself. The problem is that all our MPs signed a personal pledge to vote against any rise in tuition fees, and then most of them voted for it. If all of our MPs had signed a pledge to vote against naming the colour of the sky blue, and then had voted for it, our leadership would now be debating the blue sky problem and wondering how to win back the trust of people who like looking up in the daytime.

Let me spell this out in very small words: the problem is, as I said before it even happened, that, with twenty-one honourable exceptions*, our MPs broke their word. We ran our whole damn general election campaign on no more broken promises, we're not like all the others, vote for us and things will change because we're honest... And then we broke our word.

It doesn't matter if most of our MPs breaking their word made things better than they would have been if they'd kept it. People really, genuinely believed that we were different, and in that one simple act of word-breaking, our MPs undid decades of hard work by thousands of Lib Dem councillors, activists, and those MPs who kept the pledge. They cost the jobs of hundreds of Lib Dem councillors, and they cost lots of areas of the country a good working council. They cost us the AV referendum. They cost us our USP: what made us different in the eyes of the electorate is gone, and the voters think we did it for vainglorious reasons, and no amount of saying but we didn't! It's not fair! is going to change that.

Now, I know that Labour and Tory politicians break their word all the time and they don't get this level of punishment. That's because people expect it from them. They didn't expect it from us, and now they do. Can you blame them for reflexively thinking Oh well, better the devil you know? The electorate now think that we are exactly the same as all the others. It's not just the trust of students we need to win back, it's the trust of everybody, because everybody saw us do it.

It's going to be incredibly difficult. It may take decades (again). And I don't know what all the steps involved will be. I do know what the first step is, though. The first step is for the Lib Dem leadership, and Nick Clegg in particular, to actually acknowledge what the problem is: people are upset that you broke your word, that they are right to be angered by it. The second step is to apologise. Apologise unreservedly and without qualification. Any, and I mean any attempt to qualify an apology, to dress it up in fancy words, to say that what we pledged to do would have made things worse, and that we did the best we could, and anyway look at all these OTHER promises we've kept, you can't be cross about just ONE... That's just going to make people angrier because it will make them think you still don't get why they are angry. And that's going to make things so much worse for us mere footsoldiers. We've all been tarred with your brush, and until you acknowledge what the problem is, it's going to keep happening.

It's a very simple sentence you need to say, oh Glorious Leader: I'm sorry I broke my word. And you need to say that sentence over and over again until people believe you, and even then it probably won't be enough because they'll think you're only sorry because it's cost you votes, not because you realise it was wrong.

Only when people believe that we all know breaking promises is bad and wrong and hurts people can we start to rebuild trust with the electorate, and no amount of trying before that has happened is going to butter any parsnips.


* Step forward Annette Brooke, Menzies Campbell, Michael Crockart, Tim Farron, Andrew George, Mike Hancock, Julian Huppert, Charles Kennedy, John Leech, Stephen Lloyd, Greg Mulholland, John Pugh, Alan Reid, Dan Rogerson, Bob Russell, Adrian Sanders, Ian Swales, Mark Williams, Roger Williams, Jenny Willott, and Simon Wright. I'm sorry that you are suffering, along with the rest of us, the fallout from this.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
Dear presidential candidates,

As far as I am concerned the number one priority for the next party president is to sort out the widening gulf between the grass roots of the party and the leadership. As always, this boils down to communication, which at the moment is not happening, at least not to the degree we as party members have come to expect.

A sterling example of this is the email I got today from Our Glorious Leader. It is typical of the emails I have been getting about daily from the party, mostly claiming to be from Nick, but sometimes Vince or Beaker Danny. They generally start Dear Friend, and always continue with a patronisingly-worded rehash of yesterday's press release.

Somebody needs to tell the party leadership that this is NOT communication. I have already SEEN what's in yesterday's press release. I want to know what's happening NOW, and it would help if it was not worded as though giving a lecture to the hard of thinking too.

Sort it out, will you?



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miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
... And this is News because....?

It's perfectly legal. Sure, the health police object, but they object to beer and cake and chocolate too. We're LIBERALS, FFS. If someone is informed of the dangers of an activity and they still choose to do it, THAT'S THEIR CHOICE.

Bloody prurient curtain-twitchers can bog off, in my view.

(posted during my fag break at work)
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
Listen to him here.

There are those within the party who believe that Clegg was never with the rest of us on tuition fees. He mollified them somewhat before the election with the signing of the pledge he intends to break and various speeches. They are now screaming WE TOLD YOU SO!!!!.

Vince.... Vince I can understand. Vince has to be a spokesman for his government department, he has to stick to the government line, and you can tell he isn't happy about it. Clegg, though... Clegg has a get-out. It's there, in black and white, in the coalition agreement. He can say I know we all signed this pledge, but the best we can do is abstain, so that's what we will have to do. I do not understand why he is supporting this illiberal, unfair and regressive policy. I do not understand why he is trying to get the party to go along with him when he knows our feelings on it.

I can only see this resulting in more and more people feeling the way Spidey does, and I don't understand why Clegg thinks it's a good idea.

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miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
Dear Nick,

I realise that coalition government is not the same as a party governing on its own. I realise that when one signs up to a coalition agreement, one has to make compromises. But when one has signed a pledge giving a cast iron guarantee one ought to stick to it.

When you signed the pledge to vote against tuition fee increases, lets be honest, you could not have known the circumstances you would be asked to do so in. But that does not alter the fact that you signed the pledge. Perhaps by doing this you have learned a valuable lesson not to sign such an open-ended pledge, and you've certainly learned a lesson to make damn sure that when you negotiate coalition agreements you should bear in mind what pledges you have signed. But none of that alters the fact that you, personally, signed the pledge.

There is no point in whining and misdirecting by saying that other parties have broken pledges too. We are not other parties. You were supposed to be countering the bloody politicians, they're all the bloody same meme, not feeding it.

There's no point in saying that we have to cut higher education funding if we're cutting everything else, because we're not cutting Trident, and if we can afford to spend money on stuff to blow up half the planet, we can afford to educate our children.

There is also no point in wittering on about how this and that safeguard is being put in to make sure that poor people will not suffer. Poor people won't suffer because the idea of spending that amount of money on university will put them off going in the first place, because they can't imagine possibly earning enough to pay it back. It'd put me off going. That's a HUGE amount of money to me. I know it's small change to you, but it's not to me, or millions more like me.

At the end of the day, though, it doesn't matter that I think the tuition fee increase is unjustified and unjustifiable. It matters that you made a pledge, and you made it in the hopes that you would never get called on it, in order to tout for votes. Well, you are being called on it. And if you don't answer that call, you are no better than the Labour politicians you lambast for their broken promises, and if someone asserts that to me on the doorstep I don't know how I will answer them, because I will think that they are correct in their assertion.

I voted for the coalition because on balance I thought it was the lesser of a number of evils. I still think that. But my patience and tolerance are wearing thin. Very thin indeed. I thought we were an honourable party, and striking an honourable course, for the good of all. There is nothing honourable about signing a pledge to grub for votes, and then going back on it the second it becomes a bit uncomfortable.

I thought we were better than that.

yours in disappointment


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miss_s_b: (Mood: Point and laugh)
My flinty old heart is melted into a big pile of goo right now. The number one global trend on twitter as I type is #NickCleggsFault - a typically British reaction to being told what to think by the dead tree press. Everything from Andrew Hickey's new bald patch to Shappi Khorsandi's inability to impersonate Geordies is, apparently, Nick Clegg's Fault. Because what do we do when some hysterical extremist tells us what to think in this country? We point and laugh, and we take the piss.

Oh internets, I love you. Don't ever change.
miss_s_b: (Default)
This applies just as much to the Dead Tree Press as it does to the other political parties. This morning's headlines show that everybody is now at stage 3. I don't propose to link to any of the horrendous slurs, half-truths and outright lies that the papers have in them this morning; as Cicero says, the Dead Tree press is increasingly irrelevant, and they are only hammering nails into their own coffins.

What I will do is this: I will make suggestions of what you can do if you think this level of sustained ad hominem attack on one man is unacceptable.

  1. Read this post by Steph Ashley. It's powerful, personal, and inspiring. This is how a lot of us in the party feel. You voters? You represent hope for us, and for yourselves. Don't let the self-interested negativity of the Dead Tree Press, who have suddenly noticed their power to mould your minds is crumbling, infect your thought processes. Instead think about what you want and how you can get it. If our policies are what you want (and research suggests that for 49% of you, our policies ARE what you want) then vote for us. If we're not what you want, vote for someone else. Simples.

  2. Don't buy any more newspapaers. Hit them in the pocket for their behaviour.

  3. Complain to their advertisers, like we all did when Jan Moir was so disgusting about Stephen Gately. This also hits them in the pocket.

  4. Show them by positive action that this kind of smear campaign only drives people into the arms of the Lib Dems - Volunteer to help us, join the many facebook groups (one, two, three, four, and there are lots more. I reckon the first is the most important, though), wear your colours on your sleeve (or chest, or car)
The old media and the old politicians can see their cosy little world where they give each other positive press in exchange for knighthoods and influence and mutual money-making slipping away. This terrifies them. They will lose power and they will lose money, and they will lose it to YOU. All you have to do is put a cross in a box in a couple of weeks, and you take power from the elites and back to the streets. The choice is yours.
miss_s_b: (Default)
Take three minutes and fifteen seconds out of your life to watch this video (yes, Imogen, this means YOU):

It was made by a bunch of activists, unpaid and unprompted. As Alix Mortimer says, money CAN'T buy that kind of campaigning - which, to be frank, is good, because we really haven't got that much money. What we have got is the right policies, and the people who fully and wholeheartedly believe in them. We have hope, and we have good positive ideas, and we don't need to attack the other parties because we can stand on our own merits. I watched that video, and I felt proud and inspired and happy. The kind of feeling I haven't had since those Discovery Channel ads about how awesome the world is and how glad we should be to be part of it.

I am part of a political party whoich doesn't just exist to cling to power, or to protect the interests of the priveliged few, or to blindly attack other parties. We want to make this country and the world a better place for everyone, by giving YOU more freedom, more say in how things are done, and more money in your pocket. It's not fantasy politics, it's fully costed, and we CAN do it. All we need is your vote.

At this point, what have you got to lose but another five years of Labservatism? Vote Lib Dem. You know it makes sense.

Vote for Me!

Saturday, April 17th, 2010 12:16 pm
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
My profile appeared in the local paper (Brighouse Echo) on Thursday, but in all the excitement about the leader's debate and the subsequent polls I forgot to blog about it LOL. I got equal billing with the other candidates, and quite a nice write up. Local reaction is starting to snowball positively, and I really think I am in with a chance. Unfortunately the Echo hasn't put it up on the website for me to link to, but...

If you live in Hipperholme and Lightcliffe, or you know anyone who does, please tell them that I am a serious contender and not a wasted vote.

And if you want to give me some money to campaign (and are on my access list), click here, else send me an email or PM or something and I'll let you know how to donate. I really would like to be able to afford to do one leaflet...
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Vince Cable)
I spent the day at work having people approach me about Lib Demmery, and wishing me luck for the council election, and telling me that they thought "my boy" did well on the telly last night. I have a HUGE spike in my analytics because if you google "I agree with Nick" I am result #4 (the first 2 are from the graun, and the third is metafilter). Yougov's latest poll puts us on second place, ahead of Labour.

Yup, today is a good day to be a Lib Dem. Let's hope May the 6th is even better.


I Agree With Nick!

Thursday, April 15th, 2010 10:35 pm
miss_s_b: (Politics: Goth Lib Dems)
How many times did the other two say those words tonight? You know what? If you really agree with Nick, don't vote for the other two, vote Lib Dem.

As the song says, it's time to take the power back.

Oh Cock

Monday, October 12th, 2009 04:00 pm
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
I see Cleggy has been asked to pay something back, and Cameron has only been asked for further information. So much for trying to differentiate ourselves from the others in the eyes of the public... And yes, before everyone leaps down my throat, I know the details, and I know that we weren't as bad. But Our Glorious Leader being asked to pay back expenses for gardening? If that doesn't feed into the they're all the same, all in it for themselves, all claiming for stuff normal people have to pay for out of their own pockets narrative, then I don't know what will.

For Cthulhu's sake, Cleggy, if you want your garden done, I'm your girl! You don't have to pay £900 to some spod!

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miss_s_b: (Mood: Terrified)
The unmitigated evil of Count Packula, Prince of Markness, knows no bounds. He has put up a YouTube of part of the blogger interview with Nick Clegg. It may be of interest to those of you who like the internet, and are concerned about file-sharing. It might also be of interest to those of you who want to point and laugh at me. Christ I need to lose weight. And work on my posture. Eurgh.

(link here)

I'm blogging this to distract me from the terrible misrepresentation of my party by Digby Jones and Michael Hesletine on Question Time. Laws is holding his own, though.

Will blog the rest of conference in a bit.

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miss_s_b: DreamSheep dreams of the Angel of the North (DreamSheep: Angel of the North)
He shook my hand. If I had scrofula, I'm sure it's been cured. And you'll all be relieved to hear that I wasn't horrible to him. Mainly because I was sat right next to him.

srs leader is srs

(Pic by the Duffettmeister)

The Leader was very relaxed, cracking jokes and chewing sweets, and giving Linda Jack and I advice on crutch painting (apparently he was on crutches for 3 months once). The interview set-up was slightly different from usual, because there were two Not Yet Lib Dems there, who were members of a volunteering thing who had come to find out how party conferences work. Apparently their write-up will appear on LDV.

I don't really have time to do a full write-up right now, so I'll just bullet-point the bits that interested me the most:
  • Nick likes Polly Toynbee as a person, but thinks she has a very rigid and narrow definition of progressive and only one remedy for everything, and is mildly frustrated by the fact that it doesn't seem to have dawned on her that that remedy has been being tried for 12 years and is making things worse not better

  • He regrets not being more forceful about flipping and capital gains tax with the expenses scandal, but doesn't share my view that we reacted too slowly and too shell-shocked - in fact several people in the party told him he was reacting too quickly.

  • He didn't actually use the term, but he clearly thinks the Tories are Entitlement Queens, and it annoys him as he thinks power should be earned, not just inherited from ones family of a safe seat.

  • With regard to downloading of music etc. The internet is beautiful because it's free and any attempt to control the uncontrollable is doomed, but he does understand the concerns of people who are losing their livelihoods because of it, and thinks that new business models are needed. He liked the idea of bands putting stuff out themselves, bypassing the record companies, and then making the money off live performance.

  • He likes the fact that spokespeople for the party can just speak their minds, with the caution that it should be made clear when this is not a statement of policy.
Overall, I got the impression that he is becoming comfortable in his role, and he is passionate and convicted in his liberalism. He might be Cameronesque in background, but he isn't in behaviour, and calling him Cameron-lite is grossly unfair.

The other thing that kind of caught my attention (being sat so close) is that grey is appearing in the sideburns, the ear hair, and the chest hair, but not on the head... I can't help but wonder if there might be a bit of Just For Men in the Clegg household.

If you want to have another perspective on this, Count Packula Prince of Markness has already posted his, and Stephen Glenn is sat next to me frantically typing his up. Others present (not already mentioned) were Ali Goldsworthy, Mr Quist, and of course, Millennium.

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miss_s_b: (Mood: Belligerent Wheel of Fortune)
... but WHAT THE BLUE BUGGERY FUCK is Our Glorious Leader doing writing for LabourLost?

Seriously, who thought that would be a good idea? He's pissing off the Labourites (Google for the post and look at the comments, I'm not linking to it and bumping up LL's Wikio ranking) and he's pissing off his own party. Lose/lose. If you're going to put something up on the site of another party, here are some ideas to make it NOT an exercise in shooting yourself in the foot:
  1. Tell your own people you're going to do it first, so it doesn't look like an overture to defection
  2. When the Tory press are already sowing rumours of a Lib/Lab coalition, and telling people that if they vote Liberal they will be supporting a failed government, for FUCK'S SAKE don't pour petrol on the flames.
  3. Crosspost it from a Lib Dem site, to drive traffic TO us, rather than doing this which drives traffic AWAY from us
  4. Don't pick the most discredited, hated and partisan of the other party's sites as the host for your post
It's a shame the mechanics of the post made it such a tactical cock-up, because the post itself is quite a good one. Oh well.

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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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