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: (Mood: Facepalm)
So this news story popped up on my feed this morning. Calderdale Council's Labour cabinet have agreed to spend £680,000 on upgrading the borough's CCTV system.



This is the same Labour cabinet who threaten community centres with closure, and when anyone complains bleat about ConDem cuts and wring their hands ruefully. Community centres, which, lets not forget, actually address the root causes of crime and ASB, unlike CCTV which just allows the police to sometimes have the evidence to prosecute after the fact.

Now, to be fair, only about a quarter of a million of this £680,000 is coming from some unnamed slush fund that none of the rest of us know anything about, and which could have been spent on more worthwhile things; the rest of it is going to be borrowed. On unspecified terms. Because we all know how GREAT Labour are at negotiating favourable contract terms for loans. Calderdale Royal hospital's PFI deal is a shining example of their skill in that regard.

And then there's the contract for the actual provision. Which is going to Virgin Media. We don't know why, or what terms they were offered the contract, or how they tendered for it. We don't know if there are are any performance clauses in the contract so the council will be able to get out of it if it all goes mammaries-skyward. But I'm sure we can trust the Labour party to have thought of all this, right? They totally haven't got a track record of dodgy contracts which tie the hands of their successors at all levels of government at all...

I really am quite angry about this, as you can probably tell.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Sorry)
Am composing this on my phone away from home so forgive me if it is riddled with typos.

Yesterday there appeared on Lib Dem Voice two articles about food poverty. I don't think either of them was a particularly good or bad article in terms of the solutions they proposed, but one of them made me VERY angry in the tone it took which led me to make some ill-judged remarks on Twitter, to which the immediate response of the author of the article was to squeal about me trying to stifle his free expression, which is, of course, a thing I would never do and only served to make me more angry. Free speech necessarily involves a right of reply. I am happy for ANYONE to say whatever they like; so long as they afford me the same courtesy.

Anyway, partly due to the limitations of the medium and partly due to my semi-awake and angry state, my remarks could have been worded better. So I apologise for the remarks. I don't apologise for getting angry, though.

We in the UK are blessed to live in a very rich country. There may be all sorts of reasons for the rise of food banks, but the fact that you can't get food from them without being referred to them for being starving tells me that whether they are serving a pre existing need and doing it better than the state could (as many on the right contend) or they are covering a new need created by the evil swingeing cuts of the right (as many on the left contend) they are serving a desperate need.

Frankly, I don't give a monkey's pube who is to blame for the fact that we have starving people in the seventh richest country in the world. The fact remains that we have starving people in the seventh richest country in the world. That's SHAMEFUL. Even ONE person starving in a country as rich as ours is shameful. And whatever your views on the causes of that starvation, to post in dry, macro-economic terms about the causes without once acknowledging that you're talking about real human misery and suffering? That's going to make me angry. We're not talking about UNITS here, we're talking about PEOPLE. Real, actual individuals with lives and loves and hopes and dreams.

I'm a liberal because I want every individual to get the opportunity to maximise their potential. You can't maximise your potential if you're starving, and you can't maximise your potential if you are a dehumanised number on a balance sheet.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Post Feminism)
I'm not actually sure whether I realised I was a feminist first or a liberal. Logic would say feminist, but it doesn't really matter. Why not?

Because both my feminism and my Liberalism spring from exactly the same point. Every single person I have ever met has been an individual. Everyone has a unique perspective and a unique set of experiences, and I love that. I love that everyone I meet has something new to teach me, and I love learning from them. And therefore I loathe all the nasty little systems of social norms that try to quash that individuality and force people to conform. To put people into neat little boxes and label them so they can be sorted and dealt with without ever having to ask them what they think.

The patriarchy is one such system. It labels women and men* and tells them that this is what you must do to be considered a real woman or a real man. It takes unique individuals and judges them, and in most cases, whatever your gender, it finds you wanting. I'm not a real woman because I wear trousers**. [personal profile] matgb is not a real man because he's really good at childcare and likes cooking. My transwoman friends are not real women because they were born with penises. My genderqueer friends are not real people because they don't express their gender according to society's norms.

Fuck. That. Shit.

This is why I get annoyed when people say that feminists are anti-men, or imply that feminists want to do men down. No. Really, no. I'm a feminist because I want all people of all genders, and none, to be free to behave as they want***, free from the strictures of conforming to the rigid gender norms of society, just like I'm a Liberal because I want all people to be free to behave as they want free from the strictures of all the other forms of oppression, both big and small, that are enforced on us to varying degrees every day.

But it's also why, as a feminist, I detest ideas that are designed to make politics easier "for women". Because they, too, treat women and men as homogenous groups and the average man/woman as representative, when in reality the Venn diagram of the genders looks more like this:

Venn Diagram
The pink group is men, and the small pink dot is the average man.
The blue group is women****, and the small blue dot is the average woman.
The grey group is people who eschew gender expression, and the grey dot is... you get the picture.

The point is that any one individual may be further from "normal" (i.e. average) for their gender or lack thereof then they are for "normal" for another gender. I'm a woman, I definitely am, but in terms of that diagram I'm somewhere over the far left and covered by all three colours. And any individual you meet is going to be floating somewhere in those clouds, but the likelihood is that they are not really much like the average person of their gender. So treating ALL women (or ALL men) as though what works for the average will work for them? It's self-evidently bloody stupid*****.

We are all individuals******. And the ONLY way to achieve true social justice, to smash the patriarchy, and to make sure everyone gets the opportunities they deserve no matter what their gender, age, race, no matter what their quirks or eccentricities, is to treat every person as an individual. That way all the intersecting privileges and oppressions that we are almost all of us subject to can be taken into account, and the way those things affect all of us as individuals can be taken into account, without anyone suffering for being on the "wrong" side of a percieved social norm.

Rant over.

* and you must be one or the other; genderqueer people? You don't exist
** OK, there are LOTS of other reasons I am not a real woman, but that was the first one that came to mind
*** within the confines of the harm principle, obviously. Because if you're harming others you're taking away their freedom of self-determination.
**** the women group os slightly larger because there are slightly more women than men, not just because my mouse hand slipped in paint or anything ;)
*****An example I came across recently was that some events in politics are better "for men" because "men have deeper voices" and thus we need to rebalance this to make it better "for women" who have "higher voices". Now if you only consider the averages, this almost certainly applies. The average man DOES have a deeper voice than the average woman. This is irrefutable fact. But an individual man can quite conceivably have a higher voice than an individual woman, and so the effect of such a rebalancing on those individuals would be to skew things in favour of the man, which is the exact opposite of the effect that the person proposing the rebalancing wanted.
****** don't think I can't hear you Monty Python fans at the back going "I'm not!" *severe face*
miss_s_b: (Innuendo: cybersex)
I am quite willing to believe that some sex workers are exploited, coerced, and mistreated. Human trafficking is a terrible thing, and should be stamped out. Modern slavery likewise. But when somebody says that the ONLY reason for a sex worker to go into sex work is coercion and/or desperation, that makes me a bit uncomfortable to say the least.

The idea that no woman (because when people say this, it IS usually about women) could go into sex work voluntarily springs from some very sexist (and quite modern) assumptions:
  1. Women do not like sex as much as men*
  2. Therefore if a woman Does It with a man she must be doing it for some reason other than enjoyment
  3. Love is an acceptable reason, money isn't
You all know how I hate it when we are treated as members of our group first and individuals second, so I'm not going to labour that point, but... some people have high sex drives, some people have low sex drives, and those things are not always congruent with gender.

It is entirely possible that some women go into sex work voluntarily, and enjoy it when they get there. In fact, more than possible, it's true; you can find myriad testimonies from such women on the internet and elsewhere. And to dismiss them with "oh well they don't know what they are saying", which is normally the next step for people who think all sex workers are coerced? Surely I don't need to point out how patronising and sexist THAT attitude is?

TL;DR version: I am a sex positive feminist and I don't think feminists who aren't know what they are talking about.

*Anyone who thinks all women have lower sex drives than all men needs to be introduced to me, and then to have a gentle chat with some of my partners, only one of whom comes anywhere close to having my general level of sex drive.
miss_s_b: (Default)
Our Environment Secretary thinks that if you "have to" destroy ancient woodland to build something, you can offset that by planting lots of trees elsewhere. This is so utterly wrong-headed I barely know where to begin. I mean the clue about the importance of biodiversity is in the name - bioDIVERSITY. IT'S NOT JUST TREES, OWEN. The fragile ecosystem of ancient woodland might have trees for its foundation, but it's insects, birds, fungi, ferns (oh God, you wouldn't believe how important ferns are), flowering and non-flowering plants... Some trees won't even grow unless a woodland has been established for a century. Some small mammals can only live in woodland where there is an established balance of the plant and insect food they need. All of these things depend on each other, and this cannot be replaced by a monocultural plantation of trees, however native those trees are.

This blinding stupidity on the part of our environment secretary is illustrative of a wider problem within the thinking of people who are not Liberal by inclination. Not just biodiversity, but diversity in all areas is seen as a box-ticking exercise. So to replace woodland you only need plant trees. Bollocks to the other forms of life, we've got trees, that's a woodland, right? To have diversity in the government you need more women. It doesn't matter if those women are from the same tiny, public-school-educated, Oxbridge upper class set as the men, cos they're WOMEN, right? Diversity means having x number of people from y groups which are considered underrepresented. So you need some women, a black person, a gay, maybe if you're REALLY right-on a trans+ person... but if you don't think like a Liberal the actual PEOPLE don't really matter as long as they fill a quota.

This is BULLSHIT, people. Utter, stinking, steaming bullshit.

Every single person is an individual. Sure, they might be a part of some group or other, but that does not mean they are representative of that group. And more often each person is a member of more than one group. If I am going to be a token on a diversity agenda, do I tick the box for woman, or LGBT, or Northern, or low income, or poly? Or, more likely, in the case of a box ticker, do I tick every single one of those boxes so they think they've filled their diversity quota and every single other person in the room can be a rich cis het white man?

I keep saying this, but I'm going to say it again: diversity is not an end in itself, it's a means to an end. Biodiversity in woodland is important because if you don't have it you have a monoculture, and monocultures are at massive risk from disease. Ash die back and Dutch Elm disease are but two examples. If your woodland is composed entirely of one type of tree and that tree gets a disease, the entire woodland dies and you get environmental collapse. If you want an example what a huge problem monocultures are, take a look at what will happen to the banana supply if the Cavendish banana fungus that has been spreading really takes hold... Similarly, if you don't have diversity in government, you get monocultural thinking. You get a breed of politicians who all look and think and speak the same, and that's very prone to the intellectual equivalent of a devastating disease.

We have had a political monoculture in this country for far too long and intellectual Dutch Elm disease has taken hold. Owen Paterson's bone-headed remarks about biodiversity merely illustrate this problem. We need to break the system open and acheive true diversity and then all the good that comes from that will follow. Hopefully that will include not having an environment sectratary as clueless as Owen Paterson ever again.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Post Feminism)
You guys all know that I self-identify as feminist. I am very pro-equality. And yet, and yet... The subject of positive discrimination has been raising it's ugly head again, and it has been a while since I fully elucidated how I feel about it. The first time I posted substantively about this was in July 2008 and my views have shifted slightly but not much since then, so this is going to be basically an update of that post from 08, edited for more current examples and to remove some of my own bad wording*

Why I am Against Positive Discrimination

This list is presented in what I feel to be order of importance of the arguments.
  1. The argument from perpetuation. This is the big one as far as I am concerned. It's the practical argument. Positive Discrimination doesn't work, and worse than that, it makes the situation continue. Using discrimination to fight discrimination is like fucking for virginity. It doesn't even stop specific instances, and it definitely doesn't get to the root cause. It's salving a symptom, while leaving the disease utterly intact. We need to fight discrimination, not perpetuate it.

  2. The argument from individuality. Positive Discrimination treats all women and all men (or all racial groups, or all LGBT+ folk, or whatever) as representatives of their group first, and individuals second. You don't have to have known me for very long to know how far I am from the average for women in many, many, many areas. I firmly believe that it is perfectly normal to deviate from the norm. I am an individual. I am not there to be a tick in the box of a diversity agenda, and I believe that each individual has experiences and needs which are individual to them and not predetermined by any visible physical factor.

  3. The argument from equality of opportunity. AKA two wrongs don't make a right. If you discriminate in favour of some groups, you necessarily discriminate against others. This is manifestly unfair, and unfairness is in fact, what we are arguing against here.

  4. The argument from mediocrity. If you discriminate in favour of one group, you are promoting people who may not be as well-qualified or capable simply because they belong to the group in question; I thought this was what we were fighting against? Positive discrimination led directly to Hazel Blears being in the cabinet. Is anyone apart from Hazel herself really convinced that this is a good thing?

  5. The argument from resentment. Linked to the above: every person who gets a job due to positive discrimination has to fight the perception that they only got the job because of the group that they belong to, however well-qualified and good at the job they turn out to be. They are hamstrung before they even begin, and face resentment that no person should face.

  6. The "Sins of the Fathers" argument. Positive Discrimination means that some people will suffer through no fault of their own, but because they were born to a privileged group. This is manifestly unfair.

  7. The argument from commonality. Just because someone has similar physical features to you does not mean that they will be of the same views as you, have the same experiences as you, or understand you any better. I believe that Julian Huppert understands me better and does a better job of representing my views than Nadine Dorries, for example.

Really, it all boils down to the fact that if you use positive discrimination, you are accepting that the ends (greater diversity) justify the means. By that logic, you should also accept torture, pre-emptive invasion of other countries, etc. etc. This is not, in my view, how a good liberal should think.

I also hate the slippery euphemistic re-naming of it as "affirmative action" or "positive action", like that changes what it is. I don't think that one needs to have the same attributes as someone else to be able to have empathy with their situation, and I don't think that one needs to be a member of a marginalised group to understand that marginalising people is bad and wrong. I don't think a person's attributes qualify them to represent me, I think their brain does. Selecting women because only women can represent women is as bad, in my view, as suppressing women because only men are smart enough to decide what's good for us.

Diversity is not an end in itself. It's a means to an end of fairness.

Now, I'm not saying that women (and other marginalised groups) don't face structural and institutionalised inequalities; I know they do, and I rail against them regularly. But to say we can solve all that by using positive discrimination is like saying you can cover third degree burns with a bit of make-up. It doesn't work (or if it superficially appears to, it doesn't work for long) and in the long term it makes the problem worse by preventing actual solutions from being used, because look, we've solved it. I want discrimination solved. I really really do. And at bottom, that is why I am against positive discrimination.

*eurgh unchallenged and innate transphobia and gender binary shit. I HAVE LEARNED SINCE THEN, oh internets. But note that I don't censor my learning process...

Further reading, should you wish it (some of it sweary, and some of it still containing unchallenged gender binary. Must update that Venn Diagram):

My original post on this subject from July 2008
On having A Minister For Women from Oct 2007
Two linked posts on biological determinism from June 08
AWS selected MPs Vs non-AWS selected MPs from Oct 08
On having a "women's policy" from Jan 09
On the actual Women's Policy Consultation from March 09
On supposed male allies wishing to be spoonfed women's views from July 10
On how one grows up with expectations of what one's place should be from July 11
There's a fuckton else in this area on both of my blogs. Go look for it if you want to.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
Fuck the centre ground. Seriously, fuck it with a ten foot barge pole. I have no issue with the Lib Dems being equidistant between left and right; that's as it should be, given that even within my own local party there are people who range from extreme socialist to somewhere right of Attila the Hun. You know why that doesn't mean we are on the centre ground?

BECAUSE WE'RE FUCKING LIBERALS. No matter how far left or right each of us is on the economic axis, we are ALL anti-authoritarian, some of us extremely so. And for pretty much all of us, where we are on the Liberal/Authoritarian axis is WAY more important than where we are on the left/right axis.

Every single time I see some shite about us being on the centre ground, or even worse "laying claim to the centre ground" like we BELONG there, like we OUGHT to be there, I want to scream FOR FUCK'S SAKE PEOPLE YOU ARE SELLING OUT OUR USP FOR AN OLD SPITTING IMAGE SKETCH. I'm sure those of us of a certain age remember the whole "neither one thing nore the other but somewhere in between" thing. And now the party's marketers think that's a GOOD marketing technique? Wishywashy pointless bollocks that it is.

Liberalism is NOT about carefully positioning ourselves on the ever-shifting centre ground between the Tories and Labour; it's about getting as far away from both of the scary authoritarian fuckers as we possibly can up the other axis. PLEASE can we stop defining ourselves in relation to the other two parties and start defining ourselves for ourselves?
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
Some successful people really annoy me. Quite a lot of them don't, but a sizeable majority... Take Ricky Gervais. He is a man of some (but not massive) talent, who because the stars were right and there was a gap in the market briefly became a massive success and is now riding the long tail of that.

He fully believes that his talent and work are the only factors in his success. He also believes the corollary of this - that anyone who is NOT as successful as him is not as successful as him either because they are not as talented or because they didn't work as hard or both. This is why he makes tweets like the ones he regularly makes, which I have no doubt he thinks are funny, and which dismiss people he sees as lesser than him.

The belief that people succeed ONLY on their own merit is utter bullshit.

Now I'm not saying that successful people aren't talented, or that they don't work hard. Clearly there is a requirement for some talent and some work involved. What I AM saying is that there are huge numbers more talented people, and immeasurably huge numbers more hard-working people than there are successful people, so there must be some other factor. Some very talented people are going to work their arse off their entire life and not get anywhere. It's harsh, but it's life. There is only limited room at the top, sadly, and for every person who gets the breaks there's going to be several who didn't. Being one of those who didn't isn't fun. But you know what makes it ten times worse?

Smug deluded arseholes like Ricky Gervais rubbing people's faces in it and telling them that the only reason they aren't as successful as Ricky Gervais is because they're Not Good Enough.

Fuck off Ricky Gervais, and the idiots who believe your bullshit.
miss_s_b: (Default)
Yesterday, Chris Williamson MP tweeted:
Lib Dem membership in freefall. I'd urge all Lib Dems who want progressive social change to back #Labour
Now, I know that some of you reading this have left the Lib Dems. At least one of those has joined the Greens, and several have joined the Pirates. Maybe some of you have joined Labour, and you know what? I'm a Liberal, and I am happy to see the exercising of personal choice even if it's not a decision I would make myself. But the idea that Liberals should leave the Lib Dems en masse and join Labour just because a Labour MP says so? THAT got my back up. So I replied. Possibly slightly less than respectfully:
AHAHAHAHAHAHAA the day authoritarian #Labour are the agents for real social change is the day Satan skates to work
Now, to give him his due, he didn't just ignore me. Unfortunately, some of the examples he replied with are.... well, shall we say "suspect"
But Labour introduced NHS, welfare state, equal pay, race & gender equality acts, min wage, civil partnerships, legalised abortion
So, I'm not the political historian that [personal profile] matgb is, but even I know that David Steel introduced the Abortion Act, and it was a free vote issue, and lots of Labour politicians opposed it. To try and claim that as a Labour measure just because Labour were in power when it was passed is disingenuous to say the least. And I know for a fact that they introduced civil partnerships because they were too cowardly to introduce equal marriage, which Lib Dems in government are doing RIGHT NOW! (Hi Lynne! *waves*) This makes me suspect that some of his other examples might not be as clear-cut as he is presenting them either, although I suppose I can give him minimum wage. So I go to reply to him to say that "just because something happened when Labour was in government doesn't mean it was instigated by or supported by Labour" and notice that he's also having a twitter conversation with Douglas... In reply to
What about those of us who value civil liberties, constitutional reform & not pandering to the media?
he says
Your point is? Remember Labour introduced biggest constitutional reforms, FOI Act & it was Ed Miliband who took on Murdoch.
So, chickening out of proper Lords reform (which, again, Lib Dems are doing in government), backing away from electoral reform when you got a big enough majority to snub Paddy, and opposing AV and boundary changes mean Liberals should trust you on constitutional reform, does it, Chris? And Ed Miliband is better than, ooo, say... VINCE CABLE on Murdoch?

So, my question to you, loyal reader, is this: is this man misinformed, deluded, or simply lying? And why does he think that spouting untruths directly at Lib Dems will get them to join his party? I mean, if you are a person who thinks the Lib Dems lied on tuition fees (which I can understand, even if I don't entirely share that view) or is dismantling the NHS (which, again, I can understand, even if I think what we're doing is preventing the tories from doing so) then WHY IN CTHULHU'S NAME would being barefaced lied to by a Labour MP entice you to join Labour? I know we have a reputation as masochists in the Lib Dems, but surely we're not all that masochistic?

My advice to you, if you're a Lib Dem leaver who still wants to remain politically active? If you're technologically inclined, join the Pirates, because they love freedom as much as we do, and they're a rising star. If I were ever to leave, that's where I'd go. If you're less technologically inclined, join the Greens and try to change some of their more ridiculous anti-science policies. And say hi to Liz. And if neither of those appeals, then join a single issue group. Perhaps the electoral reform society. But for pity's sake, don't join Labour. They'll betray you like they've betrayed everybody else since about 1998. They lie about how we got in the mess we're in now, they lie about what they did in power, and they won't even tell us what they're going to do if they get back in. If you want the definition of an untrustworthy politician, I'd say look for one in a red rosette.
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: (Politics: Post Feminism)
I know I'm a bit of a stuck record on this point, but here is some concrete evidence of how the blokosphere works against women, all the while pretending not to:

Mark Pack blogs that the majority of UK bloggers are female. Someone asks him how he knows that; he replies that he got it from the ONS.

Mark would never have known about that ONS data had I not told him about it, but it never enters his head to credit me with the information. It's just information, it's in the public domain, it doesn't really MATTER where he got it from... Right?

I mean, the fact that when blogosphere stories enter the mainstream, the MSM normally credit Guido or the Egregious Tory Tosser, even when the story was almost always broken by someone else and they just picked it up off their RSS feeds or Twitter... as long as the story gets out, it doesn't matter who the source was, right?

Even more obviously: all those black people whose songs Elvis ripped off... As long as the music gets out there, who cares who wrote it?

Even when female bloggers DO do something worth noticing, we never get the credit. And we're told we should be grateful, because at least the information is out when the men deign to notice. I'm sure that this was not a conscious snub by Count Packula. I'm sure he's very wounded that I am even typing this. But you know what? Women are conditioned from birth to know our place, to not speak out in case we upset someone, to keep our heads down and just be grateful... Well fuck that. Sometimes someone needs to have their cage rattled.

If you're seriously about solving the problem of women being excluded, Mark, you might want to stop perpetuating it. Just a thought.

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miss_s_b: (Mood: Belligerent Wheel of Fortune)
The fact that one of the Milliblands has got headlines for jumping on the Save Our Pubs bandwagon that Greg Mullholland and other Lib Dems have been successfully piloting for years, or the fact that Mike Smithson, famed sage of politicalbetting.com thinks that my livelihood and the lifeblood of many communities (not just rural ones) is trivial and laughable.

OK, so Millibland's "bold" plans are nothing more than to appoint a minister for pubs, and not to do anything about the beer tie, or the stupid over-regularion of the market, or the ridiculously complicated duty regime (here's an idea: differential taxation on cask and bottle/can), or any of the other issues that plague my industry. But that does not mean that the issue is not a serious one, affecting not just the lives of barmaids, but the fabric of our communities.

To dismiss this as so much sausages is, I venture to suggest, slightly short-sighted of the seer.

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miss_s_b: (Mood: Oh dear)
Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

As is my wont on a Saturday morning, I am listening to The Week in Westminster. One of the items they have had on it was about rumblings of discontent in the party that we are not having enough influence on the coalition. Stephen Gilbert, of the whip's office, tried to counter this by listing policies which we have had influence on which are currently being enacted... and the first one he came up with was also a Tory policy.


The thing about being a Lib Dem is that you have to fight tooth and nail for every vote, and the thing about fighting tooth and nail for every vote is that you know the manifestos of your oppponents as well as you know your own. HOW DARE YOU try to hoodwink us? How dare you try to spin doctor those of us who campaigned like hell to get YOU elected?

Sandra Gidley was right, you cannot ignore the rumblings of discontent from within the party, or dismiss it by telling us we are not being grown up. I was one of those who voted enthusiastically for the coalition, I am fully aware that coalition involves compromise, but compromise, to my mind, does NOT involve pretending to be ecstatically happy about a desperate fudge that nobody actually wants (AV), and nor does it involve being an uncritical fawning abused partner in a marriage with very unequal power footings. I've seen where that leads, thank you, and I'm not going to participate enthusiastically in the macro version.

If you keep trying to dismiss and ignore the feelings of the grassroots of the party, you are going to reap a whirlwind in Liverpool, you smug, arrogant, dismissive tosser. And that's a long time before we get wiped out at the next election, which it's looking more and more like we will...

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IPSA and whining MPs

NSFW Sunday, July 4th, 2010 01:03 am
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
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miss_s_b: (Mood: Belligerent Wheel of Fortune)
I've noticed a couple of bloggers (not just you, Mark, lest you think I am picking on you, but you are the only one worthy of linkage ;)) tonight moaning about how some woman was refused service in a supermarket because there was a suspicion she might be supplying some alcohol to a person under 18. A lot of the commentary on this seemed to be aimed at the supermarkets, and there were threats of violence against the checkout operator from a number of quarters. What the blue buggery fuck do people think shoving the bottle of wine up the operator's arse would achieve?

Yes, the law is illiberal, ill-thought-out, and stupid. But taking it out on some poor bugger who is being paid minimum wage, is terrified that (s)he is going to get fined £5000 and lose his/her job, and probably thinks you are one of the many mystery shoppers (s)he knows are circulating to make sure (s)he is doing everything correctly and parroting all the stupid lines (s)he has been given by management? How the monkey buttocks do you think that is going to help? If anything, it will be utterly counterproductive, because it will confirm in the minds of legislators that anyone (apart from themselves, obviously) who ever drinks alcohol (or consumes any other age-restricted product - fags, knives, whatever) is dangerous and needs to be controlled.

If you get IDed for an age-restricted product, it's a minor inconvenience to you. If you DON'T get IDed, and you turn out to be one of the stooges Mystery Shoppers who are purposefully selected by the rozzers because they are underage and don't look it, or to test if you are going to serve someone who looks like they are buying for an underage person (which MIGHT be legal in the home, but is increasingly illegal in many other areas, and the police drum this into the stores) then the person serving you loses their job, a vast wad of cash, and the likelihood of future employment as well - because what shop/bar is going to employ someone who serves underage people? For fuck's sake show some perspective and stop flaunting your privilege, people. Because frankly, the sight of Entitlement Queen white boys going on about how disgusting it is that the peon behind the till doesn't know her place and isn't bowing and scraping to their every desire is more than a little nauseating.

If you want to change the law, aim your ire at the bloody government, who can do something about it, not the checkout girl who can't.

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miss_s_b: (Mood: Oh dear)
Lib Dem Voice is sponsoring this year's Total Bollocks Blog Awards. Stephen Tall has to write the article which Daddy Richard and me will giggle drunkenly over at the Lib Dem Blog Awards like we did over Nich Starling's article last year, while we loudly heckle from the Serial Runners-Up table as Costigan Quist and Mark Reckons collect all the awards.

Except, rather than write it himself, he's asked other Lib Dem bloggers to write it for him.

Stephen, you're sponsoring the Total Bollocks Blog Awards. You've GIVEN MONEY TO IAIN DALE. And you're asking where the Lib Dem Blogosphere is going wrong? I despair, I really do.

The Lib Dem blogosphere is very insular, and needs to start connecting with people outside the politics geek blogosphere. The way to do this is not to cosy up to the Egregious Tory Tosser. The way to do this is to talk to people from OUTSIDE THE POLITICAL BLOGOSPHERE COMPLETELY.

FWIW, I think we punch way above our electoral weight in the politics blogosphere. We're known to bloggers from other parties, and some of us (i.e. Costigan and Mark) are even respected by members of other parties. But those comments could equally apply to the Libertarian Party, and look how far that gets them in elections. But the politics geek blogosphere is a tiny, miniscule, insignificant part of the blogosphere in toto. And it will remain so the more insular and navel-gazing it becomes. Talking to Iain Dale is just gazing at a bigger navel.

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miss_s_b: (Self: boobies)
Last night, as part of the FFW, there was a screening of a film called The Scar Crow, and a Q&A session with cast and crew afterwards. The film had great effects and was beautifully and creatively shot, especially given the tiny budget and shooting timescale, but it just REEKED of misogyny. I can't give specifics without spoilers, but I had many, many problems with the film. Now, you can say this about a lot of films, including many that I really love. But the classic Hammer/Amicus/etc. films get something of a pass due to being made 30, 40, 50 years ago. This film was made last year. The ONLY named female characters were "evil", apart from the "sympathetic character" - i.e. the one who deserves a Well Done For Not Being A Rapist Cookie - 's girlfriend, who was merely peripheral AND stupid. There's an incestuous "lesbian" kiss, which the director stated in the Q&A he had put in because his 12 year old son had asked for some hot lesbo action.

And you know what?

Even as I type this I can feel the internet's reaction to me criticising the film for these reasons. It's just one film - it's not systemic. Not all films are like that! - just like not all men are like that. Well, YOU might have been offended, but I wasn't, and therefore it's not a problem. So you're saying we ought to ban films with hot lesbo action/films with female bad guys/etc. I thought you were a liberal?

etc. etc. et fucking cetera.

It's not just systemic in horror (and yes, I DID have an audible intake of breath when the director claimed to have been subverting expectations by shooting a gore flick with evil women and hot lesbo action in it). It's not just systemic in films. It's not just endemic in entertainment. It's endemic in life.

Are we all ready for the chorus of Oh, you're exaggerating! I don't know anyone who finds this a problem, girls? Boys, I hate to break this to you, but perhaps nobody has told you they find this sort of shit a problem because they know what your reaction will be. Do you ever find yourself thinking well harrassment/sexual assault/rape can't be that much of a problem because I don't know anyone who has been harrassed/assaulted/raped? I bet you a tenner that you do. For starters, if you know me, you do.

And do you know what? Even with all that said, I wouldn't want to ban films like this. I'd just like to live in a world where I can make this sort of criticism without having to pre-emptively defend myself against accusations of being a strident whinging harpie. I'd settle for that, but it'd be even nicer if I could go and see a gore flick where it's the men who are relentlessly objectified, and the women who are held forth as praiseworthy for not being rapists... Not because I think reverse discrimination is in any way the way forward, but just because it would be SUCH a fucking novelty.

Using the icon I have is a defensive action too. It's saying I know that women are objectified on the basis of their bodies, and I know it happens to me, and I can cope with it. It's saying I realise that I am part of the problem here. It's saying look, even though I have been raped, I have a sense of humour about stuff like this.

Yeah, I'm in a really good mood today.

Thanks to [personal profile] puddingcat for pointing me at most of the articles I link to.

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miss_s_b: (Mood: Belligerent Wheel of Fortune)
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miss_s_b: (Politics: Post Feminism)
So Mark Reckons posted a couple of very interesting posts.

I linked to him on my own blog, and then I linked to him on the LC netcast, because they WERE very good posts.

[livejournal.com profile] andrewducker picked it up, and linked to it, and discussed it with his f-list... And thanked [personal profile] matgb for the link.

I didn't bother saying anything to Andy because, well, Mat and I ARE practically the same person, and it doesn't really matter, and he must have figured that Mat would be the one to link to it, being the psephology geek of the two of us.

Today, Mark Reckons posts again, thanking ALL the people who have linked to him... Mr Quist, Andrew Ducker, Malcolm Clark, That Tory Blogger, Claude IF Carpentieri, even Millennium... oh, and of course Professional Journalist Polly Toynbee - who isn't male, but IS a paid journo!

Where are all the female bloggers? Where they have always been. Here, blogging, and being ignored by the men, or even when they do notice us, being passed over for credit because people with our little fluffy female brains can't POSSIBLY be serious political bloggers.

You're damn right I'm bitter.

((Thanks for the ETA, Mark, it's very sweet, but I think the Matrix patriarchy has you))

About This Blog

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.

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