Thursday, May 14th, 2015

miss_s_b: (Politics: Goth Lib Dems)
The Liberal Democrats have a lot of internal organisations that revolve around an identity or an interest. They are normally referred to as (S)AOs, or (specified) associated organisations, even though those terms don't apply to them all. An SAO is slightly more powerful than an AO in that it can submit motions to conference in its own right, but some of the AOs have enormous membership. Some unofficial groupings are treated in the same way as (S)AOs for all practical purposes. Add to that the fact that many of them have an acronymtastic name, and it can all get a bit confusing. This is my rough and extremely biased guide to the ones you really need to know about, but for a list of all the official ones you can check out the main party website here and here. Certainly some of the ones listed in the second half of this are going to be very offended by my views on them; I'm damn straight certain this post isn't going to be republished on Lib Dem Voice.

Firstly, the ones I know through either myself or a partner being a member:

LGBT+ LibDems (SAO) Affectionately known as Plus, the artist formerly known as DELGA is the group within the lib dems that campaigns for the rights of the entire alphabet soup of gender and sexuality minorities. The reason we are not DELGA anymore is that we felt the need to represent all of the alphabet soup was more pressing than retaining the words "Gay Action" in our name*. You do not have to be a gender or sexuality minority person to join, just in favour of fighting for our rights.

HSLD (AO) Humanist and Secularist Lib Dems are comprised of people of all religions and none. We fight to prevent the intrusion of religion (any religion) into places where religion should not be going. We reckon that if one religion intrudes, that is bad for both non-religious people and people who believe in other religions than the one intruding. HSLD are definitely high speed low drag.

Lib Dem History Group (unofficial) I don't actually contribute to Lib Dem History Group, but I devour the Journal of Liberal History, which you get delivered to your door by being a member.

ALDC (SAO) The Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors is absolutely stuffed full of experts on effective campaign techniques, and they run amazing training events. They also run election alerts, so that everyone knows when a by election is going to happen. They are the engine of the famous LD by election juggernaut. Despite the name you do not have to be a local Councillor to join - I never have been - and in fact they have recently started referring to themselves as the association of LD councillors and campaigners, but they haven't added an extra C yet...

Secondly, the groups who cause waves within the party:

The SLF (unofficial). They're justified, and they're ancient and they drive an ice cream van. No, sorry, that's the KLF. The SLF are a huge grouping of people who label themselves social liberals. There are very few people within the party who wouldn't call themselves social liberals, and of those who wouldn't it's because the term social liberal has come to refer to the left of the party, rather than a set of beliefs. Therefore the SLF tends to lean left merely by virtue of the people who are prepared to join it. I lean a lot further left than most of the SLF, but I have never joined because I see them as a pointless splinter group, in the same way that the People's Front of Judea look upon the Judean People's Front**. The numbers of people who HAVE joined show that I am in something of a minority in that opinion; I'm OK with that. Most likely to be found claiming to both represent the left of the party and to represent the entirety of party opinion at the same time.

Liberal Reform (unofficial) If the K, sorry, SLF are the left-leaning splinter group, Liberal Reform are the right leaning ones. Most likely to be found containing people who disdain "identity politics" (while adopting the identity of a Liberal Reform member) and who blithely refer to themselves as Classical Liberals despite having never read Mill and being unaware that he referred to himself as a socialist. If the SLF are the Judean People's Front, these guys are the Popular Front, sitting down the front looking grumpy and flipping the bird at everyone else. The SLF are their deadly rivals. You can tell this by the frequency with which members of both say things like "I don't know why people think we're enemies, we should totally be working together!". Liberal Reform are most likely to be found spouting managementspeak bollocks, and failing to understand that actually, being poor is quite hard.

The Carbohydrate Groupings (extremely unofficial and urine-extracting) The Carbohydrate Groupings were mostly specifically formed to take the piss out of the SLF and Liberal Reform. Lib Dem Biscuits are a young and thrusting group of new people who want to make sure we all have something to dunk in our tea. Lib Dem Friends of Cake disapprove of what they call "the biscuity entryists". Lib Dem Tarts and Lib Dem Friends of Pie disdain both cake AND biscuits and fight with each other as to whether pastry cases should have lids or not, and who is the best at outrageous innuendo. Paddy Ashdown famously endorsed Lib Dem Friends of Cake on national television. IMHO all four of them are more useful to Liberalism and more fun than the SLF or Liberal Reform. Your mileage may vary.

Green Lib Dems (AO). I'm not going to take the piss out of this lot because they do a lot of good work, and I honestly keep meaning to get around to joining them.

Lib Dem Women (SAO). I was a member of one of the two groups that merged to form this, and I left at merger. I was happy as a member of the Campaign For Gender Balance, because they didn't specify any genders to balance, and thus were not exclusionary. Lib Dem Women have a tendency to believe in the gender binary, and as I am implacably opposed to the gender binary we're just never going to get along. I have a lot of admiration for many of their members though.

Liberal Democrat Christian Forum (AO) - mostly to be found piling in to the hall at conference to defeat any motion or amendment which restricts faith schools.

EMLD (SAO) Ethnic Minority Lib Dems campaign for the rights of BAME people. Like Green Lib Dems, these are people who do huge amounts of great work, and I'm not going to take the piss.

There are lots more groupings within the lib dems, of varying degrees of power and influence, and this list is only the ones I have noticed having an impact. Ones I would like to see having more impact on policy include ALDES, if only because they have the best logo, and LDMHA. Inevitably, i will get comments recommending different groups, or arguing with what I've put here. That's fine, we're all Liberals :)

* I am still sad that we don't have Gay Action in our name any more, but I feel, as a bi person, that the sacrifice was worth it.

miss_s_b: (feminist heroes: DCI Gill Murray)
I read Dan Hodges' controversial article in the Speccy, and one bit jumped out at me:
In the final days of the 2010 campaign, Balls telephoned an MP friend. ‘I’ve just had Alicia Kennedy [Labour’s deputy general secretary] on,’ said Balls. ‘She says I might be in trouble in my seat and I should get back there. What do you think?’

‘Get back there now,’ his friend said. Balls did and clung on by 1,101 votes.

This time, no call arrived. There are some in the Balls camp who think that was no accident.
The fascinating bit is not the conspiracy theory (yawn) but the idea that a top rank Labour MP might have to ask for permission to campaign in his own damn seat. I'm just going to repeat that: a top rank Labour MP might have to ask for permission to campaign in his own damn seat.


Now, I'm the first to be jealous when a coachload of Labour activists turns up in a seat just because that's what they've been ordered to do, while our activists are all failing to even get on the coach*, but are they so used to centralised orders that a shadow cabinet member with a 1000 majority won't try to defend his own seat unless he's told to? That's just terrifying.

IMHO the ideal is probably somewhere between the two, but if I have to choose I'll go for catherding over mindless automata EVERY time.

*because one of them wants to drive, and one wants to go on the train, and one says it's OK they can cycle there from their house, and one refuses to come because nobody asked them specifically they were only asked in a round robin email, and several would rather do it on a different day to the day the coach is available, and several more turn up after the coach has left because they're running on goth time and then get offended the coach didn't wait for them...
miss_s_b: Peter Falk as Columbo saying "just one more thing" (Fangirling: Columbo)
I received a DM from a friend on twitter today, which read:
Probably a really stupid question but err… would a filthy leftie treehugger be welcome in the LDs?
to which my response was
Well they made ME chair.
You don't have to like everything the party has ever done (or proposes to do now) to join. We're a democratic party. While obviously you need to have some areas of overlap just to fit in, if you don't like party policy, you can work to change it. I know, I've done it and succeeded.

I'm not saying it's easy, and you've got to put evidence in front of people and persuade them, but at least it's possible which is more than I can say for either of the labservative parties. You join them, you fork over your money, and you do as you're told. You join the Lib Dems and we want you to contribute - yes money, although not very much; but also ideas and arguments. We thrive on arguments.

If that sounds like the sort of thing you could join in with, you know what to do.

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