We must safeguard our younger members and be radical – reasons why we should not raise the age limitWednesday, April 24th, 2019 12:28 pm
It has been the buzz for years and the main topic within our echo chamber of an organisation: the Young Liberals want to raise the membership age ceiling from 26 to 30. But this isn’t the type of “raise the roof” action that the organisation should be taking.
In previous articles written, you’ve heard about the issues that the Young Liberals face. Yet, at the same time, you can be a supporter of our campaigns and guide us without being in the organisation. We already turn to our elected members, local parties and other inspirational people in the party for guidance and wisdom, so why does being in the Young Liberals after the age of 26 matter? Instead, we hope that members are mature enough to see that some major issues aren’t being addressed in these reforms.
There is a widespread belief that these reforms have been overwhelmingly and unanimously supported within the Young Liberals’ membership, but we beg to differ. At their Glasgow Conference, we were told the idea was met with an astounding approval. Yet with approximately 35 members present at the conference, this is not, and cannot be, a fair representation of the organisation.
And at the same conference, members of the organisation under 18 were informed they had to not only get written consent to attend the conference, but also were not allowed to stay at the hostel where the conference was taking place. The reason given was:
This year Young Liberals have made the decision not to offer accommodation to members under the age of 18. (…) Young Liberals are not sufficiently trained to adequately safeguard such members (…) such training could be in place for future Young Liberals Conferences, however not for current conferences. Members are free to stay in private accommodation in the city.
This was unacceptable. How can our organisation not have in place the proper training to include all our members? Letting them stay off the premises is not any safer, neglects their safety and ignores their accommodation needs.
Mistakes like these make it clear that the organisation cannot deal with our current capacity. As older members, it is our duty to care for and make younger members comfortable while keeping their safety a top priority. We’ve all heard some of the incidents that have occurred due to a lack of safeguarding, some of which escalated to dangerous heights. This could have been avoided if there was more of a culture of respect and caring, something that is key to liberal philosophy.
This is an organisation that can’t even respond to its current members. There have been multiple occasions where important emails from members and societies have been missed, or just simply ignored, despite multiple people chasing them up. Increasing the membership would only make this worse.
At the end of the day, being young is great, some would say the best years of their lives but at some point, it is important to end that chapter and start a new one. It is best to look back fondly at the people you met and the memories that you made within the organisation.
We need to ensure that the Young Liberals cater for their current membership before they think about expanding.
A link to the conference FAQs is here.
* Jasneet Samrai is a former YL Regional Chair-Elect, a member of YL and is an ordinary member of the South East Liberal Democrat Executive. Leena Sarah Fahrat is a member of Rhyddifanc Cymru (Welsh YL), the PPC for Westminster and the Senedd for Carmarthenshire East and Dinefwr.
If I hadn't met A. and then married and had kids young, that could have been me. Having set myself upon a course, I would have done anything, sacrificed anything, to get there. But once I had other people depending on me, it forced me to have some sort of work-life balance. A lot of things that I might have done if it was just me were off the table once there were other people involved.
As one of our lead members at the Local Government Association, I have worked to ensure that our national campaigns are linked to what’s happening in local communities. There are a variety of ways to do this, but I hope this article is a helpful example.
In 2015, the Conservative Government launched a consultation on a ‘joined up’ approach to Police and Fire Services. Nationally, Fire Brigade Union General Secretary Matt Wrack, in January 2016, described the national proposal as a “half baked suggestion” and accused “one or two” PCCs supporting the plan of “empire building”. He told the BBC: “There’s very little evidence, there’s no research been carried out, there’s no support for it among firefighters and there’s no support for it among police officers, there’s no support among local communities and yet the government seems to be intent on forcing it though.”
Here in York and North Yorkshire, these proposals led to the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner spending more than £140,000 on consultants to prepare a business case on and unwanted takeover of the local fire service. We have campaigned in our communities for a fair deal for local Fire Service funding, but the unpopular takeover took place following Government agreement in November 2018.
In order to campaign locally and nationally, I worked with Liberal Democrat peers, including Baroness Kath Pinnock as our national communities and fire services spokesperson, and Baroness Angela Harris, to table a motion of regret in the House of Lords and issue press releases. This debate took place on the 21st November 2018, where peers were asked if they regretted the decision by the Government to agree the takeover of North Yorkshire Fire Authority, following other takeover examples nationally.
The motion read that: “this House regrets that the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire (Fire and Rescue Authority) Order 2018 has been brought forward despite the constituent councils, the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, and North Yorkshire Fire Authority being opposed to the proposals; further regrets that no detailed assessments have been undertaken by the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office as to the impact of the proposals; and expresses serious concern that the proposals could severely impact on the fire services’ capacity to serve residents across York and North Yorkshire”.
Our communities and local authorities had already expressed serious concern that the proposals could severely impact on the fire services’ capacity to serve residents across our local area. This included all local political parties, North Yorkshire County Council, City of York Council, and the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel. It was particularly disappointing to those of us locally, as the Government’s own independent assessment, albeit only undertaken by one organisation against the advice from the Local Government Association, even stated in conclusion that there “is an absence of quantified benefits in relation to any reduced costs of inputs” and that there was “no overwhelming case for change and that most of the proposed changes could be achieved under the other three options.
It was useful to table a motion of regret, as it allowed peers to discuss and raise concerns about Government policy and its impact not just on York and North Yorkshire, but equally, a variety of areas across the country, with a series of unpopular and unwanted fire service takeovers. Most importantly, it highlighted our dissent as Liberal Democrats with the ongoing Conservative ideological reduction of local democracy and the ability of locally elected councils to influence the areas they are elected to represent.
The national debate and press releases helped ensure much better press coverage for us than normal, with Baroness Pinnock appearing on regional television, radio and the local media. Local examples are be found here from the Yorkshire Post and here from the York Press.
I would welcome thoughts from readers if there are Fire Service national campaigns that we could be making more of in your local area.
* Keith Aspden has been the Councillor for Fulford Ward in York since 2003 and for Fulford and Heslington Ward since 2015. He is the Deputy Leader of City of York Council and the Liberal Democrat Deputy Chair of the LGA Fire Services Management Committee (FSMC).
Part 2: from the 1940’s generational change to the growing hostility to Europe
Reading Alan Clark’s history of the Tories 1922-1997 (Phoenix/Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1999), and Alan Sked and Chris Cooks “Post-War Britain” (Penguin, London, 4th. ed., 1993), you see how in 1940-51, while party leader Churchill was concentrating on foreign affairs (winning a war until ’45, then uniting Europe in his “interlocking circles”: Europe, the Commonwealth, and NATO), the other parts of the Tory party reacted to more domestic modernising trends and proposals. (See about Churchill’s priorities: Clark, Tories, p. 321-22; Sked & Cook, Post-War, p. 77-78).
Alongside the “Post-War Problems Central Committee” (PWPCC) formed at Tory party HQ in 1941 under Education Secretary “Rab” Butler, there emerged a progressive “Tory Reform Group” (TRG) of “Young Turks”. Clark says Food minister Lord Woolton (Tory from 1945) was the only Cabinet minister caring about “Post-War Problems”.
When liberal Beveridge presented his report in November 1942, the Tories hurriedly assembled a committee to formulate a response under minister Ralph Assheton, which was very critical of the collectivist aspects of it (they half supported the NHS and unemployment assistance); while the TRG minority was more positive. But in post El Alamein optimism, Beveridge became the tastemaker of future-planners, and the TRG came to the fore as the Tory variant. TRG authors could write some of the Tory “Signpost” books on postwar policy from 1943. The voting down by a Tory revolt of Bevin’s Catering Wages Bill showed Tory resistance could block reform; but negative public reaction to that vote moderated the Tory public response to Beveridge, which was “neutral” (see: Clark, Tories, p. 284-96,299-300; Sked & Cook, Post-War, p. 19-20).
The Labour 1945 landslide eliminated many Beveridge-resistant Tory MP’s; and stimulated TRG Tories getting into Rab Butler’s Conservative Research Department (restarted late 1945); Woolton became party president in ’46. They could argue that their new thinking was in line with Disraeli’s “One Nation” social consciousness (as Macmillan did), and Churchill’s “Tory democracy” with a paternalistic but magnanimous state.
The hard winter of 1947 showed (according to Clark) the limits of Labour redistribution; and the Tory “Industrial Charter” showed a social face of Toryism, working for full employment while rejecting the closed shop; rejecting both privatisation and further nationalisation. Butler made Eden, popular for launching the phrase “Property-owning democracy” in 1946, sell this to the Tory conference, which accepted it gladly (see: Clark, Tories, p. 319, 320, 323-6, 327; Sked & Cook, Post-War, p. 80-81).
Churchill ordered that the Tory February 1950 election campaign would support the existing employers’ offensive against further nationalisation, but leave Beveridge and the NHS alone (appearing moderate and conciliatory against Labours class war rhetoric). The Tories won (from 213 to 298 seats), Labour lost (393 to 315). Seen against the Tory conversion to Beveridge and NHS in 1943-‘7, the “educating the platform”-episode at the Tory autumn conference was a result of the TRG and Butler programmatic updates, and less surprising than the BBC paints it. What could play a role was that Churchill, by now over 75 years old, would suffer four strokes in 1949-‘51; King George VI was worried enough about his slowing down to consider advising retirement. (see: Sked & Cook, Post-War, p. 81-50, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Labour didn’t have much of a government program in 1950; and collapsed October 1951. With the Korea War, Churchill pointed to his war leadership, while the Labour top was exhausted. The Tories continued their 1950 line: anti-socialism and the 300,000 houses pledge. The Tories won: from 298 to 320; Labour lost: 315 to 295.
For a parallel to post-1975 Britain: whereas anti-Europeanism was always strong inside the TUC and Labour party, it was less prominent in Churchill’s Tories (1945-’52), and both Macmillan and Eurosceptic Wilson applied for EEC membership in the 1960’s; mostly out of economic and political necessity.
With Edward Heath, Britain experienced a brief encounter with European idealism (even Thatcher voted yes in ’75). But after 1975, both Labour and the Tories soured on Europe (pro-Europeans crossing over to the Alliance and LibDems).
Just as the TRG and Butler slowly converted the Tories back to Tamworth modernizing pragmatism, so the Thatcherite Euroscepticism first led to massive parliamentary resistance against Maastricht; and in the period from 2013 (Camerons referendum promise) to 2016, Tory and Labour Euroscepticism combined proved too much for the “Establishment” Blair-Cameron consensus that remaining in the EU would prove best for Britain.
* Bernard Aris is a Dutch historian (university of Leiden), and Documentation assistant to the D66 parliamentary Party. He is a member of the Brussels/EU branch of the LibDems.
There are simply not enough police officers to cope with the workload, and the reliance on PCSOs to handle the community level policing is hampered by the failure to give them the powers to do the job as many of them, and others would like.
In South Wales for example, PCSOs do not have the power of arrest, nor are they able to stop vehicles. There are 20 additional powers which are being withheld from PCSOs that could be conferred on them under the relevant Act of Parliament.
Of course, the reliance on PCSOs in this way is far from desirable. As good and as dedicated as they are, they do not have the same training and investment as a warranted police officer. They are being used as a cut-price way to maintain a presence and a profile in local communities in the face of declining budgets.
The impact of those cuts is being felt most keenly in the detection of crime. As the Telegraph reports, at least one senior police officer believes that s ix in ten crimes are no longer fully investigated, warning that thefts are “screened out” if there are no witnesses, CCTV or forensics:
Ian Hopkins, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, one of Britain’s biggest police forces, said about 600 offences a day, primarily thefts, were not being pursued because "we don't have enough officers.”
He said budget cuts meant police had to prioritise more ruthlessly than ever after his force had lost about 2,000 officers in the past decade, taking his numbers down to 6,200.
“We record about a 1,000 crimes-a-day. Around 60 per cent are screened out very early on, so there is a very basic investigation undertaken then about 60 per cent are screened out,” Mr Hopkins told BBC Radio Manchester. The force sought to correct the figure almost 24 hours later to 43.4 per cent."
“You could spend weeks investigating some things and you will never get an outcome because the solvability factors are just not there.
“If your life is in danger, you've been seriously hurt, we will still turn up. If there's an immediate threat we will be there and we will be there in numbers really quickly.
“But if your shed's been broken into, your bike's stolen, your vehicle's broken into and there's no witnesses, there's no CCTV and there's no opportunity for forensics, we'll be screening that out really quickly.
“Your likelihood of a police officer turning up to deal with that is almost non-existent and that's where the public have really started to feel it. That bit worries me.”
“We are having to target our resources to some of the more serious stuff like serious and organised crime, counter-terrorism. You just don't have the capacity to deal with some of these things.
The Telegraph has followed this up with its own analysis of 10 police forces including the Metropolitan Police and Manchester. They have found that almost 500,000 offences were ditched within 24 hours of being reported, which if scaled up would equate to around two million:
Last year, the Metropolitan Police recorded almost 200,000 undetected crimes that were closed on the same day as they were recorded.
Of these, 77,976 were thefts, the most common “screened out” crime, which increased from 12,805 in 2015. The largest increase in “screened out” crimes was in robbery offences. There were just 23 undetected robbery crimes that were completed in under one day in 2015, but this had soared to 6,256 in 2018.
Over the past four years there has also been an increase nationally in violent and sexual crimes closed within 24 hours.
Sex offences recorded and then closed within a day rose from 703 to 1,605 from 2015 to 2018, while offences of violence against the person closed within 24 hours more than quadrupled from 11,927 to 44,548 in the same period.
All of this is very disturbing and requires further detailed scrutiny by Parliament. The Home Office cannot continue to get away with excusing these figures by pointing to an increase in funding, as they do at the end of this article.
Clearly, police do not have the resources they need to do their job, either that or they are misusing those resources. Isn't it MPs' job to find out which,and to put pressure on Ministers to sort it out? Perhaps they need to get their head out of the current Brexit mess and start to deal with these issues.
2078: As global warming destroys planet, people just glad Londoners of the past could get home in tiWednesday, April 24th, 2019 08:53 am
Not everyone in the country takes a lot of interest in the intricate details of electoral systems, and that probably includes most politicians including the new Chukkers on the block, and almost all the media.
A lot of people know that you can have “first past the post” (FPTP which in practice usually means the candidate who has got closest to the post when the whistle goes) and “proportional representation” which includes all the other systems ever invented. And that’s about it.
The thing is that the way the votes are counted is one of the two things (together with how people vote) that decides who gets elected. Stalin is supposed to have said that what matters is not how people vote but who counts the votes. In the Euro elections, the counting takes place by a system known as d’Hondt after one Victor of that ilk who is (possibly) one of the most famous Belgians to have lived.
FPTP is designed for a binary choice. It works perfectly when there are only two candidates – or in a for-and-against referendum. In elections when there are lots of parties, all standing for different things, it’s hopeless. On the other hand, d’Hondt is designed for just that – it will allocate seats more or less proportionately between lots of parties standing for different things (though it discriminates against the smallest ones). It is useless at making a binary choice.
Yet it has for a long time been as clear as daylight that if we have EU elections next month they will be proxy for a new referendum on the UK’s EU membership. It would work if there were just two parties standing (though I suppose we would have to let the Labour lot in to provide a third choice for the fence-sitters.) In practice, there are going to be more serious contenders than ever. And there is a huge danger that Farage’s Brexit party will sweep up the Leavers and “top the poll” in both votes and seats, while the People’s Voters and Remainers are split umpteen ways.
Why does this matter? It matters because d’Hondt discriminates against small parties – and unlike the 1-2-3 Single Transferable Vote (the dreadfully “un-British” system they will use in Northern Ireland) votes that are cast for small parties that cannot reach the threshold for electing anyone are not transferred to any other party.
I’ve worked out what could happen, on the basis of some of the latest polls and my own guesswork, in the nine English regions used for European Elections. This assumes an overall breakdown of Conservative 17%, Labour 22%, Brexit 28%, UKIP 4%, three main Remain parties 26% in total, Others 3%. I’ve assumed a split amongst the three Remain parties (Liberal Democrat, Change UK and Greens, in no particular order), of 10-9-7. I have assumed the same breakdown in each of the regions. This will clearly not be the case but my aim is to show the effect of the d’Hondt system on the three Remain parties standing separately. I’ve ignored Scotland where the SNP is likely to win perhaps half the seats, and Wales where Plaid Cymru will be standing.
The outcome is Conservative 11 seats, Labour 14, Brexit 17, Remain Parties five, four and one (10 in total). I have to add that I think this is optimistic in at least two or three regions where I guess Brexit will do better and the Remain parties worse.
It now seems to be too late to do anything much about this dreadful prospect, and I fear the Anti-Brexit parties will spend a lot of time and energy knocking each other about in an attempt to prove each one is the “best chance” in that region. Which will just hand the field to Farage who has already won that battle on the pro-Brexit Right. But at least we should all understand the system and how it works if we are going to get anything at all out of it.
Note: A d’Hondt count adds up the votes for each party. At round 1 the party with the most votes gets a seat and their vote is halved at round 2. The party which now has the largest number gets the second seat and their vote is halved for round 3. This continues until the necessary number of seats are filled.
* Lord Tony Greaves is the Liberal Democrats Lords Spokesperson for the North of England.
I have been watching the progress of the Mental Capacity Bill closely. One of the reasons I, and many activists I’m sure, became involved in politics was because of our concern over mental health, the marginalised, and mental capacity issues. Indeed, my other half researches in this area, so I have an in-house expert on mental capacity and I’m well aware the law needs improving.
This is a very important piece of legislation which could apply to any of us. For example, if people are in care homes and are having to be locked in, protections are needed to make sure this deprivation of liberty is necessary for their safety and in accordance with their human rights.
This new piece of legislation aims to improve these protections for anyone who lacks capacity and may be deprived of liberty. It took the Liberal Democrats to lead a cross-party effort to force the Conservative Government to remove their exclusionary definition of the deprivation of liberty.
Our changes also included a commitment to review the Code of Practice.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Judith Jolly said:
When this Bill arrived in Parliament from the Conservative Government last summer it was seriously flawed. Instead of improving the system, the original version of the Bill would have created more problems than already existed.
The Liberal Democrats, through working cross-party, helped secure numerous concessions from the Government and vastly improved what would have been shoddy legislation to secure better protections for all those in care.
I hope the Conservatives use this as a learning opportunity to not only recognise how much needed to be fixed, but ensure arrangements for enabling the care of people who lack the capacity to consent are properly resourced.
Today marks a victory for all those who worked to stand up for the rights of the most vulnerable.
My work with the Fragile X Society gives me further insight into vulnerable adults who live with this condition and protecting their human rights. There are so many examples of vulnerability in our society. Looking after the person and enabling them whilst protecting liberties and keeping people safe from harm is an important balance to get right. I’m glad we’re leading on this as Lib Dems.
* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.
End of Term (and Autumn Term, The Cricket Term and Attic Term, which I would discover in due course) are technically school stories. They are set at Kingscote boarding school and the events the twins (Lawrie and Nicola) and their sisters take part in there include many of the standards: being unfairly left out of teams, getting (and not getting) parts in the school play, negotiating friendships, shifting loyalties and small treacheries. But there are no high dramas - no gorse-anchored clifftop rescues, no hidden heirlooms, no near-drownings, no mysterious figures who turn out to be long-lost uncles or overzealous guardians. Boarding-school-story conventions are in fact often lightly mocked. At one point, for example, Tim (real name Thalia - 'A muse or something, Mother would have it, though Father did his best') likens Nicola to a character being 'very, very competent and awfully, awfully keen'. Kingscote is not an idyll. Its pupils are not perfect and neither - more shockingly - are its teachers, whom the pupils see at all times with clear rather than ennobling/idolising eyes. Rowan, one of the Lawrie and Nicola's older sisters, describes her relationship with headmistress Miss Keith as 'delicately balanced on a razor-edge of mutual toleration'. A wonderful phrase that I took instantly to my heart and have used many times in life since, and it encapsulated what I was most drawn to about the characters and the writer - the cool command they shared, the slight sense of detachment from life in order to keep perspective on it. It was like a bracing plunge after the close, sweaty sauna of more traditional school stories. You emerged from a Forest novel - and I instinctively reach for that word rather than book or story because everything was as finely and accurately drawn as in any fiction for adults - as braced as you had been entertained. My mind felt keener and sharper after every reading. Maybe it even was.
I opened all the windows today; later I turned on the a/c in the living room, which gets quite warm quite fast in the bright sun, but my bedroom window stayed open and the room is perfectly airy and cool. J and I walked three or four miles on our date, getting sprinkled on by lackadaisical rain, because that's our idea of fun. My feet are tired from the walk, but I'm still at my standing desk because I'm not going to sit in the stuffy living room when I could stand in front of my window and feel the breeze brushing gently up against me.
Alex is crouched on the sill, where I suspect he has spent most of the day, ogling the birds and drinking the fresh air. He ought to be an outdoor cat, poor guy, and this is the best he can get. On the other hand, if he were an outdoor cat, he wouldn't get to nap curled up in the crook of my C-shaped body pillow, which I have learned to leave arranged just how he likes it when I get up for the day. As I wrote this, he came over and chirped at me for pattins, so I hope he does feel he gets enough perks for being our cat and not his own.
I should be working, here at my lovely new desk, but I needed to share this moment, this sweet foot-ache, this purring cat, this generous breeze with all of you.
As I said on Twitter: massive respect for Ann Leckie's mineral protagonist progression from 'passive-aggressive AI' to 'literally just a very sulky rock.'
I'll admit it took me some time to come round on the sulky rock, but then the rock insisted on being hauled halfway across the continent in a large unwieldy carriage out of sheer bloody-mindedness despite several protestations from annoyed divine friends, and suddenly I loved that rock. We are all what we are.
( Technically something that may be a spoiler )
As with Ancillary Justice, I found this a slow build and an increasingly rewarding one as it went on. Things that Ann Leckie clearly likes and is good at, in combination with mineral protagonists:
- unusual and somewhat deliberately distancing narration
- non-human entities moved to action by feelings of affection and responsibility towards specific humans
- very long-game revenge plots
- careful plot-relevant linguistic exploration! MY FAVORITE PART
( Some ending thoughts that are definitely spoilers )
IMPORTANT NOTE: I don't hear lyrics; I respond to the mood of the music. I'm thinking something cinematic. I also prefer music not to be glitchy/noisy/shouty/screamy--there's nothing wrong with genres like punk/metal/etc., but they're not for me.
Right now, as a stopgap, I'm listening to Clamavi De Profundis (hat-tip to telophase).
The game is more or less hexarchate- and ethics-themed (specifically Shuos). The rules are two pages long. Play would run either on Discord or Google Hangouts, whatever is agreeable to the group.
Please PM me or email me (requiescat at gmail dot com) if you're interested in volunteering and I'll give you more info.
And, relatedly, that a scholar applied moderning imaging technology to the erased parts of Emily Dickinson's letters to recover what they said, and uncovered that, contrary to Dickinson's dour, spinster, hermit-like reputation, she had a passionate, oh-so-carnal, life-long love affair with a Susan Dickinson nee Huntington? Who married Emily's brother expressly so that she could live next door to Emily for the rest of her life? Happily ever after?
See also: Behind the New, Gloriously Queer Emily Dickinson Movie.
On Tuesday 23rd April 2019, sparked by the visit of Greta Thunberg to the UK, the Westminster leaders of the UK political parties, except for the Prime Minister and the DUP (both invited), took part in a private round-table with a number of the leaders of the youth climate strikes to discuss the UK’s response to the deteriorating ecological crises.
At that meeting, the Westminster Leaders present agreed to three actions. These actions mark a significant cross-party response to Greta’s visit to the UK; the UK youth climate strikes and ongoing climate protests; the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5 Degrees; the upcoming Committee on Climate Change report on a net-zero greenhouse gas target for the UK on May 2nd; and above all, the knowledge that it is young people across the world who will bear the brunt of the climate crisis.
There is an open invitation for the Government, and all other political parties, to sign-up to these cross-party actions.
Ongoing Cross-Party Cooperation & Dialogue with Young People
By working together collaboratively, political parties, even without the Government, can start to build the bold solutions and public consent needed to ensure young people are guaranteed a secure, safe and prosperous future.
Westminster party leaders therefore agree to ongoing cross-party roundtables with the youth climate strikers – and to increased cross-party collaboration on climate change, including an agreement to issue a statement endorsing the UK’s bid to host COP26 in 2020.
Supporting the UK Youth Climate Assemblies
Over the coming months, the UK youth climate strikers will continue to expand and build their movement – and it is essential that the views of young people are incorporated into the decision-making of politicians and political parties and that politicians have chance to engage directly with young people across the UK.
Westminster party leaders therefore agree to actively support and engage with youth climate assemblies in towns and cities across the UK.
Stress-Test UK Climate Policy
The United Kingdom has signed and ratified the Paris Climate Agreement – the international treaty negotiated in 2015 part of the United Nations’ climate framework – which places a commitment on the UK to meet the targets in the Paris Agreement, including efforts to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Westminster party leaders therefore agree, as a minimum, to accept and meet the imminent recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change on net-zero – and that they will seek a common framework to ensure party policy and manifestos are in line with CCC recommendations and the Paris Climate Agreement.
Alongside these initial actions, the Party Leaders reiterated their support for lowering the voting age to 16 and to ensure that knowledge and information about the causes and solutions to the ecological crises are at the heart of our education system.
Leaders Present: Caroline Lucas, Jeremy Corbyn, Ian Blackford, Vince Cable and Liz Saville-Roberts
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:
Greta Thunberg has already shown us how young people have managed to give much needed profile to the climate emergency our planet is facing.
We have today discussed how much more there is to do and the urgency with which governments globally need to act.
I finally got around to watching The Umbrella Academy on Netflix, after hearing lots of mostly-positive comments and reviews. Naturally, I must now share ALL OF MY OWN COMMENTS AND REVIEWS. Such is the nature of the internet…
I mostly enjoyed it, though the ending felt empty and unsatisfying.
Details behind the spoiler cut…
Yeah. It doesn't mean the same thing in baseball as I'm used to hearing it mean now that I live in the UK.
To celebrate Shakespeare Day, 7Ate9 bakery is giving away mini-cheesecakes if you can recite "your favorite sonnet"; the sign outside the bakery on Saturday warned "a soliloquy is not a sonnet." They also have cheesecakes decorated with a drawing of Shakespeare; for Pi Day last month, the decoration was π to as many decimal digits as would fit on a four-inch cheesecake.
I went to the bakery on Saturday to buy a chocolate cheesecake, saw the sign about a free cheesecake, and decided to try reciting a sonnet from memory. I got about four lines into the one that begins "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun," with a bit of friendly prompting, before giving up. The chef encouraged me to come back and try again later; when I walked into the store today, she asked if I was there to try again. I said yes, but a different sonnet, which once again I knew by first line rather than number. I recited Sonnet 116, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds," and the chef invited me to choose a mini-cheesecake.
The offer is good through today, in case anyone reading this is going to be in that part of Somerville (Highland Avenue, near the Armory) this afternoon.
However, the Korean course has...issues. For one, early on it's weirdly emphatic about denoting plurals. There is a way to pluralize nouns in Korean, but it's completely optional and it frankly sounds kind of weird if you're going to use plurals the way you would in English.
But the hilarious part is that whoever linked up the audio with the text...made an error.
The practice sentence 남자가 멋있습니다 (namja-ga meos-isseumnida), or "The man is cool"
남자가 맛있습니다 (namja-ga masisseumnida), or "Man is delicious." (Korean has no articles, and does not generally mark for number.)
It's not even ambiguous--the pronunciation is completely wrong...
Fandoms: Penny Dreadful and Granada Sherlock Holmes.
Characters: Ethan Chandler, Vanessa Ives, John Clare, Victor Frankenstein, Sir Malcolm Murray, Kaetenay, Dracula, Dr. John H. Watson, Sherlock Holmes
Chapters: 14/14 (complete)
Spoilers: Contains S3 spoilers.
Rating / Warnings: Mature - For 18+ only. This chapter contains graphic depictions of death, violence, and gore. There's also strong language and attempted assault + major character death. Some of this may be triggering.
Summary: The emotional conclusion to "Of Wings Shining in Darkness.
Posted at A03: archiveofourown.org/works/7413997/
- In Pursuit of White: Porcelain in the Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910
- Indian Textiles: Trade and Production [Interesting stuff on dyes and mordants here.]
- Interiors Imagined: Folding Screens, Garments, and Clothing Stands [Japanese screens. Note to self, the Portal talks about Korean folding screens and their conventions/social significance.]
- Internationalism in the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907) [Ha, they mention tributes of Korean hawks, which the Portal mentioned too from the other end.]
- Introduction to Prehistoric Art, 20,000 to 8000 B.C. [Very brief overview, given the scope of the topic!]
- The Japanese Blade: Technology and Manufacture [Could have sworn I had a book that touched on this in more depth, unless the flood took it.]
- Japanese Illustrated Handscrolls [cf. Korean handscrolls discussed in Portal]
- Japanese Incense
- The Japanese Tea Ceremony [Although once again I have a quasi-Asian character who is meh about tea because I'm so sick of the Asians = tea stereotype. BTW, did you know that my mom, in Korea, sends me Lipton tea?]
- Japanese Weddings in the Edo Period (1615-1868)
- Japanese Writing Boxes [Useful information on inksticks and inkstones.]
- Jane Portal. Korea: Art and Archaeology, report here.
- Michael D. Shin, ed. Korean History in Maps: From Prehistory to the Twenty-First Century.
- Jae-sik Suh. Korean Patterns.
I am getting so homesick looking at the food/노리개 (norigae)/etc. photos. The food photos are sumptuous.
Motherhood looms as this pervasive, anxiety inducing ponderance. It's a personally difficult decision being older and not fully committing to such a transformative life role. It's a wonder how the hell my own mom managed. Not just with the external pressures to be the ideal parent, but the extreme learning curve if your child's temperament, which in my mom/me dynamic, is overwhelmingly opposite of your own.
Monique Jones details in "Mr. Robot & The Highly Sensitive: Elliot's Complicated HSP Life" the definition and murky terrain of Highly Sensitive People (HSP) using Mr. Robot's star character Elliot (Rami Malek) as an example of a person who struggles deeply with self- acceptance and isolation in a world that values a much different emotional way of being:
Elliot knows his environment—American society—is wrong on many levels, particularly when it comes to letting money, apathy, and hardness rule instead of allowing sensitivity its day in the sun. But the fact that he knows his environment doesn’t suit him pales in comparison to how much his inability to fit in makes him feel like a huge mismatch with his world. Everyone else around him is able to belong, but his depth of feeling, his ability to feel and see a lot that most people miss or want to ignore, has him feeling out of place to the point of nihilism.
As people with similar dispositions mature into adulthood, pieces of this concept become a bit clearer and we can begin to address the emotional strife that continues with this level of intuition and hopefully, build personal confidence. But as we see in flashbacks with Elliot throughout the series, his mother only exacerbated his feelings of brokenness by bullying him into toughening up. It is critical then, to understand how important the stakes are when parents consistently fail to “get” their children or work towards mending this communication. One well received horror film offered droplets of this idea that deserves further exploration.
After several viewings and listening to various commentary on 2014's buzzed about horror flick, The Babadook, these ideas match well with its two main characters Amelia (Essie Davis), a single mother who struggles with rearing her spirited son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) who was born exactly six years after the death of her husband. Samuel’s fear of a monster that has him creating makeshift weapons, sleeping in his mom’s bed, and causing social disruptions only magnify Amelia’s looming resentment and unwavering grief. One night when she reads Samuel a bedtime story from a book she doesn’t recall buying titled Mister Babadook, strange occurrences begin to prosper. Not knowing what’s real and what isn’t, Amelia begins to crumble both physically and psychologically from Mister Babadook’s insidious presence that she’s left to face if she is to preserve not only her life but Samuel’s as well.
|Amelia and Samuel|
We see Samuel ostracized by school authorities due to his craftsmanship of weaponry and disruption, taunted by his cousin because of his familial circumstances. The outside world doesn't accept him, wanting him to conform and rendering him unfit because in many ways, he cannot. The opportunities for the typical, “normal” neutral family were shattered by tragedy. The residual cracks and crumbles are the rubble of his mother's own distance and collusion. She's got her own problems to deal with. And as a child, Samuel reacts obnoxiously, craving the positive more understanding attention he so desperately needs to manage his emotional state. He has a very thin guidebook for how to deal his own sensitivity.
He's aware of why Amelia has constructed a wall between them, and he makes weapons and physically clings to her, looking for a way to make all of their problems go away with honesty and confrontation. He prefers frankness when Amelia demonstrates nuanced moments of suppression. When Amelia is overtaken by the force of Mr. Babadook, those weapons come in handy for Samuel to keep the physical threat at bay, but also finds the strength in knowing intuitively when to approach the monstrosity with patience and persistence. He wouldn't give up on his mother, which in the end, helps her not give up on him. By "his ability to feel and see a lot that most people miss or want to ignore," Samuel in an unspoken way doesn't tell Amelia to "move on" like her sister does, but to move through. To face The Babadook which is in place of all that negative energy she’s stored, take her autonomy back, and keep it all at bay so in time, the grief will no longer overwhelm her. We see this during the terrifying yet strangely amusing battle with Mr. Babadook/Amelia during the sequence of the film's climax and in the final minutes.
The ending operates more as a demonstrative step towards building their relationship as mother and son. Amelia begins come full circle with who Samuel is and her part in who he will become. Samuel symbolically plays multiple roles in Amelia’s arc, particularly in the overall translation of the unpredictability of motherhood that presents itself to many mothers. The Babadook aids as insight into and acceptance of those who are highly sensitive people. Additionally, it mends to those who operate as loved one’s to HSP’s who can and do at times falter in their reactions to those people. Any relationship takes an extreme amount of patience. The Babadook shows the vast range of that concept in such a rich and balanced manner.
My mother and I battled our own monsters as unit growing up. One of the most significant hurdles being my own state of high sensitivity that over time, has enriched her level of compassion. Even well into my thirties, I'm finally coming around in learning to accept my traits as normative to my existence, becoming steadfast in an unapologetic approach to it, and erasing those nihilistic compulsions during emotional slumps.
The Babadook operates as a horror film on many levels. In this case, it certainly shows how our failure to understand our deeply emotional and characteristic differences can put a dangerous strain between us and others. Especially with those whom we love. The film reveals the horrors of our own quirks and dismissiveness, of the human condition and in this case, the way motherhood is erroneously upheld is pinnacle of being female with no room for mishaps. Amelia and Sam show us what manifests if these so-called values and strains persists. If you’re afraid of Mr. Babadook, you should be. In some form, he exists everywhere.
Here is the full text of Greta Thunberg’s speech to Parliament today, via the Guardian:
My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I come from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations.
I know many of you don’t want to listen to us – you say we are just children. But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science.
Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future. Is that really too much to ask?
In the year 2030 I will be 26 years old. My little sister Beata will be 23. Just like many of your own children or grandchildren.
That is a great age, we have been told. When you have all of your life ahead of you. But I am not so sure it will be that great for us.
I was fortunate to be born in a time and place where everyone told us to dream big; I could become whatever I wanted to. I could live wherever I wanted to.
People like me had everything we needed and more. Things our grandparents could not even dream of. We had everything we could ever wish for and yet now we may have nothing.
Now we probably don’t even have a future anymore.
Because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once.
You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard.
Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?
Around the year 2030, 10 years 252 days and 10 hours away from now, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it.
That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 50%.
And please note that these calculations are depending on inventions that have not yet been invented at scale, inventions that are supposed to clear the atmosphere of astronomical amounts of carbon dioxide.
Furthermore, these calculations do not include unforeseen tipping points and feeback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas escaping from rapidly thawing arctic permafrost.
Nor do these scientific calculations include already locked-in warming hidden by toxic air pollution. Nor the aspect of equity – or climate justice – clearly stated throughout the Paris Agreement, which is absolutely necessary to make it work on a global scale.
We must also bear in mind that these are just calculations. Estimations. That means that these “points of no return” may occur a bit sooner or later than 2030. No one can know for sure.
We can, however, be certain that they will occur approximately in these timeframes, because these calculations are not opinions or wild guesses.
These projections are backed up by scientific facts, concluded by all nations through the IPCC. Nearly every single major national scientific body around the world unreservedly supports the work and findings of the IPCC.
Did you hear what I just said? Is my English OK? Is the microphone on? Because I’m beginning to wonder.
During the last six months I have travelled around Europe for hundreds of hours in trains, electric cars and buses, repeating these life-changing words over and over again.
But no one seems to be talking about it, and nothing has changed. In fact, the emissions are still rising.
When I have been travelling around to speak in different countries, I am always offered help to write about the specific climate policies in specific countries. But that is not really necessary. Because the basic problem is the same everywhere. And the basic problem is that basically nothing is being done to halt – or even slow – climate and ecological breakdown, despite all the beautiful words and promises.
The UK is, however, very special. Not only for its mind-blowing historical carbon debt, but also for its current, very creative, carbon accounting.
Since 1990 the UK has achieved a 37% reduction of its territorial CO2 emissions, according to the Global Carbon Project.
And that does sound very impressive. But these numbers do not include emissions from aviation, shipping and those associated with imports and exports. If these numbers are included the reduction is around 10% since 1990 – or an an average of 0.4% a year, according to Tyndall Manchester.
And the main reason for this reduction is not a consequence of climate policies, but rather a 2001 EU directive on air quality that essentially forced the UK to close down its very old and extremely dirty coal power plants and replace them with less dirty gas power stations. And switching from one disastrous energy source to a slightly less disastrous one will of course result in a lowering of emissions.
But perhaps the most dangerous misconception about the climate crisis is that we have to “lower” our emissions. Because that is far from enough. Our emissions have to stop if we are to stay below 1.5-2C of warming. The “lowering of emissions” is of course necessary but it is only the beginning of a fast process that must lead to a stop within a couple of decades, or less. And by “stop” I mean net zero – and then quickly on to negative figures. That rules out most of today’s politics.
The fact that we are speaking of “lowering” instead of “stopping” emissions is perhaps the greatest force behind the continuing business as usual.
The UK’s active current support of new exploitation of fossil fuels – for example, the UK shale gas fracking industry, the expansion of its North Sea oil and gas fields, the expansion of airports as well as the planning permission for a brand new coal mine – is beyond absurd.
This ongoing irresponsible behaviour will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind.
People always tell me and the other millions of school strikers that we should be proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished. But the only thing that we need to look at is the emission curve. And I’m sorry, but it’s still rising. That curve is the only thing we should look at.
Every time we make a decision we should ask ourselves; how will this decision affect that curve? We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases. We should no longer only ask: “have we got enough money to go through with this?” but also: “have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?” That should and must become the centre of our new currency.
Many people say that we don’t have any solutions to the climate crisis. And they are right. Because how could we?
How do you “solve” the greatest crisis that humanity has ever faced? How do you “solve” a war? How do you “solve” going to the moon for the first time? How do you “solve” inventing new inventions?
The climate crisis is both the easiest and the hardest issue we have ever faced. The easiest because we know what we must do. We must stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. The hardest because our current economics are still totally dependent on burning fossil fuels, and thereby destroying ecosystems in order to create everlasting economic growth.
“So, exactly how do we solve that?” you ask us – the schoolchildren striking for the climate.
And we say: “No one knows for sure. But we have to stop burning fossil fuels and restore nature and many other things that we may not have quite figured out yet.”
Then you say: “That’s not an answer!”
So we say: “We have to start treating the crisis like a crisis – and act even if we don’t have all the solutions.”
“That’s still not an answer,” you say.
Then we start talking about circular economy and rewilding nature and the need for a just transition. Then you don’t understand what we are talking about.
We say that all those solutions needed are not known to anyone and therefore we must unite behind the science and find them together along the way.
But you do not listen to that. Because those answers are for solving a crisis that most of you don’t even fully understand. Or don’t want to understand.
You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before. Like now. And those answers don’t exist anymore. Because you did not act in time.
Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.
Sometimes we just simply have to find a way. The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything. And I’m sure that the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate and ecological catastrophe. Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses.
We children are not sacrificing our education and our childhood for you to tell us what you consider is politically possible in the society that you have created. We have not taken to the streets for you to take selfies with us, and tell us that you really admire what we do.
We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back.
I hope my microphone was on. I hope you could all hear me.
* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.