miss_s_b: (Mood: Kill me)
The Independent Group's statement of values is mostly a pile of centrist mush that very few people could disagree with, apart from the very first bit under "we believe", where they dog-whistle racists with stuff about how the first duty of government - the first duty, mark you - is to do whatever it takes to secure our borders against all those nasty immigrants. I would have thought the first duty of government is to look after its citizens, or maybe uphold the rule of law. There's also the wishy-washy (at best) commitment to international co-operation, including no mention whatsoever of remaining in the EU, which given how the group was formed seems... odd.

Whatever they are, they really, really aren't liberals.

I guess they're filling a gap in the market, which is fine, fair play to them. Sadly, the gap in the market they are filling is centre-left authoritarian, and the reason that is a gap that exists, and my party isn't already filling it, is because authoritarianism is the antithesis of Liberalism; no matter how much noise Our Glorious Leader makes about us being centrists and a movement for moderates, the first thing we are is Liberal. Or so I thought.

It was with dismay, then, this morning that I saw not only all our MPs, and the press office, and a bunch of leaders of council groups, falling over themselves to praise this new grouping, but also a lot of people whose opinions I had hitherto valued and trusted. Huge swathes of my party sucking up to these people like they're the best thing since sliced bread.

They're so brave and principled, they said.

A bunch of people not forming a political party but hiding behind a company so they don't have to reveal their funding are brave and principled.
A bunch of people who let that company be in the sole name of an MP who voted against same sex marriage and who is associated with gay cure "charities" are brave and principled.

Is it any wonder that people call us spineless?
Is it any wonder that people think we don't actually have any principles?
Is it any wonder people think we'll do anything for power when here we are giving these seven people a tongue-bath the likes of which the world has never seen?

We didn't even wait five minutes. We were straight in the with "ooooo you're so wonderful and brave and principled".

Well, sorry folks, but I think this emperor is stark bollock naked, and I'm genuinely disgusted at you all for not only refusing to say so, but for admiring the finery of his clothes.
miss_s_b: (Blogging: Christmas Humbugs)
I have a set of drafting advice to do and once I've done that I am doing nothing workular, and that includes formal Lib Demmery, until Monday Jan 7th*. Consider this a public warning.

As to the actual festive season, it's going to be a fairly quiet one this year, I think. [personal profile] magister is going away to his family, and it's my brother's turn to host my parents, so it's just going to be me, [personal profile] matgb, The Daughter, and the doggies in the house**.

The 29th is our usual monthly games night, and New Year's Eve we are having [personal profile] hollymath and Andrew over as usual to shout at Jools Holland and see in the new year, so I expect those two events to see at least some boozing and carousing, but mostly? I'm going to relax. This year has, for one reason or another, seen precious little relaxation. So I'm going to grab it with both hands right now.

* Of course I'll probably end up doing some informal Lib Demmery on twitter and stuff because that's how I roll, but anything resembling actual work? Nope, nada, none of it is getting touched until the new year. So there.
** and even then I'm having a little trip out on boxing day to stop over till the morning of my birthday, so it's going to be even quieter in the house then. Except perhaps for the sounds of Daughter monopolising the Big Telly for Super Smash Bros.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
I am one of the signatories to this, which is a request to our beloved chief whip to consider suspending the whip from Stephen Lloyd, who keeps saying on the radio that he's going to vote in favour of TMay's brexit deal because he promised he would respect the result of the referendum at hustingses.

I, personally, do not think that voting for TMay's specific deal is a necessary part of respecting the result of the referendum.

I further think, to slightly rephrase James Baillie, that even the broadest of churches has to have some walls, and a mechanism for dealing with people who insist on standing outside pissing in. Every time one of our MPs fucks up on brexit (or even misses a vote) it weakens us. The media have already noticed this. Labour have already noticed this. Hiding and hoping it will go away will not work. We need to show that we have some principles and are prepared to at minimum mildly rebuke MPs who go against them.

If you want to sign, I don't have edit access to the document, but I can pass your name to those who do.

miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
It's well known that we Lib Dems are process geeks. We LOVE voting systems and can tell you all about the pros and cons of each one. We are very proud of our constitution, which is the size of a novel, and contains processes for everything from running conference debates to selecting candidates for parish councils. But something seems to happen when Lib Dems get high enough up the food chain of the party, and they start to assume that everyone else is as interested in processes as they are. This leads to the leadership of the party at all levels giving process answers to values questions, over and over again.

At the national level this leads to what we saw on Friday:
Voters: "We want to know what you stand for!"

Grassroot Lib Dems: "That's easy! Freedom! Specifically from from ignorance, poverty & conformity! Everyone should be allowed to do what they like so long as it doesn't hurt others, and the government shouldn't be allowed to interfere."

The Leadership: "SHHHHH you'll frighten racists & they might not vote for us!"

Grassroot Lib Dems: "They won't vote for us anyway?"

The Leadership: "SHHHHH! ...hey voters, don't listen to them, look, we're going to let you sign up online for free!!"

Voters: "We're not signing up till we know what you stand for."

Grassroot Lib Dems: "We want to free you from..."

The Leadership: "WILL YOU LOT SHUT UP?! Ahem. Well, you see, voters, with our new supporters scheme you can sign up online for free and we'll send you emails and it'll be great! Occasionally we might even send you one that doesn't just beg for money..."

Voters: "We really would just like to know what you stand for..."

The Leadership: "We're going to consult YOU on that! We'll send you emails asking for your views but giving you no way to respond! AND you can vote for who will be our leader and we'll change the rules so that it doesn't have to be one of our MPs any more!"

Public: "Seriously, though, WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR?!"

Grassroot Lib Dems: "free..."


Grassroot Lib Dems: * sigh *
But also at the local level we get told over and over to stick to the four Ps - potholes, parking, planning and poo - and avoid mentioning how we want to make the world a better, freer, more liberal place because it might frighten the horses. In some ways, this is fair enough. Being vocal about our liberalism will put some people off, and maximising our vote means we might get elected and we might get to do some of that making the world a better, freer, more liberal place. The problem is that only works when there is a realistic chance we might win, and we just need that final push.

Nationally, however, at the moment, we've been stuck on 8% for five years. We need to give people something to believe in, something to make them notice us, and something that we can be proud and passionate about to inspire pride and passion in others. The lessons to be learnt from Trudeau and Macron are not "if we use the same processes they used we will achieve the same success" like we are those mythical islanders building an air traffic control tower out of reeds to entice the plane laden with goodies back. Macron and Trudeau's success was in inspiring people. And sure, once they had inspired people then maybe the processes helped spreading the message become more efficient.

But in order to spread your message, efficiently or otherwise, first you must have a message to spread.

I really hope the leadership grasp this, and grasp it soon. Because it's getting really depressing out here, as a passionate Liberal, watching them fail to do so over and over and over again.

And it's not like we don't have inspiring things that we're passionate about. We're passionate about equal rights and civil liberties for all. We're passionate about making sure the government and employers and big corporations can't ride roughshod over your rights. We're passionate about justice, and making sure that everyone, no matter how small or poor has access to it. We really believe in this stuff, and deep down I'm pretty sure most of the leadership do too.

So please let us tell people?
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
I'm sure the rest of FCC will not mind me divulging the Top Sekrit discussion that went on between Senior Lib Dems yesterday on the FCC discussion group. I shall paraphrase slightly:

"Have any of you lot heard anything about this thing about Vince resigning and a special conference being called?"
"Not me."
"Nor I."

So, like Nick Barlow, I am reasonably certain that this story, on the back of the previous story which touted the supporter scheme and which told us it was going to be introduced at autumn conference, comes from one person who has a friendship with a journo at Business Insider and who doesn't know how the party in general and conference in particular works.

I suspect that after the last story appeared and was laughed out of town for the simple reason that it could not possibly be true that this new scheme would be introduced at Autumn Conference because the agenda had been published and this was not on it, the journo went back to his Senior Lib Dem pal and the Senior Lib Dem pal said "well, we could always call a special conference to ratify it". Which, you know, technically is true. But if there were any prospect of a special conference on a named date on the near horizon, someone on federal conference committee would have heard about it because we'd be the ones having to organise the thing.

Also, even if someone somehow had managed to arrange a special conference without involving any of FCC, it probably wouldn't do them much good. The required rule change would still need a 2/3 majority, and there's a huge number in the party who remain to be convinced that having a supporters scheme is the panacea it is being touted as - in fact, I've heard it described more than once by more than one person as "Cargo Cult politics". There's also the fact that we Lib Dems are recalcitrant buggers, and I think there's more than a few of us would make the journey to a completely unnecessary and expensive special conference just to vote firmly against something that some nebulous Senior Lib Dem is clearly trying to bounce us into with no proper scrutiny or oversight. From what I hear FPDC and FB are both extremely sceptical about this idea; clearly, then, the person or persons behind this have decided to fight an air war on it. IMHO this is a supremely stupid thing to do if they actually want it to be accepted by the party at large.

Yes, the party is currently lower in the polls than we think we should be.
Yes, something probably needs to be done.
Yes, the supporters scheme certainly is something.

But, you see, the thing is, we've been battering on about evidence bases for things forever. We've been battering on about how policies and procedures need to be robust since before the party even existed in its current form. We're not going to fall for the old "something must be done - this is something - lets do that then" trick now.

Whoever it is who is leaking this stuff to Business Insider would do better to try convincing people within the party than putting this stuff in the press. At the moment, the effect of these stories is to simply put people off the supporters scheme in principle. Show us some evidence for how this will actually help, and we might actually go for it. Continue whining on about Macron and Trudeau (who both are in very different circumstances and electoral systems to us) and not showing us any actual evidence and you'll get nowhere. It's that simple.

PS: I'm not addressing the "Vince is quitting!!!" angle because, for the purposes of determining the rules by which the party is governed, it really doesn't matter if Vince is quitting, or not. A leader standing down (or staying in post) cannot unilaterally change the rules of the party. That's not how it works.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
(in which I nail my colours to the mast on the Immigration Motion and Paper before conference next month)

I want to say right at the start of this: there are definitely good bits in the motion, and the paper which it endorses. There are also bits which, while not exactly good, are still an improvement on 1, the Lib Dems's current godawful pre-compromised coalition-era shitfest of an immigration policy and 2, the immigration policy of the current government.

This does not mean the motion as a whole is good, or liberal, or worth passing
  • The paper which the motion endorses was still being amended after FCC accepted the motion for debate. In my view this is not acceptable.

  • The paper which the motion endorses contains a line which is questionable with regard to the party constitution. In my view this is not acceptable.

  • LGBT+LDs were never consulted at all, despite many of the most horrific deportation problems being those of LGBT+ people. Lib Dem Immigrants and Lib Dems for Seekers of Sanctuary weren;t consulted either, but had to make protests after seeing a draft of the paper. In my view this is not acceptable.

  • The proposers of the motion are going round telling people that they accepted the majority of proposed amendments from interest groups within the party which they should have been consulting from the beginning but weren't: which assertion Lib Dem Immigrants, for one, would politely disagree with.
All of those are what might be termed procedural irregularities. All of them would be enough for me to reject the motion without even going into the actual problems with the motion and paper, which include establishing a UK equivalent to ICE (yes, THAT ICE), telling us we mustn't call out racism in case racists get upset, and much more besides.

You might well ask, if the motion is so bad, why did FCC put it forward for debate? Because it's an FPC motion, and the majority of FCC take the view that we are not there to be a check or balance on such things, because that would be interfering with the running of another committee. I can see the argument, even if I disagree with it. If FPC want to put a shit sandwich before conference and tell them to vote for it, it's FPC that look like idiots, not us. However, the problem is going to be if conference believes the soft, soothing words of the proposers of the motion. If they vote in favour of this motion because it's not perfect, but it's a tiny, incremental improvement. If they swallow the shit sandwich...

There are amendments being put forward to this. I've seen four, so far. One of them runs to 3 pages. While the amendments might (not to stretch a metaphor too far) polish the turd a bit, it'll still be shiny shit in a shit sandwich. There are just too many problems with this motion for them to be effectively solved by amendments, of which FCC can only take one or two for debate, and they are unlikely to take any that address more than one or two points in a succinct manner.

My preferred course of action would be to refer it back. There ARE good bits in there. It's not uniformly awful. The bread is quite nice. Referring it back would mean that the good bits could be retained, but we could get rid of the many many bad and try again.

We do have an actually Liberal immigration motion before conference, in the shape of the Windrush motion. I would like to see that motion voted in, the FPC Immigration motion referred back, and the working group who will be convened to deal with the reference back to take the principles of the Windrush motion as their starting point for Immigration policy in general.

I'd like to see that. I wonder if I will...
miss_s_b: (Mood: Vyvyan Twos Up)
... and it looks like, for reasons know only to the actual drafters of the motion, they've decided to lace the apple pie with arsenic.

You'll recall that party members were asked to submit ideas, on the basis that the best of them would be turned into a conference motion. Party members submitted over a thousand, which were whittled down by Unknown Actors to a top ten, which were further whittled down to a top 3 by Illustrious Judges, and then those three were punted out to the membership to be voted on. And all this was run by the entirely independent of HQ and completely above board group Your Liberal Britain.

The three proposals people were asked to vote between (on an FPTP vote, natch, because who has time for STV, amirite?) were:
  1. Nationwide online schooling
  2. Statutory Care Leave For All
  3. Compel supermarkets to donate all low risk food waste
Number 3 won, albeit with less than 50% of the vote, and so it got sent away to the wonks to be turned into a workable policy motion.

Said policy motion dropped into inboxes this morning. You can read the whole thing here, if that's your bag. I would like to draw your attention to "Conference calls for" 1, because that, right there, is the arsenic in the apple pie.
Conference calls for:
1. Companies in the food production, food wholesale, food retail and hospitality sectors to be
granted a corporation tax rebate equal to 20% of the retail value of all food within its use
by date redistributed in a given tax year, if they meet all of the following requirements [followed by a list of requirements]
Whatever my personal problems with the entire Ashdown Prize process, and they are myriad, people voted for a winner and that vote should be respected both in the spirit and in the letter, and they should get a motion that looks like what they voted for.

They voted for "compel supermarkets to donate food waste".
They did not vote for "tax breaks for Tesco".

What possible justification can there be for that first clause in "conference calls for"? Why are we proposing to give supermarkets, who many people complain do not pay their fair share of taxes anyway, a 20% tax break for something that many of them do already? It's an absolute naked farce.

One could argue that this illustrates the problem with voting on something before you know what it will actually look like quite neatly (and I note that the email inviting members to sign in support of the motion has a big shiny yellow "click to sign here" button before the link to actually read what you are signing in small plain text)... See also brexit. Although at least the Ashdown Prize for (Arsenic-Laced) Apple Pie won't actually wreck the country, so there's that in it's favour.
miss_s_b: Peter Falk as Columbo saying "just one more thing" (Fangirling: Columbo)
Lots of people high up in the campaigns department at LDHQ think it's great to say that "we achieved equal marriage". They think that because we campaigned for equal marriage, and the Same Sex Marriage Act passed, we should trumpet our achievement. They think that calling it Same Sex Marriage is bad "framing" and Equal Marriage sounds better.

The problem is that although we did campaignget equal marriage. Here is a list of some of the things that remain unequal:
  • Northern Ireland. There is no recognition of same sex marriage there at all.

  • The Spousal Veto was a part of the Same Sex Marriage Act and actually made things worse for trans people. It's not extant in Scotland, but still applies in England and Wales.

  • Likewise, to get a gender recognition certificate prior to the Same Sex Marriage Act, if you were married, you were forced to have your marriage annulled, even if your spouse was supportive. These stolen marriages have never been restored, despite Same Sex Marriage now being legal.

  • Same sex spouses do not enjoy the same pension rights as mixed sex spouses. This is obviously unequal.

  • The church of England and the church in Wales are legally prohibited from performing same sex marriage ceremonies. This is manifestly unequal for same sex couples who are adherents to the state religion.

  • Adultery and non-consummation. To commit adultery, you must have vaginal intercourse with a member of "the opposite sex". Yup, not only is the strict gender binary embedded in law, but so is the necessity for PIV to happen for it to count as sex. This is... problematic for people who do not adhere to the strict one man, one woman, no genderqueer people model of relationships. Non-consummation of marriage and adultery both rely on PIV sex. And sure, reasons you might split up don't apply at the moment of marriage, but not every marriage will last, and equity in the divorce courts is surely a consideration before we start calling it equal marriage?

  • The special requirements for registering premises for the conduct of non-CofE religious same-sex marriages are more restrictive than for opposite-sex marriages in religious premises. If the premises are shared by several small denominations - which is often the case with evangelical, African and pro-LGBT churches - every last one of the faith organisations which share the premises has to give their permission for the premises to be used for same-sex marriages. In effect, anti-gay churches have a veto over pro-gay churches.

  • There's no humanist marriage in England and Wales (despite the best efforts of the lovely Julian Huppert) - which affects both mixed sex and same sex couples, but still means that humanists are second class citizens (unless they live in Scotland). Equal marriage should be equal for all beliefs (and lack thereof) as well as for all genders and sexualities.
Now, imagine you are one of the people who is affected by one of these things. Imagine you have been faithful to your partner for decades, and you've finally been allowed to marry under this legislation, and you retire loving and happy, only to discover that your pension rights are not equal.

Or: imagine that you are a trans person, and your spouse has been supportive all along, and first you had your marriage stolen because that had to happen for you to get your gender recognition certificate, and when that happened you got a civil partnership because that was the best that was available and you loved your spouse, and then when same sex marriage came in you had to get married for a third time to convert your civil partnership into a marriage, and you'd meantime been supporting other people going through transition and the spousal veto had applied to some of those people... How would you feel in that situation if you were told that we'd achieved Equal Marriage?

Imagine you were the chair of an LGBT+ campaigning organisation. Imagine trying to persuade people that there are still inequaiities that need to be corrected, that people are still suffering injustices that need to be righted, that work still needs to be done, when everybody says but we achieved Equal Marriage, didn't we? What are you fussing about?

Imagine trying to persuade other LGBT+ people to vote for your party, when they can look at what your party is saying about "equal marriage" and think but they are completely tone deaf to the actual concerns of LGBT+ people, or else they would know that 'equal' marriage is anything but equal!

For anybody, in any of those situations, Lib Dems trumpeting "we achieved equal marriage!" is going to feel like a proper slap in the face. It's going to feel like the inequalities and injustices that you suffer do not matter to Lib Dems. Equal Marriage, as framing, makes a very ugly picture indeed if you are suffering from one of the unequal effects of the Same Sex Marriage Act.

Please, please, please, for the love of Cthulhu, if you are a Lib Dem, stop saying we achieved equal marriage. We achieved same sex marriage. There's still a way to go before it's equal.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Liberal)
Well, to hardly anyone's surprise, I lost. And the least objectionable of the sitting tory councillors retained his seat with a comfortable majority. BUT!

- I came a comfortable third, rather than fourth or fifth.
- My vote went up by a third. OK, only from ~100 to 134, but still.

Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me, and I'll probably see you again next time :)

Overall, the Calderdale results were not too bad. A massively increased majority for Marilyn in Greetland and Stainland is very welcome indeed, as is Amanda taking Warley to make it All Gold. Sad that Alisdair sank as low as he did in H&L, but we normally do v badly against that particular independent, so... And sad for Janet that she didn't take Tod. Small but healthy increases in lots of other wards, though, so all in all, I'm reasonably happy. It's not a liberal landslide, but we're moving in the right direction.

In other news, the LGBT+LDs candidate shoutouts went very well indeed, and were well recieved by pretty much everybody, and it was really nice to be able to congratulate several of the people we shouted out to for winning. I'm especially pleased about my FCC colleague Victor Chamberlain, who is a Proper Liberal to his boots, and lovely Avril in Twickers.
miss_s_b: Mindy St Clare from The Good Place, hiding her nakedness behind very large sunflowers and looking shocked (Default)
I'm not going to tell you who to vote for: that's between you and your conscience. But please go to the polling station. Even if it's to spoil your ballot.

Also, here's a thing I'm quite proud of. A couple of days ago we were chatting among the LGBT+LDs exec about what we were doing for the elections and somebody said "it'd be nice if we could do something nice for our out candidates on the day". And then somebody else said "maybe tweet them a good luck message?". So we put out a call for people to send us some details and we'd tweet them a good luck message, and... Well, lots of them responded. We have a tweet every ten minutes from 7am till lunchtime coded right now, and more people are signing up as I type.

If you want to watch a lovely great big stream of good luck messages to queer Lib Dems, if that sort of thing cheers you up (it does me) click here.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
The LGBT+LDs twitter account is going to do a thing where we tweet out a little profile and wish you luck.
If you want in, you will need to send us:
  1. your name as shown on the ballot paper

  2. Whether or not you want your twitter handle on the tweet, & if so which one (we know some people have more than one)

  3. a pic

  4. the name of the ward you're standing in

  5. your LGBTQIAA+ details and/or any other detail you'd like, so long as it will fit in a tweet
So, for example, the tweet about me will go:
Good luck to Jennie Rigg (@miss_s_b), who is standing for the Brighouse ward in Calderdale! Jennie is bisexual and polyamorous, and also our chair :)
* pic *
If you want in on this, drop me an email, or leave a comment to this post, or reply to this twitter thread or send a DM to LGBT+LDs on twitter. If you contact Plus on FaceAche you'll be relying on one of my minions to pass it on to me, because I'm doing all the tweet scheduling myself, but they're pretty reliable minions.

The tweets are going to go out on a schedule from the moment the polls open, but obvs because consent is important we're not going to just randomly do this, you have to opt in. We just thought it would be a nice thing to do for the community. Do feel free to join in :)
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
The party is in the process of consulting on immigration, refugees, and identity. Given HQ's mealy-mouthed handwringing on these topics of late, I thought I'd better actually take a look at it. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, it is stuffed full of racist dog whistles and positions that have not so much been pre-compromised with the tories, but with UKIP.

- When will the party learn that UKIP succeeded in dragging the Overton window in their direction by refusing to compromise on their racist bullshit, and we absolutely must not compromise on Liberalism if we are to have any hope of bringing it back our way?

- When will the party learn that pandering to racists who will never vote for us anyway only alienates the core vote their precious strategyless strategy document seeks to cultivate and is a lose/lose proposition for us?

- When will the party learn that pre-compromising in order to look like a serious party of government is pointless when most of the population don't even see us relevant to opposition, never mind government?

- When will the party learn that proudly showing the principles that we absolutely do have is the best counter to those who argue we are unprincipled shysters, and that pre-compromising gives fuel to that argument and is thus utterly counterproductive?

Sadly, on the evidence of the last 8 years, and particularly this policy paper on Immigration, Refugees, and Identity, the answer to all those questions is "at a point so unimaginably distant in the future that using 'never' as an approximation seems reasonable".

Anyway, my response to the consultation paper is currently at 9 pages and very ranty. I'll probably edit it a couple more times to make it sound less shouty, but I am deeply, deeply ashamed at the number of people in this party who signed off on that consultation paper. Who thought that pile of illiberal crap was worthy of being put out with the Liberal Democrat logo on it? It's horrifying.
miss_s_b: Mindy St Clare from The Good Place, hiding her nakedness behind very large sunflowers and looking shocked (Default)
You can download the .pdf here.

Plain text version etc coming soon :)
miss_s_b: (Mood: Miserable Brian :()
I just saw this tweet from Hugo Rifkind:
Five years from now British politics will be 98% scuffles between uniformed supporters of Jacob Rees Mogg and Jeremy Corbyn while the rest of us sigh, sleep in parks, cook rats on open fires and still somehow don't vote Liberal Democrat.
And... yeah. He clearly thinks he's joking. But would it really surprise anyone?
miss_s_b: (Mood: Kill me)
Yes, yes, I know, there's a team at LDV and Mary R and Joe O and Mark V and Nick T and Ryan and various others work hard too. For no pay, either, mark you. But Caron is the Editor In Chief, and the most public face, and thus Caron is the one who gets the majority of the hassle and shite when freeze peach artists want to slag people off on LDV.

Caron has a full time job, and a family, and sits on federal board, but she still gives ridiculous amounts of time pretty much every day, even when she's on holiday, to running LDV. Most of the time, all thanks she gets is mouthy arseholes telling her she's Doing It Wrong. A case in point being the article she posted yesterday about how women get treated on the internet, only to immediately attract that kind of treatment from two commenters on that post, who then got upset when she objected.

Now, I've said this before and I'll doubtless say it again, but if you don't like the way a website is run - especially a private website, run by volunteers, with no official status - you are perfectly free to go and set up a rival website. Especially if you are a free market Liberal. You are not entitled to take the fruits of somebody else's labour and crap all over it because you have some half-arsed idea about entitlement to other people's time and effort. And it is not censorship to have your comments moderated on a private website, not when you are perfectly free to go set up your own site whenever you like.

The reason I think Caron deserves a lot more appreciation than she gets is that I couldn't put up with what she puts up with. Not with anything like the good grace that she does so, and certainly not without being paid quite a lot of money (I've got used to this Being Paid For Things thing now; it's rather nice). So I'd like to issue a little plea from my little corner of the internet: please, folks, be nice to Caron when you're in hers.

Thank you.

(this post brought to you while I'm on a really boring conference call)
miss_s_b: (Mood: Kill me)
I didn't make any predictions last year. I should probably have more sense than to do so this year, too. However, I am willing to sacrifice myself on the altar of entertaining you all with how horribly wrong I am about all this.

click here for politics predictions )
click here for fandom predictions )
Click here for personal predictions )
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
Are you a Lib Dem? Do you listen to a lot of podcasts to stop yourself listening to the Today programme and going mad with rage? OK, maybe that second one is just me... Anyway, if you do fit the podcast-listening-Lib-Dem demographic, you might be interested in these two:
  • Limehouse Podcast, which is by and for Lib Dems but aims to not be too wonkish.

  • Liberated Podcast which is "by Laura Sheeter" but has the smell of LDHQ all over it, not least because every episode just happens to feature Vince Cable.


Of the two, Limehouse has been going for longer. The presenter is... well, he's clearly a lib dem. He has a tendency to slip into 1980s Radio 1 DJ midlantic every so often (even though he's probably too young to remember the 80s radio 1 DJs, the lucky sod), which is both endearing and irritating at the same time. The podcast itself tends also to be a bit "man man manly men... oh yeah, sometimes women have views, especially on sexism, don't they? But on important stuff we're going to solely talk to men. And all the top lib dems in the theme tune are men. Man man manly men." This, as you can imagine, winds me up.

However, all that said? Limehouse feels like a proper podcast made by people who actually get podcasting. They do appear to pay attention to and listen to their audience. It's usually pretty entertaining, and genuinely informative. While it is clearly made on a budget of BEHOLD MY MIGHTY TWENTY PENCE, it still meets sound quality requirements. And the manliness thing should be easy enough to sort out given the will to do it (and the will shows sporadic signs of appearing), so I'm going to keep listening for now.

Recommended eps for Limehouse are: The one with Elaine Bagshawe and Dawn Barnes, and the one with Lynne Featherstone.


Liberated, by contrast, feels like An obviously old person saying "how do you do, fellow kids?" in podcast form. The presenter is much slicker than the presenter of Limehouse, and the production values are noticeably higher. Liberated also has the USP of featuring The Views of Our Glorious Leader on every single episode. This means that it sometimes feels like we are being asked to be grateful for pronouncements from on high, but also sometimes means that, when he gets challenged (as in the diversity episode, by Simon from Operation Black Vote) you actually get something really interesting.

Liberated escapes the man man manly men thing by having a female presenter... But in terms of actual guests, actually giving their views? Limehouse is actually doing far better on the gender balance front. Liberated has never had a female guest. Ever. This is simply not good enough. And I'm not even going to go into other protected characteristics in terms of diversity of guests for either of the two podcasts.

I can only really recommend one ep of Liberated so far: the Diversity one with Simon from Operation Black Vote. I'm not going to lie, I really dislike the HQ smell all over Liberated. I'm a paid up member of the Awkward Squad, and if I wanted to be told what to think by the leader I'd actually follow him on twitter... But I do recognise that there is a market for this kind of thing, and perhaps I am being a bit too curmudgeonly.


In terms of which one, if either, you should listen to? That's up to you. I predict that Liberated will become more successful, because it has the not-very-covert backing of the leadership, and even Lib Dems have an unfortunate tendency to bend at the knees (see the Europe vote last conference). But for those of us who have an instinctive urge towards not doing as we are told? I'm rooting for Limehouse. I'll keep listening to both for now, though. For now.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
Yes, yes, I know, Spring conference is AAAAAAAAGES away, however, the deadlines? The deadlines creep ever closer.

The deadline for drafting advice is December the 27th* at 13.00 hours. As one of the poor benighted souls who has to go through each and every motion can I please exhort you to go through the drafting advice service before submitting your motion? Please? We get so many that are spoiled by daft typos or imprecision, and in extreme cases this can get your motion ruled out of order before it's merits are even considered.

The deadline for submission is January 10th** at 13.00 hours. This means January the 10th. Not lunchtime on the 11th Oh-I'm-Really-Sorry-I-Forgot.


Now you can't say you haven't been warned.

*My Birthday - cash and/or visitors bearing gin and/or brandy and/or (non-chocolate) cake gratefully received.
**My dad's birthday - dad will also accept gin and cake, and is happy to accept chocolate too, as long as it's the mega dark 80%+ cocoa solids stuff
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
(you can read the letter in full here)

I want to say up front that I agree with the vast, vast majority of the content of the letter. I agree that much of what has happened in the last few years will discourage complainants from coming forward. I agree that the party needs to do more and better. I think Vince calling Lord Rennard "an ordinary member" of the party is disingenuous and lamentable.

Where I disagree is here: I do not like that the party informs the police of potential criminal conduct whether it has the consent of the complainant or not, but I understand why it has to. Yes, the party has a duty of care to any individual reporting an event to them, and should respect their wishes where possible. But the party also has a duty of care towards every other member, including potential future victims of alleged abusers.

Most complainants who allege abuse are reluctant to report to the police. What would happen if the same perpetrator was reported to the party twice, but the party could not report them to the police? How about five times? How about twenty? Perhaps a hundred? And then the hundred-and-first person decides they will report it to the police, and the other hundred start coming forward?

None of this is nice, simple, or easy.

None of it makes anybody feel good.

But the party has to do what it has to do.

Now, there are ways the party could improve things, and April mentions many of them in the letter:
  1. full implementation of the recommendations of the Morrissey report;

  2. enabling and respecting properly anonymous reporting, so that when a potential perpetrator is reported to the police, the complainant can be reassured they don't have to be involved if they don't want to be;

  3. keeping a tally of reports, so that when a potential perpetrator is reported to the police the reporter can say "and this is the Nth time somebody has reported this person";

  4. improve support mechanisms: our pastoral care officer is amazing, but she is only one person and not superhuman;

  5. for the love of Cthulhu stop trying to pretend that Lord Rennard can be brought back into the fold. The allegations against him were found to be credible and he fauxpologised for any upset he may have "inadvertently" caused, thereby admitting that at least some of the behaviour complained about must have occurred, albeit "inadvertently". I'm a liberal and believe in rehabilitation, but rehabilitation requires admitting to what you did in full and demonstrating understanding of the wrongness of it and the intention to not do it again; none of those are things that Lord Rennard has done, and the fact that every last one of the complainants against him is no longer a member of the party but he is, and he has access to the leader, and he goes on junkets to the european parliament and is photographed doing so is... Well, the optics are not great, are they? Please, just stop it.
All of those would be improvements the party could make, and I am sure there are others. But the party cannot stop reporting potential criminal activity to the police.

tl;dr version: I like April's letter a lot, but can't sign it when it contains a requirement I cannot support on the duties of the party.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
The vultures are already circling round Tim Farron, despite him having got us a 50% increase in seat numbers, and come within 500 votes of doubling our seats. I've also privately had "Tim must go" messages, or variations thereof, from five separate people; and I'm known as a Tim supporter. Christ alone knows what it's like in Lambite circles. I personally think we need a leadership election like we need a hole in the head, but the party constitution says that there must be a leadership election within a year of a general election (see article 17.2 (g) - sorry it's a .pdf). My suspicion is that Federal Board will look at the instability of the current parliament and conclude that we're better to have a new leader in place before the inevitable autumn general election, so they can bed in before it's called. Add to that the large number of Norman Lamb's supporters who never accepted the result of the last leadership election, and have been constantly hampering the party by briefing against Tim since the day of his victory, and a leadership election very soon is almost an inevitability.

If we're going to have a leadership election (which I am pretty resigned to, despite not wanting one) we need to be very careful about how we go about it. A swiftly called, badly run leadership election, fuelled by existing bad blood, will do nothing to enthuse all our lovely new members, and will almost certainly put off some older members too.

We could have a Rubber Stamp Tim election - Tim and RON being the only candidates. I don't think that would wash with the Lambites, or various other people who are anti-Tim for other reasons. And besides, it's possible RON might win and we'd have to have another election, which would be a waste of money the party doesn't have.

We could have a rerun of the last one, but I think that would be utterly disastrous for the party. It would turn very nasty, very quickly. While I stand by everything I said about Tim in the election campaign, some of the BUT TIM HATES THE GAYS ("But her emails!") mud has stuck, and that makes him incapable of taking the fight to the DUP as vociferously and as hard as we need him to. People just do not believe that his values fit with the party, however much you demonstrate to them that they do through his voting record. It's shit, but it's happened, and we have to do something to deal with that. Now, Tim might be able to burst that bubble himself, but he's shown no signs of doing so so far, and the longer it goes on the harder it will be to shift. It may already be impossible. I love Tim to bits, and happily voted for him in the last leadership election, and it has been so relaxing having a leader I agree with on almost everything, and don't have to blog about how rubbish he is twice a week every week... but even I am forced to admit that this One Big Flaw might be fatal, especially given the current proposed government.

Norman Lamb, however, would still be much, much worse. I have many issues with him, but my three main ones are:
  1. He scuppered our entire anti-brexit USP by insisting on the stupid second referendum positioning in the manifesto, entirely because his seat is leave-voting. We should have said that we would halt brexit if we formed a government. Being unambiguously pro-remain, in a way that could be boiled down to two words, would have been a position we could have campaigned on. A second referendum with remain as an option is bloody stupid, needlessly complicated, and not an option anybody was going to vote enthusiastically for: Well first we'd negotiate a brexit deal, then we'd set up a referendum, and then we'd campaign against the deal we ourselves negotiated? It's madness. The electorate is pig sick of elections and referenda right now, too. Brenda speaks for many. The kind of selfishness demonstrated by inserting all that into the manifesto to save your own neck, especially when it played a part in preventing us from winning so many other seats, is not acceptable in a leader.

  2. His policy pronouncements on autism have been entirely along the Autism Speaks/Autism Parents line (for why this is bad, click here. For a dissection of Norman Lamb's views specifically, click here). The fact that Norman is almost universally lauded as being excellent on mental health makes this so much more hurtful, like when people who claim to be LGBT allies say "we achieved equal marriage". Plus, when challenged on it by actually autistic people, he reacted extremely badly: first doubling down, and then saying "oh, come meet me in parliament and we can talk about this" when the volume increased while still promoting the offending article. Both the policy and his reaction to complaints about it make me doubt him as a leader. Whatever Tim's faults, he listens, and if he's wrong, he learns. Lamb shows no sign of being capable of that.

  3. He's a rubbish media performer, and we desperately need a good one. He comes across as cold, aloof, and boring. Tim's Chirpy Northern Chappy schtick is not for everyone, but at least he's passionate when he speaks, and for all my kvetching about Clegg, he was great on the media. Now, this could potentially be trained out of him. But probably not before the next election if it happens as quickly as looks likely.
So, despite Tim's One Big Flaw, in a rerun of the last leadership election I would be forced to vote for him, because Lamb would be so much worse. And I wouldn't be happy. And the party wouldn't be happy. And there would be even more bad blood than there is already. And I accept that I am almost certainly adding to that bad blood with this post, but I'm doing it more in sorrow than in anger; it's stuff that needs to be said.

So: given that we need to prevent a rerun of the last leadership election for all the reasons above, and we can't have a Rubber Stamp Tim election, we need to find another candidate(s). To stand as a candidate for leadership of the lib dems, you have to be an MP. This gives us a potential field of twelve, given the election results (and I will forever mourn that the voters of Cambridge and Wells didn't return Julian Huppert and Tessa Munt to the parliamentary party - Tessa for leader, in particular, I would have wholeheartedly and enthusiatically supported).

The media always touts Vince, but Vince has said many times he doesn't want to do it, plus, while he is undoubtedly excellent on the economy and related matters, he is somewhat shaky on other areas that are important to me, most notably immigration.

Tom Brake is utterly lovely, but anonymous outside London. Stephen Lloyd is even more anonymous than Tom. Ed Davey is too divisive, to put it politely. Alistair Carmichael is too tainted. Wera Hobhouse, Christine Jardine, Jamie Stone and Layla Moran have not been in parliament for long enough - although Layla especially will hopefully be excellent for the future.

So that leaves us with a field of one.

Jo Swinson is an excellent media performer, is sound on policy, and is good at listening to the party. When the leadership election happens, I hope she stands. I really, really hope she stands. For the sake of the party, and all of us in it.

ETA It's been mentioned to me by a couple of people that there is no requirement for a RON in a single candidate election, and that we've had RONless uncontested leadership elections before (before my time, though), so that is less impossible than I've painted it. I still think a contested election is inevitable, though. There's too many anti-Tim people in the party. Sadly.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
(to read this post in a more usual colour scheme, click here)

Because we Lib Dems believe that LGBT+ rights are human rights, a lot of the LGBT+ content in the manifesto (.pdf link) is spread out in the policy topic areas the manifesto covers. I like this, it means that LGBT+ rights are integral to our policies, not tacked on as an afterthought. However, it can make things easy to miss. In lieu of an index, therefore, I am going to draw it all together in one handy blog post, starting at the beginning*:
  1. Our young people are bright, creative and want a world that is clean and green and that the rest of us haven’t wrecked. They want jobs, good health and the chance to choose who they love and how they live- Introduction by Tim Farron, p7, emphasis mine.

  2. Defending social rights and equalities: Many important protections such as the right to 52 weeks’ maternity leave and rights to annual leave are currently based on EU law, and many of these rights have been upheld at the European Court of Justice. Liberal Democrats will fight to ensure that these entitlements are not undermined. - Europe section, top of p12 - while this doesn't mention LGBT+ rights specifically, there are a lot of LGBT+ rights that spring from European law or case law.

  3. Ensure that LGBT+ inclusive mental health services receive funding and support - NHS section, p20

  4. Make Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention available on the NHS. - NHS section, p22

  5. Introduce a curriculum entitlement – a slimmed down core national curriculum, which will be taught in all state-funded schools. This will include Personal, Social and Health Education: a ‘curriculum for life’ including financial literacy, first aid and emergency lifesaving skills, mental health education, citizenship and age-appropriate Sex and Relationship Education (SRE). - Education section, pp29-30

  6. Include in SRE teaching about sexual consent, LGBT+ relationships, and issues surrounding explicit images and content. - Education section, pp29-30

  7. Challenge gender stereotyping and early sexualisation, working with schools to promote positive body image and break down outdated perceptions of gender appropriateness of particular academic subjects - Education section, p30

  8. Tackle bullying in schools, including bullying on the basis of gender, sexuality, gender identity or gender expression. - Education section, p31

  9. Extend the Equality Act to all large companies with more than 250 employees, requiring them to monitor and publish data on gender, BAME, and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps. - Justice and Equalities section, p71

  10. Campaign to reduce intolerance, including anti-Semitism, and hate crimes alongside organisations such as Show Racism the Red Card, the Anne Frank Trust UK, and Kick It Out - Justice and Equalities section, p71

  11. Ask the Advisory Committee on Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs periodically to review rules around men who have sex with men and other related groups donating blood to consider what restrictions remain necessary - Justice and Equalities section, pp71-72

  12. Introduce an ‘X’ option on passports, identity documents, and official forms for those who do not wish to identify as either male or female, and campaign for their introduction in the provision of other services, for example utilities. - Justice and Equalities section, p72

  13. Strengthen legal rights and obligations for couples by introducing mixed-sex civil partnerships and extending rights to cohabiting couples - Justice and Equalities section, p72

  14. Extend protection of gender reassignment in equality law to explicitly cover gender identity and expression, and streamline and simplify the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to allow individuals to change their legal gender without unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles, for example the intrusive medical tests currently required. - Justice and Equalities section, p72

  15. Remove the spousal veto, and abolish remaining marriage inequalities in areas such as pensions, hospital visitation rights and custody of children in the event of bereavement. - Justice and Equalities section, p72

  16. Ensure that trans prisoners are placed in prisons that reflect their gender identity, rather than their birth gender - Justice and Equalities section, p76

  17. Offer asylum to people fleeing countries where their sexual orientation orgender identification means that they risk imprisonment, torture or execution, and stop deporting people at risk to such countries. - Immigration and Asylum section, p79

  18. Develop a comprehensive strategy for promoting the decriminalisation of homosexuality around the world and advancing the cause of LGBT+ rights - International policy section, p87

  19. Introduce legislation to allow for all-BAME and all-LGBT+ parliamentary shortlists - Democracy and Devolution section, p91
I'm hoping that someone else can do this for other things - feminists are going to be happy about our commitment to scrap the rape clause for example, or ending period poverty, and there's lots of good stuff in there about other areas I care deeply about, like racism, disability, immigration, drugs, domestic violence, digital rights, and poverty. It's almost like a manifesto is a whole programme for government...

Any volunteers to do this for other topics?

* yes, this does mean I have read the entire manifesto. Mostly I have done this to get cross at the bits that don't go far enough for me - our Immigration policy is still a coalition era compromise and I hate that it is not shouting from the rooftops about the awesomeness of immigration, for example.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Oh dear)
There's a message floatin'
In the air.
Tory Voters talkin' everywhere.
"We're not racist and we
Like the poor.
It's not those things that we're
Votin' for"

"Yes we know disabled people are going to die, yeah.
It's all worth it if we only stop that Labour guy"
Tory Voters
Tory Voters
Tory Voters

Never stop and they
Never die.
As they get older they just multiply.
Tory Voters, will they
Never halt?
If they keep votin' that way
It's our fault.

We need to show they there's another way, yeah.
You don't need to vote tory to make Labour pay.
Tory Voters
Tory Voters
Tory Voters

So take a good look around,
See what they've done, what they've done,
They've done,
They've done,
They've done,
They've done.

Tory Voters
Tory Voters
Tory Voters
Tory Voters

ETA: Other things that need winkling out of my head are something to the tune of All Things Bright and Beautiful which involves the lines "Strong and Stable government" and "Labour, green and liberal/The tories hate us all"; and, for the magnificent John Skipworth, and possibly other people who do arduous and thankless things for the party "You're once, twice, three times an agent... and we loooovvve you"
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
The problem is best summed up in a tweet by lovely Neill Cameron:
People grab at authoritarianism in times of uncertainty, meaning the worse the tories fuck everything up the more they are rewarded.
We Lib Dems have gained a little, but not enough.
The Labour voters who deserted Labour for UKIP haven't gone home to Labour, they've voted Tory.
Labour activists telling everyone who disagrees with Corbyn to "fuck off and join the tories then" have been more successful than they could have known.
UKIP have been "wiped out" by having the Tories adopt their policy platform wholesale, which is not my definition of a wipeout, but...

But really, the stark problem is that the more the Tories cause chaos and uncertainty, the more the electorate cling to them, so the more they have a massive incentive to keep on causing choas and uncertainty. The urge to "always keep a hold of nurse for fear of finding something worse" appears to hold even when nurse is beating the living daylights out of you and screaming imprecations. Partly, I suspect, because lots of people think that even that nurse is better than being eaten by the Labour lion. The Tories have to look worse than Labour to lose, because enough MPs and activists are still clinging to the corpse of the Labour party that even at this low ebb they still look like a better bet than us.

It's at this point where you're expecting me to pull a solution out, isn't it? I don't have one.

God, I'm depressed.
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Yorkshire)
The Grauniad is loudly trumpeting "Farron Sacks David Ward".

I suspect that what actually happened is that there was a phone call to Yorkshire regional candidates' chair, who in her turn made a phone call to the chair of City of Bradford Liberal Democrats, who in her turn made a phone call to David telling him that the situation was untenable... But the narrative of Tim making swift and decisive action won't hurt us in the press, even if constitutionally it's a bit suspect.

I'm not going to comment one way or the other on the justice of this outcome in the particular case of David Ward. He has undoubtedly made some indefensible comments at various times. However, I don't like to see procedures circumvented, whether actually or only apparently. I can't help it, I've got legal training. Equally, I can see that there's a strong argument that the party's internal disciplinary procedures are crap and toothless, or if they have teeth, that the teeth are carefully muzzled in any situation whether they might actually have to put the bite on someone. The party's internal disciplinary procedures are, however, also currently under process of review.

I am supremely uncomfortable about the idea of being in a party where one can be summarily dismissed at the whim of the leader without some form of due process in place. I fear that because that is what the media expects, not to say bays for, we are creeping ever closer to it. I wish we had more robust and transparent disciplinary procedures. I hope and expect that once the governance review is fully completed, we will have more robust and transparent disciplinary procedures.


I wonder what we'll be smacked in the chops with tomorrow?
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
Lots and lots of partisan people who would probably be unlikely to vote Lib Dem anyway are saying things like I couldn't ever vote Lib Dem; they won't rule out coalition with Labour/the Tories.

You all know me.
You all know I am not backwards in coming forwards, and will happily call a spade a spade.

I, personally, will not rule out voting for a coalition with either the Tories or Labour.

That's right. Even now, even in this poisoned, febrile atmosphere, I would do a deal with either the red devil or the deep blue sea.

To agree to a coalition with either of them, they would have to agree to the following three things, for me:
  1. No brexit. At all. It's completely stopped.

  2. STV for all elections from this day forth, no exceptions, no referendums, just implemented.

  3. Useless waste of space of a leader to be replaced.
Without all three of those conditions being met as an absolute minimum, I, personally, would not vote for coalition with either Labour or Tories. I'd also quite like there to be a lot of stuff about guaranteeing the rights of immigrants and disabled people, and stopping the shafting of the poor, but those three things are the absolute minimum of the contents of an agreement I would consider. And for a coalition to happen, we have to call a special conference and two thirds of the attendees have to vote in favour of the deal offered. I'm not the most typical Lib Dem, but I'm not so far from the mainstream that I think that more than two thirds of the party would opt for a lesser deal than that.

We have learned from the coalition deal we voted through in all innocence last time, and I suspect that quite a lot of the party is a lot more cautious than it was.

So yeah, I'm not ruling out a coalition... but equally, I don't think it's very likely. Do you?

About This Blog

A picture of me with my mum's dog Pippin

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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