miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
... However, as it is for publication in Liberator, you'll have to wait to read it :รพ

Once Liberator has landed on doormats I'll put the review up on Goodreads and link to it here. But if you want a little spoiler, although I had some criticisms I genuinely quite enjoyed it, and will definitely buy his next (if he ever writes another).
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
Definitely not standing: Jo Swinson, Jamie Stone, Layla Moran, Wera Hobhouse, Tom Brake, Tim Farron, Alistair Carmichael, Norman Lamb, Ed Davey
Probably not standing: Stephen Lloyd, Christine Jardine
Probably standing:
Definitely standing: Vince Cable

... Oh arse.

Look, coronations are bad. The "candidate" does not get examined, does not get their feet held to whatever fire the membership is stoking, does not have to state any positions before the crown is lowered. Recent political leaders who have had a coronation rather than an election include TMay, Arlene Foster, and Gordon Brown. We do not want to be in that company.

But even if coronations were ok, the coronation of someone who's published views are 1, so often at odds with the membership and 2, so changeable depending on who he is talking to... Lads, this is really, really, REALLY not good. And given the article I linked to in the very first piece I wrote on potential leadership elections after the GE, this whole situation smells really fucking funny and I do not like it one bit.

I'm in conversation with a bunch of other senior Lib Dems members of the awkward squad to try to do something about this. I mean, if there was a proper election and the members decided that Vince was the best person, that's one thing, but this is just a subversion of party democracy, and I hate it. Eurgh.

But if we can't do something about it... I don't know. The scissors are feeling very close to my membership card right now.

ETA: OfC given the legendary efficiency of the LDHQ membership department, if I were to cut up my membership card and send it back we'd probably have had another 2 general elections before they got round to processing my resignation...
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
Definitely not standing: Jo Swinson, Jamie Stone, Layla Moran, Tom Brake, Tim Farron, Alistair Carmichael, Norman Lamb
Probably not standing: Stephen Lloyd, Wera Hobhouse, Christine Jardine
Probably standing: Ed Davey
Definitely standing: Vince Cable

You'll note that Norman Lamb has moved from probably standing to definitely not standing. He announced this with rather petulant article in the Grauniad, in which (among other things) he proclaimed the Lib Dems' second referendum policy as toxic. Now I agree, it is toxic. "First we'll negotiate brexit, then we'll set up a referendum, then we'll campaign against the deal we ourselves negotiated!" is an utterly ridiculous policy. The problem is, it was only in the sodding manifesto due to the insistence of people on the rump brexity wing of the party, of which Norman Lamb is definitely one. This was as far as the rest of the party, who just wanted "we will stop brexit" to be the manifesto position, could be dragged. Policy making by committee often comes up with soggy centrist compromises, and often that's a good thing and satisfies most people, but sometimes it's patently rubbish. This time was the latter. What I don't get is Captain Brexit blaming the rest of the party for it. Well, I do. He'd like us to embrace brexit. And that is not going to happen.

Anyway, the rest of the article sticks the boot in to members in various other ways, and alludes to, but doesn't actually acknowledge, the problems autistic people have with the idea of Norman as a leader, and frankly, just makes me glad he's not standing. At least he has the self-knowledge to know he's not right to lead the party as it currently is, even if he declares it in a rather Skinnerian way.

Principal Skinner asks a pertinent question

So the only likely runner at this point undeclared is Ed Davey. And there will be siren idiots voices whispering in his ear, saying:
Don't stand, Ed. Leadership elections are expensive, Ed. They are divisive and set party members up against each other, ed. It'd be easier all round just to crown Vince, Ed. You don't want the hassle, Ed. The party doesn't want the hassle, Ed. Lets just have a coronation, Ed.
To which I say, pish, tosh, bunkum, bollocks, and bullshit.

Yes, leadership elections are divisive, and do set members up against each other, and sometimes even cause resentments. Do you know what's even more divisive, and causes even more resentments? Not letting Lib Dems have democracy. Not letting us scrutinise each candidate and come to a decision on merit. Not having hustings at which we can put questions to candidates and examine their views and records and promises. Imposing a leader on us without us having a say. I can guarantee you that while a leadership election might be divisive, it's nowhere near as divisive as a coronation.

Now, Ed Davey told one of the BBC politics correspondents (I think Norman Smith) the other day that he would declare whether or not he was standing "on Thursday or Friday". He didn't declare yesterday. I'm hoping he declares he's standing today.

And if you'd told me last month I'd be crossing my fingers for Ed Davey to run in a leadership election, I'd have thought you insane in the membrane, crazy insane, got no brain. Just goes to show what a funny old world it is...
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
... and to nobody's surprise it is Vince Cable.

I like Vince, as a person. I like his stance on bees. I like his dancing.

None of those three things makes him suitable to be leader of the party, though. I mean, yes, he's got long service. And he did that one joke when he was acting leader that one time. But I'd really like something more than that to enthuse about in a potential leader.

Plus, there's all the things that make him unsuitable to be leader:
  • He's not a liberal, he's a technocratic centrist. This is fine if you are (shadow) chancellor; commendable, even. It's not acceptable in the leader. The leader needs to inspire. Technocratic centrism is the opposite of inspirational.

  • His stance on brexit is... at odds with the majority of the party's members and voters is probably the kindest way of putting it, and is already bringing out the "but we must appease the racists! We can't tell people they are wrong!" faction. If he wins, and maintains this stance, I predict a halving of our membership in pretty short order.

  • Tuition fees. OK, so he's not entirely to blame for the policy cock up (all those of us who voted for coalition, myself included, must take out share of that blame) but he is the person responsible for the catastrophic mishandling of the implementation and representation of it, and a big part of the reason Labour, why a party which introduced and then trebled tuition fees, can still point at them like an albatross round our necks.

  • The British Press, bless them, are not known for their nuance and balance. His name will be "Sir Vince Cable, the man who privatised the mail" - whether he wins the leadership or not, tbh.

  • Ten years ago he declared that by his own reckoning, he was too old. I do not believe he has got younger in that time.
All that said? I'll give him a fair hearing at hustings. He'll have his chance to impress me. I just don't see him doing it.

So far, to my knowledge, the field looks like this:

Definitely not standing: Jo Swinson, Jamie Stone, Layla Moran, Tom Brake, Tim Farron, Alistair Carmichael
Probably not standing: Stephen Lloyd, Wera Hobhouse, Christine Jardine
Probably standing: Norman Lamb, Ed Davey
Definitely standing: Vince Cable

If anyone else declares that they are definitely standing I shall go into my reasons further, but based on Ds&Ps, and subject to persuasion at hustings, I expect my ballot to look like this:
  1. RON
  2. Davey
  3. Cable
  4. resigning from the party
  5. Lamb
There has been talk that there might be an online ballot this time, rather than a paper one. If that is the case I shall lobby very hard indeed for it to have at least one free text box for write in candidates and/or voting RON. Voters should be able to express their displeasure at the options on the ballot on any and every ballot, this one included.
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: (Who: Six (ot3))
Dear media people,

I see that, thanks to Cathy Newman's interview last night, the thorny theological topic of Sin has raised its ugly head once more.

Let me get this right out in the beginning: I don't give a fig what Tim Farron's religious beliefs are. You know why? Because I am a Liberal. He could believe the sky is made from Puff the Magic Dragon's bumfluff, and I wouldn't care one jot, whit or iota. What I do care about, and care deeply about, is
  1. How Tim Farron votes in parliament

  2. How he treats people - LGBT+ people in particular - in everyday life
So lets do a little list of things which illustrate how Tim Farron views LGBT people:
  1. With one exception, Tim Farron voted fully in favour of same sex marriage. The one time he abstained? That was because he was trying to get an amendment passed on the Spousal Veto, a really nasty little clause which shafts trans people. Yep, that's right, even the time he abstained was because he was fighting for LGBT+ rights, not against them.

  2. He was the first party leader to issue a statement on the gay concentration camps in Chechenya. He condemned them in the strongest terms. And while the Greens have since joined in, none of the Tories, Labour, or UKIP have.

  3. He campaigned against section 28 from its inception, and thinks that refusing people service for their sexuality (like bakeries not baking cakes for gay marriages) is unchristian.

  4. He spoke out on the blood donation ban (I'm still banned from giving blood, by the way - because I have had sexual relations with bisexual men).

  5. He has campaigned tirelessly for the rights of trans women in prisons, and trans issues in general. When we had a trans rights motion before conference, he was there at 9.30am in the front row to vote for it. Not because of the cameras - there were no cameras - but because he is enthusiastic about LGBT+ rights, and not just G rights with a smattering of L like many politicians.

  6. When Lib Dem conference brought in an accreditation scheme that inadvertently discriminated against LGBT+ people, he listened to us at LGBT+LDs, and then he went to head office and batted for us till the scheme was changed, and eventually dropped.

  7. He has said to me personally that when poly marriage is made legal he wants to be the first on the invite list to our wedding.
Look, I could go on for hours here, but it is as plain as the nose on my face that Tim Farron is no homophobe. So why do the media keep treating him like he is? Well, in the past, he has made some missteps - accepting that intern from the gay cure people, for example. But if you actually look at what happened in that case? The second he confirmed those people were campaigners for a gay cure, he backed away, apologised fulsomely, and campaigned hard against the concept of curing gay people. Me, personally? I value a leader who will listen and change his mind when someone points out he's wrong - Cthulhu alone knows Cleggy never did.

The other reason is possibly a conflation of the word "sin" with the concept of "bad thing for which I am judging you" in general parlance.

Reverend Lovejoy delineates what sin is

I'm an atheist. Yes, I have A-level RE, but I do not know Christianity from the inside. However, even I have heard of the Christian concept of "judge not lest ye be judged". As Tom King says at some length in this twitter thread, the Christian belief means that you explicitly do not condemn people who sin, because we are all sinners and judging people is God's job. Whether or not Tim Farron believes that homosexual sex (or heterosexual sex, or wanking, or eating beef on Fridays, or anything) is sinful, this has no bearing on his actions because it is not his place to judge.

I don't pretend to understand that belief system. But I accept it, just as I accept Islam, and paganism, and the church of the flying spaghetti monster. I accept it because to not accept that people can differ in their beliefs from you and yet still be worthwhile people is fundamentally illiberal. I'll tell you something that is liberal, though. If a person believes in their heart of hearts that something is wrong, and yet still campaigns for the right of other people to do it because it's other people's right to make their own moral choices?

That, my friends, that is liberalism.

I await your forensic questioning of the Prime Minister on her voting record with regard to LGBT+ rights with interest.

Lots of love

Jennie
Acting chair LGBT+ Lib Dems, bisexual polyamorist, and person who voted for Tim Farron to be her party leader and is happy that she did.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
We won Warley. Not only did we win Warley, but we won it with a stonking majority.
We held Elland. Not only did we hold Elland, but Pat's majority is something to warm the cockles of any lib dem heart.
We held G&S, despite the tories throwing everything they had at it, and despite the much beloved sitting lib dem councillor standing down.

We lost Calder. We lost Janet. We lost Janet at least partly due to blatant lies from a Labour candidate I had previously believed to be honourable - no more.

But: where we work we win... well, where we work more than any reasonable person can be expected to, and for several years, we win three times out of four.

We have Ashley on the council, and he is a man who knows his policy onions. We have Pat Allen still, and she is a lady who has more principles than you can shake a stick at. And we have a new mover and shaker in Paul Bellenger, who has the enthusiasm of ten men. We'll miss Janet, the hardest working councillor the Calder Ward has ever seen, but we'll survive, despite mourning her loss.

Outside of Calderdale: Wales is very depressing. Scotland is actually quite cheery. Rotherham is legitimately terrifying. Eastleigh is glorious. Watford? Oh Watford. I love you so much. And London? London has rejected the blatant racism of Lynton Crosby as passed through the prism of Zac Goldsmith and has elected its first muslim mayor. I don't approve of everything Sadiq Khan stands for, but he's at least competent, and London has a muslim mayor. I'll accept that. I'll accept that because it will make the racist arseholes REALLY ANGRY, and we're going to be seeing a lot of racist arseholes given the Labour>UKIP shifts.

My party hasn't made Justin Trudeau gains, but it's made gains, and it's made gains in council seats (albeit from a low base) for the first time since I joined the party. The tories are up for electoral fraud in a whole lot of tory/Lib Dem marginals, and I am ITCHING for the bye elections...

For the first time in a long time, it feels GOOD to be a lib dem. There's a lot of reasons for that; some of it is regression to the mean and some of it is us not being in coalition any more, but I actually credit a lot of it to having a steady, yet reliably liberal, hand on the tiller. So thank you to Our Glorious Leader, Timothy of Farron. And thank you to all the footsoldiers who pounded the streets for little thanks: I thank you all here, every last one of you. You're awesome.

Onwards and upwards, my fellow lib dems. And, despite the sad blight of the loss of Janet Battye (which will hurt the people of the Calder Ward more than they yet realise), it genuinely does feel like we've turned a corner.

Team Cockroach FTW.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Liberal)
So I've just steeled myself and sat and watched Russell Howard's Good News on t'iPlayer. And... I think Tim did good. The clip of him in his John Lennon specs aged about 12 at conference that they started with might have helped*. Russell Howard is still a shouty annoying berk, but I think Tim is worth watching.

Anyway, while he was not-awful-but-not-great on HIGNFY last week**, he was much more like the Tim we all know and love on this, so I'm less hesitant about reccing it. Here you go: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06r95rs/russell-howards-good-news-series-10-episode-7 Tim's bit starts at 15.50.

Oh, and Tim, if you want to go somewhere for a tat I know several award-winning tattooists... ;)



* although "oh how ADORABLE!" is possibly not the reaction a political party leader dreams of...
** and clearly very nervous: if you watch it, watch his hands
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
... I think we've just done the worst.

I remain to be convinced that airstrikes will help to defeat Daesh, because you can't blow up an idea. I remain to be convinced that NOT blowing up bit of Syria would help either. I'm in a paralysis of indecision about the whole thing. One thing I am sure of, though, is that from the point of view of gaining an electoral advantage we've just done the worst possible thing.

- Our glorious leader announces, after much handwringing, that we're going to whip our 8 MPs to support airstrikes, pissing off a good 40% of our activists just before a by election;
- Cameron, intentionally or not, pisses of half his Labour sycophants by talking about terrorist sympathisers so he now has much weaker support from the red team;
- The foreign affairs select committee, despite the best efforts of Uncle Crispin, announce that they think airstrikes are a really bad idea;
- we now look like the rump that's left of us is still supporting the tories even though we don't have to, and even though nobody else thinks it's a good idea.

Still, on the plus side it's taken a good five and a half months for our new leader to make such a monumental tactical fuckup, and further on the plus side so few people are paying attention to us these days nobody is going to notice or care, and if they do they'll just shrug because supporting the tories needlessly is what we're for, right?

I think the time has come for me to see if I can find Dave Page's Patented Desk made of human hands so that I can headdesk and facepalm at the same time.

UPDATE: quote from my twitter feed: "sad but unsurprising to see the rump lib dems being lickspittles"

*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

UPDATE 2: and another, as pointed out by Andrew in the comments below: "It's easier to have contempt for the Lib Dems than Tories in the same way it's easier to have contempt for Grima Wormtongue than Saruman."

Several people I really respect are considering their party membership this morning, including one who has been a member for 20+ years and served on a lot of Federal committees. I am just really really depressed.
miss_s_b: (Default)
... which has remained screened and will continue to remain screened for not sticking to my comments policy. I am going to pull out one point from it, however.

Anonymouse says: It just won't wash to say - or to imply - that you think it's morally wrong for homosexuals to express their love physically, but that you're still a liberal because you support their legal rights.

No, no, no.

That's EXACTLY what liberalism is. Liberalism is legislating for the rights of people to do things that you personally disapprove of, because as long as they aren't harming anybody else it's not within your gift to intervene. If you can't grasp something this basic about Liberalism, then I'm sure everyone else can understand why I'm not unscreening the rest of your comment.

Liberalism isn't about purity of thought, about everyone being in agreement, about Borg-like adherence to conformity. That's the antithesis of liberalism. Liberalism is about defending the rights of people to do things you detest, because even though you detest their actions, they are not hurting anyone else.

I think people who drink mass-produced lager are the scum of the earth and morally reprehensible. Doesn't mean I'm going to do anything to stop them doing it. Doesn't mean I didn't live with one for ten years. I think people who prefer cats to dogs are utterly wrong. I'm deeply in love with one of those people right now, as I type.

And yes, the example you gave in your comment, dear anonymous, was intentionally far more inflammatory than those I give above. I know people who would agree with the view in your example, as well. And yes, I think those people can be liberals, so long as they actively agitate for the rights of people to do the thing they disapprove of.

Now don't get me wrong here, I think the very concept of sin is utter bollocks. I'm not going to defend the view that homosexual sex is a sin, because I don't agree with the concept of sin, and even if I did, I wouldn't think that any number of people of any gender enjoying themselves sexually would be a sin anyway. But I absolutely am going to defend the person who expresses that view from some sort of permissiveness thought-purity test. The question is not what Tim Farron (or anybody else's views) are of morality. I don't care if my leader thinks it's morally indefensible to eat cheese on a Tuesday, so long as he defends my right to eat cheese on a Tuesday.

Tim Farron's voting record is there for all to see, and the fact that the mainstream press are trying to misrepresent it to bash his private religious convictions is something that I, personally, find far more reprehensible than him having religion.

I'll say it again:
I'm an atheist.
I'm bisexual.
I'm polyamorous.
I voted for Tim Farron in the leadership contest, and I do not regret it.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
So on tonight's channel four news Cathy Newman went for our new leader's jugular. And lots of people seem to be lapping up the blood like it's going out of fashion. Yes, pink news, I'm looking at you. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on religion here, because I don't need to be. Does Tim consider homosexual sex a sin? I don't really care, because sin is a concept that does not apply to my worldview.

I'm an atheist.
I'm bisexual.
I'm poly.
I voted for Tim Farron and I do not regret it.
I don't care what Tim considers to be sinful in the privacy of his own religion. I care that he agitates for my freedom. I care that he wants to end the spousal veto for my trans friends. I care that when I said "if I can ever have a poly wedding are you going to come?" he said he'd be on the first train.

Fuck you, media. I know my leader, & he's not what you're painting him.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
For devotees and attendees of the regular Not The Leader's Speech event at conference, where we all meet in the pub, download the text of the leader's speech, and work out what point we would have walked out at anyway, I have some bad news:



Of course, if there IS a point where I would walk out of Tim's speech... Well, I'll just have to walk out. From the front row. In front of all those TV cameras... It better be a damn good speech, Tim. That's all I'm saying.
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
... are many and varied. Perhaps for their knowledge of party systems and what needs to change. Perhaps for their ability to present a compelling case for liberalism to the world. Perhaps for their endurance and stalwartness.

What I don't understand is people passionately declaring their allegiance for one or the other based on a particular policy position. Much as the media would like to believe otherwise, policy is not made at the whim of the leader in our party. Yes, the leader has some advantage in publicising what their policy priorities might be, and yes, the leader can pick and choose from policies voted on at conference to push or to ignore. But the fact remains that policy is voted on by conference in the Lib Dems, not made up on the hoof by the leader.

And even if that were not the case:
  1. Tim and Norman agree with each other on more policies than they disagree and pretending that they are lightyears apart just sets up a false scrap where there is agreement.

  2. Both have been coming out with policy statements - I've not seen ONE of these that isn't either already party policy or aligned with existing policy, and I'm reasonably sure that neither has come out with one that the other would utterly condemn.

  3. It's utterly nonsensical to fervently support one candidate because they believe in a policy position that the other also believes in and has publicly stated they believe in.
So can we please stop with this "I support $candidate because they are in favour of $policy" crap? It buys into a stupid, bullheaded media narrative which sets up a false adversarial tone and does neither candidate any favours. Yes, I'm supporting Tim. But that doesn't mean I'll be wailing and gnashing my teeth if Norman wins. Either candidate will make a fine leader and I'm not going to join in any Punch and Judy bollocks.

... I'm doing a Canute again, aren't I? :/
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
I wasn't going to blog about the whole leadership thing, because what good would it do? I am desperately, desperately sad that the party's response to our disastrous showing in the recent elections has been to turn inwards and fight each other, but it's not like I can't recognise the symptoms of self-harm, and I realise that trying to tell a self-harmer to stop doesn't make a lick of difference if you can't do something to stop the pain that self-harm is a response to.

So why did I decide to blog about it after all? Because Matthew Oakeshott has fallen on his sword, and the mainstream media* have leapt to the conclusion that the leadership crisis is now over.

There's a few inconvenient facts that fly in the face of that conclusion:
  1. Oakeshott going does not stop the various local parties who have already scheduled EGMs under 10.2(f) from having those meetings. I am aware of nine, so far**. That's nine local parties who have actually scheduled EGMs. I have heard rumours of many, many more who might be doing so. This is way more serious than some bloke who nobody took seriously anyway wasting money on some polling.

  2. LDs4Change may have views coincidental with Oakeshott's - and they may have gone about things in a similarly half-arsed, stupid, and unconstitutional way to the methods he uses - but that does not mean that they are, or were, run by him; or that because he is gone, they are gone. As Nick Barlow said on twitter: LDs do not need an agent provocateur to be angry with the leadership***.

  3. Oakeshott going does not solve the quite legitimate concerns that many have about Clegg's leadership. If anything, it makes Clegg feel vindicated, makes him dig his heels in, and thus makes change from his various problematic positions less likely.

If the party is to survive this without being seriously damaged, this boil needs lancing, and it needs lancing NOW before things get even more pus-filled and manky. And I can only see one way for that to happen. Clegg needs to call a leadership election himself, and then stand in it. Do the John Major option. Tell the party to back him or sack him. If the recent poll for Lib Dem Voice is accurate then the party will back him and all this will go away. If the poll's not accurate then all this, and Clegg, will go away.

Either way, we cannot afford to let this fester for much longer. The poison is seeping into all sorts of places, and I, for one, do not wish to see people I love tearing each other apart any longer.



* and several of Clegg's more ardent supporters...
** although only Cambridge have announced it publicly.
*** and lets face it, even those who agree with Oakeshott think he's a prize arse who nobody listens to, and who is the kiss of death for any campaign he gets involved in.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
Somewhat like "hard-working families" I am starting to have an instinctive "ugh" reaction to the use of this phrase. "Where we work we win" implies that all one had to do is deliver more leaflets, make more phone calls, knock on more doors, and the election is in the bag. While those things certainly help, other things are necessary too. It also implies that all those people who DIDN'T win on Thursday only have themselves to blame for not working hard enough; while this is undoubtedly true in some cases it's a horrific insult in others. So yeah, if I never see that phrase issuing from head office again I won't mourn.

Other things:

1, if you want to get rid of the leader, there are several methods outlined in the party constitution. Anonymous willy-waving is not one of them. I suspect that all LibDems4Change have achieved is to annoy people who might have been on their side had they been approached reasonably, and made it less likely Clegg will go.

2, Calderdale council has a fantastic new councillor in Marilyn Greenwood, but it will be massively the poorer for the loss of several of the other councillors/candidates we had standing. However, you have to deal with things as they are, not how you would wish they might be.

3, Election counts are, for the most part, like the Christmas day football match in the trenches; whatever Flag we are there under most of us are capable of civility. I spent a lot of Friday having pleasant friendly chat with people from all parties and none. But there's always one, isn't there? I'm not going to name names but I was very amused by one particular person's hamfisted attempts to patronise me, and his purple face of rage when he didn't win the seat he felt entitled to ALMOST made the rest of the pain worthwhile.

4, When life gives you lemons, bugger lemonade, slice them up and put them in a gin and tonic. And then have another gin and tonic. And then another. But before you do all that, make sure you have someone lovely there who will fry you pig-based things and give you hugs the morning after. Those people are worth more than any electoral news.
miss_s_b: (Hobby: Scrabble)
You'll forgive me if I don't join in the party line of wild applause for Our Glorious Leader's latest announcement. Youth unemployment IS important, but I think that "solving" it by dealing a double whammy to their parents is short-sighted at best.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry.

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

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

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

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

Sort it out, will you?

sincerely

Jennie.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
Dear Nick,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I thought we were better than that.

yours in disappointment

Jennie.



This blog is proudly sponsored by Caron's Musings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

About This Blog

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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