Tag Archive for Lib Dems

Breaking the Establishment

This post orig­i­nally appeared on Lib Dem Voice.

We stand up for the out­sider instead of the estab­lish­ment.”, Tim Far­ron said dur­ing the lead­er­ship rally last week. For party mem­bers who were rather dis­cour­aged by our mis­steps in coali­tion, that line gives us hope.

Our fail­ings in the Coali­tion can be traced to one key fault: after speak­ing out against the estab­lish­ment, we were seen to be now a part of it. There are so many bills that we extracted key con­ces­sions on, but we were not able to com­mu­ni­cate that. How could we, after all? We were bound by Cab­i­net col­lec­tive respon­si­bil­ity. But it was never designed to oper­ate the way it did in coalition.

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Ending the Northern Powercut

This post orig­i­nally appeared on Lib Dem Voice.

On Thurs­day, Patrick McLough­lin announced what many of us had feared but were hop­ing would never hap­pen: elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the train line between Man­ches­ter and Leeds was to be post­poned, and pos­si­bly can­celled. The lynch­pin of the North­ern Pow­er­house was pulled out and the plan pre­dictably fell apart at the seams.

Three months ago, the Con­ser­v­a­tives promised that £38 bn would be invested in the national rail net­work, mostly into elec­tri­fy­ing the old diesel lines. This was so impor­tant to the Tories, we were told, that it was at the top of the man­i­festo. On page 11, the Tories out­lined their plans for £13 bn for the North alone, going towards new trains, new lines, and new wires. And in one speech today, McLough­lin snuffed out the flame of hope in such a way on the Tories can.

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A longer statement regarding the “kill all men” controversy

For the past few weeks, I and my party have been receiv­ing com­plaints regard­ing a com­ment I made at NUS Women’s Con­fer­ence: after vot­ing to remove the word “men” from a motion regard­ing VAT-free prod­ucts and the tam­pon tax – as all razors are VAT-free – I made a joke from the podium that we should remove men from society.

Unless you’ve been liv­ing under a rock, you’ll also know that del­e­gates to the Con­fer­ence were sub­ject to a mas­sive amount of harass­ment, pri­mar­ily from men. It is in this con­text that the joke was made.

Clearly, the reac­tion to the joke shows how the egre­gious dou­ble stan­dard that is often engaged in. Some peo­ple will spend ages engag­ing in misog­y­nist reac­tion when their patri­ar­chal sta­tus quo is being chal­lenged, yet these inse­cure sex­ists can­not take a joke that’s aimed at them.

Know­ing what women go through every day, espe­cially LBT and/or BAME women, it is frankly insult­ing that jokes about men are appar­ently as bad as the insti­tu­tion­alised rape, assault, and mur­der of our sis­ters, moth­ers, and daugh­ters across the world. Real fights against sex­ism should be focused on mak­ing a world worth liv­ing in for women, not chas­ing misog­y­nist flights of fancy.

Young activists are the lifeblood of any polit­i­cal moment and their rad­i­cal­ism should not be con­strained, but instead wel­comed. It is through rad­i­cal ideas that any mean­ing­ful change can be effected.

Of course, I under­stand that the com­ments, whilst under­stand­able given the weight of misog­yny that every woman must shoul­der, are pos­si­bly unwise to say on a pub­lic forum dom­i­nated by misog­yny. The harass­ment I have received over the past few weeks are proof of this.

Ulti­mately, I apol­o­gise if you were offended by those com­ments. How­ever, the harass­ment I have received can not pos­si­bly be con­doned, and I shall be exam­in­ing my options at a later point. I would like to give my thanks to those in the party who have con­ducted their inves­ti­ga­tion into this issue both fairly and promptly.

Grand Coalition”: A Liberal Glee Club song about the inevitable.

If you don’t already know, the “Glee Club” is a Lib­eral tra­di­tion where Party mem­bers, on the last night of Con­fer­ence, get wicked drunk and sing songs satiris­ing all aspects of pol­i­tics,  includ­ing yourself. 

The below is one such song, to the tune of “Waltz­ing Matilda”, by Andrew “Banjo” Pater­son, itself already repur­posed for the clas­sic Lib­eral song “Los­ing Deposits”:

Once a left-wing voter came across a polling booth.
Went inside to vote for Ed.
When the votes were in we got a hung par­lia­ment.
Who’ll join this grand coali­tion with me?

Cho­rus:
Grand Coali­tion!
Grand Coali­tion!
Who’ll join this grand coali­tion with me?
If you vote Labour you’ll get Mr Cameron.
Who’ll join this grand coali­tion with me?

Miliband said “we’ll keep all of our promises”,
And even carved them into stone.
On the fourth line it read “con­trols on immi­gra­tion”.
Who’ll join this grand coali­tion with me?

Cho­rus

Nicola Stur­geon said “we’ll help Ed kick the Tories out”;
Ed replied; he said “No thanks!“
“We’d rather have Cameron than Salmond in the Cab­i­net.“
Who’ll join this grand coali­tion with me?

Cho­rus

Miliband asked Dave if he’d help the coun­try out.
Save the union and our nukes.
Deport all the immi­grants, cut everyone’s ben­e­fits.
Who’ll join this grand coali­tion with me?

Cho­rus

Clegg heard about it and wanted to be a part of it;
But his party said “No way!“
“This coali­tion has no place for lib­er­als!“
Who’ll join this grand coali­tion with me?

Cho­rus

Now it’s 2020 and the gov­ern­ment is hated.
Labour and Tories ripped to shreds.
Now all we’ve got left is Greens, UKIP, and Lib­er­als.
Who’ll join this grand coali­tion with me?

Cho­rus

What I said at the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool, Pt. 1: On Conversion Therapy

Dur­ing the Spring 2015 Lib­eral Demo­c­rat Con­fer­ence, the LGBT+ Lib­eral Democ­rats moved an amend­ment aimed towards extend­ing the Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing on Con­ver­sion Ther­apy—which effec­tively pro­hibits the use of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion con­ver­sion ther­apy on the NHS—to trans­gen­der peo­ple. Orig­i­nally, the amend­ment was a much larger pol­icy motion, but after it fell at the Fed­eral Con­fer­ence Com­mit­tee due to time con­cerns, the motion was repur­posed into an amend­ment. The orig­i­nal mover of the amend­ment was LGBT+ Chair Dave Page, who switched with Sarah (Eliz­a­beth) Brown to allow her to move the amend­ment, with the sum­ma­tion waived by Dave to me. The amend­ment passed with­out oppo­si­tion, and my speech is, as always, below the cut.

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Il n’est pas Charlie

Liberté Guidant le Peuple

We stand squarely for free speech and democ­racy”, said David Cameron last Wednes­day at Prime Minister’s Ques­tions, not more than an hour after the attacks on the French mag­a­zine Char­lie Hebdo. This is a rather strange propo­si­tion for the leader of a party who pro­posed to rein­state the ban on “extrem­ists” from appear­ing on tele­vi­sion and have been try­ing for the past few years to rein­tro­duce the “snooper’s char­ter”. Indeed, the Tories have gone rather native in the Home Office, in con­trast to five years ago when we were all crit­i­cis­ing Labour for restrict­ing our civil liberties.

Sev­eral hours later, the House of Com­mons then debated a somewhat–but not sufficiently–diluted Counter Ter­ror­ism and Secu­rity Bill, in which Tory and Labour front­benchers alike praised the bill for being an impor­tant tool in the fight against pae­dophiles and ter­ror­ists: the two words that friends of this blog have pre­vi­ously high­lighted as result­ing in uni­ver­sally awful legislation.

After this brief sojourn into hypocrisy, Cameron took a flight to Paris where he stood side-by-side with the world’s auto­crats and despots in the name of free speech. Whilst there, he lent his name to an agree­ment for more sur­veil­lance pow­ers. One would think that Charb and his seven col­leagues would not want that in their name. But Cameron went one step fur­ther, and pro­posed the worst idea to reg­u­late a spe­cial­ist field since Labour tried to ban cof­fee eigh­teen months ago: a ban on encryp­tion.

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Why Liberal Democrats must oppose any criminalisation of sex workers

This post was orig­i­nally pub­lished on Lib Dem Voice.

On Tues­day, Par­lia­ment will debate the Report Stage of the Mod­ern Slav­ery Bill, and in par­tic­u­lar, an amend­ments that would crim­i­nalise the pur­chase of sex in Eng­land and Wales, sim­i­lar to the one that was passed in North­ern Ire­land just a cou­ple of weeks ago. It’s impor­tant that, as Lib­eral Democ­rats, we oppose those amendments.

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What I said at the Liberal Democrat Conference, Pt. 2: On Trans Equality

As well as mov­ing the sex work motion on Sat­ur­day, I had also writ­ten a speech regard­ing the fed­eral pol­icy paper on equal­ity, which had been writ­ten and drafted by sev­eral peo­ple includ­ing the lovely Cantabrid­gians Zoe O’Connell and Belinda Brooks-Gordon (who had helped with, and sum­mated, on the sex work motion). It’s a really good, and rather rad­i­cal, motion, and I put in a card to speak on the trans aspects of the motion. Most of the debate cen­tred around a Human­ist and Sec­u­lar­ist Lib­eral Democ­rats amend­ment regard­ing faith schools admis­sions, but I was even­tu­ally called… imme­di­ately after Zoe, who had already cov­ered parts of my speech. As pre­vi­ously, the speech is below the cut.

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What I said at the Liberal Democrat Conference, Pt. 1: On Sex Work

I had two oppor­tu­ni­ties to speak at the Lib­eral Democ­rats’ Autumn Con­fer­ence; the first was mov­ing the pol­icy motion Towards Safer Sex Work on Sat­ur­day evening. I had never moved a pol­icy before, so it was rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent to in Spring when I made a sup­port­ing speech to a third-party pol­icy motion. Although I was given seven min­utes, I was called for time after four, hope­fully by error of the chair of the debate, lead­ing me to cut out some of the speech.

We also had to see off an attempt to wreck the motion from Oxford East, which would’ve deleted all lines regard­ing the Nordic model and weaken the pol­icy regard­ing bod­ily auton­omy. Thank­fully, in the attempt, we suc­ceeded, incred­i­bly annoy­ing arch-transphobe Julie Bindel in the process.

Due to devo­lu­tion­ary aspects, the pol­icy only applies to Eng­land and Wales, although sev­eral Scot­tish speak­ers spoke in favour of it, includ­ing a hilar­i­ous rant by Kirkcaldy-based Cal­lum Leslie, which makes me rather happy that the Scot­tish mood is the same and I expect that the Scot­tish party will pass its own pol­icy at their own Con­fer­ence in Dun­fermline next month.

The text of the full speech is below the cut:

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My speech about Clegg at my local Liberal Democrat EGM

So Calderdale was one of the local par­ties who sched­uled an EGM to dis­cuss Clegg’s lead­er­ship under §10.2(f) of the party con­sti­tu­tion, in which an elec­tion for the leader can be trig­gered if 75 local par­ties call for one. If you’re look­ing for the result: sorry, but I’m not going to divulge it myself. This post should be read in con­junc­tion with Sarah Brown’s post about her local party EGM in Cam­bridge, and is pub­lished in con­junc­tion with it. So here’s the speech I wrote for the EGM: I got called for time near the very end, but I was still able to get the points across.

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