A brief statement regarding the “kill all men” controversy.

For a sig­nif­i­cant period of time I have been the sub­ject of misog­y­nis­tic online trolling and harass­ment of the most per­sonal and unpleas­ant kind. In response to that I made a series of tweets that I realise now have caused offence. I have now deleted those tweets and apol­o­gise to those I have offended, whether in my own party or mem­bers of the pub­lic. I am also grate­ful to those in the party who have han­dled this fairly and promptly.

I will release a longer state­ment in the com­ing days.

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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At long last, TERFs, have you no sense of decency?

"Free Speech", by Randal Munroe, CC-BY-NC

I can’t remem­ber where I heard this, but some­one once said that defend­ing a posi­tion by cit­ing free speech is sort of the ulti­mate con­ces­sion; you’re say­ing that the most com­pelling thing you can say for your posi­tion is that it’s not lit­er­ally ille­gal to express.”

The trans­pho­bic and whore­pho­bic streak of the Guardian/Observer/whatever con­tin­ued this week­end, when over a hun­dred peo­ple signed an open let­ter con­demn­ing the “cen­sor­ship” of trans­pho­bic and whore­pho­bic fem­i­nists. The death throes of this kind of fem­i­nism are becom­ing more appar­ent every day, and when ide­olo­gies die like this, the few dog­matic fol­low­ers left try to claim that peo­ple not tol­er­at­ing their big­otry are “cen­sor­ing” them.

Of course, of the three exam­ples they’ve given, they’re all com­plete bull­shit. Kate Smurth­waite wasn’t cen­sored by Gold­smiths Fem­Soc; the Com­edy Soci­ety can­celled her gig when she only sold eight tick­ets. Nei­ther was Ger­maine Greer cen­sored; her event went ahead with nary an inter­rup­tion, while Cam­bridge University’s LGBT+ Soci­ety hosted a pro-trans event in response. And, of course, they bring up Julie Bindel’s no plat­form­ing by the NUS LGBT and Women’s Cam­paigns. I’ve long been crit­i­cal of the polit­i­cal approach of No Plat­form, believ­ing it to always end up being used against us. Still, under the safety approach of No Plat­form, Julie “threat­ened to shoot trans women for get­ting safer sex work pol­icy past Lib Dem Con­fer­ence” Bindel shouldn’t be given a platform.

Sarah Brown, Zoe O’Connell, and Nat­acha Kennedy, to name three peo­ple, have blogged in response to the letter’s frankly bizarre claims. In par­tic­u­lar, there’s a com­mon theme among the three women expos­ing the log­i­cal dis­con­nect that these peo­ple with news­pa­per columns are writ­ing to news­pa­pers to protest their being cen­sored by… peo­ple with plac­ards and Twit­ter accounts? And indeed, these peo­ple are mak­ing a huge mis­take in con­fus­ing free­dom of speech with free­dom of asso­ci­a­tion and free­dom from con­se­quences. A uni­ver­sity union or a news­pa­per isn’t obliged to give some­one a plat­form. And if Rupert Read wanted to not be crit­i­cised by his prospec­tive con­stituents for his polit­i­cal views, he shouldn’t be a can­di­date for polit­i­cal office. They prob­a­bly know that; as Sarah’s already said, “those who signed [the let­ter] and have a his­tory of trans­pho­bia and whore­pho­bia know what they’re doing and are being deeply cyn­i­cal here”.

With all that out-of-the-way, I’m going to focus on today’s post by “Terry Mac­Don­ald” from the bas­tion of trans­pho­bia and whore­pho­bia and for­merly left-liberal pub­li­ca­tion New States­man, titled “Are you now or have you ever been a TERF?

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Deep Green Transphobia comes to the UK

Yes­ter­day came with some depress­ing news for trans vot­ers, as the Green can­di­date for Cam­bridge, Rupert Read, came out with some, at best, ill-advised state­ments about the word “cis”, dur­ing an argu­ment with a Cam­bridge res­i­dent who was chal­leng­ing him on the word “moron”. As a philoso­pher of lan­guage, Dr. Read should know bet­ter than this, and his attempt at cit­ing the dic­tio­nary to prove “moron” is not an ableist term may go down as one of the biggest ama­teur mis­takes of this elec­tion cam­paign. Other peo­ple have writ­ten about  Read’s state­ments, but I’d also like to go into the impli­ca­tions of this for the Green Party.

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How not to be a transgender Labour candidate

Last month, Emily Broth­ers broke news for being the first openly trans per­son to be selected by Labour to fight a par­lia­men­tary elec­tion, for the (rel­a­tively) safe seat of Sut­ton and Cheam. The cov­er­age has been mixed to say the least, either being pos­i­tive but fac­tu­ally dodgy, or being incred­i­bly neg­a­tive. But what may have dam­aged her own cam­paign more than any­thing was an inter­view she par­tic­i­pated in for Rus­sia Today, which was rid­dled with inac­cu­ra­cies that can only really be explained by par­ti­san­ship where it’s inappropriate.

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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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