Number crunching: A Brexit democracy special

A major bugbear of the Leave Campaign during the recent EU referendum was their view that the EU was an undemocratic behemoth. Gove told us there were five EU presidents, all unelected. Of course, they ranged from the EU’s effective head of state (whilst we have a Queen) to the Speaker of the European Parliament (which would be weird to directly elect) and the President of the European Central Bank (which would be stupid) to directly elect. 

But no person drew more ire than Jean-Claude Jüncker, the Luxembourgish President of the European Commission. An unelected bureaucrat that nobody in Britain wanted! Of course, the Tories shied away from the fact that their strop from the European People’s Party in 2009 gave a lot of latitude to Angea Merkel to choose the European People’s Party spitzenkandidat. 

Of course, irony would eat itself when Theresa May was declared our next presumptive prime minister without a ballot of Conservative members, let alone a general election. Of course, May herself was not happy when Gordon Brown did the same in 2007, but that’s for another day. 

Today, I present some statistics for your convenience, to fully appreciate the post-Brexit democracy. 

Election of the President of the European Commission:

  • Number of eligible voters: 751
  • Number of indirect votes for Jüncker: 38.6 million (28,014 in the UK)
  • Number of direct votes for Jüncker: 425
  • Number of Scottish votes for Jüncker: 2

Election of the Leader of the Conservative Party:

  • Number of eligible voters: 330
  • Number of votes for May: 199
  • Number of Scottish votes for May: 1

Comparative statistics:

  • Number of votes for Al Murray, the Pub Landlord, in 2015: 318
  • Number of nominations received by Gordon Brown in 2007: 313
  • Number of votes for Margaret Thatcher in the 1990 leadership election (first round): 204

I don’t know about you, but I’m personally very glad that we took back control of our democracy.

What I said at the Lib Dem Autumn Conference 2015: On Human Rights

The afternoon after the trans motion passed unanimously, I was back on the Conference podium speaking in favour of human rights. This was to propose Calderdale’s amendment to the human rights motion putting party policy in favour of ratifying the Protocols to the European Convention of Human Rights that the UK hasn’t already.

The amendment originally called for the UK to also opt in to the applicability to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, until the party’s justice spokesman, Lord Jonathan Marks, told me that such a step would not be necessary to the Charter’s functioning in the country. Personally, I would also opt-in to many of the treaties the UK has opted out to – Schengen included – but that’s for another Conference. Find, below the cut, more porcine puns to appreciate:

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What I said at the Lib Dem Autumn Conference 2015: On Trans Health

The second of four times I spoke at Lib Dem Conference last September was on the issue of the transgender and intersex health charter. As this motion debate happened the morning after news of the Prime Minister’s schoolboy antics regarding porcine necrophilia was broken, everyone in the Conference was dying to make jokes about it. Thankfully, this was the first motion of the day, so I was able to speak first on an uncontentious debate.
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What I said at the Lib Dem Autumn Conference 2015: On Agenda 2020

Hopefully, after this weekend, I’ll be more punctual in uploading these.

At the Liberal Democrat conference last September in Bournemouth, I was rather busy in the Conference Hall, moving one motion, one amendment, and one procedural motion; more on those later. But, before all that, I had the chance to make a contribution to the first of the party’s Agenda 2020 consultation sessions. I took such the option to speak on double discrimination and forging an intersectional approach.

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A Labour leopard doesn’t change its spots

This post was originally published on Lib Dem Voice.

Don’t tell anyone, but George Osborne probably let out a sigh of relief when Baroness Manzoor’s fatal motion failed last night.

Of course, it was inevitable that Labour peers would rather bravely abstain on the cuts to tax credits, as their elected counterparts did in July. And Jeremy Corbyn is probably skating on thin ice, given that the scandal of Labour abstaining in July put him where he is today.

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The Women’s Equality Party: A Surveillance State in the name of Liberal Feminism

The Women’s Equality Party, the brainchild of Sandi Toksvig, officially launched to luvvie acclaim yesterday. But the cracks in the sheen were showing while the journalists were eating their canapés. Not only does their policy document not talk about trans women’ equality needs at all – a major omission given the two mainstream parties with comprehensive policy, one with developing policy, and one with a Select Committee – their policy on sex work came out with a left-field proposal nobody is seriously considering:

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What I said at the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool, Pt. 2: On Green Transport

Apologies for the massive delay in this post; I made a second speech at the Lib Dem conference in March, this time on the five green laws that formed one of the key planks of the manifesto. In particular, I spoke about the need for green transport. The speech is, as always, below the cut.

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Corbyn’s Carriages are a recipe for transphobia

Jeremy Corbyn raised the ire of many twitterati commentators on Monday when announcing his plans to consult women on women-only shelters. I generally agree with Lynne Featherstone on this issue: while his intentions are noble, the answer is not in segregating women, but in actually combatting the men who harass them. Women-only spaces are good only as a stop-gap until we create a society without latent sexism or other sorts of bigotry.

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Amnesty should support decriminalisation of sex work

This post was originally written for Lib Dem Voice.

This month, Amnesty International delegates will vote on a proposal to make decriminalisation of sex work a campaigning matter for the human rights organisation. This, understandably, has raised ire from many people, but none so large as parts of the feminist movement.

Just last week, we saw several Hollywood actors – ordinarily staunch allies of Amnesty’s work – sign an open letter promulgated by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women calling for Amnesty to reject the policy. One notable signatory was Anne Hathaway, who received an Oscar two years ago for her portrayal of Fantine in Les Miserables.

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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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