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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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”:

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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.