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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.