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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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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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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“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”:

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

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

“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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Appropriating equality

There’s been a flurry of news stories in the past week, most likely to coincide with the country’s first same-sex marriages starting next Saturday, regarding how the bill came to pass. Firstly, we had television personality Paul O’Grady describe David Cameron as a “twat” and state the Lib Dems were “as much use as men’s tits”. Then, a few days later, Ben Summerskill tried (very unconvincingly) to attack the Lib Dems for being “opportunistic” on same-sex marriage. And finally, Tony Blair said that “in hindsight”, he would’ve pushed for marriage equality whilst Prime Minister. All this leads me to think one thing: both Labour and Stonewall seem to be very keen to take the credit on LGBT equality, especially with a general election round the corner. But this credit is perhaps undeserved, especially as they both seem to have done everything they could to stall it.

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Tom Harris is not a nice man

People who know me know that I really don’t like Tom Harris, the current MP for Glasgow South. Hell, my second blog post was basically about him being totally awful on the issue of tuition fees (a lie he continues to this day), and he relishes in being the tribal kind of Labour MP, especially on Twitter. So savvy he is on Twitter, that he became Labour’s internet adviser.

Until he posted a Downfall parody of Alex Salmond, effectively comparing the Scottish National Party leader to Adolf Hitler. Yep. After he lost the Scottish Labour leadership election, he might’ve been a bit angry. Who knows? But he did end up having to resign the post.

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The deficit and all that.

(Note, January 2013: This post was written when I was more naive to economic circumstances. It is best read in a perspective from before the cuts starting. It is kept in the purposes of transparency and does not accurately reflect my current thoughts on the matter.)

Belt up, this is going to be a big one.

So yeah. That march a couple of weeks ago. At a generous estimate, 400,000 marched against the government’s spending cuts. And while I sympathise with them, I also think that it was just a waste of time due to how it ended up. Continue reading “The deficit and all that.”

Boundary Review

The Electoral Commission has outlined rough plans on where the reduction of MPs from 650 to 600. As expected, traditional Labour strongholds will lose seats. But is it “gerrymandering”, as Labour have alleged?

Not exactly. It’s an undeniable fact that the current system, as is, is horribly skewed towards Labour. The 2005 election, for example, gave Labour 90 more seats than the Tories in England, despite losing by 0.3%. Labour also enjoy their concentrated support in inner-city areas, which allows them to win a lot of urban seats (and the reverse for the Conservatives, in business districts and rural areas). This creates a squeeze on smaller parties with even support, such as the Liberal Democrats, but also the Greens and UKIP.

Why does the skew exist? Well, there’s several reasons for this happening: Continue reading “Boundary Review”