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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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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