On Saturday, the Reading Lib Dems gathered to commemorate 25 years since the party formed in 1988 – and to look forward to more years to come. European election candidates Catherine Bearder MEP and Antony Hook both came along, and also Newbury PPC Judith Bunting. Catherine and Antony give a couple of excellent talks on the importance of the 2014 elections, emphasising that we are a party that engages with the rest of the world, which recognises the importance of Europe to our economy.
It was also great to see all the leaflets and newspaper clippings that activists have kept over the years. Here’s a gallery selecting just a few. Read more
It’s a fantastic sunny day for Reading Pride today. Great to see a lot of people out, and if you’ll forgive some partisanship, a good Lib Dem stand where we’re both celebrating the progress on equal marriage, and getting a lot of names for our petition on defending LGBT+ rights in Russia. Here’s a few photos from the parade, noting milestones both local and national. Read more
Caroline Criado-Perez received an all-too-common wave of abuse and rape threats for her campaign to having a woman on a Bank of England note. This weekend just past, there were a couple of Twitter hashtags to protesting the abuse of women online: #TwitterSilence and #InspiringWomen.
Twitter is a commercial service, not an open medium. When the idea to just not tweet for a day popped up in whatever article I was reading (#TwitterSilence), it caught my eye. Not using a company’s product, a company that will have extremely good traffic monitoring – that company just might notice! Twitter did indeed respond to the issue, after the idea of a #TwitterSilence was put out there. Maybe it worked, maybe not. The same issue saw a lot of commentary, some who didn’t like the idea of a day’s silence. So some people stayed quiet for a day, some chose instead to praise #InspiringWomen, some just tweeted as normal. Everybody wins!
Hopefully, Twitter will successfully find a mechanism that isn’t as slow, heavy-handed, and famous-cases-only-please as relying upon police intervention to deal with viciously abusive behaviour online.
Just as Ed Miliband’s notes for PMQ recently found their way into the spotlight, I’ve happened to come across Tom Watson’s first draft of his resignation letter. Here’s what was on his mind before bashing it into shape: Read more
Note: this is not about sexual harassment, the primary focus of the recent Lib Dem harassment scandal. As with the recent BBC scandal, sexual harassment is the most serious form of harassment (with child abuse being the most serious form of that), but may only reflect wider problems with harassment and bullying in general. My post focuses only on my own experience; I do not wish to diminish the even more serious problems elsewhere.
The conclusions of Helena Morrissey’s independent inquiry have now been published. It is a valuable document. It will make painful reading for Lib Dems, but also necessary reading. I say this as Witness 14 in the final report. I wanted to provide useful suggestions rather than just documenting the obstacles I had encountered trying to bring an end to one Lib Dem’s years of harassing local activists, who do not have his profile at the national level. It was good, then, to see one of my comments quoted:
It is worth noting that as with any large organisation that requires good management, the Liberal Democrats are an enterprise like any other. Its size requires a degree of bureaucracy and process. Its goals require commitment and contribution from its members. To realise its potential it must align electoral goals with its core values, rather than treat the former as a reason to discard the latter
Sunny Hundal has a ridiculous piece up on Liberal Conspiracy about Vince Cable’s refusal to play Labour’s game on the Mansion Tax policy idea that they’ve stolen from the Lib Dems and reduced to a political gambit. That’s a great shame – to the Lib Dems, it’s a way to promote a fairer tax system, not a PR exercise.
There’s been some talk amongst the commentariat that when it comes to sexual harassment, the problem is that some women need to toughen up. I make a minor concession below about understanding where that point of view comes from, but it’s still nonsense. Here’s some simple reasons why. Read more
This post is inspired by allegations made regarding Lord Rennard, but it is not about whether or not the allegations are true. Lord Rennard is innocent until proven guilty via due process. I do however want to comment on the way in which the claims of the women are not being taken seriously in some quarters.
I’d also like to make clear that while this post is based on my personal experiences of assault and harassment, it is absolutely not intended to shift the focus away from sexual harassment in a kind of, “hey, what about men?” fashion. Hopefully the piece as a whole demonstrates that I take sexual harassment as a serious women’s issue.
Well done Mike Thornton and the Lib Dems who helped him win the Eastleigh by election. A fantastic achievement, both the campaign itself and the long, long, year round work that the Eastleigh team put in to their community.
(I spent Saturday waiting for my car to be recovered to a garage instead of pounding the streets as planned, and today keeping an invalid company. Still feel bad I didn’t make it down, though).
There will be much punditry about this, but my bet is that the constants from commentators on my side will be:
- Community politics: Hard work beats opportunism and tabloid rabble rousing.
- The real verdict is in: Enjoyment of this very effective rebuttal of received wisdom, namely that the Lib Dems were supposed to be toast.
- Oh noes, Tories! Much soul searching for the Tories about their abysmal performance, in every aspect of the campaign. Welcome to third place, guys.
- Hello, UKIP! Much joy on the left that the right wing vote has developed a major split. Farage might even have won if he’d gone for it.
- Keep your hands on the wheel: Despite the win, an insistence that the Rennard scandal is still a live issue to be resolved.
All of which is for the near future – I reckon Mike, Keith House and team have earned themselves as much rest as they can get this weekend :)
Regarding hard work and community politics: I’m newish to the party, so I’m very definitely talking about all the work I’ve seen other Lib Dems putting into their communities (no credit stealing here!).
It’s impressive – I’ve long supported the Lib Dems on civil liberties, but I’m increasingly coming around to the notion that the Lib Dems have earned their right to talk about high principle, based on hard slog. I’m glad to be becoming a part of it.
My band is set to do a gig with a just-for-one-night replacement drummer, which is an interesting thing to contemplate the first time around. My advice to the guys who were wondering how well it would work was:
Fear ye NOT, for we are ROCK!
Seven Top Tips for gigging with a dep drummer:
1. Remember, the audience is less familiar with the correct arrangement than you
2. Like playing with a drum machine, it may not be quite right but only needs to be in time
3. Remember, the audience has been drinking more than you
4. The vibe is more important than the precision, just keep playing through the mistakes
5. Remember, the audience never gets hung up on mistakes
6. Look him in the eye, count out loud, and telegraph the changes with extravagant gestures
7. Remember, the audiences always loved Ringo Starr
Just embrace the idea that all the spaces, the bits where Rob does or doesn’t do that thing, will end up getting filled with things you’ve never heard before – and someone else will have to shout the count.
It’ll all be slightly different – so seriously, we’ll have fun, and so will the audience.
P.S. not that I would want to do it every time!! It’s definitely a bit more effort than a regular gig. But, you know, RRAWWK!!!