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#TwitterSilence and #InspiringWomen

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.

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Tom Watson’s resignation letter: first draft

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:

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A witness speaks: Harassment within the Lib Dems

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.

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Jenny Woods at Reading Geek Night

The draft Communications Data Bill proposes draconian changes to the monitoring and storage of our internet browsing and communications records. Challenging it led one Reading resident into the world of Whitehall and parliamentary process. Will the application of plain old fashioned smarts win out and save the day for privacy, security and innovation?

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Aw, thanks, Chez

Here’s a lovely little thing to get in the post – a personalised plectrum. Thanks, Chez.

For anyone interested, next little pub gig is a while off, Friday November 9th at the Shepherd’s Hut in Eton Wick. Or the very next night, Saturday 10th November at the Old Ticket Hall in Windsor. Read more

Today is Reading Pride

Lib Dem Rainbow Bird

On Honesty

Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear.

– William Gladstone

Honesty, as we all know, is not always an easy principle to live up to. That’s even more the case in politics, where constant public scrutiny has led many a good person into a moral trap or three. Have a little bit of understanding and trust in people, though, and it gets easier to be honest with them. “Honest Man” is a great old 70s track on that very point written by liberal counter-culture musical hero George Lowell. I love this track – it’s old school, soulful preaching wrapped up in good music. Read more

Daleks invade Reading!


I was only swiftly passing by .. if this isn’t a professional job it is very impressive indeed!

Also, amused by Dr Who who showed up just after I took photo – he’s not at all pleased to get the Eccleston-style jacket in this weather :)

Preamble as poetry

You wouldn’t think a document like a hefty constitution would read like poetry, would you? But the Preamble to the Constitution of Liberal Democrats (quite a sonorous title in its own right!) makes a fair attempt – check it out below.

This comes out simply because I had cause to re-read while reviewing bits and pieces for the next Greater Reading Exec. It’s actually quite a hard in the original document, simply because the layout of the document is terrible (sorry, typesetters). The words themselves – good solid substance. So for analytical rather than artistic purposes, I was curious if it would help splitting out the different clauses on to separate lines. I quite like the result. It’s still quite long, but try reading it like that with your favourite orator in mind. Quite inspirational, really. Read more

Today’s bank stimulus explained in full

There are sophisticated arguments to be made, I’m sure, regarding the Bank of England’s decision to launch two new stimulus packages. But the Chancellor is intellectually lazy ideologue George Osborne, so here I suspect is the bottom line:

  • We now beginning to realise that in a deep and wide recession, austerity doesn’t work and the state must step in to get the economy back on track
  • Because I’m a politician, I won’t actually admit that in so many words
  • Because I’m a Tory, I will only act in such a fashion as to channel state funds through private sector financial institutions, which makes easy money for my kind of people

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