Category Archives: Politics

Spring Awakening My Arse

The Lib Dem spring conference was one that didn’t quite happen for me.

IMG_5810The previous night I was up till 4 O’clock packing all of my belongings – very much
regretting hoarding on books and clothes my entire life. I also revised for an
‘Understanding English Grammar Exam’, which trust me, is as fun as it sounds. I’d b
een putting off going through the lecture notes and textbooks which meant that the night and following morning were one big knowledge-cram. Sensible life choices

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Nevertheless the exam went particularly well. Or at least better than last time, where the moderator didn’t turn up and I got very stressed and didn’t finish the paper…
After which I said goodbye to my flatmates and started “The Move”.

This is the first move of three in the next 4 weeks. I am very thankful to my friend Jacob for helping move stuff which my car, which saves an awful amount on Taxi Fares… there were 20 bags in total. I am such an awful hoarder.

By 4 O’clock I’d finally finished moving in and went to see everyone. It’s a joy to see Liberal Youth and Bristol / Bath / Somerset Liberal Democrats, especially because most of these people are ones that you’ve been speaking or following to for quite some time online, with geophysical constraints for seeing more often.

The free wine started there. I had a modest 4 glasses. The leadership rally was awfully fun, although very long for someone with a short attention span. I was especially amused at seeing Catherine Bearder speaking draped with a Union Flag – reminiscent of some friends on nights out.

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We then went to wetherspoons for refreshments, and then went to Novotel Fringe where I drank a triple. See this is where the whole memory thing ended. I had neglected to eat that day, and was what I believe is reasonably within the description of being a ‘Disgrace’. Most pickled. I said words to people from around Bristol, probably non sensical. Then as per entered a state of whimsical nonsensical drunkenness that seems to reoccur in Lib Dem events. #Resign, as it were.
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I woke up at about 1 having missed the only motion in conference i really cared about, Legalisation of Cannabis, good-o. Legalisation is the only way to end the awful blackmarket and lack of regulation of the booming drugs industry. (it passed anyway)… I then had a shower and sheepishly waddled to Whetherspoons, still most inebriated. I witnessed Wales lose a rugby match, whilst drinking litres and litres of non-acoholic fluids. After a while I went to fringe, hummed ‘Bread of Heaven’ to myself, quite the fan. And slightly miserable at the state of my body, went back to travellodge, having accidentally completely faux-pas-ed some more, even in my sober state.

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The following morning I was actually able to go to the All Women’s Shortlist Debate. It was very interesting. I was undecided at first, considered abstaining, then voted against the amendment 1, and for the overall motion. I agreed with practically everything the many Liberal Youth argued about  tokenism and how it was basically a futile cosmetic stop gap measure. But at this point I felt like anything this party can do to improve what seems like an unfortunately misogynistic transphobic racist and ableist system should be done. I apologise to everyone who was let down by AWS and many of my close friends disagreeing with the motion. I immensely respected your argument and the way you put it across. All I hope now is that the party doesn’t treat this as the solution. Equality and Diversity is far from the current state of the party, and only large structural reforms, and more grassroots measures can truly improve this, in my opinion. Sorry to those who think I’m spouting bullshit. (that said I don’t actually expect anyone to read this blog, this is just me trying to get into the hand of creating more regular content)

Conference  was a bit a a mess. Oppsiedasie.

Next Time,

xoxo Huwseless

West Edinburgh Liberal Democrat campaign

“happy, well educated, hung-over volunteers stuffing envelopes on the morning of Easter Sunday”

Seconds later in the drawing:

ADAM DANT, Election Artist 2015

Scotland April 2015-10  Scotland April 2015-5  Scotland April 2015-4

10am Sunday 5th April.

West Edinburgh Liberal Democrat campaign HQ.

Liberal Democrat Michael Crockart’s young team of student volunteers are busy addressing blue envelopes when I arrive at their campaign HQ just by Edinburgh Zoo. As well as the only Pandas in Britain,  the constituency of the ex police Constable who seeks re-election, also contains The Chinese Embassy, Edinburgh airport, Murrayfield Rugby stadium, several farms, and judging by the sweet smell of burnt barley in the air, a brewery or two.

Mr Crockart is host to a press call for  the Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael.

Mr Carmichael has taken a break from campaigning in his constituency of Orkney and Shetland to answer questions from the press about the cabinet inquiry into Nicola Sturgeon’s reported comments to the the French Ambassador.

Drawing inside a campaign office gives me a good opportunity to try and capture a view…

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[UPDATED WITH REPLY] An Open Letter to Liam Fox : A call for ethics in the face of a humanitarian crisis

Update:

Dear Mr James

Thank you for contacting me about the plight of Syrian refugees. I am sorry you have had to wait some time for a reply but the situation is constantly evolving.

The humanitarian cost of the civil war in Syria is enormous, not just in injuries and casualties but the number of displaced individuals and families. I fully agree that we are morally committed to help in this area and I am pleased that Britain is the second biggest donor of international aid to Syria in the world. The PM’s willingness to take 20,000 of those who have been identified as genuine refugees by the UN via established refugee camps is, I believe the correct response. We have, however, differentiate this refugee crisis from the flow of migrants, many of them economic migrants currently coming to Europe. EU figures suggest that only 20% are displaced Syrians and the many others coming from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan. We have rules already in place to control the flow of economic migrants and if we simply take the fittest and fastest, then we will undermine that process. Equally, if we are unable to determine exactly where these individuals come from and the reasons for their movement, then we will be unable to minimise the risk of importing those with fundamentalist views who pose a threat to our security coming in the guise of refugees rather than identifying genuine refugees from the Syrian conflict.

You will be aware that the Vulnerable Persons Relocations scheme (VPRS) is up and running, and has already welcomed a number of Syrians to the UK. This scheme will make a real difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable Syrians by giving them protection and support in the UK. 

To support our local communities the foreign aid budget will be used to finance these refugees for the first year and help local councils with things such as housing. In the longer term, our additional aid spending will be directed to these failed states and to the refugee crisis. The Prime Minister has also appointed a new Minister for Refugees, who will be solely responsible for overseeing the work of welcoming these refugees to the UK.

Of course, simply taking people will not solve this crisis. We need a comprehensive solution that deals with the people most responsible for the terrible scenes we see: President Assad in Syria, the butchers of ISIL and the criminal gangs that are running this terrible trade in people. We have to be as tough on them at the same time.

I am glad that the Prime Minister has been clear that the aim is to resettle 1,000 refugees by Christmas. The Government will report back after Christmas to assess how many refugees have come.

Yours sincerely

LIAM FOX

Parliamentary Office of the Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP

—————-

Original Blog:

So this time last year I was travelling from Turkey to Calais (except I stopped short at Amsterdam because I needed to fly home at short notice but I digress) I went the easy way, I crossed the border controls (there are MANY) on bus and train with ease. This year it’s not me who’s making this journey, but hundreds of thousands of refugees travelling, not for luxury or to economically better themselves, but out of fear for their and their loved one’s lives. For Asylum. Many escape the strict border controls by travelling across the seas to Greece. And many die in the process. So now the media have suddenly realised that YES we should be helping these people, I wrote a letter to my MP, and encourage you to do so too, perhaps using this website as a template.

http://act.refugeecouncil.org.uk/lobby/medcrisis 

Also, if you haven’t yet, please sign this petition to parliament https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991

Sorry to be yet another human in the world writing an Open Letter.

Dear Dr Liam Fox MP,

A couple of months ago, a personal hero of mine, Sir Nicholas Winton, died at the age of 106. As I’m sure you know, Winton is famed as “Britain’s Schindler” for his effort in organising the kinder-transport system. Evacuating 669 children from Prague Hlavni Nadrazi to the safety of our islands, in the face of what we now know was almost certain death.

In 2013, Winton expressed the utmost angst about the state of world affairs. He said “Things are in trouble at the moment” that “all these terrible things are happening where civilisation started”, of course referring to the death, and the utmost senseless terror and destruction happening across the Levant.

He spoke to his MP, Teresa May, about “Ethics.”. He pressed upon her to “Forget religion. If everyone believed in ethics – goodness, kindness, love, decency – we’d have no problems at all. That’s the only way.”  I’m sure you’d agree that this world needs more people like Winton. Upon his death, in a eulogy, May stated “we must ensure that his legacy lives on.”

And that is why I am writing to you. In a plea for some goodness, kindness, love, decency, and compassion in relation the the horrifying humanitarian disaster running from Middle-East to Calais.

And now on our doorsteps, it’s unavoidable.

Humans: men, women, children, are being forced to risk their lives due to the lack of legal routes to safety in the UK and other EU countries. Over 1300 people died making this exodus for refuge in April 2015 alone. And yet so far the UK has taken in hardly a third of the amount of refugees that were rescued by Winton’s efforts.

Today, the Prime Minister stated “Britain is a moral nation and we will fulfil our moral responsibilities.”

Please urge him to turn these words into actions by pledging that the Government will offer thousands of additional places on Britain’s life-changing resettlement programmes to refugees around the world, bringing them directly and safely from the region to our shores. (Alive). Please make it easier for refugees to join their relatives who already live in the safety of Britain, so that they can travel legally without being forced to undertake dangerous journeys in their search for refuge.

Please show your support by signing EDM 99.

I agree with the Prime Minister that we are a moral nation, that we can and will show compassion, that we can be a nation of Sir Nicholas Wintons. I agree that we should stand up for refugees by legally protecting them in the UK. I agree that we should legislate legal routes so that they are not forced to put their lives in the hands of smugglers in their search for a safe haven.

I look forward to hearing your views on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Huw James

London, Lib Dem Leader Lulz, and LGBT lacklustre ~ Thursday 16th August 2015

Today was the day we’ve all been waiting for. And by we, I mean overly zealous politicos of liberal persuasion. Today was the results day for the Liberal Democrat Leadership Election. There were two candidates, Norman Lamb, and Tim Farron. Both worthy of leading, but only one could take the job. I travelled to London to meet my friend and comrade in arms Thomas Gravatt.

We met in Regents Park after I successfully misunderstood his directions twice… we wandered down to Embankment and then walked to Westminster in time for a quick gander before going to the leadership rally.

By about 3 O’clock our phones buzzed. We had our leader.

None other than Tim Farron. Thomas was a Normtrooper, but gladly congratulated the victor. Whilst I publically endorsed Tim Farron, I must admit that I never actually cast my ballot after I lost it… I was part of the awful turnout!

After months of a brutal election campaign we were faced with this leadership election. We were so glad for it all to come to an end. We set off to Islington.

At first we were unsure whether the venue we ended up at was the right place. we were in a queue but what for? Then the shining interjection of Hannah Thompson assured us that we had gone to the right place!

There’s something wonderful about a rally. I told Tom that it was really awkward that most terms such as “liberal youth” and “rallies” were introduced to me solely through education on NAZI Germany, he chortled, agreed, and informed me that I broke Godwin’s Law thus am a conversational loser. I submitted defeat. The Hall was a buzz, we schmoozed and got wine before being nabbed by an organiser who asked, “could we be on the stage?” this was a great novelty to us, so we agreed.

We were left in a small room to nervously wait, spectating on what was to happen. We were informed that we were to stand behind Farron and President Sal Brinton for their speeches, with fresh smiles, and warm applause.

Tom, Hannah, and myself were put in the first row right behind the podium. Tom was told to switch places with a girl because there were too many boys in one row for the cameras… this is where it started to go wrong… the organiser failed to note that most of the cameras couldn’t see the first row. Therefore the media ignored the very well organised and representative row, and instead saw only the row of white men behind Farron. The next slight error was that we weren’t told not to look at the Teleprompters, therefore we did. Therefore all footage of Farron had the audience behind staring directly at the cameras, reading… causing some ‘mean’ comments

But the very worst thing was that the Rally had NO AIR CONDITIONING. both us and the leaders were boiling hot and sweating away… unfortunately it all got too much for one activist who collapsed besides myself and Hannah, head-first colliding into a BBC camera man, then getting up bloody headed to did the same again. Farron thankfully told him to sit down. Any one of us could have been him, I would be surprised if the guy didn’t get concussion, and air conditioning should really be essential in all future rallies. (it created lots of jokes about the collapse of the party’s support)

Besides that, being behind Farron was awesome I even got in the papers, although Tom had the perfect view. I was a tad jealous…
Farron delivered one of the best political speeches I’ve ever heard. I’m not sure if it had the same effect for outsiders. But I think it magnificently united a party that had been tired and worn out by two elections this year, whose activists were emotionally wrecked and to be honest needed some tender love and care. Seeing Clegg there, hoping for some last words. It was tear inducing.

After the speech we met some lovely new liberal democrat members and spoke to them and learnt why they joined the party. We also spoke to a lovely Swedish liberal, and talked about the similarities and differences between our two countries, as one always does. It’s always fascinating and a pleasure to speak to liberals. A common-tie that seems to transcend borders

Farron was a pleasure to hear. I hope his leadership is more than just rhetoric. But one led on positive actions, I hope he continues Clegg’s legacy but undoes the mistrust from the electorate caused by the coalition (which I whole-heartedly support, especially after looking at a pure tory government (with dread)).

The next day Farron said some words. He said some words that I resent and made me cry. I’m soft. I support him as leader, but wondered how he could be so selfish as to speak what he saw as the truth. Queer folk have to hide or adapt their sexualities and actions day after day to make the world more comfortable for sexually conservatives. Although Farron probably sees same-sex-sex as merely a peccadillo. Or at least that was the implication. (I did english language everything is about subtext and pragmatics okay. I ANALYSE EVERYTHING) I wish he just kept his views to himself. Just for a day. Just for a week. So the many queer supporters and party members of his didn’t have to hear his regretful slap in their faces. Why could he not just keep those views to himself? Is that too illiberal to ask? I understand it was a long day, an aggressive interview, and words were placed in his mouth. But his words in the context of his leadership of British liberalism still made me cry. Nevertheless. I am sure Farron in practice is an ally of the LGBTQ+ community. In his leadership his actions will speak much louder than those words. I hope. I hope. I hope. I hope. That he will stand up for liberation and work on the progress needed for minorities to thrive. Tim, I’m fricken putting my faith in you. 💕

Act fast.

I took a four hour train and bus journey home. I wouldn’t have been able to reach home that day would getting a taxi with a friendly stranger, who was also a Lib Dem. We debated Tim’s LGBT record, and came to a (bad) conclusion that “it was a generational thing”. Upon that conclusion he paid Tom and my Taxi fare for us. This needlessly kind, and friendly atmosphere of the liberal democrats is one of the things carry on for. It made the hour long bus journey from Bristol bus station at 1:30 in the morning go that little bit more smoothly, and I travelled then on with a smile on my face.

Rife: To vote… always to vote

This was my first ever published bit of writing, it wasn't brilliant, but it's there.
This was originally posted for Rife

Electoral campaigner Huw James responds to Adibah and Shin_LoveLife’s voting video ‘To vote or not to vote’. He thinks you should. Always.

…low voter turnout of 37% in the South West, of which young voters were amongst the highest abstaining groups…

In a recent video, Rife magazine journalists Adibah Iqbal and Shin_LoveLife highlighted some issues affecting young peoples’ likelihood to vote in the run up to European Parliament Elections. Indeed the issues brought up in the video are evidentially important, as shown by the low voter turnout of 37% in the South West, of which young voters were amongst the highest abstaining groups, supporting the recent findings of the Office for National Statistics, which said that young people were the most disinterested age group in politics, coinciding with Russell Brand’s extreme claims that the public should stop voting for parties that betray them, with a call for revolution.

So, is voting just a lot of hassle? Well yes.

But it’s one of the most important hassles that exist in our democratic society. The sad truth is that if you don’t vote, to the government, you don’t matter. You are simply a slave to the system

Your vote cost lives.

Your vote cost lives.

The lives of civil revolutionaries in the 19th Century; the Bristolians who rioted and died to defend their right to vote in 1793; the Chartists who fought for increased representation of the people men in the 1830s and 40s, calling to arms in order to defend their right to vote; the feminists from the early Mary Wollstonecraft, writer of ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ in 1792, and later in the early 20th Century, to suffragettes such as Emmeline Pankhurst; and of actors into the American Civil Rights movement in the mid 20th Century Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X; all of whom defended the your rights of liberty, democracy, and suffrage to provide us with collective power to change our government and society.

You get the point. Historically, the fact you are able to vote in the first place is a pretty big deal, due to the countless sacrifices made by freedom fighters in an ongoing battle to remove the chains of authoritarian tyranny and oligarchy; a battle still ongoing in many parts of the world.

Perhaps you object to voting because the electoral register provides personal details (name, address, telephone number, and age) to third parties (mainly for the purposes of allowing the political parties to send you spam) this is a valid reason not to register; or at least it would be if there weren’t a box on the voter registration forms allowing you to opt out of being in the edited electoral register, whilst still being registered to vote.

Only 27 of 650 MPs are people of colour…

The video points out that the House of Commons consists mainly of straight white males. Only 27 of 650 MPs are people of colour (mostly Labour MPs), 3/30 members of cabinet are persons of colour. Only 147 of 650 MPs are women, 12 of 30 members of cabinet are women. There are 14 openly homosexual MPs, of which only 2 MPs are openly lesbian, and 1 openly openly-bisexual MP.

Traditionally oppressed groups are still poorly represented in Parliament, even if representation is increasing.

Locally, women are being strongly represented. Three of Bristol’s four MPs, and four of the South-West’s six MEPs are women. Also, openly gay Stephen Williams MP and Mayor George Ferguson directly represent the LGBT+ community in Bristol. It is true to say that ethnic minorities are underrepresented both nationally, and in Bristol. However, you can help to change this.

The video touched on the lack of political education in the potential electorate. This issue directly discourages potential voters, particularly younger voters.

In schools…teenagers should be taught more about politics through the compulsory education of politics in GCSEs…

In schools, a commonly held belief is that teenagers should be taught more about politics through the compulsory education of politics in GCSEs, or by replacing Religious Studies with the broader subject ‘Citizenship’, which would examine religion, ethics, and politics.

The southwest former-MEP, Graham Watson, suggested creating an online balloting system, where as the Stephen Williams MP suggested the reduction of the voting age from 18 to 16, both motions are strongly supported by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Interestingly, the video brought up the idea that politics has become a toy of the privileged children. Knowing students from both inner-city comprehensives and private schools, I believe that a similar level of people understand politics across the classes. I don’t think that political awareness is a class issue, but for all walks of society.

Politicians mostly ignore the lack of public education into politics…

However parliament is home to the privileged elite, 35% of MPs were educated in public schools and 30% of MPs are graduates of Oxbridge.

Politicians mostly ignore the lack of public education into politics; many seem to see that the public has a duty to educate themselves. This attitude is not helped by the long-winded and sometimes pompous nature of political jargon.

So much passive, euphemistic drivel and unnecessary language is used in Westminster that it is quite the challenge to decode the messages behind political talks. In some cases, the language of politician itself is used to hide quite serious messages in dull and seemingly meaningless speeches. The language and actions of the leading political parties Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and Conservatives has lost them much public trust. People believe politicians are lying, and are acting upon it.

Vote for the party whose policies agree with yours and who you feel can trust. If the leading parties do not appeal to you then vote for an alternative party that supports your view, be it The Green Party, or perhaps UKIP.

If no party on the ballot paper appeals to you, you should let the government know…

If no party on the ballot paper appeals to you, you should let the government know, not by abstaining, but by spoiling your ballot (be it by doodling, or writing a strongly worded letter on the ballot paper).

The Electoral Commission have a duty by law to record these spoilt ballot papers, and it separates those who don’t vote because they aren’t represented, and those who don’t vote because they are lazy.

Ideally, the question on whether to vote or not should no longer be a question. And if you do wish to vote in the 2015 general election, for goodness sake please register to vote. If you still feel that you don’t want to vote, please say in the comments section, it would be interesting to see alternate views.

If you want to register to vote, click here

Tweet us @rifemag and let us know your thoughts on voting and any ideas for how we can make politics more accessible…