Monday, 16 January 2023

Conservative and Unionist Party hoisting the union on a Trans Petard

The full name of the party that is in Government in Westminster is the Conservative and Unionist Party. However, today that took a shocking step that may well rock or even split up that union.

It is being announced that the Scottish Secretary will this evening inform the Scottish First Minister that tomorrow he will take the legal steps to invoke a Section 35 which allows Westminster to overturn a piece of legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament. This is something that has never been done in the 25 years of the Socttish Parliament. 

The piece of legislation that it is seeking to overturn is the Gender Recognition Bill that was passed with an overwhelming vote of 67% of MSPs voting in favour. The breakdown by party was

  • All 4 Lib Dem MSPs in favour (100%)
  • All 7 Green MSPs in favour (100%)
  • 21 out of 22 Labour MSPs in favour (95%)
  • 54 out of 64 SNP MSPs in favour (84%)
  • 2 out of 31 Conservative MSPs in favour (6%)
So as you can see every party in Scotland bar one was overwhelmingly in favour. The fact that the Westminster Conservative Government is now going to block this going to Royal Assent is a political football being played in an increasingly right wing leaning Conservative party. The language that the party has been using on assylum seekers, Trans peoples, workers rights to strike and protest are all now looking more and more authoritarian. 

However, by invoking section 35 for the first time in history this is also piling up gunpowder under the very Union itself in a way which unlike Guy Fawkes may explode the union. It is such a minor piece of legislation in the grand scheme of things, but it opens a flood gate and leads to a slippery slope. At a time when those who want another independence referendum are already heated, the act of stopping a Scottish Act gaining Royal Assent just might push many who were agnostic to Scotland's independence into the independence camp.

The worse thing is that the Scottish Government's Gender Recognition Bill has no actual impact on UK-wide equality legislation, this was pointed out in the wording of the Bill itself. It is only impacting the right to change your gender on your birth certificate and only impacts those who wish to do so not anyone else. We in the UK do not currently* need to carry our birth certificates around with us. 

The Secretary of State of Scotland also calls for there to be more consideration of this. However, there was already 6 years of public consultion into this bill it was not rushed, what is rushed in the UK Government's response.

Yet this is the petard upon which the Westminster Government is prepared to hoist the Union.

It is laughable that the West Lothian Question which caused Tam Dalyell great ethical quandry over Scottish devolution will pale into comparison to what today has become the Westminster Question. What is a Secretary of State for Scotland opposes the will of a supermajority of the devolved Scottish Parliament.

By saying currently the more right wing, authoritarian and dare I say facist the Conservative Party are becoming me may well start to single out individuals and groups of individuals may not be far off.


Wednesday, 4 January 2023

Maths post 16 years old


So Rishi Sunak thinks that maths should be taught to all young people up to the age of 18. Now I do have an O'level in Maths, plus one in Additional Maths, an A'Level in Maths, plus as part of my Economics degree did guide a lot of maths/statistics. So I would say I know a fair amount about the type of maths that is taught after the age of 16 as in some form or other I was being taught maths up until the age of 22. My late father also had a degree in maths.

I have laid out my maths qualifications here to show the level of expertise I have on the issue of maths. I know that some out there in this post expertise required age will argue that I don't know what I'm talking about, but thats the nature of knowledge these days.

On top of this I have 2 nephews both post 16 years old and a niece currently in secondary education. Each of them have different experience of maths through their schooling as well. So with all the agrued experience within our family is maths really something that needs to be taught to everyone after the age of 16.

Most of the maths that most careers need for every day use is that which is taught up to the age of 16. Additional maths, A'level and anything you are taught at university are more specialised for the decipline you are studying or more complex maths. If you go into a career that works with numbers yes you will need to know the principles behind many of the more complex maths, especially when you have to set up a spreadsheet or a data base programme that needs to calculate something. Excel or other programmes may be good but the better the maths of the person working it the more complex the functionality can become. For this I also worked as a global data analyst for a call centre with all sorts of contingency built in, some of our worksheets will still be funtional long after we are gone, for example, working out set public holidays (Easter is a little more awkward).

My nephew are a mixture one is science base the other more artistic. Both were good at maths, both got decent result in their GCSE but both knew the path they wanted to travel. For one maths fitted into the sciences for the other it didn't fit in. Does that decision make one of them less useful going into adulthood? No! As for my neice she struggles with maths, something that I know a lot of people do, these are probably the proportion of people that the Prime Minister wants to educate more in maths.

So while I can do matrix algebra, complex statistical equaltions with x constants and other stuff that would blow your mind this isn't going to help your hairdresser, car mechanic, beautician or bricklayer. They all just want to do a BTEC after the age of 16.

Post 16 education needs to remain a mix of academic split into sciences and humanities, and vocational. The vocataional courses will include what maths is required within those professions but that maths isn't what is stardardly taught at 16 year. No young person over the age of 16 should be enslved into the level of maths that someone Winchester educated, with an Oxford First in PPE and Fulbright Scholar who went on to become an investment banker before turning to politics thinks helped him. This is how out of touch with ordinary people, ordinary work and day to day life the richest Prime Minister in our nations history is.

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

Tis the Season for Drag...Oh No it Isn't

 Gender Critics are taking exception to Drag Queens interacting with children.

While this may be a cultural issue that sparks fear in the USA when they try to import it to the UK they forget a number of issues.

  1.  Almost every adult in the UK's first introduction to the theatre was a cross  dressing bonaza known as Pantomime. Not only was there always a motherly figure (two/three in the case of Cinderella's sisters/mother) who was clearly a man in a frock, or to be more precise a different frock every time they appeared on the stage. But also the leathere ding lady would invariably fall for a principle boy who was another women dressed a man. And despite all this cross dressing everyone lived happily ever after. But more importantly these Drag artists were often used as fillers while the set was being redressed, bringing children up unto stage for interaction with them, or going out in to the auditorium with the house lights up to do the same.
  2. Moving on from Pantomime the Bard, ie William Shakespeare had a number of plays they involved cross dressing. This is especially incredible out of sync with gender critical objections when you consider at the time of Shakespeare only men would appear on stage even in the female roles. But to this day those plays that contain plots lines of cross dressing do not draw the ire of gender critical, TERFs, transphobes in the same way and story time with a drag queen.
  3. Historically we have always had Drag appearances on our TV. There was of course Dame Edna Everage and Lily Savage but also there were many sketches by the Two Ronnies and Dick Emery in drag all were mainstays of Saturday night televion.
You see drag and cross dressing is very much a part of British culture. Those who attack it are attacking UK culture from a narrow American world view. Indeed many male employees across the country and also dressed up in drag to raise money for Children in Need or Comic Relief down through the years. We in Britain do no inherantly have issues with men dressing as women per se.

But the transphobic Gender Critical movement have taken it on. With the success of Ru Paul's Drag Race and its spin offs we are now seeing more Drag Queens who like Lily Savage started in gay venues coming to the fore. The attack on these drag performers is an attack on otherness. It is an attack on the entire LGBT+ community. You see they have objections to the T, they see drag a gateway to the T, which is not the case for a large majority of drag performers. It is an art form. The art from the makeup, dresses and performace all of this is art. But it is art that is comfortable in an LGBT+ space, but is starting to find its feet outside those once safe (or not so safe historical) spaces into the mainstream.

The obection to drag queens. The mindless protests against drag story time up to the shooting of a gay venue hosting a drag night. All of this is an attack on LGBT+ people. It starts with the T but it spreads to include the LGB, another reason that the LGB Alliance does not represent LGB people. We see the harm that gender critical views are leading to. For them the T, the transphobia, is a starter to being H, homophobic. The LGB Alliance cannot see this and they do no represent us, there are a front for Transphobia painted up to appear LGB friendly. Somehow this organisation has charity status despite doing nothing to support LGB people, its sole purpose if to attack trans people, or more correctly only trans women.

The history of drag in the UK is in front of the Gender Critics for all to see. Or more to the point in this season, it's behind you, and goes back an awfully long way.

Monday, 21 November 2022

My Footballess World Cup


Support LGBT+ fans may not be seeing this World Cup

My first memory of World Cup was Argentina 1978 as the UK was on the March with Allie's Army. There was the first wall chart in Glenn family history hung on the cork tiles in the kitchen and one of the first games I may have watched involved Iran who played Scotland in the second of their group games.

This year Iran are gain taking on some home nations today playing England and later will take on Wales. However, unlike 1978 and every World Cup since I don't care. You see almost 10 years ago when the venue of this World Cup was announced I blogged with the concluding remarking saying:

So I guess I'll not even be watching the 2022 World Cup, even on TV, thanks to decision of FIFA today. Wonder what I'll end up doing instead?

Well true to my word I am not.

The announcement today that the 9 European nations who said they would wear the One Love armband all backed out of their commitment when it turned up that their captains would face a football sanction for doing so, makes that decision all the more real.

Before the tournament started FIFA President trying to rally people around te football rather than the failures of Qatar said amongst other things "Today I am gay". Sadly the actions of him and FIFA show that he is not gay. 

Also those who promised to be allies of LGBT+ fans have proven they are only allies in words alone, not when they might face consequences. They promised to wear an armband saying one love, in support of LGBT+ fans, but when FIFA said they would face football sanctions possibly a yellow card, those promises vanished. The LGBT+ fans were up in arms. You see gay people face consequences.

At the weekend, there were five people at a nightclub in Colorado Springs who lose their lives when a shooter invaded a gay nightclub, in a reasonably liberal society. In Qatar LGBT+ people face prision time for being who they are, today even some fans have been told to take off shirts with the price colours on them.

It reminds me of an anecdote of my time supporting Livingston. When you support a small team home and away the stalwarts all know you, there were three coaches of fans at away matches at the time, we were a large family. But occassionally we had more fans than normal travelling away. At one League Cup tie at Celtic Park we have a wedge in one corner of the stadium. So when a Celtic player stepped up to take a corner and as the players raised their hands calling for the ball, one of my teams fans started shouting "Put you hand up if your gay". So I did. He was only about 4 rows behind me, so I could hear some of the regulars telling him to stop, as they know I was was there and what me raising my had was all about. Survice to say he never tried that again suring that match.

Gay fans have step by step taken fans to stand up. Face consequences. Become bolder. Follow our teams, our countries and not hide who we are. Sadly today FIFA, the FIFA President, certain Associations and players have all shown that unlike gay fans or gay players they are not prepared to face the consequneces when it actually matters. 

Their words are hollow. Their support fair weather.

My World Cup for 2020 will remain footballless.

Thursday, 17 November 2022

The Fable of the Critical Control of Freedom of Thought

 Once upon a time, not too long ago, a political party could think what it wanted, propose ideas it espoused and work to make the world a better place. But sadly those days are now the things of fairy tales.

Now you see it is not the right of polical movement to come up with ideals, hold them steadfast and work to making them take shape in society. No, now, even here in the UK, it is they who have the biggest crowdfunded legal fund who pull all the strings.

Yes sadly even if for years you thought your party's vision was that nobody should be enslaved by conformity, a small group of people, critical of changes in our society that are in the early days of being enshrined by law, will jump upon you at ever utterance of progress.

They believe they they should have the freedom of speech to speak their minds, even if what is on their mind is to make everyone conform to their ideal. They will challenge you from entering their spaces even though this has been established in law. They want to call you by a name you no longer use, without ramifications. They want to label you by whatever term they want to use and not what you want others to use for you. Indeed they say that you asking to be called what you want, labelled as you want is an intrusion on their liberty up with which they will not put.

Thus it have come to pass that through some legal challenges those critics of change have got their hate filled, harmful agenda recognised as a system of belief and those views are protected under law in certain circumstances. However, once judgement, while it does not give them carte blanche to express those views without restriction is actually not how they see it. They see the limited extent that one judgement has been made in their favour as validation that what they think is correct. It certainly isn't a pleasant way of thinking, it isn't kind, it isn't gentle. 

When any dare to challenge them they harrass and pile on. Allies of those impacted can be called all manner of slurs when they raise their heads above the parapet to defend those they attack and dismiss. Names like mysogynist, homophobe and when defending children who they attack paedophile is also thrown into the mix.

Yes what I am talking about is those who self identify as gender critical. In reality I will call them what they are transphobes. They have an irrational fear of trans women it would seem trans men are not the subject so much of their vitriol. They want everyone to only use the public toilets, changing rooms of the sex they were assigned at birth. So they start to challenge women cis or trans who look a little masculine. Heaven helps them if they get their way and trans men actually start to enter women's facilities and they get challenged about being where those critics have been campaigning for them to be.

But the sad thing is that apparently political thought is now dead. A political party that stands for liberal thought, that has long stood up for the underdog and the oppressed now must kowtow to those who express gender critical tought. This is the new watered down code of conduct on transphobia from the party I hold dear.

Well when like me you are someone who responds to a large number of  government consultations basing those responses very much on the thoughts laid out in the preamble to our constitution. When I also base my votes at oonference on those same ideals. When many of my speeches and answers to questions on doorsteps or in hustings also hark back to that document, I know where I stand. I know I shall not be moved. I too have a belief, a belief that the preamble to our constition sets out goals for  a liberal future.

Yes in a liberal society you can be critical of things, but when that criticism causes harm, maligns whole sections of society and is in fact intolerant rather that critical it does not have a place within liberalism. It is facism, it is thought control rather than freedom of speech of expression. When you cry defamation at anyone who questions you critically. When you slur and harrass anyone who questions someone on their motivation to the extent it takes hours to check on their notification. They you are in the business of subverting freedom and enslaving others to your conformity.

And that destopia is something I do not want to see come to be.

Other takes on this: 


LGBT+ Liberal Democrats

Saturday, 12 November 2022

The Paradox of Tolerance

 In a note on chapter 7 of his 1945 book The Open Society and Its Enemies, Karl Popper wrote the following.

Less well known [than other paradoxes] is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.—In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.

This is somthing I've been returning to in recent months, as was something from the study of philosopy as part of my Economics degree, it was a little aside I went down in he age before Wikipedia and the rest.

But it is something that is becoming very real again to. Popper wrote this just as Facism was facing defeat. Now we have a new idealogy that seems to want to forbid their followers from listening to rational argument. Whether that in the form of the Brexiteers calling all arguments "Project Fear", Trump supporters denying the result of the 2020 election and the Gender Critical brigade who want everyone to conform to a binary definition of gender defined at birth.

All three of the above movements show an intolerance to other views. There were times during the Brexit debate some people said I did not know what I was talking about, despite having an Economics degree and taking options in European Economics in both by second and third year. As well as writing my dissertaion on the effect on European Economics with the then possible expansion of the EU.

The same applies now whenever I stand up for Trans rights I have people jump on who call me a mysogynist, homophobic and/or a paedophile. The latter is especially true when I say that people under the age of 18 can realise their sexual indentity and gender and need support in that. Apparently yet again lived experience that this is true is not enough for some, now is having studied medical sources. 

So do we live is an age that is post rational argument?

When I was studying economiccs at University one of my tutors told us read the news from three sources every day. One paper from the view you agree with, one from the opposite opinion and also if you can find it a neutral point of view. This daily exercise of going into the library to look at how other papers expressed the same news was eye opening. It also made me more aware to look to the source material where possible. Sadly today too many people only get their news, their opinions and their talking points from those who share their beliefs. It is too easy to only wallow in the views you have.

However, if that leads to intolerance, don't argue that we must tolerate your intolerance. We will provide reasoned argument that you are wrong, but if you block us, say to your follows we are deceptive, use bullying tactics to try and silence us, we will stand up to your intolerance. We will call it out. We do not have to tolerate intolerance to be liberal and tolerant. 

Saturday, 27 August 2022

Follow Up to My Resignation Letter from LDCF

 As I did say at the end of my post of my resignation letter from the LDCF (Liberal Democrat Christian Forum) I did say I would publish a follow up about some of the context before and to answer some the queries that have come up since.

First of all the context.

Last weekend I became aware that the Chair of LDCF has signed an open letter started by Liberal Voice for Women. He had signed it not in a personal capacity as all bar one of the other signaturies had done, but on behalf of the exec of LDCF. The other exception was the Chair of Liberal Voice for Women.

Liberal Voice for Women is a group that is not affiliated to the Liberal Democrats in any way and have been asked to stop using the word Liberal in their title as it is misleading. This, however, does not stop them emailing members of the Liberal Democrats bringing Gender Critical concerns to the fore and sometime leading potentially naive members, councillors, peers and others to be swayed by their argument. Some of whom have later regretted decisions they made supporting the group and have apologised for their action, naivity on the subject and hurt they have caused long standing friends.

The current letter was regarding freedom of speech for the groups LGB Alliance and FiLiA to have stalls at the upcoming Lib Dem Conference. The only people with a right to have stalls at Lib Dem Conference would be the Groups that are made up of Liberal Democrats the groups that represent subsets of our membership. Groups such as LDCF and LGBT+ Lib Dems for example. Other groups, organisations and charities with outside interests will be invited or accepted by the Conference Committee. Some of these are ungoing concerns that share the parties values, other are groups that are relevant to the debate or areas of policy we are focussing on at present. In any event there is finite space for stalls in the exhibition part of conference.

The argument about freedom of speech is one that would sway Liberal Democrats, we love debate especially amongst ourselves. However, with relation to the two organisations in question how do they use the freedom of speech they already have?

Those who support these two organisations use their freedom of speech to spread fear about trans women, never trans men it is interesting to note. They want trans people to use the bathroom of their assigned gender at birth, ie they don't want trans women in women's bathrooms, changing rooms or spaces, but seem to ignore the implication that trans men with their testosterone shots and growing their facial hair would be subject to the same rules and have to be in "women's" spaces. 

They also use their freedom of speech to lambast, copy post, abuse and torment not only trans people but any of us who show support for them. Everytime any of us of LGBT+ Lib Dems twitter account post in support of Trans people we are attacked virolantly.

This letter is asking to allow members of this organisation to operate a stall, to share the same space as LGBT+ members who would have their own stall at Lib Dem Conference. The LGBT+ stall is more than just a stall to promote our organisation it is also a stall that has helped many LGBT+ members of the party feel safe, often for the first time, to talk about their sexuality or gender identity. This safe space would easily be affected by anti-trans groups, who also aren't too keen on trans supportive LGB people or trans inclusive feminists, being set up who knows how far away.

Now when I saw that the Chair of LDCF had signed this letter on behalf of the LDCF Exec I did not accuse the entire Exec of making a misjudgement. I reached out to friends on the Exec of LDCF to get a better picture of what was happening. I was relieved to hear that concerns had been raised by some about taking action as a group to sign this letter. 

There was also an offer to speak to the chair relayed through one of these exec members. As I have a tiring work schedule and other commitments I asked to what end this phone call would have, but heard nothing back through that channel.

Well this morning a statement (since amended slightly) appeared on the LDCF website. The initial wording started with "LDCF unanimously co-signed a letter". I took obvious objection to such wording as I was a member of LDCF and had not given permission for anyone to sign that letter on my behalf as part of LDCF, nor was there any communication with the membership of the whole about such a letter. How this could be unanimous is a party of voting geekery is beyond me.

Clearly as a past member of the LGBT+ Exec, an openly gay three time Westminster Candidate I could not stand by and have myself associated with such a poorly worded statement that seemed to suggest I agreed to such a stance. I announced I would be tendering my resignation forthwith in response to the Twitter post with the statement and drafted the letter.

I said I would publish the letter just over an hour after I submitted the resignation letter. This was to allow peope time to maybe persuade others that the statement should to be taken down from the website before further consideration was given to this matter. When it was still there at 10:30 I hit publish on my accounts.

In the interim I did get question from the LDCF Twitter account, at first anonymously but in a personal capacity. When I enquired who was asking, it was from the Chair. However, when I asked publically if he had reached out the LGBT+ Lib Dems I got the response.

We did reach out to various people including LGBTQ+ in the Party and received no response other than the same ‘they are transphobic’. We have asked very senior people in the Party for their evidence and experience also. Let’s all push now for some clear statements.

So yeah going to the authority on trans issues, being told the organisations in question are transphobic apparently isn't enough clarity. 

I was also asked to share proof that the organisations were transphobic. I face enough of this whenever I do stand up for trans rights, it is an ongoing struggle for many of us on social media. But our party is clear on what constitutes transphobia. But if the chair of any part of our party (and I say this having chaired parts of it myself) can't do some basic research, ask some relevant people and then listen to their answers. Before going ahead and doing something anyway on behalf of that organisation or just exec (not quite clear which, if either), what hope is there?

This is a Saturday I have a two day weekend this week (which only happens 50% of the time). I was hoping for some self care this morning. Thanks to those who have helped provide care to me as I went through this tough time. I may write more on this latter but for now I am taking some time for myself.