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.

My Resignation Letter from LDCF (Liberal Democrat Christian Forum)

 Dear [Secretary],

In light of the recent statement that you have posted in the LDCF website and on twitter I cannot in good conscience as a gay, liberal, Christian remain a member of Lib Dem Christian Forum.

The statement starts by saying the the LDCF has unanimously decided to sign the letter in support of LGB Alliance and FiLiA attending our conference. As a member of LDCF I was not consulted nor did I give authority for you or any member of the Executive to speak on my behalf to make this decision unanimous of the Forum, which I believe as a member includes me.

You talk about holding the right to debate in good tension. I am aware that I and other LGBT+ members of the LDCF have reached out to members of the LDCF exec in recent days about this matter. We have pointed out that the debate we have had with this associated with the LGB Alliance have been far from a good tension. I personally have been called homophobic, mysogynistic, a groomer, a pervert and other things during such "debate" with this group. 

There is no good tension between LGB Alliance and the LGBT+ Liberal Democrats that attack and bombard our twitter and our members and supporters at every chance.Sadly allowing them into our conference exhibition space where our LGBT+ Lib Dem stall is seen as a safe space is not acceptable. As a past member of the LGBT+ Exec who has seen people taking their first steps to "coming out" at our stall this is seriously put at risk by having such a group, which only last week was classed a hate group in Ireland, in close proximity.

It is with regret that after many years of LGBT+ members being welcomed and accepted as members of LDCF. Many years of me personally speaking to many LDCF exec members either at the LDCF or LGBT+ Lib Dem stalls at conference exhibition. I was under the impression that being LGBT+ was not contrary to membership of LDCF. The events of recent weeks make me now think differently. I no longer feel I can hold membership of the LDCF.

Please accept this letter as my immediate resignation from LDCF with immediate effect.

I shall be publishing this letter on my blog in at 10:30 this morning.

Update 28 Aug 12:22 The following was just posted on the LDCF Website

The LDCF statement about the 2022 Liberal Democrats Conference arrangements, which was first issued on Friday (26/8), has been taken down to allow the Forum time to consider further these issues and the responses to it. We recognise that some people have been upset and hurt by our statement. That was never our intention, and we are sorry.
I obviously will wait to hear of the outcome of the consideration that the LDCF Exec take on these issues.

Since I announced my resignation the wording of the statement on the DCF website has altered slightly but the essence is still the same.

I will be writing a follow up post later with more details and answering some of the questions that have arisen since I announced I would be pubishing this letter.

Sunday 21 August 2022

Is Giving Transphobes Access a Freedom of Speech Issue?

 So let's say that someone uses the argument that they want to give a transphobic organisation access to a space where are large number of LGBT+ members assembly biannually. Let us also assume that they believe this is a Freedom of Speech issue.

Firstly I would ask them to look at the organisation they are seeking to give that freedom of speech to, especially in relation to trans people. Do they use their freedom of speech to dead name trans people? Do they use their freedom of speech to insult, insinuate, libel and slander anybody who defend trans rights? Do they use their freedom of speech with responsibilty or do they echo the tropes that were used against LGB people in the 80s and 90s? 

If they do not use the freedom of speech they already have responsibly. If the LGBT+ members of a group are fearful of the repercussions of allowing such a group access to a space that they consider safe, for some the first space they feel safe to be genuinely themselves.

Then you have to question why you want to allow them freedom of speech amongst a group who believe that nobody shall be enslaved by conformity, where we champion the freedom, dignity and well being of individuals. Where we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, ethnicity, caste, heritage, class, religion or belief, age, disability, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

If you want to sign a letter demanding that such a group is given access then ask yourself why are you a Liberal Democrat in light of what the preamble to our constitution states.

Monday 25 July 2022

Lord Trimble 1944-2022

Not from from the little terraced house that my father grew up you will see Hands Across the Divide (pictured right). It is a statue that somes up the hope of peace not just in Londonderry/Derry but across the whole of Northern Ireland.

The two men who best summed up that reaching across the divide are probably John Hume from the city of Derry and David Trimble, who coincidently like me also comes from Bangor, indeed his family went to same church as my mother's family and he went to Sunday School along with her. A young David Trimble is actually pictured in the book about the centenary of the current building of Trinity Presbyterian Church as part of the team working to build the church halls.

However, it was building of something more amorphus than a structure that is still standing that will be Trimble's lasting legacy. It was through that reaching out that he formed a sense of purpose, an image of a peaceful future, a vision of a shared future and a pathway to acheiving that. The people had their say and overwhelmingly supported the agreement that the various parties agreed to. That is truly reaching across the divide, that is what a leader should aim for.

It is with sadness that following on from John Hume's death in 2020, David, Baron Trimble of Lisnagarvey has passed away today. In 1998 the two men shared the Nobel Peace Prize and in his Nobel Speach David summed up the state of Northern Ireland poignantly when he said.

There are two traditions in Northern Ireland. There are two main religious denominations. But there is only one true moral denomination. And it wants peace.

Those words are as relevant today as they were back in 1998, more so, as once once again our Assembly is struggling to get up an running. Our politicians need to look as Trimble and Hume and Seamus Mallon who served as Deputy First Minister and the example they gave of working for everyone. Trimble took a lot of abuse from some within Unionism for reaching out to the Nationalist traditions, but the peace has held largely, the devolved Assembly and continued on with several periods of strife, but carries on mostly and the people want it to work.

He was one of the architects of something that many of us thought would never come to be. Even when his party and Hume's lost their prominence in their two communities, the two traditions continued to work together towards that peace.

Tonight the thoughts and prayers are many are rightfully with Lady Trimble and his family. In our tomorrows people in Northern Ireland need to reflect upon what Trimble and Hume helped to bring about and work towards enhancing that legacy to make it truly one moral denomication of working together for all.

David, Baron Trimble of Lisnagarvey 15 Oct 1944 - 25 Jul 2022

Thursday 12 May 2022

Northern Ireland Protocol 101: From a Northern Irish Perspective

 I see that this morning John Redwood has tweeted:

There are a number of issue with this that many of us here in Northern Ireland take umbridge with. Firstly John is assuming that those conducting the interviews also understand the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and the various subsequent agreements added to the original. You see this whole thing is complex and when in 1998 the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland voted to approve the Good Friday agreement they actually knew what they were voting for. It was written out in full and sent to every home. 

This of course contrasts to Brexit which there was never any clear plan of what it meant and the Conservative Government subsequently has been making up as it goes along. If John Redwood has read the GFA he would know how intertwined Northern Ireland, Ireland and indeed the EU institutions are within the agreement for a peaceful future for the island of Ireland. 

There were only 18 years from the GFA until the vote on Brexit but in that time things in Northern Ireland changed, for the better. Subsequently the people of Northern Ireland, who did know what was involved in the GFA actually voted against leaving the EU. There are number of reasons for that security, ease of access across the border, also realising how much interlinkage there is and that this would be threatened by an EU border stretching over 300 miles around Northern Ireland.

In these days of talk about energy security the fact that most of NI's gas and electricity is actually supplied from Ireland Her Majesty's Government threatening to get involved in some any sort of argument with the EU, by acting unilaterally is worrying.

The other issue that many of us have is that Redwood is saying what the Unionist community think of the protocol in relation to the GFA. By this he means the DUP and TUV rather that the Unionist community but why let convenient shorthand get in the way when making a point about having the facts. The fact that the DUP and TUV were opposed to much of the GFA and are using it to acheive their own ends and on this they seem to be pushing the button of consent. Consent of course that wasn't settled with the withdrawal from the EU in the first place. 

This wee pocket of the UK along with several others didn't consent to our exit from the EU and then the European Economic Area, for many of the reasons about supply of food, services energy etc. In fact since Brexit our supermarkets have had to replace some of their foodstuffs, which have been in short supply in Great Britain also, with some supplied from Ireland, thank you protocol. So the DUP playing the consent card and with holding their consent for the Assembly to form over an issue over which their monirity view was fed into the Tory Government's negotiating position ignores the greater issues and more largely held opinion.

The DUP stood in the recent election on their stance of the protocol as part of a five point plan. Since the election is appears that four of those points education, housing, health service and cost of living are not really important enough right now for them to work on. However, that didn't go down too well with the electorate they lost 6.7%* of their vote and 3 MLAs. Hardly a ringing endorsement for what they were pushing. Yet somehow their performance at this election is now not just enough to hold the majority of NI voters hostage but the entirity of the UK.

Does anyone else remember the Prime Minister saying his deal was oven ready? Incuding the Protocol which Johnson and the DUP said was better than Theresa May's deal.

Does anyone else remember their 2019 election pledge that there would be no more negotiation over Brexit?

Well here we are we have a Government arguing that the Protocol that they agreed to as part of the process is not fit for purpose and that if the EU will not renegotiate it they will unilaterally chnge or scrap it.

We live in strange and worrying times. Can someone in the Coservative Party please listen to the people of Northern Ireland who are not linked the DUP, TUV or Jamie Bryson (now that is a story for another time).

* I will note here that the TUV gained 5.1% but if you also add in the 1.7% that the net loss for the  unionist parties is still 3.3%

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Cooking with Tories

 The latest trend I'm seeing from Conservative representatives is that if poor people knew how to cook properly they wouldn't be facing the cost of living crisis. The Tories that are saying this are clearly living in a High Looking down on the plebs with displeasure.

They have clearly never been in a situation where when you are paid the bare minimum you can get towards the end of a month and face a regular panic. You scrape together all the change you can find to maybe buy enough food, and basic provisions at that, to last until pay day. Or maybe it is to go unto your electric key or gas card for you prepayment meters, or maybe to see if you can afford to get to work. This is not a new occurance it is something I faced at times around 2008.

It was not caused my me not being able to cook. In fact I was not purchasing pre-cooked meals as it was cheaper to buy ingredients to cook. I had a selection of all the dried pulses you could imagine and ate a largely vegetarian diet as meat was so costly. In fact when I was forced to live like this I did spend longer before going to the shops working out how to balance my diet, and within my budget, that at times when I had more disposible income on which to life.

Currently the sitution is dire. There are people whose fuel bills have gone up so much that they are having to ask their energy companies for credit, which is actually debt, to tide them over. This they will have to repay and therefore there is a further hole in their weekly budgets.

There food shop is already going up and the fact that there are now more food banks across the UK than McDonalds restaurants should tell anyone looking at those figures that we are heading towards Dickensian disparities between the rich and the poor.

So Tory MPs telling people how to economise or that they don't know how to cook are not aware of how much scraping around people do when they live on the edge. Food does not get thrown out it is used up, somehow. Basics are there and yes sometimes there is survival with basic bread and basic baked beans. However, when even the prices of the stables, bread, pasta, cooking oil are all subject to price rises due to the war in Ukraine affecting supply, along with a removal of the cap on energy price rises, pay is not keeping up to costs.

Yet in the Queen's Speech provided yesterday there was no major statement about how to help those in need now, nor how to prevent more slipping into a poverty trap.

Wednesday 26 January 2022

Empty Chair at Empty Risos - Trubute to Erlend Watson

 (with apologies to Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel) 

There's a grief that can't be spoken

There's a pain goes on and on
Empty chair at empty RIsos
Now our friend Erlend has gone
Here he talked of social justice
Here it was he helped campaigns
Here he sang at Glee with gusto
And regaled us all with tales
From the Riso in the corner
He could see a world reborn
And he rose Riso restarting
And I can hear it now!
The very words he had sung
Became our walking campaign song
On this lonely Good Morning
At dawn
Oh my friend, my friend forgive me
That I live and you are gone
There's a grief that can't be spoken
There's a pain goes on and on
Your smiling face all over Conference
Whispering to Risos from the floor
Empty chair at empty Risos
Which my friend will fix no more
Oh my friend, my friend
We all know what your sacrifice was for
Empty chair at empty Riso
Where Erlend campaigns no more