Monday, 24 October 2016

Surviving Brexit : For Generation X and Millennials

As Brexit looks ever more inevitable, it's pretty imperative that as a member of GenX and almost a millennial - I was born in 1979. I have to make sure I'm in the best position to deal with the next twenty years. Hopefully we will avoid a recession but most analysts understand our growth will not be what it could have been. Some of the things I have done, considered or been suggested to me are below. Not all of it is relevant to me, and may not be to you, but still thought worth noting it all down in one place.

Some of this might look a little simple, and I'm happy to take any other advice in the comments.

BASIC

Reduce fixed costs: Switch energy accounts, pay off credit card debt or if you can't, switch to 0% credit cards.

Renegotiate what you can : Out of fixed rate on your mortgage? Think about re-mortgaging with as long a fix as you can tolerate - ask about terms such as whether you can port the mortgage (move it to another house) or add to it if you want to move to a bigger house - which may be important for growing families.

Renting - what about housesharing if you aren't already?

Reduce variable costs: Downshift your grocery bill, take sandwiches to work. Yes, forgo the posh coffee, but the odd lipstick is OK if that's your thing.

INTERMEDIATE

Pension: Increase contributions to your pension - it appears with flat-lining growth, the boomers may have pulled another fast one on the generations behind them. Not only do we have defined contributions in the main, but seems we may not get as much out of these pensions due to 2 decades of lost growth that we thought we were going to have. The answer : put more in your pension.

God knows what will happen to the state pension. Another post, another day.

Invest in a Stocks and Shares ISA and think about investing in funds aboard. There are quite a few good ones with low dealing fees - more details here

Brush up on your GCSE maths : You will be able to check what you will actually pay for your car finance or determine the best mortgage i.e. interest rate and fee.


ADVANCED

Keep your money in $. May be more difficult than it looks, tho I am informed some banks offer accounts in USD for net creditors. I haven't tried this yet but looking into it.

More as I come across it.....

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Case for the Single Market : Rights, Economic Direction of Travel and Commercial Peace.

It strikes me that both pre and post referendum, those of us who really would have preferred to Remain, are actually failing to properly make the case for doing so.

Presuming that we accept the will of the British people and leave the EU, my own position is that we should move to either a transitional arrangement that keeps us in the Single Market, or adopt a permanent position that includes Single Market membership. I think this is possibly where the UK will end up, wilful Brexiteers nonwithstanding. I accept the evidence that says the overwhelming majority of the British public do not want to cut immigration if it costs them personally a single penny, and venture that we cannot read more into "a simple In/Out referendum" and it is revisionist to try.

So, starting from that point here goes.

However, what we need to do is look to the positives of this, not necessarily "Project Fear" or spending the whole argument on the back foot, rebutting whatever nonsense is being produced by the Hard Brexit camp. We need to make a positive case.

So.....

The three reasons I will put forward to stay within the Single Market are built around concentric circles - the status of the individual, the status of the UK and the status of the World.

1.  Citizen's rights

Plenty of UK nationals live abroad in the EU - 1.2 million is a good estimate . Their rights have been regarded as a bargaining chip but the right of residence by it's very nature should be inalienable. Removing rights from citizens is a serious business, not to speak of the fact if there is a deadline for removing rights from people, you'll find many unintended effects such as those who are able to, start moving to places where their right will not be removed.

We also have the right of freedom of movement around the EU. My proposition of remaining within the EEA is a positive for all UK citizens, meaning they can continue to enjoy their rights of living and working within the EU. This is also a positive for businesses wanting to hire from other countries.

3. Economic direction of travel.

Joining or staying in the Single Market has been our strategy for the last 40 years. There is potentially a case for moving to being a different sort of economy, however it's a borderline impossibility to, as it were, turn the tanker [of the British Economy] around on an Article 50 shaped sixpence.

Our current account deficit is relatively very bad next to other OECD countries.



We import far more goods than we export, tho we do have a surplus in services (i.e. we export more services than we import). It is important that our economy becomes more balanced and I do see this as an important policy objective, but we cannot do it overnight. Therefore, to offer certainty to businesses, we need to have a model with minimum disruption, at the very least in the short term.

It appears the British public agree

It is also imperative given the current account deficit to at least preserve the surplus in services, so we must make sure that people continue to be able to work in the EU where they are needed, with as little friction as possible.

2. Globalisation and it's contents

The fact that took us into the Single Market, known as the Common Market in 1975 was the part of a wider move by the world towards globalisation, and it was important that we did this, so as not to be left behind. The Labour government, and later the Tories (at least the leadership whilst they were in power) did understand this intuitively. Remaining close to our main trading partners is not merely desirable, it's imperative.

The world senses that removing trade barriers and encouraging migration is a good thing, and the more it happens, the less poverty and war there will be. Though contentious, this "less war" theory is advanced enough an idea to have a name and that is Commercial Peace

Morally, to be honest, all global citizens should be thinking about being drawbridge down type of people, as it leads to less poverty, less war and more value being created worldwide. Citizens of the UK and the World, this could indeed us taking part  the Great Global Move Forward, if we are brave enough to do it.

I put it to you that with these three points in favour of remaining in the Single Market, that this is what the UK can and should do.


Monday, 10 October 2016

Not having a Parliamentary vote on Brexit is a mistake....

I think Theresa May's decision not to have a Parliamentary vote on Brexit is a mistake.

Firstly, because it means that it's all on her. Without a mandate from Parliament the "bumpy ride" of Brexit is sure to end up with a blame game occurring. And without even being able to have a whipped operation of her own MPs behind her, that normal human nature in face of blame will be to ask who else, or who is majorly to blame.

Secondly, her Ministers for Brexit have already shown form on blaming anyone or anything than the idea of Brexit or themselves. At the last count, if Brexit fails it will either be because

- Remainers talk down the pound (?!)
- The Chancellor is "grieving" about Brexit (!?!?)
- British business spends too long on the golf course (?)

How much easier would it be just to blame the PM?

Thirdly, change management is mostly about bringing people with you, not telling them there are many, many reasons why you don't even get to express your view. This is the point of consultations, so people feel listened to and so you get feedback on possible elephant traps in your plan. Not doing this means people feel aggrieved and concerned, and start talking to each other.

If Tony Blair hadn't had a Parlimentary vote on the Iraq War, I don't think he would have survived as long as he did as the war descended further into chaos, he did have the fact that most of the Government and Opposition had backed his stance. I think Theresa May not doing this over Brexit is very risky indeed.

Fourthly, it is untrue to say there is not a government in waiting for this Government to fall to. There is, it is headed up by George Osborne (or possibly Boris Johnson) and it would be comprised of all the MPs sacked by Mrs May and currently waiting quietly on the Tory backbenchs.

Don't count your Brexit chickens until they are hatched.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Relationship counselling and leaving the EU

The divorce analogy for Brexit annoys me because it's simplistic and moreover takes people in odd directions about mid-life crisis and tends to assume Britain is a man as well, for some reason I can't quite fathom.

Anyway, the other side of this is how we repair our country in the middle of this crisis. As the pound continues to fall and a Tory conference continues, a conference that was told to produce one Brexit announcement per department to be announced this week. These ever more baffling announcements arrive with their particularly strange angle, leaving the rest of Britain reeling about just what Theresa May is going to do next.

However, picking ourselves up, in amongst the Loud Noises, it would be good for at least some of us to know the other side of divorce, those who manage to stay together with a better relationship because of relationship counselling.

Key to these concepts are understanding without necessarily agreeing: This can be pretty difficult as when you disagree with someone especially if they are telling you something unpalatable about yourself such as "out of touch metropolitan elite". However, relationship counsellors say it's important to at least understand where the other side are coming from.

So I'm going to try and at least praise the good Brexit policies, wherever I can find them. Today I thought lifting the cap on the number of doctors the UK trains, would be an unalloyed good thing, only for Theresa May to hedge the answer to "What happens to the foreign doctors after the UK ones are trained?" and leave us with the impression that the foreign doctors will be deported after 2025.....

Back to positivity tho, the objective is to understand the other side, to prevent your own position becoming too retrenched. The idea is to demonstrate understanding to help the other side understand your position and hopefully work together. Maybe this is possible, though it looks increasingly likely that it is not.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Whatever happened to Social Democracy in the UK?

I'm trying to observe a vow of silence about The Opposition Leader Who Shall Not Be Named (from now on referred to as TOLWSNBN) , as quite frankly I'm bored of talking and writing about him.

Today tho, I wonder if Labour have completely given up on Social Democracy and instead are opting for Socialism, and this is why his acolytes love him so much? I'm not a social democrat, but think it's a valid and sometimes useful political position - socialism, not so much, mostly because of the problem of the "brief period" of state control before the ownership of the means of production is devolved to the actual workers, never seems to come

I spent ages yesterday reading a blog post about why someone loves TOLWSNBN and I'm currently working through Nick Cohen's polemic "What's Left?" about the crisis of the Left.

For me, the cult of TOLWSNBN is actually self-described as being because they haven't seen anyone to represent their views in recent Labour leaders. Now, if one is an avowed socialist and actually believes in seizing control of the means of production, than it does seem to follow that their desire to achieve as many seats as possible in a Parliamentary Democracy would be less than that of a social democrat.

Social democracy to me, means starting from socialist principles (equality for all) moving towards what is more electorally possible, such as cash transfers to poor and disabled people and equality of opportunity.

But I'm concerned that seems to be being eradicated in the Labour Party in search of a pure socialist mindset.

But I suppose I should just reflect on it not being my party, and leave them to it.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Should it be so difficult to leave the EU?


Someone said to me the other day that an institution so hard to leave as the EU was wrong. I wasn’t so sure, as I thought of several associations that are hard to leave – i.e. hard to leave or not take part in without significant downsides. Trade bodies being one, or adhering to international standards.

We’ve also entrenched EU membership into a lot of our internal agreements, and hence in a way have “done this to ourselves”. 

So, what next? Joseph Stiglitz on Today this morning was remarkably upbeat about the prospects of coming to a “rational” agreement with the EU with a kind of looser arrangement, similar to that Gus O’Donnell was proposing the other day.

I’ve been searching for a while for a note about 5 economists from Europe who suggested there could be a “two-speed” Europe with the UK on the outside track from further political integration – an idea that seems to have been around for as long as I have been alive. I cannot for the life of me find this note, so any advice or links would be helpful?
 
In short I feel there are three takes from the story so far:

 1. Brexiteers’ Singapore fantasy - plus harnessing the British pathological love of nostalgia (sops such as blue passports or going back to imperial measurements). This involves turning Britain overnight into a low tax, low regulation economy. As much as libertarians will welcome this nirvana, I’m not sure that’s what anyone was voting for bar some people in government……

2. Remainer's Two Speed Europe / Norway. I think this looks desperate right now but practically and pragmatically preserves what Daniel Knowles was on about – making sure there isn’t suddenly a lot of faff involved in trading in Europe.

3. Fundamentally it's our issue at the moment. We don't know what we want, are stuck in decision paralysis and that will start to cost us


P.S.  I have decided to stop worrying about Labour and leave them to it. So what if we don’t have a functioning opposition holding the govt to account through Brexit?

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Corbyn's not for turning, neither are the Hard Brexiteers

People like consistency. I think this helps explains Corbynmania amongst his supporters in the Labour party, and also to an extent Brexit.

I think that because Corbyn refuses to compromise, he engenders support amongst people who dislike compromise. This could also apply to those who want "Hard Brexit" or mean to bounce Theresa May into it.

This is my theory, so much as it is. It's not meant to apply to everyone, but is after trying to think through how I'd end up supporting Corbyn or Hard Brexit, that I thought if I was someone who believed in no compromise, I might have come to that POV.

In pretty much everyone's daily life, they have to compromise. Perhaps a person is slightly overweight and needs to have a salad rather than a burger for lunch? Perhaps a person can't afford to go see Bruce Springsteen because they have to pay the mortgage? Perhaps they'd love to go to Turkey for the family summer holiday but their spouse vetoes it due to fear of terror attacks?

Plus of course, there are all of the roads not taken - the job they didn't take, the course not pursued, the person not asked out on a date. All of these may inform a self-image of "I didn't do that = I can't do that = someone's preventing me from doing that"

Perhaps they don't like this and feel anxious about (as they see it) not getting any autonomy  - and autonomy is a key human need.

Back to politics, I think flexibility (most of the time) is an important skill in politics- as you have three main interested parties in what you do : yourself (which includes family needs), your party and the country. Balancing the needs of the three is a continuing challenge and part of the skill is getting it right.

Jeremy Corbyn doesn't even seem to try the last two. I think this makes him a bad politician.

So, in the face of the daily, grinding compromise, people and causes arise that arise that people can project onto. People like Corbyn who don't seek to find a consensus, appeal to those who think that's all you need to get what you want, be that equality for all or exit from the European Union.

Being inflexible tho, is not a good thing. Getting to a "win/win" situation is much the best outcome if possible. Of course there are some cases, such as the UK being under mortal threat, where you don't really want someone to be seeking a compromise, but mostly, it pays to see the other side and "get you both to yes". It's harder than banging on about what YOU want, of course.

It was suggested to me that Corbyn has compromised on having a free vote over Trident and also on campaigning to Remain in the EU. I think tho, that neither were compromises that he believed in - on Trident he is continuing as if he has changed Labour party policy without taking his party with him, and the free vote was more of a cop-out than a compromise, and on Remaining in the EU, I think the problems with his attitude have been covered elsewhere, but his support was lukewarm at best and totally scuppered by his call for immediate hard Brexit after the vote.

So, perhaps no compromise is a sensible attitude if you want to attract fervent, single-minded support, but is it really a good way forward?



Thursday, 11 August 2016

Imagine there's no countries - how do we get there from here?

There's been some astonishingly good analysis on the Brexit decision in the last couple of days, here are some of my reflections.

I'm struck by the fact, as the IFS outlines, that the government wants to take a lot of time, effort and money to shoot ourselves in the foot on the back of one vote about #Brexit, a non binding one at that. But the most startling thing to me is that the choice that seems to be surfacing, albeit probably impossible, is being part of the single market but not having free movement of people.

As Daniel Knowles points out spectacularly well in The Times, it seems Brexiteers don't understand international trade, only it's discontents. I've noticed this before, namely that even David Cameron and his "global race" don't seem to understand that all economies gain from trade, and that includes people moving across boundaries.

People don't seem to like immigration across the world, and there's probably some political leadership to be done there- as per when Free Trade was advocated in the 18th century by the likes of Adam Smith. Sometimes it feels as if without ideology as we are, more or less; we don't seem able get across ideas in the modern world, but it's in my view that the economic world has far outstripped the political world with globalisation. It is better to have the free movement of people, the question is how we get there from here?

Watching Out and Proud, the Sky documentary with Faisal Islam last night I was struck by how many people genuinely had based their vote on the ahem, misspeaking of the Leave campaign - people referred to the £350m for the NHS (discredited) and apparently the fact oil, gas and food will become cheaper after Brexit.

I'm not sure many people think we are actually a great economy in the world, because they look around their local area and see poverty and lack of investment. The Pareto Principle leads people to invest where money can "do the most good" which seems to inevitably mean loads of investment for the South East of England and less/not much elsewhere. The EU seeked to balance that by investing in our deprived areas, areas that will lose out as a result of Brexit.

It seems there are many reasons for voting out and that they often stem from a mixture of misconceptions ("We'll be better off out as we aren't that well off as a country") prejudice ("immigrants taking our jobs") and ignorance about how free trade works - ignorance that extends to the people charged with Brexit.

I can only hope eventually our very pragmatic PM, Theresa May, comes to appreciate that Brexit could cost us very badly, that is if she doesn't already, and potentially provides the very leadership we spoke of. It's a small hope, as our previous PM, despite being on the surface more outward looking, didn't really get it either.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Post-fact politics and the end of stability

I haven't written a blog post since the referendum because, to be quite honest, I've not really known what to say.

It feels like the end of an epoch, but how can I say that, have never seen the end of an epoch before.

Globalisation and Its Discontents was a very influential book for me about 10 years ago when I first read it. It outlined, in Stiglitz inimitable style, what globalisation (which I think some call "neo-liberalism") meant and how it was affecting some people that weren't very happy about it. It mainly focusses on the transition as managed by such organisations as the IMF, World Bank and others. He is critical of them, but not globalisation itself.

One of it's key quotes was thus,

"“...decisions were often made because of ideology and politics. As a result many wrong-headed actions were taken, ones that did not solve the problem at hand but that fit with the interests or beliefs of the people in power.”  


Therein lies the rub, I believe. Many of us are so caught up in the dream of globalisation and imagining a world with no countries, I believe we've overlooked that some people feel left behind. We've overlooked that as much as our dream is real to us, and we are living it, potentially the problems have not been thought through and short-term political expediency has won the day.

We can see this time and time again with early retirement pensions potentially causing the productivity puzzle - as outlined superbly by @flipchartrick on his blog The Great Pension's Cock Up or with the planning rules making it harder to build the houses we need, making them ever more out of reach of young people which means it's harder and less likely that they will vote - a perfect storm of favouring one group over the other.

In addition, stepping away from the travails of the middle-class, poverty and decline in some communities, especially here in the North, is endemic. Home ownership a very distant dream. And our voting system meaning very little attention paid to those in safe seats that only vote the same way.

Everything is inter-related. People talk of not feeling connected to their communities when there are many immigrants not putting down roots - well due to the housing crisis I didn't have permanent home (i.e. I hadn't bought a home) until 2 years ago, more than 10 years later than my parents did. I felt rootless and unconnected to my community, and feel better connected now, as I am more committed to putting down roots. My libertarian friends may say this is all necessary for labour market movement, but I'm not so sure. I think I was  ready to buy a house at 27, but it was only at 35 that I was able to. I think I'm pretty typical

This is so complicated, a truly Herculean task. Too many problems have gone  unchallenged. Too many short cuts have been taken.

And yet, the same problems are arising worldwide, in country after country. It truly feels like the end of an era of stability. It feels like those days are gone. I do hope I'm wrong but I fear I am not.

Friday, 17 June 2016

My Britain is the Britain of Pied Beauty. Give me my country back.

Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote my favourite poem, Pied Beauty.

"GLORY be to God for dappled things—
  For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
  Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;        
    And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
  Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:        
                  Praise him."


This is my Britain,  a land of dappled things. A land of beauty, a land where some things lie unchanged for centuries.

As Larkin spoke of what will survive of us is love, I understand what he means in the outpouring of love, kindness and thankfulness for Jo Cox MP, who was murdered yesterday in an act of brutality that I cannot understand, nor really want to, however many times it forces itself upon me.

Others have written today about the political discourse, about the smallness of men like Nigel Farage, juxtaposing their "common sense" rhetoric with it's incendiary aspects and this horrific act in a typical British street, on a mundane Thursday in June.

How can this happen? we ask ourselves. And all too clearly comes the answer. We let it. The challenge when identity is under debate is how we present ourselves, a country adrift in a globalised world it used to rule. I don't understand really why people cling to British-as-Imperialists or even if that's what people think they are doing,  or what stories they tell each other about who we used to be. I don't understand white supremacists either, to be honest, it not really being the case that white people are oppressed by anything other than other white people...

But I understand MY decent, tolerant country. My Britain has beauty and an unchanging constancy underneath. It has survived the worst of times from outside in the Second World War, and from inside during the Civil War and what feels like is happening now. Things are changing, plates are shifting. But the Britain we want is about attitudes and kindness and love, things that Jo Cox clearly had in spades. We need more of her sort. We need more of her kind.

I want my country back. Give it to me.

Put down the pitchforks. Stop listening to the man with the easy platitudes and the false bonhomie he switches off when someone asks him a pointed question. Get off the bandwagon- this isn't us. This isn't what our grandparents and great-grandparents fought for. Now it's our turn to fight to hold onto what we love.

Give me my country back.


Monday, 13 June 2016

Why I'm voting Remain

I'm voting Remain in the EU referendum and here's why

1. I want the ability to live and work abroad for myself and my family. Selfish, maybe. But I also think the flipside of that is others should be free to do similar, unless they are criminals.

2. Brexit would cause a recession in the short term

3. Since the Single Market began, in real terms* the UK has gained 62% in GDP.  Source here

4. In today's globalised world, it pays to work as a group to negiotate with other, much larger, more diverse economies who have economies of scale.

That's what I can think of at the moment, I'll add to this post if I think it needs further explanation or I think of further reasons.





*in real terms means with inflation taken into account

Monday, 9 May 2016

Clothes maketh the woman?

I was struck today by the reporting on a focus group in Nuneaton -  with a fair amount reflecting people's views of Jeremy Corbyn and most interestingly, their view of his clothes.

It seems the voters of Nuneaton are underwhelmed by Mr Corbyn, and also feel he is "scruffy". The most interesting aspect of this is they seem to directly link the scruffiness to him being unfit for the position of Prime Minister.

This I thought was interesting, as logic would dictate this items wouldn't naturally fit together. But then I thought that female politicans appearance is often picked over in much detail, Theresa May's shoes attracting as much attention as her policies, for instance.

I'm wondering if what attracts attention then, is those that differentiate from a perceived "norm" - I must admit even to me with my consciousness raised, that Angela Merkel sticks out amongst pictures of the group of G8 leaders, even amongst G20 ones - mainly because her clothes are very professional (not scruffy) but clearly she's not a man, so she definitely sticks out for that reason. Is that a concern? Do people consider that women are "not leaders" because they aren't leaders a lot of the timer?

As it happens, I agree that Corbyn's appearance doesn't imbue confidence, tho I wonder why he gets judged so much worse than Boris, for instance - is it is basically the cost of the suit that differentiates them ? Boris is objectively "scruffy" w.r.t. his hair, but does tend to wear expensively cut suits.

So, in conclusion, if you want to get on in politics, wear an expensive suit and be a man. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Micropayments, micropayments - wherefore art thou , micropayments?

I'm intrigued recently by this piece by the founder of Politico  - Jim VandeHei

It's sensible in that it predicts the death of clickbait (praise be!) and the rise of more interesting, well researched paid for content. But, what interests and worries me in equal measure is this phrase (my emphasis)

"A content revolution is picking up speed, promising a profitable future for companies that can lock down loyal audiences, especially those built around higher-quality content.  "

I don't really want to be "locked down", tho I may be to a certain extent loyal, but loyal to more than one publication.

I'd like to read a variety of sources before I make up my mind. I do think we should pay for content and tbh I hate too much advertising and really hate being targeted by adverts that seek to judge my body or my lifestyle. I accept them as a necessary evil in a public space but don't want it in my "private" browsing space, and seek to set boundaries such as ad-blockers to achieve this.

But I'm not a cheapskate, I do think we should pay for what we love. However, I can't justify more than one "premium" media subscription, but I don't want to have my reading curtailed by my budget. Can I really be alone in this?

So why isn't there a Spotify type  model available? I'd quite happily pay £10 a month to access individual articles on a subscription type basis. If Spotify isn't feasible, why can't I use Paypal to buy £1 or £2 worth of content when I want it? I wasn't the type of newspaper buyer that bought a paper every day, and even now I don't read online newspapers EVERY day, so why can't I consume new media at the same price point as old media?

Micropayments - wherefore art thou?

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The Politics of Politics

I was interested in this VICE article which is about how the crowds of new Labour Members don't seem that interested in canvassing and going to local party meetings

Some choice quotes include

"Existing cliques at local party level are also said to be putting new members off."

"Branch members have cosy arrangements. They know all the people who turn up for meeting and they are guaranteed to keep their position year after year. They don't want that upset by newcomers,"
 
I would say this isn't just a Labour party problem. I live in the Hazel Grove constituency which is very welcoming and makes good use of local members but in my own experience and those of some of those I speak to, these are occurrences that a number of us can relate to, across all parties.

Tim Farron has made it a mission for all members to recruit two new members by the end of this month. I think this is a laudable aim, but to what end? I understand that OMOV is not moving as fast with regard to committee elections in the Lib Dems and is now part of the governance review. I just hope that it happens, and soon.

Also, do we keep any record of why members leave, and what we might want to do about that? I do hope so.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Intersectionality is good, personal insults are bad....

Why, when someone leaves the Lib Dems, is there often some sort of obligatory group cheering ?

Kavya Kaushik, who I like and worked with as part of Liberal Reform, a group I no longer belong to, has left the party and outlined her reasons here and some other background is here. Whilst I was in Liberal Reform, I was very keen on promoting the panel that Kavya mentioned because I thought she made an excellent point that diversity shouldn't just be the preserve of the left wing of politics.

Kav leaving depresses me and the reaction to Kavya leaving depresses me further. With the possible exception of Jo Shaw, I've seen every departure of every woman (yes, even over the Rennard scandal) accompanied by the same unedifying "good riddance" approach.

Kav had a point - we need to consider intersectionality better.  And also it would be better to support initiatives in countries we are concerned about as Kav puts it

"Some of these people may outreach to Britain to support their struggle and we stand in solidarity, but for others this is an internal struggle"



Can some people not take the idea that they may not be the perfect liberal? Can they not look at themselves and think about how to improve? Is this not how they live their lives?

I see it, with the benefit of some armchair psychology, the abuse of people that have left the party as in-group and out-group behaviour. By "celebrating" the loss of a great campaigning activist, someone that had succeeded in getting elected to the Federal Executive and was very keen on pushing the Lib Dems to be better on diversity, these people seek to mark themselves as a "better" member of the in-group.

But to have integrity, it is better to be authentic. Is it really worthwhile to celebrate the loss of a keen activist, a champion of BME Lib Dems and a Woman of Colour who was keen to get on? I thought people say "women weren't putting themselves forward", I thought  people say "oh we select women but they don't get elected", but first time someone willing and able challenges you it's not that you support her, or even respectfully disagree, it's time to descend in some kind of twitterstorm.

Things that make you go Hmmmmm, indeed.


Monday, 8 February 2016

Not about Liberal Democrat All Women Shortlists.

I don't know what I think about All Women Shortlists, or the party's motion about them, yet. I'm not completely bought into the motion but I need to understand more about what local parties are being asked to do, and how far AWS will extend. I think it's probably a good thing other areas of diversity such as disability, sexuality and BME representation are being considered tho. But as of yet I don't know what it all means.

But, related,

I do know what I think about sexist analysis of Hillary Clinton's campaign tho.

Apparently when she shouts she is "shrill" but when Bernie Sanders does, he is "enthusiastic".

Hmm -  I find lots of male politicians voices annoying but it hardly ever gets commented on. I've been told my own voice isn't "authoritative" enough personally. My voice is quite high pitched. Margaret Thatcher had to change her actual voice to be taken seriously. Just doesn't seem to happen to men, it's one of the most insidious forms of sexism in my opinion.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Tipping the Board.....

A fantastic initiative has just been started by someone I know - it's called "Tip The Board" - the idea is to get more people from different backgrounds onto boards of companies and voluntary organisations.

It's one of my ambitions to eventually be a board member and this initiative is definitely for me and I've signed up. You can read more at the website http://www.tiptheboard.com/ and a description of how Dotty Winters can help you with getting onto boards on Standard Issue

For me it's about being in the right room, the right room to make the decisions. For years in my early career I was frustrated by bad decisions being taken without input from those below, but now I know it's important for the right people to be in the room to ensure the right decisions are made. For me, those boardrooms need to reflect the society we live in, to ensure many different viewpoints inform the decision.

This is also relevant to politics, as in the right room for decisions in the UK is the House of Commons. Which reminds me, I better buy that feminist T-Shirt "A Woman's Place Is In The House.... Of Commons". I think women interested in going places in politics should be interested in getting onto voluntary boards, and this is a cool initiative to help you do just that! Of course this also applies to  people from other marginalised groups wanting to get on such as minority ethnic backgrounds, disabilities and LGBTQ+

So what's stopping you??