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 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??

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Review of 2015

Personally, 2015 was brilliant - ushering a small person through their first months & years of life is a fantastic privilege which only keeps getting better.

A picture you say? Oh go on then. But only the one, I'm very shy of "creating" an online identity for my daughter before she's able to do that herself.

Alongside this, politically 2015 was pretty much an unmitigated disaster - the Lib Dems faced an electoral apocalypse and are now, rather more quietly than the Labour Party, having a long protracted debate about what we mean, what we say and what the point of it all is. 

A small comfort was that OMOV in the Lib Dems passed, thanks to the efforts of Sue Doughty, Daisy Cooper, Mark Pack amongst others. A welcome step forward for the party.

P.S. A lot of Liberal Democrat pixels have appeared recently which I've only become vaguely aware of as my high speed working mum life pulls over into a lay-by for Christmas. I think my most cogent advice would be to ignore those that cause you too much pain and if you are ever urged to write a long blog post about those that have wronged you, you probably shouldn't...... I actually received this advice myself once - definitely good advice.

This too shall pass, Lib Dems, and hopefully our electoral chances will improve as well. Here's to more victories in 2016 politically and a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year to all followers and those who wish me and my family well.