June 22nd, 2017
miss_s_b: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 11:00am on 22/06/2017
June 21st, 2017
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Arachnia Janeway)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 03:35pm on 21/06/2017 under
I think the argument boils down to two things: what you earn, and what you picture in your head as a rich person's lifestyle.

£70,000 is in the 95th percentile for personal income. This means that if you earn £70,000 you earn more than 94% (or thereabouts) of people. If you're earning more than 94% of your fellow countrymen, you ought to be rich, right? Like, if you're better off than the vast, vast majority of people, you should feel well off, or else how must the poor buggers on less than you feel?

The problem is, of course, that £70,000 doesn't actually buy that much these days. Like, it won't get you a mortgage on a decent house anywhere in the home counties. It won't buy you a new car and a couple of holidays every year after housing costs. It won't pay school fees for your little ones to go to private school once you've paid for housing costs either. £70,000 a year doesn't feel rich; and that's what the problem is.

If you look at the lifestyles our parents had, well, this is what my parents did in the 80s:
  • owned a home
  • bought a new car every two years
  • didn't go on foreign holidays but DID send me to private school
  • were in the pub three nights a week
etc., etc.

Now, I'm not saying they didn't work for that: they did. My dad had two full time jobs (mild mannered biology teacher by day, superchef by night) and my mum worked 9-5 too. They worked bloody hard. But the same amount of work in the same jobs these days would get you, if you were lucky:
  • a rented house that is one of three poky little Barratt boxes built in the back garden of the kind of house your parents owned
  • a second hand banger that you run till it dies, or a bus/rail pass
  • a cheap holiday for now, but only until brexit happens and then we have to pay visa fees and the exchange rate is knackered and oh look we can only afford Butlins
  • Pre-loading because the pubs are so bloody expensive, thank you alcohol duty escalator
Now most of the people I see arguing about this are either saying "£70k is mega rich, you're in the 95th percentile FFS" or "£70k is not that rich when you consider what you can buy" but not many are following both thoughts through.

How bloody scandalous is it that even if you're in the 95th percentile you are still struggling, and you are well worse off than your parents would have been on an equivalent income adjusted for inflation etc.? If 95% of the country is not getting a good enough income, that's a bloody disgrace and somebody ought to do something about it.

Anybody know any politicians?
miss_s_b: (Default)
The relevant part (and the reason why I am posting this) will also be made bigger and bolder for those hard of thinking people. I thought I'd post the whole thing again though, just because it's periodically useful to do so.

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miss_s_b: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 11:00am on 21/06/2017
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Arachnia Janeway)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 10:16am on 21/06/2017
... especially to all those of us who fear the filthy day star and can now look forward to inexorably encroaching cool soft darkness for the next 6 whole months :)
Mood:: 'busy' busy
June 20th, 2017
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
... and to nobody's surprise it is Vince Cable.

I like Vince, as a person. I like his stance on bees. I like his dancing.

None of those three things makes him suitable to be leader of the party, though. I mean, yes, he's got long service. And he did that one joke when he was acting leader that one time. But I'd really like something more than that to enthuse about in a potential leader.

Plus, there's all the things that make him unsuitable to be leader:
  • He's not a liberal, he's a technocratic centrist. This is fine if you are (shadow) chancellor; commendable, even. It's not acceptable in the leader. The leader needs to inspire. Technocratic centrism is the opposite of inspirational.

  • His stance on brexit is... at odds with the majority of the party's members and voters is probably the kindest way of putting it, and is already bringing out the "but we must appease the racists! We can't tell people they are wrong!" faction. If he wins, and maintains this stance, I predict a halving of our membership in pretty short order.

  • Tuition fees. OK, so he's not entirely to blame for the policy cock up (all those of us who voted for coalition, myself included, must take out share of that blame) but he is the person responsible for the catastrophic mishandling of the implementation and representation of it, and a big part of the reason Labour, why a party which introduced and then trebled tuition fees, can still point at them like an albatross round our necks.

  • The British Press, bless them, are not known for their nuance and balance. His name will be "Sir Vince Cable, the man who privatised the mail" - whether he wins the leadership or not, tbh.

  • Ten years ago he declared that by his own reckoning, he was too old. I do not believe he has got younger in that time.
All that said? I'll give him a fair hearing at hustings. He'll have his chance to impress me. I just don't see him doing it.

So far, to my knowledge, the field looks like this:

Definitely not standing: Jo Swinson, Jamie Stone, Layla Moran, Tom Brake, Tim Farron, Alistair Carmichael
Probably not standing: Stephen Lloyd, Wera Hobhouse, Christine Jardine
Probably standing: Norman Lamb, Ed Davey
Definitely standing: Vince Cable

If anyone else declares that they are definitely standing I shall go into my reasons further, but based on Ds&Ps, and subject to persuasion at hustings, I expect my ballot to look like this:
  1. RON
  2. Davey
  3. Cable
  4. resigning from the party
  5. Lamb
There has been talk that there might be an online ballot this time, rather than a paper one. If that is the case I shall lobby very hard indeed for it to have at least one free text box for write in candidates and/or voting RON. Voters should be able to express their displeasure at the options on the ballot on any and every ballot, this one included.
June 18th, 2017
miss_s_b: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 11:00am on 18/06/2017
June 17th, 2017
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posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 11:00am on 17/06/2017
June 16th, 2017
miss_s_b: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 11:00am on 16/06/2017
June 15th, 2017
miss_s_b: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 11:00am on 15/06/2017
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 09:31am on 15/06/2017
One of the most depressingly predictable things about the lib dems is if/when a leader gets pushed out, the circular firing squad immediately forms.

This morning lots of people I care about are screaming "it's all YOUR fault, you bastards!" at each other, in an extremely unhelpful way. They probably all have something of a point, if I'm honest. But hurling insults at each other is just hurtful. And some of the rank hypocrisy on display from people who are saying things to the effect of "wah, those arseholes are being mean to me, when all I said was Tim Farron/Jo Swinson/Vince Cable/Brian Paddick should be eviscerated with pointy spoons and have acid poured in the wound" is frankly turning my stomach.

And we haven't even started the leadership election yet...

* sigh *

Shall we have a nice chorus of Wouldn't It Be Nice If Everyone Was Nice?
Mood:: 'depressed' depressed
June 14th, 2017
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posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 11:00am on 14/06/2017
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
Having blogged recently about how nice it's been the last couple of years not having to post about the stupid decisions Our Glorious Leader has taken twice a week, every week, I had this drawn to my attention this morning.

I'm sorry, Tim, but what are you DOING? The absolute worst possible thing you can do right now is water down our position on brexit. It's a colossal national act of self harm, in ten years' time you won't be able to find anybody who will admit to having supported it, our membership and voters are massively against it, and you want to tie us to it? Have you gone COMPLETELY Tonto? Why are you spouting the brexiteers ridiculous "will of the people" line? It doesn't make you look grown up, it makes you look weak and stupid.

Our USP at the moment, the one thing we have going for us, is that we are solidly anti-brexit. We already watered it down far too much in the manifesto. And you're throwing even that away? For what? We're not going to get any positive press for it, the press are uniformly hostile whatever we do. The only press we will get out of this is "See? Brexit is inevitable! Even the Lib Dems support it now!" That's not going to attract new members and supporters, in fact it will drive away lots of the existing ones.

And worst of all, it proves all our critics right: we look like weak, unprincipled fence-sitters.

Honestly, what is it with the lib dem instinct to, every time we manage to get a USP, throw it away? I'll never bloody understand it.
Mood:: 'frustrated' frustrated
June 13th, 2017
miss_s_b: (Default)
Here's my current top ten:
  1. Jen Williams - I'm with Gadsden on this, Jen is the best political journalist in the UK right now. Mancunian focus, but covers national stuff too. Forensic with information, and does proper investigative journalism as well as straight reporting. If you only follow one from this list, make it Jen.

  2. Marina Hyde - absolutely brutal yet hilariously funny political columnist. I've never yet read a Marina column that didn't make me laugh, then think, then laugh again.

  3. Samira Ahmed - freelancer who pops up all over the place, often Radio 4. Her twitter feed is exactly the kind of blend of politics and geekery I adore - her recent visit to Bamber Gascoigne's house was a delight. Often connects geekery with politics, which is fab.

  4. Rosamund Urwin - Jobbing journo, mostly writing for the Evening Standard. Excellent spotter of details, possibly because she's just as much of a politics geek as those of us in it up to our eyeballs, and is therefore paying more attention and getting more right than many of the lobby hacks.

  5. Jessica Elgot - Grauniad politics correspondent. Jessica is where I go for straight Westminster bubble news, as it happens.

  6. Judith Moritz - BBC North of England correspondent. Was astoundingly good on Hillsborough, among other things.

  7. Susan Hulme - presents Today In/Yesterday In Parliament on Radio 4. Excellent coverage of stories some others don't pick up - recent example being the gay concentration camps in Chechnya.

  8. Isabel Hardman - writes for the Speccy on politics. Also very good on mental health issues. Not to be confused with Oakeshott, who is Wrong Isabel. Don't follow Wrong Isabel.

  9. Joanne Douglas - Yorkshire politics, with a focus on West Yorkshire, especially Huddersfield. Like Jen Williams, Joanne digs deeper and goes harder than most local paper political journos.

  10. Helen Pidd - Grauniad North of England correspondent. So dedicated to the depth of stories is she that she took in a Syrian refugee last year.
Yes, this is C&Ped and edited slightly from an earlier entry. And you're going to keep getting it until people pay more attention to the ladies on this list, and less to the ill-informed cishetabledwhitemale lobby hacks that dominate political commentary in this country.
June 12th, 2017
miss_s_b: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 11:00am on 12/06/2017
June 11th, 2017
miss_s_b: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] miss_s_b at 11:00am on 11/06/2017
June 10th, 2017
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
The vultures are already circling round Tim Farron, despite him having got us a 50% increase in seat numbers, and come within 500 votes of doubling our seats. I've also privately had "Tim must go" messages, or variations thereof, from five separate people; and I'm known as a Tim supporter. Christ alone knows what it's like in Lambite circles. I personally think we need a leadership election like we need a hole in the head, but the party constitution says that there must be a leadership election within a year of a general election (see article 17.2 (g) - sorry it's a .pdf). My suspicion is that Federal Board will look at the instability of the current parliament and conclude that we're better to have a new leader in place before the inevitable autumn general election, so they can bed in before it's called. Add to that the large number of Norman Lamb's supporters who never accepted the result of the last leadership election, and have been constantly hampering the party by briefing against Tim since the day of his victory, and a leadership election very soon is almost an inevitability.

If we're going to have a leadership election (which I am pretty resigned to, despite not wanting one) we need to be very careful about how we go about it. A swiftly called, badly run leadership election, fuelled by existing bad blood, will do nothing to enthuse all our lovely new members, and will almost certainly put off some older members too.

We could have a Rubber Stamp Tim election - Tim and RON being the only candidates. I don't think that would wash with the Lambites, or various other people who are anti-Tim for other reasons. And besides, it's possible RON might win and we'd have to have another election, which would be a waste of money the party doesn't have.

We could have a rerun of the last one, but I think that would be utterly disastrous for the party. It would turn very nasty, very quickly. While I stand by everything I said about Tim in the election campaign, some of the BUT TIM HATES THE GAYS ("But her emails!") mud has stuck, and that makes him incapable of taking the fight to the DUP as vociferously and as hard as we need him to. People just do not believe that his values fit with the party, however much you demonstrate to them that they do through his voting record. It's shit, but it's happened, and we have to do something to deal with that. Now, Tim might be able to burst that bubble himself, but he's shown no signs of doing so so far, and the longer it goes on the harder it will be to shift. It may already be impossible. I love Tim to bits, and happily voted for him in the last leadership election, and it has been so relaxing having a leader I agree with on almost everything, and don't have to blog about how rubbish he is twice a week every week... but even I am forced to admit that this One Big Flaw might be fatal, especially given the current proposed government.

Norman Lamb, however, would still be much, much worse. I have many issues with him, but my three main ones are:
  1. He scuppered our entire anti-brexit USP by insisting on the stupid second referendum positioning in the manifesto, entirely because his seat is leave-voting. We should have said that we would halt brexit if we formed a government. Being unambiguously pro-remain, in a way that could be boiled down to two words, would have been a position we could have campaigned on. A second referendum with remain as an option is bloody stupid, needlessly complicated, and not an option anybody was going to vote enthusiastically for: Well first we'd negotiate a brexit deal, then we'd set up a referendum, and then we'd campaign against the deal we ourselves negotiated? It's madness. The electorate is pig sick of elections and referenda right now, too. Brenda speaks for many. The kind of selfishness demonstrated by inserting all that into the manifesto to save your own neck, especially when it played a part in preventing us from winning so many other seats, is not acceptable in a leader.

  2. His policy pronouncements on autism have been entirely along the Autism Speaks/Autism Parents line (for why this is bad, click here. For a dissection of Norman Lamb's views specifically, click here). The fact that Norman is almost universally lauded as being excellent on mental health makes this so much more hurtful, like when people who claim to be LGBT allies say "we achieved equal marriage". Plus, when challenged on it by actually autistic people, he reacted extremely badly: first doubling down, and then saying "oh, come meet me in parliament and we can talk about this" when the volume increased while still promoting the offending article. Both the policy and his reaction to complaints about it make me doubt him as a leader. Whatever Tim's faults, he listens, and if he's wrong, he learns. Lamb shows no sign of being capable of that.

  3. He's a rubbish media performer, and we desperately need a good one. He comes across as cold, aloof, and boring. Tim's Chirpy Northern Chappy schtick is not for everyone, but at least he's passionate when he speaks, and for all my kvetching about Clegg, he was great on the media. Now, this could potentially be trained out of him. But probably not before the next election if it happens as quickly as looks likely.
So, despite Tim's One Big Flaw, in a rerun of the last leadership election I would be forced to vote for him, because Lamb would be so much worse. And I wouldn't be happy. And the party wouldn't be happy. And there would be even more bad blood than there is already. And I accept that I am almost certainly adding to that bad blood with this post, but I'm doing it more in sorrow than in anger; it's stuff that needs to be said.

So: given that we need to prevent a rerun of the last leadership election for all the reasons above, and we can't have a Rubber Stamp Tim election, we need to find another candidate(s). To stand as a candidate for leadership of the lib dems, you have to be an MP. This gives us a potential field of twelve, given the election results (and I will forever mourn that the voters of Cambridge and Wells didn't return Julian Huppert and Tessa Munt to the parliamentary party - Tessa for leader, in particular, I would have wholeheartedly and enthusiatically supported).

The media always touts Vince, but Vince has said many times he doesn't want to do it, plus, while he is undoubtedly excellent on the economy and related matters, he is somewhat shaky on other areas that are important to me, most notably immigration.

Tom Brake is utterly lovely, but anonymous outside London. Stephen Lloyd is even more anonymous than Tom. Ed Davey is too divisive, to put it politely. Alistair Carmichael is too tainted. Wera Hobhouse, Christine Jardine, Jamie Stone and Layla Moran have not been in parliament for long enough - although Layla especially will hopefully be excellent for the future.

So that leaves us with a field of one.

Jo Swinson is an excellent media performer, is sound on policy, and is good at listening to the party. When the leadership election happens, I hope she stands. I really, really hope she stands. For the sake of the party, and all of us in it.

ETA It's been mentioned to me by a couple of people that there is no requirement for a RON in a single candidate election, and that we've had RONless uncontested leadership elections before (before my time, though), so that is less impossible than I've painted it. I still think a contested election is inevitable, though. There's too many anti-Tim people in the party. Sadly.

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