Right, some links from today to amuse/enlighten/annoy/entertain.

First up, Lisa from up the road's been doing some digging on some extremist Christian lobbying groups, How to spot a fundamentalist Christian Lobby Group in your news. A guide. As a general rule, if there's a story in the press about oppressed Christians, these guys are likely to a) be involved and b) distorting or leaving out key facts. Always good to bear that in mind, I especially liked her finishing point:
THis is not about religious belief. This is concerted political lobbying, from groups interested in making it appear that christianity and bigotry are the same thing. They are not.
Next up, Andrew has a nice summary of the rationale of the main political parties, A Beginners’ Guide To The Election Part 2 – What The Parties Stand For. Now, he's as biased as I am, but it looks fairly accurate from my perspective, with a very nice summary of what the Lib Dems are about:
We believe in freedom – that the government should not interfere in you doing what you want with your life. We realise, though, that you can’t be free without enough food to eat or somewhere to live or medicine if you’re sick, so we think the government should do what it can to make sure everybody has those things
Now, if that interests you, you might be interested in getting more involved, and many of you (being the sort of smart, liberal minded person that reads my witterings) may even look at a bunch of MPs and say I could do better than that. I know I do, sometimes, especially when I see a toothless Labour apparatchik backing up the Govt line despite palpably not understanding it. If so, then The Honourable Lady Mark has a guide about How to become a Liberal Democrat MP, which is pretty accurate. He ought to know, he helped write the rules on it. And of course, if the opinion polls stay roughtly where they are or the LDs gain more, at the next GE the number of LD seats considered "winnable" looking for a decent candidate will be a lot bigger.

Now, a little legal seriousness. This is the first really online election, with broaband access as the norm. Some people, indeed many people, have voted by post already, and next week most of you will go off and vote. Publishing, including tweeting, knowledge of how other people have voted is very illegal. It's an attempt to influence the results, see; exit polls can't be published until polls close, what you saw at the opening of the postal ballots can't be published, etc. If a friend says I filled in my postal vote and voted for X, you can't mention this online. You most certainly can't tweet the number of ballots you saw for your party while at the opening of postal votes, and this is especially true if you're a former Labour MP seeking re-election who happens to be a lawyer. That would be really stupid and could get you into serious bother. And yes, many of us have got screenshots.

Now, two funnier, but still election related, points to finish off of. First of all, LOLCleggz: I Can Has Lib-Dems | Popbitch Speaks for itself really. Not all positive or supportive, not all funny, but, y'know, some are.

Last up? No idea who did this, but it is very weird to see them all scrolling past, YouTube - Some of the people the Tory Party think should be running our country...:

My local Tory candidate is about a minute in, and looks positively sane and normal compared to some of them. Which, y'know, is an acheivement in and of itself. They were all taken at Tory party conference in 2008, and I agree with Ian Whitehead, this really does look like a bad day for William Hague. Wonder how many pints of mild he needed to calm down after smiling at that lot?

Ooh, sorry, low blow...
Charlotte Gore is worried that the switch to the Lib Dems in the polls is a style over substance presentation only shift. In the comments, Jennie and Steph both disagree, for different reasons. Her server won't let me comment currently, so you lucky lucky people get the text as a post.

I think Jennie, Steph and Charlotte are all correct.

Most people vote for a variety of reasons, including perception of policies, how they're explained, trust in the leader/team, who's the prettiest (or, in this case, least worst), who they think is competent, what the policies will do for them personally, what it'll do for the country, etc.

the first time in any election I've studied

For the LDs to get a chance at winning, they need air time and most people don't pay a huge amount of attention outside of elections (Rational ignorance is, broadly, a good thing in a Parliamentary system). For the first time in any election I've studied since 1983, the "third" party is getting decent air time, decent scrutiny, and a real chance to make their policy case to voters.

an electoral strategy that could actually work

But unlike in 1983, that's being backed up by an effective on-the-ground campaign in a large number of seats, with an electoral strategy that could actually work, a professionalised team of volunteers and a front man that's actually connecting well with people, especially younger, previously uncommitted/deeply cynical voters. And a weird viral effect online, something I've never seen before, and wouldn't really have been possible before.

It's not presentation. It's not policy, it's not electoral reform, it's not media coverage, it's not a competent team behind an efective leader, it's not a strong ground campaign with experience campaigners, it's most certainly not the #iagreewithnick hashtag.

It's all of those things, combined, at the same time.


And, of course, a basic tendency within a large number of people in this country to actually be liberal. Maybe not the majority, certainly not all Liberal, but Nick's actually quite good at explaining a liberal case in a way that connects, was very impressed with his crime answers in the debate.

Or maybe I'm just being too optimistic. Again.
OK, when I talked about Labour getting wiped out in 2010 a couple years back, I was semi-joking and being deliberately provocative. Or maybe I was just being prescient. Email from YouGov:
Our latest daily polling figures for The Sun (fieldwork 15th-16th April) are:

* Conservative: 33%
* Liberal Democrat: 30%
* Labour: 28%
* Others: 9%

The Liberal Democrats have surged to 30% in the latest YouGov poll, which was conducted entirely after the leader's debate, pushing Labour down to third place.
I'll say that again:
pushing Labour down to third place
Even the Sun, who commissioned the poll, are being nice:
the most dramatic shift in support for the Lib Dems was from the young, with a massive 44 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds saying they would vote for Mr Clegg
(and there's more analysis on UK Polling Report).

But, so people are saying (morons) that the seat calculators say the LDs will still get crap because of the voting system. Well yes, that's true, the calculators do. Because the calculators are rough approximations based on uniform national swing effects.

Here's the thing. I live in a tight Labour/Tory marginal. On paper. When we decided on our campaign strategy, it was fairly easy. I went through the numbers, pointed out that Labour were dead in the water with a non-existent activist base, no local Govt presense and that we ought to be fighting to win. My PPC and agent were persuaded that this was at least a viable strategy; we're fighting the Tories for first place, Labour have Lost it in Calder Valley (that was my slogan, quite proud of it actually).

Yes, there are local issues, and the sheer uselessness of the eventual Labour candidate is helping, but it'd still be a good strategy even without their implosion.

Reality: persuade voters that Labour can't win and we can, we've won

So, according to the seat calculators, seats like mine fall Tory, or stay Labour. Reality is, as soon as we persuade local voters that Labour can't win and we can, we've won (happening already). It helps, of course, that we've an incredibly strong candidate.

Uniform swing calculators cannot, and will not, take into account the effect of a strong local campaign, or even the third party squeeze effect in reverse. Once Labour voters in an area are convinced their candidate can't win, some of them will switch to us to stop the Tory candidate. I don't want to live under a Tory MP, they sure as hell don't. This sort of effect is exactly what happened in Canada when their Tory Govt got eviscerated.

Extra added bonus? A bunch of notional Tory voters now are voting Tory just to stop Labour. Persuade them they don't need to worry? Even more swing to us.

This could be the game changing election

It's probably the most critical election since 1983. Only this time, those that want real change have learnt from the mistakes of last time, and will be pushing forward with a much stronger message.

Time to abandon those narrowly chosen target seat campaigns guys. Secondary seats that on previous polls were unlikely to fall are in much more need of support if we're actually going to take advantage of this massive boost.

Seats like Calder Valley. Where we're fighting to win from 3rd place. And if the opinion polls keep showing Labour in 3rd place? We'll take it easily. With a bit of extra cash.

I'm guessing we need to go sort out an online donation system.
Spent the last weekend at the spring Liberal Democrat conference just up the road in Harrogate. It's one of those events that holds a soft spot for me—my first one was 2 years ago, just 2 weeks after I'd met [livejournal.com profile] theyorkshergob, so I spent both evenings with her in Leeds—we both think we'd have ended up together regardless, but the ability to meet up in Yorkshire really did speed things up. Anyway, it was a damn good weekend.
Met Howard Dean )
Official Voting Member—the POWER )
Faith Schools—they're WRONG, damnit! )
If, like me, you want to see the end of faith schools, take heart from this policy, it's a damn fine step in the right direction, and much better than what any party had before. If you think they're a good idea? I refer you to the words of the Accord chair, Rabbi Jonathan Romain:
I want my children to go to a school when they can sit next to a Christian, play football in the break with a Muslim, do homework with a Hindu and walk back with an atheist - interacting with them and them getting to know what a Jewish child is like. Schools should build bridges, not erect barriers
Amen to that.

G'night all. Gotta take the Shrub to school in the morning, and Jennie's getting an 8am train back.
So, most of you will have noticed that since moving in with Miss Spammy Pants I'm posting a lot less, but she's still posting lots. Now, of course, any good blogger gives away a fair bit of themselves in the persona that they blog with, but it's not the whole picture. So I thought some of you might like to know other aspects of what she's like.

Well, those of you that know me know that, well, mornings? Not really my thing. At all. Never thought I'd ever meet someone palpably worse than me. Until I moved in with her.

She's worse than me. Really, lots lots worse )

Love you darlin.
Really pleased that the radical shift to the left in taxation policy was passed at today's Lib Dem conference--couldn't make it into the hall to hear the debate unfortunately, but a genuinely redistributive policy that will genuinely help those earning the least in society has to be a bloody good thing.

Shift to the right?

For some reason there are a bunch of people convinced that it's some sort of shift to the right, and I haven't yet seen a decent explanation as to what definition of 'right' they're using. Admittedly, I've been utterly swamped on the registration desk and attending fringe events, so I've not had time to read through the debate, and as it's 3am and I'm back on the desk at 8.30am I'm not going to now.

Can someone please explain what the 'rightwards shift' is supposed to mean, as having finally read a copy of the Make It Happen paper I can see something that's both genuinely Liberal and nicely left wing in a genuinely radical way.

I'm not too keen on the tone of some of the marketing language they've used, and the over use of 'families' combined with 'no child left behind' did piss me off a bit, but having read the underlying ideas behind the rhetoric and knowing that it's aimed not at a BA politics type like me but at journalists and actual real, sane, normal people, I can get over that.

Decent left wing tax & reform agenda

So now we have a decent left wing tax policy reducing taxes for those earning the least combined with the traditional radically left wing political reform agenda. Now all we need is a commitment to level the playing field for those wanting to set up or convert to co-operatives, and this l'il liberal socialist will be very happy.

For the majority of non politics geeks that hang around this place, I'm at party conference in Bournemouth, I'm exhausted, and now I need to sleep. That's assuming Jennie's snoring doesn't keep me awake all night. Wish me luck...
Oh look, soft southerner complaining about the weather again. At Lib Dem conference, working just next to the main doorway in. Not really practical to wear gloves while using a computer. Ah well.

Am working, have very busy patches then very quiet bits, may or may not have time to read, update or do other things. Will likely update Twitter regularly, they feed to Facebook immediately and get boosted here nightly, which is useful. No news to report yet, went to a seminar thingy with Lord Rennard and others last night, then ended up wandering around various Liverpool pubs with Alix, Rob and Colin--appears we can add another pair to the "couples wot Mat introduced" list, as well as the "people wot met through blogging" list. Good good.

Liverpool conference arena is very nice. Shame that the rest of the area it's in is still a building site, but the potential is there.

Oh, I'm getting LJ email notifications patchily if at all, so replies might be delayed even if I'm online. Apparently Jennie has updated twice in the last half hour, and I know there's no PC for her to use at the pub...
Right then, last year, you lot voted that Best Xmas song lyric ever is:
You scumbag, you maggot You cheap lousy faggot
Well, this morning, BBC Radio 1 decided this was offensive to some listeners but then later on in the day saw sense and backed down. I agree with [livejournal.com profile] pickwick, it's a damn shame that the BBC manages to tie itself into hoops as often as it does. Naturally, someone disagrees, and [livejournal.com profile] bagrec doesn't like the song and suggests alternatives. But he's a freaky morris dancing types so you don't want to listen to him ;-)

Elsewhere, it's the Arsehole of the year grand final over at [livejournal.com profile] publicansdecoy's place, and [livejournal.com profile] hullfire already covered the other main stories of the day:
So, Nick Clegg is the new Lib Dem leader and in a monstrous piece of stupidity the Government has lost more of our stuff, but in really important news, RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE ACTUALLY EXIST!
I do have to say I do share some of Jennie's concerns about the potential of Clegg's leadership but I'm nowhere near as cynical about it. He has at least hit the ground running, complete with YouTube appearance filmed on cheapskate handheld already. Although the town meeting idea does sound like it might have some legs.

What, you expected analysis? Don't be silly, I've been reading stuff about it all day, besides, I didn't end up voting, I couldn't make a decision between the two of them, they're both nice blokes. We'll be fine. Right? Someone tell me we'll be fine. Damnit, they need to do better, else the damn country's doomed FFS, that's why I joined them...

Calm. Now I tag this entry. Um, is there a limit to how many you can use? Appears not. Oh, wait, I forgot a link. Be very glad she's going to be a Doctor of paleontology not medical stuff, medical doctors play with gadgets much more scary than microwaves.
  • 19:10 sat waiting for the Chris and Nick live tour to start. #
  • 19:15 Listening to Chris Huhne suggest we draft Vince Cable. Can't say he's wrong there... #
  • 19:40 Wishing Clegg would stop fluffing his lines, and wishing he'd stop making all those intentional pauses #
  • 23:10 sat in the pub putting the world to rights, and wondering how we got back to [talking about] Bromley again... #
Using that LoudTwitter thing like all the cool kids
Weird, I haven't posted for the best part of a week, and even then it's been link/discuss. Um, yeah, alive. Can't claim busy (although I can proclaim exhaustion I think).

Have loads of stuff I kinda-sorta want to post about, including a few damn fine books I've read or am reading (Vallance's The Glorious Revolution being top of the list, a book about events in 1688 still has many many modern echoes that nearly inspired a post or three). But, well, actual inclination to do so lacking. A bit of a meh mood really—when I'm in Yorkshire, I'm either working or wanting to spend time with SB, when I'm down here I'm recovering.

OTOH, very busy week this week—just got back in from the London leadership hustings for the Lib Dems, and, um, yeah—two damn fine candidates that I'd be happy to see as leaders, both very very good. Consensus in the pub from those who've been members longer than me is that both were better than any of the three from last year. Given that one of them was a candidate last year, well, competition + experience = bonus in this case.

Tomorrow I go, hopefully, to see/hear Iain M. Banks get interviewed at Imperial, although timing on that one is difficult, it starts at 6pm and I technically finish work at 6p. Ah well, finish early I guess.

Then Thursday I have tickets for the [livejournal.com profile] now_show. Friday, probably, going out somewhere, then Saturday back oop north. Memo to self: book tickets for journey. Am reading entries, just not commenting much, spending a lot of time haging out on various Lib Dem places trying to see if anyone can persuade me &c. Also, my attept to port my twitterings to Facebook has worked fine, but they're not showing up here, which is annoying.
Starts now, sat next to Jennie watching it, and will be commenting on the Open Thread at Lib Dem Voice. Feel free to join me.
BBC Question Time: Lib Dem leadership election special - open thread | Liberal Democrat Voice
First up, the Lib Dem leadership thing. Ming's resigned, so be it, spilt milk, my opinion had been hardening against him the more crappy media coverage he got, yes, they were OTT, but a decent press team could've turned some of it around, I can only conclude he didn't know what image he wanted to present and thus came across as dithering. As to who to back? No clue at all, soft Huhne, remain to be persuaded. However, my former MP has stated his opinion on a possible candidacy rather clearly:
Someone asked if my question today had been my bid for the leadership of the Lib Dems. My answer to anyone who asks me if I'm going to stand is that I would rather roll around naked in a field of stinging nettles. In other words the answer is a big resounding no.
Not an image I particularly wanted there Adrian.

In other news, our post appears to be coming back to normal. Jennie? Mah T-shirt has arrived.

I likes it. Rather a lot. Fankoo.
In lieu of a proper update, mostly-straight Mat would like to give another reason why he's more and more confident that (re)joining the Lid Dems was a good idea, from, unsurprisingly, [livejournal.com profile] alex_wilcock, also known as 'he who wrote the policy'.
Love and Liberty: Jack Straw Is My Darling:
When Paddy Ashdown was cross-examined by Jeremy Paxman for his most aggressive interview of the 1992 Election, gay equality was one of the three ‘ludicrous, extreme and unpopular’ policies on which the sneering Mr Paxman hammered Paddy and on which Paddy stood firm (I’ve forgotten one of them, but the other was green taxes – again, long before anyone else supported them). Just about the only positive press coverage on the issue was in a London-based free gay paper of the time. Capital Gay’s front page after the release of the three parties’ manifestos was one of my defining political memories, and one of the very few times in life when the number of inches really did matter.
It is, typically for Alex, a very long article, giving a potted history of the fight for equal rights and New Labour's fight against such a policy. Worth a read if you've got time. Hell, worth trying to make the time.
Happy birthday [livejournal.com profile] greyarea, and many thanks for the link. Guardian: The swing against Cameron:
David Cameron is now Britain's least popular party leader, liked less than Gordon Brown or Sir Menzies Campbell
Not exactly unexpected, but nice to see Teh Graun witha fairly balanced article for once. Number of minutes this will last.

Yes, I know it's just a poll, but it's still a nice start to the day. Anyway, gotta go, auditorium beckons...
Worst conference pass picture of the day goes to [livejournal.com profile] sammymorse: we got the picture from the official profile on the website—congrats on the new job my friend, hope it doesn't stop you posting.

Most egregious thief of crisps from my packet—Jeremy John Durham Ashdown, Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon.

Not quite got the 'ate my hamster' ring, but still, Paddy Ashdown stole my crisps...
Nigel Farage and his assistant the lovely Trixy. Has to be said that DK's fairly glowing description was accurate.
Worth observing for those not in the loop that UKIP are on the Libertarian Right but with a bunch of little-England headbangers involved, whereas us LibDems are liberal Left for the most part. His presence will likely cause some amusement.
  • Am in Brighton
  • Am exhausted
  • Am sat in massive double room I've got to myself in The Grand
  • Have been registering delegates all day, and only one crash, no printer problems
  • Am attempting to summon energy for food
  • Will then need energy for drink
  • Am using free broadband connection in room
  • Got the iron out earlier to heat up and thus dry the shirts that didn't dry overnight
  • I think some of the shirts had never been ironed before
  • Am thinking bullet point entries are easy to write
  • Have no idea how much time I'll have online
  • Am likely to be swamped tomorrow
  • Have had people come to say hello because they recognised my picture from online.
  • Seriously, it was a bit freaky
  • Did I mention the double room in The Grand to myself?
  • Am going downstairs to figure out who I might know
  • Might not post much this week, or alternately may spam much party geekery
  • Either way, you've been warned
Right then, while I digest me lunch, brief bit on yesterday. I actually managed to drag myself out of the house before noon on a Sunday, went into Wimbledon to meet the local Lib Dem chair and others, and went of to Ealing Southall for a bit of by-election campaigning.

Canvassing and leafletting )

Envelope stuffing and meeting people ) In fact, specifically, there's a picture of me on a top rated Lib Dem politics blog; here on Pink Dog! Look, I'm clearly there, I'm the bloke in black behind the dog and Millennium Dome, Elephant, definitely the starring role for sure. Got to meet others too )

Overall, a good day, came back utterly exhausted but I'd finally put some names to faces and got back involved in partisan campaigning on the ground; still not really my thing but I ought to do more than I do. Very difficult to read the likely results, the local Labour party appears to be split with internecine strife, the Tories selected a non-member as a candidate and had a few defections both ways, and there seem to be a lot of undecided swing voters. A by-election in which all three main parties are in with a chance, but the Lib Dems are the only ones not (yet) hit by some sort of scandal. Interesting times...


Pink Dog is [livejournal.com profile] pink_dog_fd, Millenium Elephant is [livejournal.com profile] elephantfeed and Alex is [livejournal.com profile] alexwilcock. I especially recommend Millenium's recent series of articles on Doctor Who, in which he gets a bit of help from his daddy Richard...
Those of you that read either Not Little England or [livejournal.com profile] voting_taktix will recall that I mentioned Maurice Duverger a few times, and I also referred to him in my I should write about politics more post in, um, February. He is, undoubtedly
one of the more famous political scientists of the twentieth century, and pretty much the founding father of modern electoral systems study
And to commemorate his birthday, [livejournal.com profile] baseballchica03 explains why. Go read and discuss a bit, definitely something worth understanding more about, especially if you're involved in electoral politics on either side of the pond.
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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