Clegg's speech at conference includes the line
A new economy that works for families. Where men and women can choose how to balance work and home. That’s why Liberal Democrats are bringing in shared parental leave and more flexible working.
This is a very cheering thing to see. I knew it was likely on the cards and was being worked on, but actually having it confirmed in the Deputy Prime Minister's conference speech is a very cool thing.

Because, basically, it's my idea and policy. It wasn't just me, but when I first took Jennie to conference she stewarded a consultancy session and suggested it to the policy working group that included people who're now ministers. At her next conference when she was a fully accredited voting rep, it was in the policy paper that working group created out of the consultations. Jennie swears it wasn't just her talking about it, but I wasn't there & I know she did propose it.

But we'd been talking about it at home in advance as it was something I felt would be very helpful, not just for our family arrangements but also to help solve ongoing disparities. Scarily? I first started thinking about it after Tim Worstall convinced me maternity leave was a big contributor to the gender pay gap issue, both directly and through covert discrimination. So, there we go. A flagship policy that grew out of a conversation I had online with a former UKIP press officer and candidate...
I'm running out of popcorn, wonder how good the final deal will be? Anyway, for those worried that the Lib Dems might "sell out" or whatever, a brief guide to internal party democracy:
Liberal Conspiracy » Liberal Democrats: the clue is in the name

Not sure why so many reformers seem to think that the membership would let Clegg take his pieces of silver, he sure as hell knows he couldn't get away with it.

Note to any Tory inclined readers; your manifesto includes a desire to improve democracy, extend referenda on issues, etc. So what's wrong with the idea of asking the voters how they want to elect Parliament? If you think reform would be so bad, surely you can win the argument in a referendum? What are you scared of?

Anyway, normal service may or may not resume ar some point, but, y'know, most interesting part of an election is always the aftermath, and we might end up getting exactly what I joined the party to campaign for, so I'm talking about that.
Clegg has been offered a deal by the Conservatives, who have executed a massive u-turn on their pre-election "no coalition" position. Mathematically, this is the only coalition possible, the so called "Progressive Majority" coalition is non-starter in terms of votes in the House of Commons.

So Clegg has to decide what he wants to do, and then persuade the Lib Dem party that this is viable. Note, as a democratic party, there are strict rules on this. Details, and my strong opinion )
I'm completely, utterly, committed to reforming our political and electoral system. It's the reason I got involved in politics, the reason I rejoined the Lib Dems, and the reason I've become very active within it. My long-expired membership of the Lib Dems was renewed at a time when Labour were riding high in the polls and passing legislation I abhorred. The party is committed to genuine reform of the constitution, and official policy is to call for a citizen's convention, a policy passed (with my vote in the conference chamber) significantly after I a argued that Britain needs a constitutional convention. We need electoral reform, but many in the Tory backwoods instinctively oppose it.

Jennie argues, and I agree with her, that they shouldn't oppose it, and sets out how we could sell STV in multi member constituencies to tribal Tories. But a citizen's convention is almost certainly the best way to acheive this.

The country needs stable government. The only viable stable government possible is a Tory/Lib Dem coalition. It's either this or another election in 6 months time. While I, personally, don't object to more elections (apart from the exhaustion, I really enjoyed the last few weeks), and a fresh election would favour the LDs in a lot of seats they only just came 2nd in, I don't think that's a good thing for the country.

LDs do not hold the balance of power

The Lib Dems do not hold the balance of power. They don't get to choose between parties. They can only choose between forming a stable Govt with some reform, and an unstable Govt with another election soon. That's not a nice choice. And Clegg has to make it, and and it's possible that I might have to go to a conference and vote on that choice.

That's not a nice position to be in.
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...
Today, I went to Sheffield to attend a conference, knowing that I'd get to interview Nick Clegg while there. Unfortunately, despite arriving at the outskirts of Sheffield approximately an hour before I needed to, I was half an hour late for the actual meeting. Why?

Because Sheffield doesn't know what signposts are for

Here's an example. The conference is at Sheffield Cathedral. Lovely venue BTW, just about the right size, theoretically easy to find, etc. So while driving the outskirts of the city, I get to the ring road and there's a sign that says "for the Cathedral and [other stuff], follow Cathedral District". Simple enough. So I do, and the Cathedral District is well signposted along the ring road. Except for one small omission. No exit sign. At least not one that I saw. Guys, if you're putting up signs aimed at visitors, pointing out important attractions and destinations, it's useful if you make sure they actually tell visitors where they need to turn off.

Another example. One of the exits from the ring road is closed, so I can't follow the route in. There are nice diversion signs up. So I follow them. Unfortunately, at the next exit to the roundabout, the diversion sign is almost impossible to see from the lane you end up in. So this poor, and now late, stressed and frustrated visitor is in the wrong lane (again) and has no clue where to go. Good job I have a reasonable sense of direction and Google Maps installed on the phone.

Sheffield Lib Dems? I know you only took control of the council in May, and I'm told you're aware it's a disgrace, but still, please, for the benefits of your great city, the supposed hub of South Yorkshire, please sort out the directions signs so they actually help visitors. Thanks.

If you need some help, send some fact finders down to Devon. I grew up there, it's only when you leave you realise the lack of the damn things everywhere else. There's no point hoping for an increase in tourism if the tourists just get lost and frustrated...

This rant brought to you by the 'too exhausted to even proofread' section of Mat's Brain. The interview itself will, hopefully, get a write up tomorrow. Because, y'know, dude! I interviewed Nick Clegg. And prompted him to have a dig, on the record, at both Polly Toynbee and Jackie Ashley. Yay!
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 [ 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 [ 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 [ profile] publicansdecoy's place, and [ 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
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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October 2015


Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats.

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