Author Archives: Caron Lindsay

Why we could all do with reading LGBT Youth Scotland’s guidance on supporting transgender young people

This week, the excellent LGBT Scotland launched a guide offering advice to schools on supporting transgender young people. 

It’s badly needed. Some young transgender people find that their schools support them very well. For others, the story is very different. They find that their school does the minimum that they can legally get away with and no more.

They fail to recognise and protect young people from transphobic bullying. They make a massive issue about things like toilets and changing rooms. I know one transgender young person who was made to use the accessible toilet – not something that they were necessarily unhappy with if it hadn’t been presented in such a hostile way. The problem was that the accessible toilet was kept locked, so they had to ask for the key every time. That was incredibly stigmatising and distressing for that young person.  It’s hardly surprising that their attendance at school was extremely low.

The guidance covers practical, social and cultural issues – from residential trips and name changes to making the whole school an inclusive environment. So why is that important for us? 

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Tackling the taboos – Alex Cole-Hamilton leads Holyrood debate on incontinence

As we reported last month, Alex Cole-Hamilton brought a motion calling for a National Continence Strategy to the Scottish Parliament. It was debated yesterday. Here is Alex’s speech. He is pictured here with Elaine Miller, his constituent whose show Gusset Grippers highlighted the issue at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

If we ask anyone in this chamber or beyond it what their top five fears of age or infirmity might be, we can be sure that the subject of this debate will sit right up there. However, I state from the outset that, if we, as legislators, assume that incontinence is a condition only of the old or infirm, we are mistaken and are part of the problem. I called for the debate because women and men of all ages suffer in silence. It is high time that they are made aware of, and given, treatment, support and—most important—hope.

Incontinence is still taboo. Patients are shy and embarrassed to talk about it or to seek medical help, and many of them assume that nothing can be done for them. This may be the first time that we have debated the problem with such a focus in the Parliament. I am glad that members from all parties are present today and are prepared to put aside our hang-ups on the issue and look collectively towards relatively straightforward solutions.

Here are the facts: one in three women and one in nine men leak urine. A remarkable 30 per cent of women who have given birth vaginally will have damage to their pelvic floor, while those who sustain a third or fourth-degree tear during childbirth are likely to have problems with faecal incontinence. Statistics show that incontinence has a bigger impact on a person’s quality of life than nearly any other condition, and a recent survey of those over the age of 60 and in hospital characterised incontinence as a fate worse than death.

We do not know the true cost to Scotland of incontinence, associated products and the causal impact on physical and mental health. However, in 2010, Australia made a stab at researching the scale of the problem. A study there examined the cost not only of sanitary wear, medication and surgery, but of dealing with the depression and anxiety that can arise from the condition. It amounted to $43 billion dollars annually, which is astronomical. Our two countries have similar societies and face similar health challenges, so we can extrapolate that to around £5,000 for every Scot with the condition every year.

Posted in News and Parliament | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

Local Government by-elections – 16 November 2017. A Lib Dem GAIN and a good hold

A good start with a Lib Dem GAIN from the Tories in Hedge End in Eastleigh:

Well done to the Eastleigh Lib Dem Massive and Cllr Pat Jenkins

And a solid hold in Penrith

Congratulations to Cllr …

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Jo Swinson takes part in International Men’s Day debate

Yesterday, MPs debated International Men’s Day. Our participant in that debate was Jo Swinson. She would not ever be so shameless as to  give  a massive plug for her book, Equal Power, which is due out in February, but she used a lot of her speech to talk about how gender equality benefits both men and women. Men face pressures from our unequal world, she said, in mental health, employment, expectations of being the bread winner, of not showing emotion. She talked about the importance of both parents’ roles in children’s lives.

Here is her speech:

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship for this important debate, Mr Austin. I congratulate the hon. Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy) on introducing it and all Members who supported the subject being heard. It is the first time during which I have been an MP that we have had a debate on International Men’s Day. I was not in Parliament for the previous two occasions, so I am delighted to be able to take part. I hope this debate will become a firm annual fixture in the Commons, perhaps even taking place in the main Chamber in future years. These issues are important and deserve to be properly explored.

Inequality is endemic right across society. The stereotypes, assumptions and rigid constraints on behaviour affect both men and women, girls and boys, but our focus is often on how women and girls lose out from gender inequality. It is right that we explore those issues, but as we have already heard and will explore in the debate, it is absolutely the case that men and boys are also negatively affected by gender inequality. That is why gender equality is good for everyone. Sometimes in the media these issues are portrayed as men pitted against women, as if there is some battle of the sexes going on. In fact a world that is more gender equal would be good for everyone, and it is one that we should be able to join forces to create.

Health care, particularly mental health for men and boys, is a huge issue. Such problems can start very early on. In the opening speech, we heard statistics about how men are more likely to commit suicide, and indeed that is the biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45. That prompts us as a society to take a step back and consider what services we provide for men who find themselves in trouble. There is also an element of stigma, which we are starting to break down. In recent years there has been a welcome move towards talking more openly about mental health, and I know that hon. Members from across the House have spoken movingly in the Chamber about their own battles with mental health problems. That is to be welcomed, but no one would suggest that we are there yet when it comes to breaking down that stigma.

Importantly, we must also ensure that the services are there. For too long, mental health has been the Cinderella of the health service. It should be given parity with physical health problems, but mental health provision for individuals who need that support does not yet exist in our communities. Given that it is more difficult for men to seek help in the first place, if those support services are not there when they do, that is a double whammy.

In my constituency I am aware of an interesting project that has been set up specifically to help men with mental health difficulties. It is called Brothers in Arms, and when I spoke to its founders I was interested to hear their concern that not enough specialist services cater specifically for men and recognise some of the difficulties that men might have in coming forward. Such organisations—I know there are many others, particularly south of the border—and many strong campaigners and advocates are raising these issues and putting them on the agenda, but we must ensure that that is supported and progress accelerated.

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #495

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 495th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the five most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (5-11 November, 2017), together with a hand-picked seven you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

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Jo Swinson’s vision for 21st Century Liberalism

Jo Swinson’s keynote speech to Scottish Conference yesterday tackled many current issues from climate change to the challenges faced by developments in automation and technology which threaten 1 in 3 jobs.

She was clear that it was the Liberal Democrats who could lead in developing the answers to these complex challenges;

Most importantly though, as Liberal Democrats we need to bring people together to create these answers to our shared challenges.

“We must not leave room for the populists to sow their seeds of division. This means getting out of what can, at times, be our own echo chambers and starting to bridge the divides in our communities. Our proud liberal tradition of community politics and grassroots campaigning means we know how to do this.

“We have the wind in our sails.  Growing Council groups, strong by-election campaigns, more MPs at Westminster. People are listening again, open to our message.

“British politics needs this radical thinking, this consensus-building, this reaching out across party and ideological divides.

“British politics needs the Liberal Democrats.”

Here is the whole thing:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 8 Comments

WATCH: Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference

Here is Willie Rennie’s speech to Scottish Conference.

If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, here are a few highlights:

On Lib Dem values:

We stand with the weak against the strong, and will use the power of government to tackle the social and economic injustices that limit freedom.

We say power is safer when it is shared and will trust communities and individuals with the power to control their own lives.

We are trustees of our world, and our society, and must pass on a sustainable legacy which will benefit future generations.

Hammering the Tories:

Well, we know that the Scottish Conservatives are the Baked Alaska of politics.

Apparently warm, fluffy and attractive on the outside.

But when you cut it open you find an ice cold heart.

That went down well in the room, but the slight flaw in the logic is that Baked Alaska is delicious.

There was a strong section on tax, described as “pickpocketing” by the Tories:

Is it theft to invest in building the best education system in the world?

Is it pickpocketing to provide the social care for those in need?

Is it a crime to want to create a fairer society?

I tell you that this is no time for narrow, selfish Conservatives.

For care, for education, for a fairer society this is the time for Liberal Democrats to stand up and be counted for the greater good.

Alex Salmond’s decision to do a show on Russian propaganda channel Russia Today came in for some serious and not so serious commentary:

Good afternoon conference.

Or dobryj dyen to Mr Salmond.

Actually, conference, I don’t want to joke about it.

Russia is undermining western democracy.

They undermined the campaign of President Macron.

Attacked Chancellor  Merkel.

We first heard about them when we found out they had undermined Hillary Clinton.

When we met here a year ago people were grief-stricken that the first woman to run for President was defeated in the way that she was.

So it is a disgrace that Alex Salmond has decided to supplement his First Minister’s pension by legitimising a Russian organisation whose mission is to undermine western democracy. It’s a disgrace.

He really went after the Brexiteers on immigration:

Boris Johnson should explain why world class university research is on the wane because researchers have moved to other parts of the world.

Nigel Farage should tell shoppers why they can’t get home grown fruit, fish and veg in our shops because we don’t have enough people to grow them.

Theresa May should tell you why you can’t have a carer for your elderly mother, or why you have to wait weeks to see your GP because they have all gone back to Europe.

And Jeremy Corbyn should come and tell you why public services are being cut because we have fewer workers paying tax to fund these vital services.

When all of this happens, you can point to every leader who backed Brexit in the full knowledge of the price of Brexit but didn’t have the courage to stand up and be counted.

And he showed the right kind of humility and willingness to listen on sexual harassment:

Some people ask women – “why did you not mention anything before?”

Let me put this as politely as I can: communication requires listening as well as talking.

Maybe they haven’t been listening.

So instead of all the excuses let’s all make sure we are listening now.

This is not nothing.

This is not the fault of women.

This is our opportunity to listen.

Listen to the decades of frustration and anger.

Listen.

And if we listen, we will change.

Enjoy the whole thing:

The text is below:

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarTony Greaves 18th Nov - 10:47pm
    Why does LDV not report the results properly with the votes cast? Just putting %%% is less than half the story. They are available easily...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 18th Nov - 10:41pm
    Arnold, that was a magnificent piece of prose writing, so well articulated, so reasonable, and yet so passionate and sad at the same time. It...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 9:08pm
    @ JoeB, I normally agree with Stiglitz but not this time. A two tier, or a multi tier, euro wouldn't really solve anything. In every...
  • User AvatarRichard Easter 18th Nov - 8:51pm
    And that is why people voted for Kennedy in 2005, Clegg in 2010 and now Corbyn.
  • User AvatarGlenn 18th Nov - 8:49pm
    The cut price less sonorously Machiavellian British Kissinger, but only because he as a squeaky voice.
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 8:46pm
    @ Andrew Melmouth, You could be right about John Lanchester. There are those who do understand what a complete cock up the introduction of the...