Author Archives: Jennie Rigg

When people talk about the poisoning of political discourse in this country, this is what they are talking about

Hi. I’m Jennie. I was a Lib Dem for a long time. Now I’m not. However, the bonds and friendships you forge over that kind of length of time don’t just break when you’re not a party member any more. So when my mum was rushed into hospital last night with a collapsed lung after having had surgery for cancer last week, there were a lot of Lib Dems among the people expressing sympathy and wishing me well.

Here’s one of them:

Now, yes, that’s the leader of a political party. But that’s also a human being, reaching out to a fellow human being in pain, with sympathy and compassion.

Don’t click through to the replies. Really, don’t. I’ve blocked all the nasty ones anyway… And yet maybe you should. Maybe you should go and look at these people who think the best response to someone expressing sympathy for a friend is to excoriate them. Maybe you should go and look at those replies and wonder: how did we get here?

I want to ask, what do those people think they are achieving? Who do they think they are convincing? Someone whose mum is in hospital with a collapsed lung after surgery to remove cancer? Someone who is gently reaching out to provide comfort? What good are they doing for their cause here? Who is going to read those replies and think “yeah, you stick it to the daughter of the cancer sufferer!” What possible benefit can they be gaining?

Having had a tiny taste of the abuse she gets just for existing in the public sphere, I have to say: I wouldn’t be Jo Swinson for all the tea in China right now. And I am not (I was famously described by one of the editors of this website as not) by any means a shrinking violet.

I don’t know what the solution to this is. And, you know, my mum is in hospital, I’ve got that to concentrate on right now. But there must BE a solution, and I think it behoves us all to find it. There must be a way we can conduct debate in this country without ending up in endless shouts of abuse.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 20 Comments

Let’s have a proper debate about Vince’s party reforms

The last several days have seen these pages full of unalloyed cheerleading for Vince’s Moderate Movement scheme from the great and the good, and even people who have set up rival parties to our own. We have also been assured repeatedly that these changes will not be imposed on us, that we will have chance to debate them, that we are a democratic party, but here is what I, as a member of Federal Conference Committee, have seen:

– a total lack of communication with the federal committees about this
– all the MPs being brought out to bang the drum for how marvellous these ideas are
– an exponentially larger number of emails to members and supporters alike about this than there were about conference
– a survey which amounted to “do you agree with us that the leader’s ideas are marvellous, or do you want to doom the party forever?”
– insinuations that anyone who so much as raises a question about the proposed reforms is a saboteur, or not behind the leader

Here is what I have not seen:
– any meaningful attempt to engage with the existing party structures
– any meaningful attempt to consult with members
– any meaningful attempt to listen to anything existing members have to say.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 47 Comments

Are you standing for election on Thursday for the Lib Dems? Are you out and LGBT+?

The LGBT+LDs twitter account is going to do a thing where we tweet out a little profile and wish you luck. If you want in, you will need to send us:

  1. your name as shown on the ballot paper
  2. Whether or not you want your twitter handle on the tweet, & if so which one (we know some people have more than one)
  3. a pic
  4. the name of the ward you’re standing in
  5. your LGBTQIAA+ details and/or any other detail you’d like, so long as it will fit in a tweet
Posted in Campaign Corner | 2 Comments

A message from the Chair of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats

* Editorial note: as indicated earlier, all comments on this piece will be moderated before publication.

Today, as always on the 20th of November we at LGBT+ Lib Dems, along with many other organisations around the world, are observing Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is the twentieth year when one of the biggest events in the LGBT+ calendar is not a celebration, but a commemoration of those who have been taken from us by violence. You can find the list of names for this and previous years here. TDoR is always sombre, commemorating as it does the deaths of trans …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 5 Comments

On IDAHoBiT, what is in the Lib Dem manifesto for LGBT+ people?

Today is IDAHoBiT – the international day against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. Liberal Democrats have a proud tradition of fighting for LGBT+ rights. The 2017 manifesto, published today, aims to go further than any other party is furthering LGBT+ rights. However, because we Lib Dems believe that LGBT+ rights are human rights, a lot of the LGBT+ content in the manifesto is spread out in the various policy topic areas the manifesto covers. While I like this, because it means that LGBT+ rights are integral to our policies, not tacked on as an afterthought, it can make things easy to miss. In lieu of a manifesto index, therefore, I am going to draw it all together in one place, starting at the beginning:

  1. Our young people are bright, creative and want a world that is clean and green and that the rest of us haven’t wrecked. They want jobs, good health and the chance to choose who they love and how they live– Introduction by Tim Farron, p7, emphasis mine.
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Making Liberal Democrat Policy – the Calderdale Solution

Flick through a Federal or Yorkshire Regional conference agenda these days and it’s likely that you’ll see Calderdale as the sponsor of several motions or amendments. This article shows how we’ve made that happen:

The short version for those who just want the how and not the why

  1. keep policy and admin totally separate,
  2. always involve people at every step of the way,
  3. have a definite aim to a definite deadline,
  4. have visible outcomes so people can see they are making a difference, and
  5. always make sure there is food/drink at every event.

The longer version: when I took over as chair of Calderdale one of my main frustrations was that most exec meetings went on for hours and hours and would get bogged down in policy arguments (as well as other off topic rambling discussions). It’s not that I don’t like policy arguments and rambling off topic discussions – I love them – it’s just that an exec meeting is not the time or place to be having them. Exec meetings should be about getting the boring admin stuff done and out of the way as quickly as possible.

When I mentioned this to him, Alisdair Calder McGregor recalled a solution that had been used in a couple of other local parties he’d been involved with, to greater or lesser effect: if you hive off policy to a policy working group then exec meetings go much better. So Calderdale’s policy working group was originally formed purely as a device to speed up exec meetingsWhat makes it so successful is a different story.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 11 Comments

#NewMembersDay: A Liberal Democrat Reading List

I, famously, don’t write for Lib Dem Voice. But on a day like today, how could I not? Apparently, there are like ten thousand of you guys now. Welcome! Genuinely, really, welcome. In order to help you acclimatise to the culture of the party there’s a few things you ought to be reading. A version of this was originally posted on my blog, and this one has been amended to reflect the comments there as well as my original post. YAY crowdsourcing!

The back of your membership card* is the first and most important thing for you to read as a new Lib Dem. The front will have some sort of pretty picture on it, and your name, and your membership number. The back will say on it:

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

which is an extract from our Constitution and is something that is graven on most of our hearts. Regardless of the fact that I have recently called for a constitutional convention, and I genuinely think that we should rebuild from the ground up (hopefully with your help), the idea that the words “no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance, or conformity” won’t be a part of whatever comes out of that process is unconscionable.

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill. You can read this online, but my favourite version** is this 1912 edition which also contains two more of Mill’s essays – on running the government and on feminism – and an Introduction by Millicent Garrett Fawcett. You might be a bit put off the idea of reading a dry work of Victorian philosophy, but I promise you, it’s worth it. If you really can’t bear all that beautiful Victorian verbiage, though, there is a Spark Notes for On Liberty*** too.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 69 Comments

Electioneering the social networking way

So you’ve been selected as a candidate for council or general election as a Lib Dem. Hurrah! The first step on the path to world domination and ever-lasting glory has been taken, and now you’re wondering what the next step is. You look at your campaign budget. You realise that thruppence ha’penny and a tin of organic pasta sauce is not going to go as far as the Ashcroft millions the Tories have access to, or the union funding of Labour. You’re going to have to use all your wiles and cunning to even get noticed as a member of …

Posted in Online politics | Tagged , , , and | 3 Comments

If a gobby barmaid from Yorkshire can do it, anyone can

Welcome to part ten of our “Introduction to blogging” guide for Liberal Democrat bloggers or would-be bloggers. It’s appearing each Saturday between now and Christmas, with all the posts available via this page. The series will then be revised and collated into an e-book, so please do post up your comments as the series progresses. Today it’s the turn of Jennie Rigg.

So you’ve read all the foregoing articles, and you’re still doubtful as to whether this blogging thing is for you? This is where I come in. I am by no means a typical Lib Dem Blogger, as you …

Posted in Blogging guide | Tagged and | 10 Comments

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