Author Archives: Lib Dem Mum

Lib Dem Mum 5: Horrified about immigration

Do you have a problem for Lib Dem Mum? Email [email protected] or DM @lib_mum on twitter in complete confidentiality – only Lib Dem Mum sees messages to these accounts. No one in the team at LDV has access (and for the avoidance of doubt Lib Dem Mum’s views are her own and not those of the LDV team).

All correspondents will be acknowledged, and if you are published you will be given a pseudonym.

I am very excited this week, dears, because I received an actual letter, rather than an email or a DM! I have typed this out myself, but you can see a photo of the original – in green ink and everything – on my twitter account here.

 

 

Dear Lib Dem Mum,

I am writing to you to ask about the horror that is immigration into the UK. What do we need to do to make it easier for people to immigrate into our country and to make the country more welcoming to people who would like to live here?

Yours ever

Horrified by Immigration, Manchester

Dear Horrified

(I hope you don’t mind if I call you Horrified)

You are quite right to highlight that immigrating to the UK is a tortuous, uncaring, expensive, bureaucratic nightmare; the Home Office are unnecessarily cruel and heartless; and the current Home Secretary does utterly evil things when it comes to dealing with immigrants – continuing a tradition that has dogged the last several governments of whatever stripe – yes, even the one with us in. I admit I’m paraphrasing your point a little, but I do not think unfairly.

There’s a lot we need to do to make it easier. I, personally, would start by repealing all anti-immigrant laws (yes, even that one, no, I don’t care if it has some tiny benefit alongside its racism and horror). We’ve only had them for 115 years, we won’t miss them. Then, I would abolish the Home Office. Its actual useful functions (issuing of passports and so forth) could be done by other departments, and its core is too entrenched in racist dogma now to be allowed to survive, and has been so for many years whether the party in charge is red or blue. Thirdly, I would require all newspaper corrections to be printed on the same page and in the same font weight as the original incorrect item. This would have a range of benefits beyond forcing the racist sections of the press to be less racist, but it would help in that regard too. There are a lot of additional educational and cultural changes I would like to make too…

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 14 Comments

Lib Dem Mum 4: Trans rights are human rights

Do you have a problem for Lib Dem Mum? Email [email protected] or DM @lib_mum on twitter in complete confidentiality – only Lib Dem Mum sees messages to these accounts. No one in the team at LDV has access (and for the avoidance of doubt Lib Dem Mum’s views are her own and not those of the LDV team).

All correspondents will be acknowledged, and if you are published you will be given a pseudonym.

 

Dear Lib Dem Mum,

I am a feminist, and a liberal, and I think we should all have the right to live our lives as we choose. I have been watching, as an outsider, the heated discussions about trans rights. I don’t (to my knowledge) have any trans friends or relatives, and my interest in this is purely a human rights one. I do not want trans people of any gender to suffer, but nor do I want women to suffer. There are people on both sides of this debate who I find broadly credible, and there are people on both sides who seem to want to destroy the other. I want to be fair and just to everybody, and for us all to go forward to a more liberal and just society.

Help?

Confused, Lanarkshire.

 

Dear Confused,

As a peace-loving liberal mum, I generally like to try to see all sides of a debate and reach a compromise if one is possible. This is one of those instances where I do not think compromise is possible.

Those of us who are old enough to remember the 1980s have seen all this before. The discourse around trans rights is very much a warmed over version of things people used to say about gay people in the 1980s, with a thin cloak of feminism added on top to make it more superficially acceptable. Even the toilet panic is an old canard that’s been resurrected. “Men in dresses are a threat to YOUR children” is an exact copy of the scare stories that went around at that time. And yes, there were angry and unreasonable people on both sides of that debate in the 1980s, too. It didn’t stop us, as liberals, ultimately accepting that one side was in the right. The other side, I’m afraid, was a force of reactionary conservatism (even the ones who were otherwise perfectly nice people and were good at phrasing their rhetoric in respectful and reasonable language).

Then as now, I find the best way to navigate claims and counterclaims is to look at evidence. Britain doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and several other countries have already implemented the reforms trans people call for – our closest comparison being Ireland. Trans people of all genders are no more likely to be a threat than any other human being – in fact the horrifying statistics show that they are far, far more likely to be threatened by other humans. Yes, some humans, cis and trans, of all genders and none, are Bad People. Yes, some humans, cis and trans, of all genders and none are “a threat to YOUR children”. This is because those individuals are a threat, not because of their gender, or sex, or lack of either.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 19 Comments

Lib Dem Mum 3 – awkward exes and reviving your local party

Two letters this week, dears. I feel quite overwhelmed! I’m simultaneously glad to be of service and sad that my children have problems.

Do you have a problem for Lib Dem Mum? Email [email protected] or DM @lib_mum on twitter in complete confidentiality – only Lib Dem Mum sees messages to these accounts. No one in the team at LDV has access (and for the avoidance of doubt Lib Dem Mum’s views are her own and not those of the LDV team).

All correspondents will be acknowledged, and if you are published you will be given a pseudonym.

Dear Lib Dem Mum,

I used to date someone in the party and it didn’t end well. I am now nervous about going to party events as that person might be there and they have been quite mean about me over the Internet. How can I go back to party events and feel safe?

Yours, Nervous

 

Dear Nervous,

I’m sorry to say that given the propensity of humans to date people with similar interests and political views, your problem is quite a common one. It’s understandable to not want to bump into an ex at events where you want to feel comfortable, especially unexpectedly: I can think of some of mine I feel that way about. Relationships end, and not always amicably, and that is just a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to deal with the unpleasant feelings that can come from running into someone you don’t feel comfortable being around.

In terms of going to events it can cause real worry, especially if this person is still a member of your local party or is likely to turn up at conferences you attend – this would be the case in any group, not just the party. And perhaps they even feel the same way about you? Most party officers and people who help organise events should be sensitive to this sort of issue – they will have come across it before, believe me – and will try to be supportive and help people to have some space at party events. You could perhaps ask for seating to be arranged such that you are far apart, or for the party to take it in turns to invite one of you to one event and the other to the next event, and so on. Hopefully, if you are both reasonable people, the wounds will heal in time and you will feel able to share spaces in the future.

The problem comes (and I do not wish to make assumptions about your circumstances, Nervous, but this will apply in some cases) if one or both of the parties involved has been genuinely nasty or even abusive. That sort of person will potentially want to cause you more hurt, for whatever reason, and will not be amenable to having a turns arrangement or being seated away from you, and might even actively seek you out to cause trouble. I do not like thinking that any of my children would behave so cruelly, but nevertheless I know that it does happen.

In those circumstances it is best to involve the party disciplinary procedure, which you can access here. Apart from anything else, it makes party events uncomfortable for everyone else if someone is behaving improperly, and the party needs to make sure that sort of behaviour is not quietly accepted with an embarrassed shuffling of feet, but is rooted out. I would hope that every body in the party is alive to these sorts of things, not just in terms of romantic relationships, but other conflicts, and does their best to make party events safe spaces for everyone. A truly abusive person does not belong in the party, and I know that disciplinary procedures have been used to exclude people from events in the past. I really hope this is not your situation, but if it is the party should help.

Love always,

Lib Dem Mum

 

Dear Lib Dem Mum (this is a fantastic idea, btw, thank you so much!),

My local party is in an affluent area and demographically should be perfect fertile ground for our party.  We have historically been pretty successful, but have suffered hugely from attrition over the last few years, and we were hit hard by the effects of Coalition.

We have a decently large membership and are not a poor local party, but we have barely any activists.  Repeated efforts to recruit and engage over the last few years have all been fruitless – we’ve tried gold-dust canvassing, letters, events, hiring a staffer for the purpose, ‘knocking-up’ our new joiners – nothing works, and believe us, we’ve tried.  The overwhelming response we get is that members would like to help, but can’t due to poor health, or parenting or work commitments.   The lack of activists is so demoralising that we struggle to fill our committee, and what events we do have are only ever attended by the dwindling number of ‘usual suspects’.  People who have come to help us who have succeeded in these initiatives elsewhere have invariably left, scratching their heads.

What do you recommend?  We are at our wits’ end.

Despairing, Home Counties

Posted in News and Op-eds | 11 Comments

Lib Dem Mum week 2 – When you can’t deliver leaflets

Dear Lib Dem Mum,

My local party is moderately successful (we have some councillors but not an MP) and I want to help out. There are some great people in my local party, both elected to public office and on the executive committee, and I really want to help further the cause of liberalism. However, the only thing they ever want me to do is deliver leaflets, and I am not physically capable of doing a delivery round due to mobility problems.

 What can I do to show them that I can be useful in other ways?

 Frustrated, Yorkshire

 

Dear Frustrated,

 If our party has a major flaw alongside all the minor ones that come with being a group of human beings, it’s that we can be more of a leaflet delivery cult than an actual political party. Yours is not the only local party that tends to view volunteers as leaflet dispersal machines. Happily, there are other things you can do: 

  • Within your local party:
    • Stand for the exec. In my experience, local party execs tend to be in need of people who can do things other than deliver leaflets. A good treasurer, for example, is worth their weight in gold, similarly a secretary who is actually good at taking the minutes of meetings.
    • Someone who is good with computers and can do the admin work to arrange leaflet deliveries for other people is often helpful. 
    • Volunteer to do phone banking.
    • Volunteer to proof read the leaflets so that they don’t go out filled with embarrassing typos.
    • Start, or take over an existing, policy working group and work on policies to put forward to regional or federal conference.
  • Within your state and/or region, there is almost certainly a need for people to do all the things that you can do for a local party, but on a larger scale. You can also volunteer to be someone who scouts locations for meetings or conferences for accessibility: that’s not needed on a very regular basis, but it sounds like you would be the person to do it.
  • Within the many internal party organisations (Young Liberals, Lib Dem Immigrants, LGBT+LDs, Lib Dem Friends of Cake, etc. – there are hundreds of these, and there’s sure to be one that meets your interests, the party has a directory of them here), or for the party nationally, there are lots of volunteer administrative roles and most of these are done remotely, from the volunteer’s home, as a matter of course, just because of the geographical distribution of members.
  • You can also stand for federal committees, and/or join Federal Policy Committee working groups, and/or train to become a candidate assessor or an adjudicator for disciplinary matters, and do myriad other things to help out on a national level.
  • At the moment, you can also volunteer to help out your favourite leadership contender. Volunteer to help Layla here or Ed here.
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 14 Comments

Introducing Lib Dem Mum

Dear Lib Dem Mum,

I am finding the leadership election very stressful. I am an Ed supporter, but my son is completely for Layla and my partner dislikes both and is disillusioned by the whole proceeding. My local party and my friends groups are similarly split, and there is so much partiality and fractiousness and bitchiness it hurts my heart. I cannot see the saviour of liberalism that my son sees in Layla, and I can’t fathom why he doesn’t understand that Ed represents the continuity and safety that we need.

It seems to be going on forever, and each day brings more arguments and things for people to be partisan about. I see people who have been friends for years falling out over this, and I worry that it will cause irreparable damage to both personal relationships and the fabric of the party. What can I do to stop this happening?

Help?

Anxious, Hampshire

 

Dear Anxious,

I think a lot of people will be in the same boat as you right now. Leadership elections always expose differences in perspective, and this one is no different. It’s a turning point for the party, as every leadership election tends to be, and we all have our own ideas as to what the best future direction is and what our party’s priorities ought to be.

My advice to you would be to always bear in mind that while this election has highlighted the differences between you and the friends, family members and party colleagues that you care about, those people are still fundamentally those same people you care about. People who share your life and hopes and goals. People who you have more in common with than differences with. You might differ on the best way to get to the future, but you all agree on a future that is worth working towards, and you all have good intentions as to how to get there.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 14 Comments
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