Green Party

An open letter to ‘Gender Critical’ Greens

For a few months, I’ve been arguing on Facebook with ‘Gender Critical’ Green Party members. It’s hard to fit my thoughts into the restricted space of a Facebook post (and I’ll probably still miss stuff out in this extended format), what follows is addressed to them, in an attempt to explain my position-

I’m a middle aged, white, cis man, from a middle class background. I’m a little bit bi, so I do have some skin in the game, but most of my opposition to your stance comes from basic empathy and having read enough history to know where this could go.

Your language and logic is full of tropes lifted from right wing talking points and the moral panics of previous generations. You’ve thrown out unexplained (likely unexplainable) references to postmodernism, critical theory and the like, as well as that boogeyman beloved of the empty headed reactionary- Cultural Marxism. All to try to justify your opposition to the terror of ‘trans ideology’- something with even less substance than all your other words.

Being trans is lived reality for millions around the world. It’s not an ideology, it’s a fact. Proportionally, the trans population is tiny, but over the last few years, prejudice against them has ramped up. They’re almost up there with immigrants now as the most popular scapegoats of Tories and Republicans.

Something that is an ideology is your beloved protected Gender Critical belief. It’s the ideology the Tories and Republicans use to justify proposed and actual laws designed to persecute trans people. It’s been the driver of at least one murder in the UK, and doubtless many more worldwide. GC ideologues have talked about how their world would be so much better if they could just get rid of trans people. They have drawn the support of neo-nazis.

You’re going to tell me that you don’t agree with those people, that you’re not like them. But you’re lying. You’ve cited Linehan to support your points. You stand with JK Rowling. You’ve demanded support for the LGB Alliance. And those are just the examples I can think of off the top of my head.

I was going to be generous, and say that the line between Gender Critical belief and rabid transphobia is so fine it’s basically invisible. But I’m not even sure there is a line. You hold a belief that makes you think less of a group of people because of how they were born. That belief makes you think it would be acceptable to place restrictions on their freedoms. You may not say the quiet part out loud- even to yourself- but you occupy ideological space with the absolute worst of our politicians.

That is why I think you don’t belong in the Green Party. We’re a progressive organisation, and you’re trying to force regressive beliefs on us.

I plan to waste less of my time on you from now on. I’ll still call you out when you deserve it and I’m feeling feisty, but I’m going to spend more time on positive actions. Be proud for yourselves for that at least- you’ve inspired me.

There’s still a version of my trans kids and allies vs the terfs novel that needs to be written. I may try to break the writer’s block on what I’ve got so far, or it could need a whole new start, but I will keep trying.

More immediately, I have signed up to do Miles for Mermaids in March. I’ve committed to put in at least 100 miles on my bike whilst raising money for a charity that supports trans kids and their families. Thanks for getting me off my arse and back to improving my health and bank balance by cycling to work. Click here to chip in and do your bit as well.

Marching against austerity

Anti Austerity march, London, June 20th 2015

So yesterday, a few of us from Salford Green Party, and at least 400 people from Manchester, went down to London to join the big anti-austerity march. A few of the photos I took are in this Flickr gallery. Not all the banners were as amusingly blunt as the one above, and, even on a demo, I couldn’t keep myself from taking the occasional architectural photo. There are a lot of clocks on Fleet Street.

Turnout was estimated to be as high as 250,000. It’s the Tory conference in Manchester in October, so expect to see something similar here then.

There’s a Salford Greens group on Flickr now, which we’ll fill up with pictures from events and campaigns. So far, only my pictures are on it, but I did just create it ten minutes ago.

Taking to the streets

Anti Austerity demo Manchester, May 23rd 2015

I’m not one of life’s chanters. I get all self conscious about it and it never feels comfortable*. Nonetheless, this feels like a year where I need to be in the demos, part of the numbers swelling the crowd, if not part of the noise it makes.

Anti Austerity demo Manchester, May 23rd 2015

So, yesterday, I was part of the anti austerity demo which assembled in Piccadilly Gardens. Police say there were 500 of us, the organisers claim 2000. I always presume the truth is halfway between the two claims.

Anti Austerity demo Manchester, May 23rd 2015

I was there with some of Salford Greens.

Anti Austerity demo Manchester, May 23rd 2015

There were speakers and singers, and, in smaller groups, we headed to the homeless camp on St Ann’s Square. This is one of the reasons it’s hard to get a solid turnout figure, because the demo was fluid, with break aways heading down Market Street or off to Albert Square, and returning, all the time.

Anti Austerity demo Manchester, May 23rd 2015

Just to make things more interesting, the Green mini-march bumped into a Hare Krishna procession at the bottom of Market Street.

Anti Austerity demo Manchester, May 23rd 2015

And, just as we were entering St Ann’s Square, these guys were coming out. I don’t know if they were associated with the demo in Piccadilly, or doing their own thing.

Anti Austerity demo Manchester, May 23rd 2015

This is, mostly, the Manchester Green Party contingent of the demo.

Anti Austerity demo Manchester, May 23rd 2015

Ding Dong. I promised this guy I’d crop his face out if I posted the picture online.

There are a few more photos in the album at Flickr.

*I have weird boundaries. I’ll happily cycle through the city centre without clothes on as part of the World Naked Bike Ride, but I have a hard time talking to new people- no matter the state of our attire- or shouting out rhyming couplets about what I’m doing.

And so it begins

A couple of years ago, I noted how the coalition government seemed to be rolling appalling ideas out the door on a regular basis, as if to overwhelm and confound attempts to hold them to account. Well, the new Conservative government has got straight down to continuing the policy.

Within hours of the result, it was announced that payments to help disabled people in work are likely going to be cut.

There are plans to bring in the “Snoopers’ Charter”, so that we can all be spied on by the security services.

And, yesterday, Michael Gove, one of the most hated people in UK politics, was made Justice Secretary, where he will be working to scrap the Human Rights Act and bring in a “British Bill of Rights”. Previous blather about a British Bill of Rights have suggested that you forfeit rights if you don’t uphold certain responsibilities. Given the last government’s form, one of those responsibilities could be not being poor or disabled.

As other people have done, I’m going to list the rights and freedoms set out in the Human Rights Act below, and ask- which ones to the Tories want to do away with?

Right to life

Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment

Right to liberty and security

Freedom from slavery and forced labour

Right to a fair trial

No punishment without law

Respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence

Freedom of thought, belief and religion

Freedom of expression

Freedom of assembly and association

Right to marry and start a family

Protection from discrimination in respect of these rights and freedoms

Right to peaceful enjoyment of your property

Right to education

Right to participate in free elections

The Snoopers’ Charter and removal of benefits from vulnerable people act against two of those rights, for a start. There are bound to be others.

Unlike 2013, I’m better prepared to argue and campaign against the coming disasters of another five years of the Tories. One of the ways I’m going to do this is by not dwelling too much on all the idiotic ideas they come out with. I’ll report on them here, so that more people know about them, but mostly I’ll concentrate on positive alternatives and actions. I’m a member of the local Green Party, and I’ll be campaigning with them on issues, as well as trying to find ways for folks to help themselves.

And I’m going to keep on writing. I’m going to entertain and inform in ways that are going to make them want to remove the freedom of expression from whatever mess Gove comes up with.

Vote for Policies

Unlike the polls that the papers and TV news always report on, Vote for Policies is an assessment of what policies the people of Britain would vote for. It’s possible I’m biased- because Green policies are much more popular than the polls would have you believe*- but I think the site’s results should be part of the wider media coverage of the election. Rather than seeing what today’s message failure has done to Ed or Dave’s popularity, how about seeing what people think of their policies.

Take the test, it could be enlightening. Also, it has now been brought up to date with all the released manifestos.

*As I write this, the Green Party is third, after Labour and the Lib Dems. Add the Scottish Greens to their rating and they edge, just, into second place.

How to steal a health service, how to save a health service

I’m already a Green, I understand that we’re the only sane vote left. But I know that some people still need some convincing. The NHS is being stolen from us by governments that are more interested in their friends’ and backers’ profits than the common good. When it’s laid out nice and clearly as above, you can begin to understand how they’re doing it, and how to stop them.

Vote Green, or lose one of the greatest things this country has ever created.

VoteMatch- find the party with the policies you want

VoteMatch lets you check what you want from your politicians against what they’re offering, in this case in next month’s Euro elections. Unsurprisingly, I agree most with the Greens. It’s always a relief to find you’ve chosen the right party.

I agreed with more BNP policies than UKIP ones. Don’t worry, they still came out last and second last overall.

Why I’m making sure I’m registered to vote

I had a panic yesterday, because I’m not sure whether I’m registered to vote, and the European elections are coming up. I filled in an online form, and should soon be getting the paperwork needed to check and, if necessary, fix the problem.

Here’s one reason why those of us in the North West should vote Green-

I was voting Green anyway, but the chance to get rid of Nick Griffin makes it even better.

If you’re considering voting for a slightly less racist party with a gurning toff as leader, just bear in mind that UKIP aren’t very good at keeping track of their own money* and choose candidates who like to victimise six year olds and call for enforced sterilisation of the sort of people they think shouldn’t be breeding (can’t find the link for that right now, I’ll try to provide it later).

Maybe I won’t wait for the paperwork to arrive. Maybe I should use this site to download a registration form and get it sent off.

*That’s the euphemistic way of saying that Nigel Farage has been accused of raking in expenses and donations which may have been used for anything other than party business. They’re still allegations at the moment, the “other” expenses may turn out to be legitimate. You never know.

So I joined the Green Party

Very early on Saturday morning, after watching the Tories start to dismantle several of the best things our country has ever done (opportunistically using the deaths of six children to try to justify actions which will probably kill many, many more), the LibDems help them and Labour do nothing*, I came to a conclusion-

I didn’t do anything about it over the weekend. But then @thegreenparty went and retweeted it yesterday, and it got a few re-retweets and favourites. I didn’t exactly explode over the internet, but it’s the most attention one of my tweets has ever garnered. So I’d sort of been guilted into getting my arse into gear by a retweet.

Another tweet from yesterday cemented my resolve. In amongst all the chatter about Thatcher I spotted-

The person who sent this obviously believes it to be a good thing, but it’s actually chilling. That the three main parties in the country (and those also-rans, the LibDems) can be said to be practicing slightly different shades of the same political philosophy can only be a bad thing. Even somebody who thinks that Thatcher’s policies weren’t awful should be able to see the problem. The woman’s most famous because she shook up the system and aggressively went against the flow, taking the ire this provoked on the chin, yet some think it’s a good thing that none of the party leaders is brave enough to do the same to what she left behind. Even if the natural progression of Thatcherism that we’re seeing wasn’t so appalling, religiously rehashing the same dogma would still lead to stagnation and decay.

I believe the Green Party can provide the strong, principled opposition to the status quo that is needed. Some people are going to say that they’re a one-issue party (I picked up one in amongst the reactions to my tweet), but so is the buffoonish media darling that is UKIP. Unlike UKIP, the Green’s “one” issue is a genuine problem, and solving it won’t leave us a bland, alienated country reminiscing about how we were once great and blaming everyone else when we were the ones who could have solved our problems. Creating a sustainable, low carbon economy will create more jobs and wealth than reducing our options to starvation wages or just starvation. Making not just the country, but its citizens, energy independent will be a greater act of libertarianism than anything Farage could ever dream up.

For these reasons, and more, I joined the Green Party this morning (possibly twice, thanks to some problems with the Direct Debit page).

*The Government rushed through a law retroactively making the illegal and truly immoral Workfare scheme legal. Labour’s official line was to let this pass.

Petition to include the Green Party in the General Election TV Debates

Green Party in the General Election TV Debates – e-petitions.

We, the undersigned, acknowledge that recent polling indicates a majority of the British public would like to see the Green Party represented in the general election television debates. We therefore feel it is right and in keeping with the democratic principles this country upholds that a representative of the Green Party be invited to take part, broadening the debate and presenting the electorate with a greater political spectrum with which to engage.

The Green Party polled third in the London mayoral elections, has an MP, MEPs and 141councillors. It is a viable party to which many people are looking for a fresh approach to politics. We therefore ask that the Green Party be represented in the general election television debates.

This seems fair and proper, and I’m puting my name to it.  We have an alternative to the increasingly identikit Lab/Lib/Con gang that isn’t the reactionary bullshit of UKIP and the BNP, but they don’t get as much coverage because their main platform is based upon accepted science rather than prejudice.  I reckon the main parties would be happy if it stayed that way because a swing toward reality based policies would require them to do things which would upset their rich backers and actually make long term, rather than headline grabbing, changes.