Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Co-Op MPs more Tory than Labour

Because the co-op model is closer to the Liberal visions of business structure than to either the Labour or the Tory equivalents, I tend to assume that the 24 Co-Operative party MPs (who have sat in coalition with Labour for many years) will vote more like the Lib Dems than like the Tories.

Monday's welfare vote figures go the other way though.

Of the 208 Labour MPs, 45 - 21.6% - rebelled when Harriet Harman decided the Labour party shouldn't have an opinion on welfare cuts, and voted against the proposed changes.

But of the 24 Co-Operative MPs, just 3 did - 12.5% - making them more obedient to the Labour whip than actual Labour MPs, and readier to acquiesce to the Tory plans.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Sighing for the Summer

Remember how a few years back Katy Perry earwormed everyone for a couple of months with the titillating "try-bi" fluff that was "I kissed a girl and I liked it / hope my boyfriend don't mind it"?

It seems we're there again with a hyped new single from Demi Lovato, a multi-award winning 22 year old American singer whose message for another woman runs:
Take me down into your paradise
Don't be scared cause I'm your body type
Just something that we wanna try
Cause you and I
We're cool for the summer

Cool for the summer? Damnit. It's just the stick bis get so often - that we are "tourists" of same-sex desire, there for the fun of a fling but without a commitment and with the exit door to the safety of passing as straight always open.

The reality of supposed "heterosexual privilege" for bis being misread as straight is rather different, but this song just seems to play into that outdated notion.  My sexuality is not a seasonal fashion.

P.S. It's a bit of a waste of "I'm your body type" to just make it about girl/girl. Can this get picked up and appropriated for some other "similars"?

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

NME for free

Music weekly newspaper-turned-magazine-wtf-is-that-about the NME is to become a freesheet from September.

When I was 16 to 20 it was such a staple of my life. Most of the time twinned with Smash Hits, which was mostly aiming for a younger demographic but if you wanted to read about Kylie and Fugazi that was the press combo for you. My dalliance with the NME only ended when long-term unemployment alternating with scant bits of part time low paid work that amounted to the same kind of wage as dole became so entrenched as how I live that I stripped it from my list of priorities - about the same time buying records dwindled from a weekly browse towards an occasional "oh do you think any good bands are still recording?"

I'll have to make a point in September to pick up a copy and stare blankly at the names of all the artists now on the build-em-up knock-em-down mill.

Back when it Mattered to me, the NME did do good things in making a young queer feel less isolated - for some reason I think of David Quantick as the responsible journalist but probably most of the people there were in the good things camp. When Guns n Roses and Happy Mondays went off the rails on gay issues* the NME gave lots of space in letters pages and opinion pieces to saying that the artists were wrong, that this would not do them favours in the long term, and to giving voice to readers who were doing things like smashing up Happy Mondays records they owned and sending in the bits / photos of the bits.

When you - we - didn't have the internet, that kind of thing being in print made a lot of difference. So even though I would hardly ever feel the urge read that paper now, because I'm just too out of touch with what's new and shiny and will probably never prioritise the time it takes to get back in touch: thank you NME, and good luck still today in your latest incarnation.

[http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-33408435 refers]
[* there wasn't much LGBT nuance back then]

Monday, 6 July 2015

Hoist by its own, etc

The BBC has had the slap to the face this week of the suggestion it might have to pay for the licence fees of elderly pensioners. The move would knock out apparently 20% of the BBC budget, albeit with the option opened up to charge for specific content (like using the iPlayer) that the Beeb currently provides for free.

An unpleasant surprise perhaps. "You must pay for this from your budget" is really "We are taking away a fifth of your funding, good luck making up the shortfall".

While I'm troubled for the impact on the quality of radio / telly / journalism, a bit of me can't help thinking that the BBC has made its bed and now has to lie in it. The endless spin and narrative in favour of the Labservative Establishment and its Purple and Green puppets finally comes back to bite the BBC on its arse, with the Liberals removed from power and unable to come to Auntie's aid.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

"It's like bronzey and silvery only made of iron"

The Bi Women of Color (it's American) blog has a very fine post about the comparative whiteness of bi spaces here that I'd recommend for anyone wondering about that issue.

The fifth point crosses over into a general thing about bi activism though, and one which probably applies to many people who step up and volunteer for these things, in particular who have what some popular parlance calls intersectional or multiple oppressions.

Twentysome years ago in a proverbially gay/straight world I started creating bi spaces because they were something I needed. Ironically, by being the person who turns up every time, who is asked all the questions by the newcomers... that supportive, accepting space becomes something you give, more than something you get.

Those statistics about bisexuals having poor mental and physical health? We are those bisexuals. Those statistics about bis feeling isolated and lacking support and community? We are those bisexuals.

Friday, 12 June 2015


Last week was Volunteers' Week. I was being a "bad volunteer" as some I know see it - too busy being ill, and in bed for a couple of days, so I didn't do much beyond day job, eat and sleep that week.  Oh, I ran a bi social/support group for an evening.  I knew there was something.

But I tweeted:
I could have named more projects and expanded on the theme a little but, y'know, 140 characters and all that.

I prefer "bi volunteering" to "bi activism" as a phrase at the moment. It sounds a bit more... accessible?  Anyone can be a volunteer, but activists must have sekrit superpowers.

The main lesson I've learned on volunteeringy activist doodah was from Natalya, whose wisdom is that you should do the volunteering that you enjoy and find least taxing. It is the one you are most likely to still want to do when doing it involves the equivalent of standing in the sleet at a bus stop on an evening in January when you could be warm and dry at home.

What bi volunteering would you like to do?

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Bye bye to the great Lib-Lab lie

I see that right-wing rag the New Statesman is flying the kite for Lib Dem / Labour merger. The magazine's columnists alternate between talking about that and Lib Dem / Tory merger as a distraction method to try and prevent conversation opening up about reunifying the historic Labour-Tory schism.

From Labour's point of view perhaps combining with the Liberals makes sense. Labour already have two puppet parties at their disposal, to variously neutralise anti-Labour votes and scare recalcitrant Labour voters to the polls. That's probably as many outlier parties as any election winning strategy needs.

What Labour need is a grouping that produces policies more progressive than Labour's own, to offer the positive social change many of Labour's supporters wish it represented. It turned out Labour's plans to introduce and then extend the bedroom tax, put ATOS in charge of disability benefits, charge citizens for mistakes the state made on their records, slash benefits for young people and so forth reminded voters so much of the Tories that they went and voted blue instead.

The Libs have kept coming up with proposals that Labour felt it had to leave untouched for a while before co-opting: the NHS, the welfare state, tax-and-spend economics, the mansion tax, opposition to apartheid, LGBT rights and so forth. Left to their own devices Labour spent tens of millions of pounds on policy development between 2010 and 2015 and still wound up borrowing Liberal proposals at the last minute. Moving that policy development unit in house looks to be a lot more efficient.

From the Lib Dem perspective though, never mind the gaping philosophical divide: the Liberals already did merging with a party to their right thing in the 80s, and it took ages to recover. Whyever would they do it again?

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Another legal inch forward

Colombia, which for everyone who enjoys the Weekly Show with John Oliver running joke about maps is the country top left of South America that joins the continent to Central America*, has just decided to join the small coterie of nations that respond to trans identities with "OK, carry on" rather than "Ew" or "Yeah yeah whatevs shutup".

As of once-the-law-is-implemented, you'll be able to amend your gender records on identity documents on the basis of "this is who I am" rather than based on dubious psych or surgery criteria.

Given how many flavours of wrong the gatekeepers can and do get it, taking away gatekeepers is surely a step in the right direction.

* I suspect more UKanian readers see the nation's name and think of the Rocky Horror audience par-tic-i-pation joke about drugs, but there we go.