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The other day, Citizens UK e-mailed encouraging people to get in touch with their local councillors to try to get individual cities to do what the government won't do as a whole and continue the Dubs scheme for refugee children. You can write to yours with WriteToThem. I've just written to mine, based partly on their template.
I am deeply concerned at the news that the Government plans to close the Dubs scheme for unaccompanied child refugees by the end of the financial year, and am writing to ask for your leadership.

Last year the British government accepted Lord Dubs’ amendment to the Immigration Act, which established a safe route to sanctuary in the UK for unaccompanied children. At the time, many councils supported the call and pledged to work with Government to establish the scheme.

Manchester really should be one of those. I see "Refugees Welcome" signs all around Levenshulme, from Inspire to spray-painted on the path near the train station, and yet Manchester has shamefully not done its bit in fulfilling that promise.

Please help us change that by helping keep the Dubs program going here in Levenshulme and in Manchester.

Thank you.
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Thanks to [personal profile] po8crg for realizing the Manchester angle on this meant we could write to people locally about it. (And for sharing his letter, which he might recognize in my one!)
Last night I was at a march through the centre of Manchester where we were shouting "No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here!" Of course I know that this is an aspiration and not a description, yet, but I'm dismayed to see how quickly we are proven wrong.

Unless we can stop it, there will be a chartered flight tonight from an airport the people of Manchester own, deporting refugees who in some cases never even had their claims processed and thus are being deported unlawfully.

You can find more information about it here: http://unitycentreglasgow.org/mass-deportation-charter-flight-january-31st/

Please use Manchester City Council's shareholding in Manchester Airports Group, who own Stansted, to prevent this flight, and any others as I'm sure the next ones are already being planned..

I'm an immigrant to the UK and I know how horrible our immigration and asylum system is. I know it's not keeping us safe, it's keeping us ignorant of what refugees and asylum seekers are actually like. Deportation ruins and even ends lives, and I don't want it to happen.
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#Muslimban protest today.

I had a chance to make a sign, modeled on a piece of art my friend Maria shared from [twitter.com profile] MoonStoneClare:

Here's my version:

Here's me standing with a lot of my friends who were there (including a new friend I made because the aforementioned Maria who's in Swansea mentioned both of us as having been at the Manchester demo. She's an immigrant and she knows someone in Edinburgh who is from Wisconsin who's found out ways to help out there from over here so I look forward to picking her brains about that!).

And since I was holding my sign almost all the time ("You must have strong arms like a rower's!" Birgitta said at one point; I don't really but I do feel totally vindicated in not being able to be at yoga tonight!), I didn't take many pictures but I couldn't resist this sign. Birgitta told me people were taking selfies with him in a "now here's more than one..." kind of way but I thought a picture of just him was easier.

I'm really glad there were Lib Dems there, marching as Lib Dems. We did have someone yell something about tuition fees and call us pricks, but honestly at this point that seems so fucking quaint. When a Nazi's writing Trump's executive orders, I wish I had nothing better to care about than one mismanaged decision the Lib Dems had five years ago. Meanwhile we have 82,000 members, 3786 ("as of an hour or so ago..." says Andrew who found that figure for me, clearly expecting it to have nudged up another one or two since then!) in the last three months, and we're trying to save the country from Brexit which is more than you can say for the rest of the parties with more than 9 MPs (in England anyway).

Hywel made the point at Winter Strategy Conference that we should be out there doing these things as Lib Dems (at least some of the time; almost every Lib Dem I know has a lot of hats to wear: some of us were draped in bi flags today) and I find myself definitely agreeing. It feels so good to be part of a party that's got my back here as I'm watching my country fall apart from a distance and mostly feeling pretty helpless about it.
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I wrote to my senator what must be earlier this week but feels like a million years ago, after seeing lots of him being a badass at nomination hearings, particularly Sessions', just to say thanks and keep up the good work. I checked the box saying I didn't need a reply but I got one anyway last night. It looks like what he's sending to anyone who writes to him on the subject.
As a Senator and a member of the Judiciary Committee, I had the opportunity to question Senator Sessions during his confirmation hearing. That's a role I take very seriously. During Senator Sessions' hearing, I pressed him on his misrepresentation of his record on civil rights, as well as on the issue of voter suppression, and I shared a story about the impact of Trump's divisive rhetoric on Minnesota's immigrant and refugee communities. I was not satisfied with the answers he gave to me and a number of my colleagues' questions, and after careful consideration of Senator Sessions' record, I do not think he is up to the task of being an attorney general for all Americans. I cannot vote for an attorney general nominee who is not fully committed to equal justice for all, including the LGBT community, minorities, immigrants, and women. When his nomination comes up for a vote in the Senate, I will vote no.
Shame he voted for some of the others though.

And my other senator has voted for all of them so far.

Eeee!

Jan. 25th, 2017 08:58 pm
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*does the "a friend I never thought would join the Lib Dems has just said that he has joined" dance*
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Signed the petition at www.impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org/, which you can read more about here.

Signed up to Swing Left, which seems to embrace the strategic thinking necessary for Democrats to win a lot more seats in the House in 2018. In the process I found out that mine is one of these "swing districts," which to my chagrin I didnt know. (I do have a Democrat rep, but only by 2,548 votes.) I don't know how much I can do from so far away, but one of the strengths of this is that it allows for geographically distant help...even if it's not usually going to be as distant as mine, the structure shouldn't require too much modification from me.

Went on the Women's March Manchester this afternoon. [twitter.com profile] SurvivorKatie didn't want to go on her own so asked if I'd join her. I was conflicted about it right up until I was happy I'd gone.
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Really like this. Keep being good about immigration, the Guardian!
Meanwhile, MPs from both major parties had the switch flipped in their heads that makes them link everything to immigration, causing their jaws to mechanically flap open and say: “Well, Nigel Farage is basically right about everything but you should still vote for us because $ERROR (Reason not found, please restart your political process).”
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I found myself humming "awesome, wow!" when I was walking the dog this morning and realised that if Groffsauce doesn't spend the twentieth of January singing "do you know how hard it is to lead?" and "oceans rise, empires fall" and basically all the rest of "What Comes Next?" for us, I will be sorely disappointed.
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January 20 is always the day U.S. Presidents are inaugurated.

January 21 is our wedding anniversary.

I think maybe this year I'll ask Andrew to take me somewhere there's no news or internet, for a day or two around our anniversary.
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Mom was telling me about a story my dad read in the paper (ie the Minneaapolis Star-Tribune) about a woman who was prevented from putting the Hillary Clinton yard sign she wanted in her yard by fear that her house, or even she, would be attacked by people who didn't like it.

Mom says this seems possible to her. She said around them all you see is Trump signs, and that this story helped make her think that it might not be that the support is so skewed but just that other people are more tentative about supporting the person who doesn't advocate violence against people who disagree.

And this is fucking Minnesota. Yes like that Cracked article talks about it's the country and not the city. But damn if this is what it's like living in a blue state, I would not like to be living anywhere less white, with less cultural encouragement towards reticence (we got onto this topic anyway because Mom was talking about how she's had to make sure not to talk about politics with her best friend, or my aunt's partner...).

I remember Mom talking in 2012 about feeling a bit lonely as (though she didn't put it like this) an Obama voter in a sea of people who couldn't sufficiently get past their racism to consider voting for him. It sounds even worse this year. She talked about being frustrated that people aren't basing their decisions on facts, and of being worried about what will happen after Trump loses. I know this is all stuff I, like any other follower of American politics, has read in tweets and thinkpieces, but for my mom who lives in a world totally separate from any of that to come out with the same things is weird.

I did my best to reassure her that it'll be over soon -- in recent elections I've missed being in the thick of it and helping out on various campaigns, but this year I've been nothing but happy to be missing out on the worst of it and how it's talked about in American news -- and that I've already voted and done my bit, and that he won't win. But I don't think she was very reassured.

And I've promised that Andrew and I won't talk about politics with my family at Christmas. I fear I might have to bite my tongue so hard it completely comes off, but I hope things will have calmed down by then.

Me at LDV

Oct. 11th, 2016 05:39 pm
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How to Address Concerns about Immigration.

(Comments may contain racists who think the most important thing is that they not be made to feel bad about being racist, approach with care. But you probably expected that, didn't you.)
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Andrew's talking to someone on facebook about how immigrants couldn't vote in the EU referendum. This guy's just said it's a good thing, as anyone here before 2011 could be a citizen by now, and if they weren't here that long they were too short-term to have a say in his children's future.

There are so many things that annoy me about this.

For one, he's deciding on those people's childrens' future -- even if they're British, at least one of their parents would not be. Which could lead to all kinds of horribleness.

For another, anyone who knows me will know that citizenship isn't easy, automatic, or indeed always worth doing. Since Theresa May made it revocable during her time as Home Secretary, it'll never be quite the same as a native-Brit's UK citizenship. And it's expensive. And the process for getting it is invasive, expensive, lengthy, stressful, discriminatory, punitive and in general a nuisance to everyday life.

Plus, not everyone can get UK citizenship even if they want it. I heard, from a migrants-organisation campaigner, about an Italian woman who's lived in the UK for several years, has Australian as well as Italian citizenship because her husband's Australian...and would have to give up one of those if she wanted to get UK citizenship, because she can't have all three. Why do that, just to vote on something so hostile in the first place?

And who would have thought it necessary? EU citizens are accustomed to voting rights in the UK -- they can vote in local elections as well as for UK MEPs.

And, hard as it is to believe, many people are uninterested in becoming British citizens. Certainly citizens of other EU countries would notice very little to recommend it -- this is the whole point of the much-vilified freedom of movement: it means that citizens of any member state can travel, work and live in another as if it were their own. Plenty of Europeans have lived decades in the UK, settled long enough that babies born the day they moved here would've been old enough to vote and at least as entangled in British society as native who'd lived here as long, without seeking British citizenship.

There are so many people saying "well of course immigrants couldn't vote in the referendum!" As if there are so many referendums there are hard and fast, universally understood and agreed-with rules on things like this. As if there is any objective reason why Commonwealth citizens could vote in this and EU citizens couldn't.

Beneath this sentiment there always seems to be some nastiness, "they shouldn't decide on my children's future," something about how selfishly they'd vote -- as if everybody else doesn't vote in what they think are their best interests too.

Excerpt

Oct. 7th, 2016 06:51 pm
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Here's a bit I had to cut out of something I'm writing, but didn't want to let disappear completely. So you can read it if you like!


Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary (so obviously she's the best person to talk about immigration, I'm sure) said “immigration is a good thing for us, but what undermines (that) is when people feel that it is unvetted and that we are not able to deal with the issues and the concerns that people have around that.”

Shame how many people lose their mastery of the only language they want anyone to speak when they try to explain these immigration concerns. What stands out amidst the nebulous concern is Ms Rayner’s assertion that “immigration is a good thing for us.” I don’t remember hearing this from a Labservative MP before.

In another unusual move for a politician talking about immigration, when asked if she meant there should be controls on numbers, Ms Rayner replied: "I believe that you do need controls and we have always had controls on immigration."

We have always had controls on immigration! While the UK’s only had immigration controls since the Aliens Act of 1905 (which Wikipedia describes as "ostensibly designed to prevent paupers or criminals from entering the country and set up a mechanism to deport those who slipped through, one of its main objectives was to control Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe"...hm), current political discourse only describes immigration to the UK in one way: "mass" and "uncontrolled" precede immigration as surely as Nigel Farage gurns for photo ops with a pint in his hand.
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...without having a nervous breakdown?

Today I've been ignoring the question by trying to crowbar my life into something that fits the job spec for something I'd love to do and would be good at.

And accidentally staring a strike.

Bi election

Oct. 2nd, 2016 10:24 am
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So the UK's erstwhile Prime Minister David Cameron couldn't stay PM -- as the Indepedent wonderfully said, "He had stepped down as Prime Minister the morning of the 24 June European Union referendum result after it became clear he had accidentally taken Britain out of the bloc" -- but he didn't want to go back to just being an ordinary MP.

"It isn’t really possible to be a proper backbench MP as a former prime minister," he said, even though other people have done it. "I think everything you do would become a big distraction and a big diversion," he said. "I don’t want to be that distraction. I want Witney to have a new MP..." as if a having to fight a by-election is less distracting.

So we're fighting a by-election. The Lib Dems are rallying round, to the extent of people all over the country going along to help out, donating money, or bringing/sending essentials like homemade cake, boxes of envelopes, and a sledgehammer.

Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours, Sarah and I came down for the day. It was very good of [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours to do all that driving to Oxfordshire and back in a day, especially when on the way his intermittent windshield-wiper problem became unfixable and since of course you only find problems with windshield wipers when it's raining, it rendered the car undriveable. On the side of a motorway.Handily, since we had to get out of the car and behind the barrier, there was an overpass to keep the rain off us. (Mostly; it was so noisy than when [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours was talking to his insurance people and the recovery people he had to go up to the road above us to stand in the rain just so he could hear at all.)

Here's me and Sarah, when she said "I think this calls for a selfie."And while it was cold enough for us to keep telling each other "this could be a lot worse!"...it really could have been a lot worse. The rest of the car was working fine, and [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours had been able to give enough details about the problem that we hoped the recovery people could get it fixed on the roadside in a few minutes. And we were a priority because we were stuck on the motorway.

And it did end up being a five-minute job, as we'd hoped. About an hour from when the wipers practically whipped off of the windshield, we were on our way again with them working perfectly.

Soon we were in Witney, where [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours and I soon put his sledgehammer to work, pounding stakeboards into the ground in the gardens of people who'd volunteered to have them. Other people had gotten the sort of "low-hanging fruit" and were able to do about 20 of these, we got the odds and sods of widely dispersed locations in this rural constituency ([livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours reckoned we did about 50 miles of driving around yesterday afternoon), and we had some adventures getting lost, annoying neighbors who didn't like our stakeboard, fighting with hedges, standing precariously on walls or upturned plastic bins -- even [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours wasn't tall enough not to need help reaching the top of these stakeboards!)
He took a picture of me for propaganda purposes at one point, but I really like it.It was about six o'clock and we hadn't really eaten since our road-trip food that morning (banana, cereal bar, pasty, you know how it is) so we went for a lovely meal in the nearby Como Lounge nearby, and then went back to HQ to help with clerical stuff: addressing envelopes, putting double-sided tape on window posters...not glamorous stuff but it makes a difference. I think a lot of people find it dull but it's my favorite kind of Lib Dem work really; more blind-friendly than most of it, there are usually people to chat to (or in my case usually, listen to as they're telling each other horrible puns or getting into weird conversations about past, present or hypothetical legal/political situations...normal Lib Dem stuff).

Soon enough all the locals and people staying overnight were going to the pub, and sadly we had to go back to Manchester. But not before one more photo was taken!

I'd seen someone on Twitter refer to this -- a mere spelling infelicity rather than a knowing pun -- as a bi election, so I'd said it would be when we were there, etc, and tagged all my tweets about the day with #bielection. So [livejournal.com profile] differentcolours brought along a bi flag and...Neil, who took that picture, said "If I put this on Facebook are you going to make some horrible pun about it?" and I don't know if it was a request or something he dreaded.

But of course we did!

The drive back to Manchester was thankfully less eventful than the one there had been; I got dropped off at home about sixteen hours after I'd been picked up. A long day but we all loved it, were sad we couldn't stay over, and are seriously wondering if we can make it to Witney again before the election.
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I worked hard on it, because it's a tough subject and my brain hasn't been working lately (I have so many things to tell you about! but no words!). And it's important so I wanted to get it right. I'm pleased with how it ended up and glad I was able to do it.

Here it is. It's about Ray Fuller, a bisexual Jamaican denied asylum in the U.S. partly because the judge thought his relationships with women meant he couldn't be bisexual.
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I can't do any more words about this (I'm just getting around to eating my first/only proper meal of the day), so have some I prepared earlier.
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Tonight I was delighted to be a speaker at Your Liberal Britain event. It was a great night, I got to see old friends, met some great new people, started plotting about a group for Lib Dem women (and nonbinary people) outside of the stuff that currently only goes on in London...and I gave a little talk! Asked to choose a specialist subject, of course I was the one banging on about immigration. The other talks, about engagement with underrepresented groups in the party and about how we should all be paid the same for working less, were great.

Here, just for fun, is what I said: )
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Even the nice people, the people on the right side, the people who'd never wish me harm, the people I think of as friends, are saying this on social media.

And it's a headline you can find in all sorts of news, if you're self-destructive enough to Google it.

One day, I hope not to be a problem at all.

One day, I hope I can expect more robust cases in favor of immigration, not just pointing out that a once-important country shouldn't ruin itself over its hatred of immigrants because then it'll be ruined and there will still be immigrants.

One day, I hope we can take a step back from "that won't work, you can't get rid of the immigrants that way!" (true though it may be!), to "but why the fuck would you want to get rid of all the immigrants anyway?!"

I hope for these things. But I'm not sure I can see a path to that world from this one.

Snark

May. 6th, 2016 10:28 am
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Sort of sweet watching my Scottish Green friends (of which for some reason I have several, maybe because it's a better party than the England & Wales Greens?) being devastated that apparently-good women candidates missed out on actually being elected -- which made me think yep, now you know how the Lib Dems already feel -- and baffled/terrified/outraged at where all these Tory voters came from -- which made me think yep, now you know how the north of England already feels!

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