Full Details of My New Podcast

OK… so I can finally make the announcement official.

In exactly one week, my podcast, A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs, will start up, I’ll post a link here, but it’ll be available from 500songs.com and all your usual podcast sources (iTunes and so forth), though it may take a while to percolate through to them all. I’m still working on trying to get a logo together and things like that, but I’ve got the domain bought and a host worked out and I’ll have the domain linked to the backend in the next day or two.

I’m starting with a soft launch intro episode, and the first few episodes will not have perfect professional production (though I’ve got good reason to think that may change starting in November — we’ll see how that goes) but I’ve got enough of it done now that I can let you all know what the first month and a bit’s worth of episodes will be. Except where noted they’ll be around 25 minutes long.

Monday 1 Oct: 0 – Introduction

A ten minute or so introduction, laying out my plans for the series.

Mon 8 Oct: 1 – Flying Home

Looking at Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Christian, Ilinois Jacquet and more

Mon 15 Oct: 2 – Roll ‘Em Pete

Looking at Pete Johnson and Big Joe Turner

Mon 22 Oct: 3a – Disclaimer, or Why I’m Not Talking About Spade Cooley

A brief five-minute podcast on my attitudes towards important artists and their at-times abhorrent behaviour.

Mon 22 Oct: 3 – Ida Red

Looking at Bob Wills, the Texas Playboys, and the Light Crust Doughboys

Mon 29 Oct: 4 – Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie

Looking at Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five.

I think people are going to like this a lot, even those of you who don’t like my music writing but do like, say, my comics writing, and here’s why.

There are two types of writing I do on this site. One is the kind I do most often, where something needs to be said or I’ve found something interesting to talk about. That’s often (I hope) interesting, but that’s all it is.

The other kind, though, is the kind that I did when I wrote An Incomprehensible Condition or Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! or California Dreaming — it’s non-fiction, but it almost feels like fiction when I’m writing it. I start to get inspired and see patterns in things — even things I’ve known about before for years, I suddenly see new stories there, and new links between things I never thought were linked.

And that’s definitely happening here. Let me tell you a little bit about how I put this together. I had the idea for doing the podcast a few months back, and started making notes then, and my original set of notes had a rough list of what songs I’d want to do for the first few. But it wasn’t a very firm list — it went something like:

1) Flying Home

2) Some early R&B or boogie thing

3) Something Western Swing like Bob Wills, or maybe a Jimmie Rodgers song

4) Louis Jordan song — Caldonia? Choo-Choo?

That kind of thing. But as I started narrowing these down slightly — and I’ll admit right now that I chose “Roll ‘Em Pete” simply because it’s namechecked in a good book on pre-rock music called “Before Elvis” and it kind of fit the slot I had there, I could have chosen half a dozen more in its place — and writing about them, I realised that just by telling each of these separate stories — and they are, *completely*, separate stories — I was telling a much bigger story that had a lot of other stuff in it, a story that centres around the legendary jazz concerts at Carnegie Hall that started and ended 1938. A story about crossing of racial lines and black and white musicians collaborating despite segregation.

Motifs keep popping up — those first six episodes, over five weeks, will feature stories about novelty boogie-woogie records, and tuberculosis, and about entertainment strikes and plagiarism and stolen credit and Communism and racism. We’ll hear about how a white man is usurped by a good man, who’s beaten by a disabled black man. We’ll see *many* appearances by John Hammond who’ll still be in the story in several hundred songs’ time, and you’ll learn about hokum songs and a blackface performer who inspired one of the greatest black musicians ever. With special appearances from Billie Holiday, the Marx Brothers, Governor Pappy O’Daniel, Les Paul, and a boogly-woogly piggy.

I think you’ll like it.

For each episode, I’m going to attach a blog post at 500songs.com, which will contain the script I’m reading for the podcasts plus links to a few sources and some errata (I’ve already noticed one in episode two, for example). I’ll also link to a mixcloud mix containing full versions of every song I excerpt in the shows.

The plan is that I’m going to get one of these out every week for about ten years, and that every two years I’ll collect rewritten versions of the essays into books — A History Of Rock Music In 500 Songs, Vols 1 – 5. It’s a hugely ambitious undertaking for me, and it’ll come to about two million words in total. It’ll be my magnificent octopus. It starts the week of my fortieth birthday, and should finish (allowing for a few skipped weeks or non-song episodes) around the time of my fiftieth.

I’ll also be starting a second podcast a week or so after this — a fiction podcast in which I read my short stories. I’ve already got a bit of that recorded, but don’t have a name for it yet, and I’m open to suggestions.

Also, while I’m talking about my music writing, just so people know I *will* be posting more Nilsson stuff soon. I’m also planning to write reviews of the new box set version of Imagine by John Lennon (the MP3 version only, as I don’t have a Blu-Ray player), the new box set of The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society (again, the MP3 version, this time because there’s only so many times you can buy the same album on physical media), and the new Monkees Christmas CD. I won’t, though, be reviewing the new six-disc White Album box set unless someone buys me a copy or my Patreon donations increase *wildly* — I’ve taken an income drop from my freelance income recently, and I don’t have a spare hundred and forty quid to spend on it, much as I desperately want to.

This blog post — and my podcasts! — are brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Request for Feedback on a Disclaimer

I’m working on the script for episode three of my history of rock and roll podcast, and I want to use it to bring up something early on which will apply to far too many of these episodes in one way or another.

(Trigger warnings: mention of domestic and sexual violence and murder)

This is an excerpt here from the script for episode three, where I’m going to talk about why I’m *not* talking in any detail about Spade Cooley, who one would otherwise expect me to discuss. But I want it to sort of work as a blanket cover for the whole five-hundred-episode podcast. Could people *please* tell me if they think it’s OK and takes the right tone?

(NB I am mostly interested here in the opinions of people who might be affected by these issues. I know it isn’t offensive or upsetting or demeaning to *me*, as an allocishet man who’s never been the victim of this kind of crime, so don’t particularly need to hear other privileged men tell me that they don’t see a problem. I want to know if people who might be hurt by this are being hurt, and if so what I can do to change it).

Now before I continue, I’d just like to point out that I am simplifying a very complex story here enormously, and to get the full detail you should check out the wonderful podcast Cocaine and Rhinestones, which deals with country music history far better than I ever could. In particular, you need to check out the episode about Spade Cooley, if you have a strong stomach.

You see, there were two people who were generally called “the King of Western Swing”, rivals for the title who both had a good claim for it. One of them was Bob Wills, and I’m going to talk about him here. The other was Spade Cooley, and Cooley was a domestic abuser who eventually murdered his wife, horribly.

Now, this is a history of rock and roll, and so I am going to have to deal with a lot of abusers, sex criminals, and even a few murderers. You simply can’t tell the history of rock and roll without talking about Ike Turner, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Phil Spector, Jimmy Page… I could go on. But suffice to say that I think the assumption one should make when talking about rock music history is that any man discussed in it is a monster unless proved otherwise.

I’m going to have to talk about those men’s work, and how it affected other things, because it’s so influential. And I admire a lot of that work. But I never, ever, want to give the impression that I think the work in any way mitigates their monstrosity, or do that thing that so many people do of excusing them because “it was a different time”.

But in order for this to be a history of rock music, and not a prurient history of misogynistic crime, I’m probably not going to mention every awful thing these people do. I’m going to deal with it on a case by case basis, and I *will* make wrong calls. If I don’t mention something when I get to one of those men, and you think it needed mentioning, by all means tell me about it in comments. But please don’t take that lack of mention as being endorsement of those people.

However, in the case of Spade Cooley, he needed mentioning here, because I’m talking about Western swing. But Cooley’s overall influence on rock and roll is basically zero, so for the rest of this episode, I’m going to pretend he never existed. If you want to hear about him, check out that Cocaine and Rhinestones episode. It’s horrifying, but it puts him in his proper context. But please take this as a general disclaimer for every episode of this podcast.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

500 Songs Podcast Preview For Patreons

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve started writing and recording a couple of new podcasts. One will be of my short fiction, the other one, A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs will be just that.
They will be free for everyone to listen to, but I thought Patreon backers would like a sneak preview, so I’ve uploaded, for backers only, episode two of A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs (the first one I completed, because I want to make the actual episode one when I’ve got a bit of experience in doing this) to my Patreon. It’s on “Roll ‘Em Pete” by Big Joe Turner and Pete Johnson, and also covers hokum songs, floating lyrics, how industrial action probably caused rock and roll, and boogly woogly piggies.
Patreon backers can find it here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Projects

I’m soon going to be starting two new projects, and I thought you might all like to know about them.

Now, I know that I’ve started a lot of projects on here, and only a small fraction of them have happened, but the first of these is, in part, a music book project, and I’ve completed all of those that I’ve started.

But it’s more than that. This is a series of five books, and an ongoing podcast. I’ve already started writing the books, and I’m planning to get the first podcast episode out in October. It’s called A History Of Rock Music in 500 Songs, and it will look at rock and roll’s history, and its prehistory. It’ll be similar to my book California Dreaming, but on a much bigger scale — that looked at music made in one town, over a period of a decade. This will be looking at at least the whole of North America and the UK, and probably touching on other countries as well, and over a period from the 1930s to 2000 or so.

My plan for this is simple. I’ll release weekly episodes. For each of these I’ll be writing an essay, which will be posted as a blog post and will eventually make up a chapter of the books. That essay will be the basis for the podcast, but the podcast will not just be me reading the essay — I’ll be putting in excerpts of the music I’m talking about, I might pick up a guitar and demonstrate how some things are done, and I’ll probably go into rambling digressions. So the two things will share a common skeleton, but they’ll be different things, each suited to their own medium.

I’ll probably also, separately, put up Mixcloud mixes of the full versions of every track I excerpt in each episode, and maybe do special Patreon bonuses as well (anyone backing me on Patreon will also be backing this podcast as well as this blog and my books, and I’ll update the text on it to that effect).

The idea with this will be to cover a mixture of the obvious stuff and the obscure, and to do what seems likely to tell the best story. I’ll *obviously* talk about the Beatles or Bowie or the obvious ones, but I’ll also want to talk about things that are in the margins but had a big influence.

I’ll be looking for suggestions, from the start, for stuff to cover, but *only* from the mid-seventies onwards, where the genre gets so big and so fragmented that I’m bound to have missed an interesting story if someone doesn’t point it out to me. But I’ve got the first hundred or so songs pretty firmly decided — there’s the obvious ones by Elvis or Buddy Holly, but I’ll also be looking at pre-rock stuff like records by Ernest Tubb, Benny Goodman, and Illinois Jacquet.

I’m going to start releasing these when I have the first batch of ten episodes done.

I’m also starting a *second* podcast, which will be me reading my short fiction. Again, that will be starting when I have the first ten episodes done, again hopefully in October — that one is easier because I already have more than ten short stories I can use for the podcast. However, for that one I’m looking for a title for the podcast — if anyone can think of one, given the kind of stories I write, please suggest one.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

On Medicalised Fat-Shaming

Content note — this blog post contains discussion of weight, diet, fat-shaming, and possibly eating disorders. People who find such discussions upsetting should read no further.

There has been a lot of coverage of the fact that Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, has managed — or claims to have managed — to bring his type two diabetes under control with diet and exercise. This is, of course, an excellent thing. I have no great love for Watson, who I despise as a politician, but I also have no wish to see him suffer from a debilitating disease which can cause a huge amount of pain and suffering.

What isn’t so good, though, is the sheer amount of fat-shaming and abuse of fat people that has come about because of this. “See? This privileged rich white man with a huge number of advantages has managed to make his health better by diet and exercise! There’s no excuse for anyone else!”

In particular, there’s been a lot of sharing of his story to “raise awareness” of how fat people are just killing ourselves because we’re lazy and worthless and useless.

If you’re one of the people sharing this story, think for a second…think about how aware fat people already are of the health problems associated with being fat, and of the fact that we are fat.

Now, there is a lot of controversy, actually, over the relationship between weight and health. Indeed, I have seen several studies which tend to suggest that the increased risk of mortality associated with obesity is actually because of stress, rather than because of weight — fat people are more stressed than other people, and so we tend to suffer more from stress-related illnesses. Put that to one side, and with it the idea that merely by contributing to fat stigma you are also contributing to the deaths of the people you claim to want to help. Let’s just assume, for the sake of argument, that all fat people, if they got their BMI (another very dodgy idea, but…) down to “healthy” levels, would have… ooh, let’s say another twenty years of life.

If that was the case — so what?

What good would that information do?

Because here’s the thing — there is not a single fat person in the world who has consciously chosen to be fat. Not one. Many fat people now choose — or try to choose — to be happy with the bodies we have, but I don’t know a fat person who hasn’t struggled with their weight, who hasn’t dieted, who hasn’t got an immense set of mental health problems surrounding their weight. Such a person may exist, but if those were the only fat people around, there’d be no “obesity epidemic” to “deal with”.

Because here’s the thing that all fat people know, and that no thin people seem to: Diets. Do. Not. Work.

I have been fat all my life — and I mean all my life. My mother tells a story of the health visitor seeing me when I was a baby and saying “what have you been feeding him on, elephants’ milk?”. I remember when I was three years old, crying because the other kids in nursery school were bullying me because I was fat. Whatever caused me to be fat, it was something that I had no control over, unless you think that a three-month-old baby is capable of making life decisions that can affect him forty years later.

I spent all my childhood and teenage years trying to get myself thinner. I used sweeteners in my coffee and drank diet drinks all through my teenage years, and all that did was give me horrible migraines for most of that time. I would regularly go on diets, and nothing would happen.

I did once manage to lose weight. When I was sixteen. For three months I ate a single can of Irish Stew a day, totaling about four hundred calories, and walked sixteen miles a day. After those three months, I had managed to get down to the high side of “normal” — I was still a bit podgy, but at a “healthy” weight. Within two years of coming off the diet and returning to normal eating, I was back to being fat. I could, possibly, have stayed that weight by carrying on eating a single can of stew a day and walking twenty miles every day, but when you do that long term that’s not called a diet, it’s called an eating disorder, and given the choice between being fat or dying because of a lack of essential nutrients, I’ll choose the former.

I tried various diets throughout my twenties and much of my thirties, too. Some caused some slight weight loss — mostly no-carb diets — but none caused any significant long-term weight loss, even when I stayed on them.

And this is not unusual at all, because — short of invasive, complicated, surgery — there is no such thing as a weight-loss intervention that actually works. Studies have shown that ninety-five percent of people who go on diets end up weighing more after five years than they would have if they hadn’t gone on the diet. Yes, you read that right. Nineteen out of twenty people who try to lose weight, no matter what the diet, end up putting more weight on. Not immediately, but in the medium term, trying to lose weight makes you fatter.

Yet if you go to see a doctor while fat, that is what you’ll be told to do — and it’s the *only* thing you’ll be told to do. I’ve been told to lose weight in order to treat work-related stress, or because I’ve had an ear infection. You go to see a doctor and you’re fat, even if you’re not *wildly* fat (and in my case I’ve got a big gut and a large frame, but I’m not the fattest person I know by a long way) and that will be the only thing they look at. My arthritis went undiagnosed for five years because when I went to see a GP about the initial symptoms I was told they were because of my weight (they’re not — they’re because I have psoriatic arthritis, and are the absolute classic initial symptoms of that disease, which one in three people with psoriasis get. As my GP knew I had psoriasis, that would have been the first thing they checked for — *if* I’d been “normal” weight).

As far as I can see, the whole problem here is that being fat is treated like smoking — a behaviour which is chosen by the person in question, and which can be overcome with enough willpower (whatever *that* is, but that’s a whole other can of worms). But it’s not like that. In my experience, it’s more like male pattern baldness, which is something else I have. I didn’t choose to have a giant pink patch of skin on the top of my head where previously I had thick, long, curly hair, and all things being equal I’d rather not be going bald, but there’s absolutely nothing I can do to prevent it. There is, however, a multi-billion-pound industry devoted to conning insecure men who are going bald out of their money in return for the *hope* of getting their hair back.

If someone were to prove to me tomorrow that going bald doubled your risk of, say, skin cancer, I’d say “oh shit, that’s worrying, I hope I don’t get it”, but what I wouldn’t do would be to try to will my hair to grow again in the hope of avoiding cancer, because that would be ludicrous. Nor would I go around telling other bald people “if you just had some self-control you could grow hair”, or talking about how the NHS needed to stop treating bald people because they were a drain on taxpayers’ resources.

I repeat what I said at the start. No-one chooses to be fat. No-one — absolutely no-one — in our society is unaware of the health risks associated with their weight. And far people are *hyper*-aware, because we’ve been bullied about it throughout our lives (or since becoming fat in adulthood, for those for whom weight gain was associated with a hormonal change or similar).

The problem is that the rest of you, the adipose-deficient, are *unaware* of what it’s actually like living as a fat person, what it’s like being fat and trying to access medical help, what it’s like being fat and trying to keep oneself healthy when the *only* advice you can ever get is related to something that you have no control over, and to be constantly bombarded on all sides by messaging that says that if you don’t control this uncontrollable aspect of your body you are subhuman. (For example, do you think that the body-shaming message I’ve had literally every day of my life, telling me that my body is putrid and disgusting and unattractive and ridiculous and should be mocked at every turn makes me *more* likely to go to a gym, take my clothes off in front of strangers, and go and exercise in revealing clothes in front of other strangers? Because it doesn’t…)

And this is me as a cis het man talking. I don’t have anything like the pressures on my appearance that women do, or men who have sex with men. I can’t even imagine what fat-shaming does to them.

“Raising existence” of us as a “problem” is the last thing you would want to do if you actually cared about our health. It just adds to our stress levels and encourages doctors to treat all our medical problems as being caused by our fatness.

So it’s very simple. If you actually care at all about the health of fat people, stop talking about “the obesity epidemic”, stop talking about diets, stop talking about weight-loss at all, for anyone, in any circumstances. Fat-shaming *does not work*, unless the reason you’re doing it is to make people who are already having a hard time feel miserable and unattractive and to hasten their deaths.

The applicability of this to other groups who are also in the news at the moment is left to the reader.

This blog post was brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Linkblogging for 12/9/18

I’ve not done a linkblog in too long, have I? Well, here’s one for you.

First, a podcast I came across after hearing it recommended in the Good Place podcast — Cocaine and Rhinestones. For those of you who like my music writing, this is very much the same kind of thing as California Dreaming, but about country music, although it’s from an angle with more personal experience, because Tyler Mahan Coe, the writer/presenter, is the son of David Allen Coe, who is a famous country singer. (For those of you who are worried, because you know Coe sr.’s reputation, there is no overt racism or misogyny in the podcast, although there is one use of whorephobic language. In fact the podcast seems to come from a fairly feminist place, and Coe makes a point occasionally of attacking racism in country music.)

Each episode tells one story about country music history, and they all build up to give a much bigger picture. Take note however, some of the stories may be triggering, especially the one about Spade Cooley.
Andrew Rilstone on the controversy over Talons of Weng Chiang and how it’s obviously racist. (warning, contains various racist images as illustration).
Jack Graham on systemic racism in Doctor Who more generally.

“How not to write about jazz, probably”
Charles Stross on Heinlein tributes

Bullshit-sensitivity predicts prosocial behavior.

And Big Finish have a sale on on the Bernice Summerfield audios, with code BIRTHDAY. This includes the interesting season nine, on CD for £2.50 each. Of those, The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel may be especially interesting to people who follow my blog, as it’s a stealth Faction Paradox crossover and also features David Warner as Mycroft Holmes.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Amendments to the Immigration Motion

And so, once again, I find myself writing about navel-gazing internal Lib Dem stuff because, rather than listen to the concerns of the members and do something sensible, the Lib Dem leadership have decided to go to war with the party membership. I promise that after conference this week I’ll be dialing down on the Lib Demmery on here a lot. But as I’m not going to go to conference due to health, I thought I’d set out my thoughts now that amendments are available.

Yes, it’s that immigration motion again.

I’ve said before that I have a simple position on this motion — that it shouldn’t be accepted without all the amendments that Lib Dem Immigrants, Lib Dems for Seekers of Sanctuary, and LGBT+ Lib Dems had put forward being adopted.

Having looked at the amendments that have been accepted I can already tell that that’s not going to happen, because not all of them have been accepted to be voted on — though the fact that there are five amendments up for vote at all (the highest number I can recall is two, though I’m sure someone will pull out a record of a conference from 1993 which had thirty-two amendments for a motion or something now I’ve said that) shows just how bad this motion actually is. So no matter how the amendments go, this should be referenced back — and ideally to people who have a clue about either liberalism, immigration, or both.

But it’s possible that conference will not vote for a reference back, and the amendments are worth considering for whether they make the motion better or worse.

First the drafting amendment — most of this is uncontroversial. There is one bit worth noting though — that’s “In line 2, after ‘rules and’ insert‘, for a time-limited period of not more than two years and subject to individual assessment,’”

This *slightly* fixes one of the many, many, many, many, major problems with this motion, in that it changes the five-year limit (kept from the 2012 rules) on no recourse to public funds to the two-year limit from before then — making this small bit of the motion only as illiberal as David Blunkett, rather than Theresa May. It even allows for the possibility that this time period could even be shorter — meaning we might have a single sentence in this policy that is *more* liberal than David Blunkett, though not as liberal as Jack Straw (we wouldn’t want to be crazy now!).

But then they stick in that kicker “and subject to individual assessment”.

Now, the no recourse to public funds rule is horribly wrong and I see no reason to discuss why any further. If you don’t understand why, see this article. But this “subject to individual assessment”… that has problems of its own.

Because it’ll be the same as the replacement of a de jure income limit with a de facto one that the paper also does — there’s no £18,000 limit any more if we go by this paper, but you still have to prove you can support your spouse. And I can *guarantee* that with no hard and fast income limit, the people who are more privileged on other axes will have to do less to prove that ability to support than educated cis het white abled English speakers will.

And it’ll be the same with this “subject to individual assessment”. Anyone who has had to prove their financial situation or level of disability to the benefits agency, or anyone who has had to deal with the immigration authorities at all, knows that “individual assessment” means less trust for disabled people, for BAME people, for trans people, for neurodivergent, mentally ill, or working class people.

Now I can see that this is done with good intentions — it’s an attempt to make exceptions for people in genuine need (though of course everyone who claims benefits is in genuine need). What it would actually do in the real world though is create more hoops to jump through — hoops which are easier for those with more social capital than for the poorest, the disabled, and oppressed people generally. It’s a loophole which will lead to a few borderline cases getting help earlier, while those who need it most will have to wait longer.

I’ve dealt with government bureaucracies enough in my time to know that that’s how it goes. I’m one of the lucky ones — I’m white, cis, straight, English-speaking, and can pass for a middle-class neurotypical in small doses. But I have *seen* myself, time and again, get special treatment not given to other people in the same circumstances — people who needed more help than I did, and got less.

So I have *deep* reservations about this drafting amendment, even as it does make that one sentence of the motion slightly better and almost as liberal as Blunkett. Sigh…

On to the amendments that get voted on separately as they’ve *not* been accepted by the paper’s authors:

Amendment 1 is a long one from Lib Dems for Seekers of Sanctuary, though it’s much shorter than their original proposed amendment. It’s all focused on asylum seekers and as far as I can tell it’s all good. I don’t know enough about that area of immigration law to say if it’s good *enough* and would improve the current system *enough*, but everything in it certainly seems worthwhile. I’d vote for it to be included.

Amendment 2 is one I have very strong feelings about, and would feel strongly about even were it not being summated by my wife. It takes out the single most despicable and unnecessary part of the motion, the bit that says we can’t challenge racist ideas in case it hurts racists’ feelings, and replaces it with a sensible alternative bit about fixing the problems people wrongly blame on immigrants.

Amendment 3 would fix a *lot* of the problems with the family law section of the motion and paper. It would change the motion to say “For spouse and legal partner settlements, end the crude and arbitrary practice of the state splitting up families on grounds of income and permit families to stay together without any form of means testing or prohibition on seeking support from the state.”

That wouldn’t fix everything, but it would make a lot of people’s lives a lot easier — something this paper otherwise doesn’t seem to want to do.

Amendment four would get the costs of naturalisation for the applicant back down to the cost to the Government — a return to the policy when Michael Howard was Home Secretary. If amendments three and four passed, we’d have a family immigration policy that was actually more liberal than David Blunkett, only slightly less liberal than Jack Straw, and in some places even as liberal as Michael Howard!

That would obviously be a *massive* improvement on the policy paper, and so that amendment should definitely pass.

And amendment five, from LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, contains some good, sorely needed, policy on treatment of LGBT+ asylum seekers. It should pass.

All these amendments are good, strong, liberal positions that fix glaring problems with the motion. Sadly, there are far more problems than there are amendments (even given the number and length of amendments chosen for debate). There’s nothing in here for example to amend the motion giving extra funding to Border Force (the UK equivalent of ICE).

The motion and accompanying policy paper, as I’ve said before, are a shit sandwich. These amendments all do their best to scrape as much of the shit filling out as they can, but at the end of that you’re still left with two slices of shit-covered bread. Even if the bread is quite nice, it’s still better to throw it away and start again than to eat it.

So if I were going to conference, I’d vote to reference back, I’d vote for all the amendments, and whether or not the motion was amended, if the reference back wasn’t successful I’d vote against the motion as a whole. I strongly hope that anyone who can make it to conference this year will do the same. And I’d like to thank LD4SOS, LGBT+ Lib Dems, and the individual proposers of the other amendments for putting far more thought and liberalism into their amendments than the drafters of the motion did into their motion.

Because it isn’t a motion for liberals, it’s a bowel movement for moderates. Demand better.

This blog post has been brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment