Sunday, 4 March 2012

Unequal marriage: When a tradition becomes a reason, becomes an excuse, becomes a straitjacket

Later this month, the Government will launch a consultation into equal marriage and civil partnership in the UK.

It is something that the Liberal Democrats are very keen to promote, being the only main UK political party to give equal marriage their official policy backing.

The Conservative MP Peter Bone is less enthusiastic and writes today at ConservativeHome that redefining marriage threatens the liberties of Christians, teachers and parents.

His key argument seems to be that if young children are taught about equal marriage, then the conservative, "traditional" view of marriage will not be pre-eminent. As Bone puts it:

...schools will have no choice but to give children equivalent teaching on same sex marriage, even those children of a very young age, including those at primary school.


He worries about "the effect on our schools, children and teachers" and even suggests that parents who disagree with equal marriage may be excluded from being school governors. (It's not a topic that was ever raised during my eight years as a school governor...)

It is simply inconceivable in today’s world where political correctness runs a mock [sic] in our institutions, that there would not be profound consequences for those who hold traditional views.

Parents who object will be treated as bigots and outcasts, possibly excluded from being on the PTA, or from being a governor. Discriminated against and persecuted because they hold views that have been enshrined in our laws and have been the cornerstone of our society for two thousand years.

Just because something has been traditional doesn't mean it's right nor permanent - cf slavery, women's disenfranchisement and any number of "traditions" that seemed like a good idea at the time to those who happened to be doing the oppressing.

Sarah Hanson-Young, a Green Senator for South Australia sums it up:

Watch out for the launch of the Government consultation on Equal Marriage, get in touch with LGBT+ Liberal Democrats and ask them how you can get involved, (a little rainbow bird tells me there will be huge fun to be had, while leafleting gay bars and clubs around the country).

Meanwhile you can add your name to the Coalition for Equal Marriage's petition.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Two chances to meet Nick Clegg in London next week

Town Hall Meeting for Londoners

Londoners can put their questions to Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg next week, in an hour-long discussion in central London.

Iain Dale will host the event on Monday August 8th at 6pm, which will be broadcast live on LBC 97.3.

To apply for a free ticket, fill in the form at the LBC 97.3 website.

Q&A session for London Liberal Democrat members only

And exclusively for London Liberal Democrat members, Nick's taking part in a Q&A session on Wednesday 10 August.

This is a unique chance for London party members to put their questions, queries, suggestions or frustrations directly to Nick.

The event takes place next Wednesday 10 August from 1pm to 2pm, in the David Lloyd George Room at the National Liberal Club, 1 Whitehall Place, London SW1 Nearest tube: Embankment. [map]

For security reasons, please bring your membership card or renewal slip with you and arrive well before the start of the meeting. There is a very pleasant bar serving drinks and snacks in the Club.

Nick wants to meet members from every corner of London, so do encourage members of your local party to attend, even if you are unable to. It will be a great opportunity to find out more about what Liberal Democrats are doing in Government and to voice any concerns.

There is no charge for the event, which is hosted by London Liberal Democrats (Team London). The Club prefers members and visitors to respect a smart dress code.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Bingo! David Cameron's summer email to Tory members and supporters

David Cameron's summer email to members and supporters of the Conservative Party is loooong.

At 898 words (excluding salutation and footer) its long copy invites the reader to invest some time. A quick call to action it ain't.

Tellingly, long copy is often used by advertisers of high-priced or unsought products, to draw buyers in and make them feel justified and more secure in their eventual purchase.

Front-loaded with AV referendum back-patting (in case the reader bounces early), Cameron's email continues with a potted review of the year and a tug on Tory heartstrings.

It's all about the key words.

To see what the Conservatives want readers to take away from the screen, look at the word-cloud above: Can you even spot the word "Conservatives"? It's tiny.

The ingredients have been carefully weighed: It's heavy on words like 'Government', 'right', 'country', 'responsibility' and 'proud', with a pinch of 'tough' and 'difficult' to bring out the flavour of decisions to come.

David Cameron and his scribes sure know their audience and have taken care to serve up what their supporters need to hear. As I've often said at training sessions on copywriting, "It's not about you, it's about them - even when it's about you."

When readers forget the majority of what you write, are you concentrating on what you want them to remember?

Friday, 10 June 2011

Andrew Reeves and the friends in high places... #AndrewReeves

I'm travelling to Edinburgh this morning for the funeral of a dear friend and colleague, Andrew Reeves. I rose at a crazy hour for the journey from London, knowing that Andrew's work day would normally have been well underway by this time.

Caron Lindsay's suggested that those who knew Andrew tweet our memories of him this morning, as we prepare to celebrate his life.

While looking through my photos of Andrew this week I found this one from the Lib Dems' staff Christmas party in 2008:
@andyreeves Even more impressed now!<br /> on Twitpic

The party took place in Parliament and we had a very special visit from a familiar-looking Father Christmas... I asked for a peek at his security pass, joking that his cover was about to be blown, but he produced a Parliamentary Visitors' pass with a photo of the same bearded Santa on it!

How he persuaded the police to take his picture in that outfit and put it on a pass I'll never know!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Campaigners! Get the new Facebook app #YES2AV #LibDems

Lib Dem Voice have launched a new Facebook app to make it easy for you to let your friends on Facebook and Twitter know what campaigning you've been doing.

This is a great way of building up a buzz around our campaigning - and the more someone sees their friends have been campaigning, the more likely they are to join in.

You get a list of actions - select one and publish it to your newsfeed.

Some actions are of the simple "I have done" variety whilst others have the option to add a quantity, such as the number of leaflets.

There's a tab for the "Yes! To Fairer Votes campaign" and another for your regular Lib Dem campaigning.

Find the app at

There's even the option of linking it to your Twitter account.

The app is still in Beta, so drop us a line at if you come across any technical glitches.

Thanks, and happy campaigning!

View this article at its original location.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Nick Clegg reveals his secret passion and talks about Plan B

Leicester, with the by-election writ due to be moved any day now, was the scene of Nick Clegg's latest Town Hall meeting last night.

Around a hundred people from Leicester and surrounding areas attended the event, hosted by Capital FM at the Showcase Cinema De Lux in Highcross Lane.

Subjects covered in Nick's Q&A session included electoral reform, taxation, the NHS and the conflict in Libya, but it was Capital's Anna Tyler who uncovered Nick's musical and media preferences, as only a music station interviewer can:

Anna: You've obviously been really busy this week: Mexico, Washington DC - what do you have on your iPod? Do you have an iPod?

Nick: No I don't; I've just bought an iPad, which has already been commandeered by my kids, and it's got lots of games on it, and lots of cartoons. I love cartoons, I have to confess I have a secret passion for cartoon films so I'm probably watching too much cartoon stuff. But I don't have an iPod, no, I don't carry one with me.

Nick admits that he doesn't listen to much pop music, but loves the last CD he bought: The Defamation of Strickland Banks by Plan B.

I reckon Anna Tyler missed a trick by not asking whether Nick will be using his iPad in the House of Commons.

Outside the cinema, protesters continued to misunderstand that parents and students won't have to pay tuition fees upfront.

Earlier in the day, Clegg visited the Masjid Umar in Evington, and met Lib Dem supporters in Hinckley, including blogger Mathew Hulbert, who writes:
In a key line, he told those of us gathered (at the excellent newly refurbished Atkins building in Hinckley-funded in part by the Lib Dem-ran Borough Council) that, at the next election, there’ll only be one party advocating cuts…Labour.

By then, it is hoped, the nation will be in a much better economic state and we’ll have come to the end of the Coalition’s cuts and the Lib Dems will be able to go to the electorate saying ‘elect us and we’ll invest in public services.’

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Kate Heywood selected as Lib Dem candidate in Brunswick Park by-election, Southwark

Camberwell Liberal Democrats have selected local resident Kate Heywood as the party's candidate for the Brunswick Park by-election on March 10th.

Kate, who has lived in the area for 8 years, is actively involved in local community groups, including as a former management committee member of Bradfield Youth Club on Southampton Way and of All Saints Church, Peckham.

Her 3 pledges to local people:

  • To clean up Camberwell, tackling everything from dog fouling to housing repairs

  • To listen to local people, and be an independent voice for residents

  • To work all year round for all residents, including holding regular advice surgeries

  • Kate commented on her selection:

    I'm very proud to be my party's candidate and I'm looking forward to getting out and hearing from local residents.

    For too long Labour has taken local residents for granted. It's time that local people had a councillor that stood up for them at the Town Hall rather than just doing what the Labour leadership tell them.

    For details of how to join Kate's election campaign, see the contacts on the ALDC website.