Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Decided to stop using the blog but I'm leaving it here for posterity!

Anyone who wants to follow my new stuff I'm at

Thursday, 23 August 2012

An Opinion in it's Own Right

Lib Dem party conference in Brighton starts in four weeks and two days (not that I'm counting or anything). I'm looking forward to it mainly because I feel like it'll be the first one where I'll be able have a really good time meeting up with people I rarely see; this didn't happen at the first two I attended because for the first one in Birmingham I knew a grand total of two Lib Dems and went to conference entirely alone and the second one in Gateshead was full of general awkwardness caused by meddling 12 year-olds.

One thing I am slightly apprehensive about is how people perceive me. I'm not arrogant enough to assume I'm going to be brought up in conversations on a regular basis by the way, I just think it might happen once or twice. 

I'm the East Midlands Regional Chair for Liberal Youth and I'm busy organising some LY action days in Corby EN. 

I'm the Chair of University of Leicester Liberal Youth which I brought back into life this year after six years of inaction. 

I'm mouthy. I tweet more than I should and people remember.

Someone somewhere is bound to mention me at least once. But them talking about me isn't the concern. The worry isn't that they'll talk about all the stuff I've done or my political opinions, I'm more than okay with that, it's that they'll assume my opinions aren't mine. 

It's not that people accuse me of taking my opinions from whoever wrote the editorial in that morning's Guardian, they assume they come from my boyfriend. 

It's happened before, 3 or 4 times maybe, I've said something vaguely 'right-wing' or libertarian, probably against plain packaging or in favour of the NHS bill, and the person I'm talking to has said something along the lines of "well given who you're dating that's not surprising". 

I'm sorry? Because I'm dating someone whose opinions I share they couldn't possibly be my own, they have to be his? 

I'm sure the people who've said this to me aren't being intentionally sexist but it certainly feels like it! The assumption that a woman can't have formed her own opinions based on what she's read or heard, the assumption that she couldn't possibly think for herself and she's just based her opinions on what a man close to her thinks really aren't assumptions anyone should be making in the 21st century. 

Someone reading this is going to have made those assumptions. Maybe not about me but about someone. 

I'm pretty sure that at some fringe event, probably for Liberal Reform, someone will recognise me and assume I'm there because I'm dating the co-chair, not because I actually agree with the group's aims and want to help see that come through as party policy. 

That is depressing as hell. 

Friday, 8 June 2012

Let down but not left behind

Originally posted across at everyone's favourite Liberal Youth blog, now under new editorship :)


Liberal Democrat education policy is good. We are giving 15 hours of free pre-school education to disadvantaged toddlers, stopping children falling behind in basic reading skills and we are committed to ending child poverty by 2020. The jewel in the crown so to speak is the Pupil Premium: money given directly to schools for each pupil on free school meals to spend as they see fit. In the next academic year my old junior school will be given over £79,000 and my senior school will get almost £150,000. All of this is fantastic news and hopefully will going some way towards tackling social mobility and stopping children falling behind.

One thing we don’t seem to be looking at is the children who need a different kind of help, the ones who don’t fall behind because they’re what my school deemed ‘gifted and talented’. The sixth form college in my town looked at the academic performance of children at junior school and picked the best ones – including me - to put on their ‘gifted and talented list’; we were enrolled in a summer school for a fortnight between junior and comprehensive school, taken on trips to Oxford and Cambridge and generally encouraged to think about applying to elite universities.

Unfortunately this level of encouragement wasn’t carried across to the schools. I was, for want of a better word, ignored at school because the focus was on getting students to leave with the magic 5 A*-C grade GCSEs. This meant that the focus was on pupils around the C-D border, because I could get top marks without much effort I wasn’t given as much attention. I can’t blame the teachers, I can only imagine the pressure they were under to get students up to C grade and they were probably relieved to have students like me who they didn’t have to worry about, but it did mean that I didn’t achieve my full potential. I left school with 4 A*s, 5 As and 3 Bs and I left college with AAA* grades but I go to a university that could in no way be described as ‘elite’ and my marks at university are good but nothing remarkable because I was never pushed. My teachers were happy to leave me to blag it because at GCSE that still got me good grades but I’m rapidly discovering that – unsurprisingly – that doesn’t work at university. A lot of this is my fault; I don’t try as hard as I should and I certainly don’t manage my time well – last minute essays are a speciality – but I do feel that the lack of drive I have now has something to do with the fact that I was never tested by previous education.

The Liberal Democrats are doing a fantastic job of encouraging those from disadvantaged backgrounds and showing young people that there are more options open to them than just university by creating more apprenticeships than ever before but we’re still missing a trick. There are some young people whose talent is being allowed to waste because they don’t find the education system enough of a challenge. Helping disadvantaged and underachieving pupils make the most of their education is a noble aim but it should not come at the expense of those who are more able. Labour allowed this situation to develop; the Liberal Democrats cannot allow it to continue.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

A Marriage of Convenience

Yesterday two quite normal things happened. Barack Obama gave a television interview and the Queen made a speech. Except they weren't that normal; Obama gave a hastily arranged interview to ABC News where he finally - after years of frankly just pissing about - endorsed same sex marriage and Her Majesty read her speech whilst sitting on a golden throne wearing an ermine and velvet cape and a massive crown (it might be normal for her but let's be honest it's not normal for most people!).

Obama has long claimed to oppose same sex marriage, favouring instead civil unions, but since 2010 he has often claimed his position was 'evolving'. I'm afraid 'evolving' was never good enough for me, it's one of the main reasons I've always disliked him. Its no secret that I'm a massive fan of Hillary Clinton but she herself opposes SSM and favours civil unions but unlike Obama she has always said this. 

In 1996 Illinois state Senate candidate Barack Obama was very much in favour of SSM and in response to a question from a newspaper stated "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages." 

How times change. 

So to everyone who exploded with joy upon hearing the now President say "At a certain point, I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married" just remember a few things
  • He already supported this
  • He 'changed his mind' between running for the state Senate and the national Senate
  • It's taken him four years of 'evolving' to get to this point
  • It's an election year. This position clearly sets him apart from Mitt Romney
One of those getting far too fawning over the President finally arriving at the end of his evolutionary journey was Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill, who tweeted his joy whilst also expressing his disappointment that SSM wasn't included in the Queen's Speech. 

Except it was never going to be. 

The government consultation is still running so obviously a bill couldn't have been included when the results of the consultation are not yet known. You'd think the Chief Executive of Europe's largest gay rights charity would know that.

The omission that wasn't an omission has led to many criticising David Cameron for 'backing down' on his commitment to SSM but I'd argue that Cameron deserves more praise for backing SSM than Obama. Obama comes from the party that outlawed segregation, allowed homosexuals to serve openly in the army and wants to extend affordable healthcare to all. Cameron comes from the party who championed Section 28. The fact that DC is able and willing to stand up for the right to marry, regardless of sexuality should be applauded. Obama should be ashamed.

Sorry to disagree with you tweeps but yesterday you were applauding the wrong man.

Monday, 30 April 2012

The Value of Nothing

I have intermittent appointments with a counsellor at my University's healthcare centre. I'm not going to go into why or what my counsellor and I talk about because frankly that's none of your business. And also because that's not the point of this post. 

Today I realised something. Nothing dramatic, nothing profound, just something. 

Silence is fantastic. 

And rare.

Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you that I talk too much; I don't stop for lectures or movies, I talk to myself if there's no-one around and I have even been known to talk in my sleep. My best friend at school was the silent one, it has been said on more than one occasion that could be because she couldn't get a word in edgeways, but I always had an opinion or a thought about whatever was being discussed. But at these appointments I just don't. Before today there have always been moments of silence, periods where I didn't know what to say or didn't want to say anything and the shrink wouldn't push it because he wanted to see what I had to say for myself, not just what I thought he wanted to hear in response to my questions (I guess that's the idea anyway). Today though I spoke for maybe ten minutes out of the hour. 

I normally hate silence and find it distracting, I need the TV on or the radio or people talking just to enable me to work. I told the shrink this, he asked what I used this silence to distract me from or was it different kind of silence and I realised that I enjoy sitting in silence for parts of an hour a week. 

The idea that silence is missing in the modern world isn't new, this isn't a dramatic revelation but it did make me think that maybe I need to spend more time listening and less time talking. 

Starting now.

Sunday, 29 April 2012


Just submitted my nomination for East Midlands Regional Chair for the Liberal Youth elections. There are several things I'd want to do in the job and it's these things that motivated me to run.

1. My local party isn't fantastic, Leicester has had a lot of problems with internal factions over the last decade and has gone from successful to having only one councillor (even he is a defector from the Conservatives), so I went looking for my regional chair for some advice when setting up a branch at University only to discover that The East Midlands hasn't had a chair for almost six months, the last one defected to the Green Party. I really hope to be able to stand up as someone people can come to if they have issues or need help and support with something

2. I myself wasn't a member of Liberal Youth before I turned 18, simply because I didn't know you could be. I was out campaigning for my local Lib Dem PPC for months before officially becoming a member because at no point did anyone tell me Liberal Youth existed. I think it's vital that we reach out to our younger members and especially make sure that local parties encourage young people to join and participate.

3. A related point is that we need to make sure we represent all young people, not just students. We're not Labour Students, we're Liberal Youth, and we need to make sure our focus isn't just on those in further and higher education. We need to reach out and include graduates, young workers, interns and the youth unemployed.

The manifesto doesn't allow me to go into the detail I'd like and there are almost certainly other issues that I am passionate about but if you have any questions feel free to tweet me @RebelRevell or comment on here and feel free to like my Facebook page which will be updated periodically :)

Interviewing Tim Farron

Spring Conference seems like such a long time ago now all those weeks ago I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview Party President Tim Farron. Here is my report of the interview which was originally posted at the Libertine, there you can also find the other three bloggers' interviews :)


When I saw that Liberal Youth wanted bloggers to interview Tim Farron I was more than a little bit up for it, I got an ‘opportunity’ to interview David Miliband through my university magazine and he turned up quite late so in the end I didn’t get to ask a question at all. I love following Tim on Twitter and it’s fantastic that he takes the time to respond to people on an individual basis so I was definitely interested. ‘Blogger’ isn’t maybe the word for me though, my blog is a site a shout at once a month when some issue has gotten me angry then I forget about it for another three weeks. Luckily I was asked if I’d do it anyway so I couldn’t really say no!

Four folks all asking questions when you only have half an hour – Tim’s a busy guy at the best of times, never mind at Spring Conference with the country’s media watching – doesn’t give you a lot of time to ask your questions but I got to asked two; one that had political significance and related to an article Tim had written in previous day in the Guardian and one that was more about Tim as a person.

Tim’s article said that the Liberal Democrats need to stop apologising so following on from that I asked on where Lib Dems should be looking forward or back, I can safety say that Tim’s answer was the fully expected ‘bit of both’. "This is an opportunity to do things, and to change things in a very positive sense…I look at our flag ship policy [raising the income tax threshold] that I’m pretty sure going to get delivered and quicker…My great fear in all of this is that even that news gets swamped."

I think Tim taps into the feeling that a lot of people in the party have is that whilst we are in government doing brilliant things for people it gets overshadowed by some of the not so popular things that the government does or things that are beyond government control, Liberal Democrats seem to get the blame but not the credit.

We have to be mindful that Labour have a narrative to try and pitch us as being weak and keeling over in front of the Tories which isn’t true. And this is something I’ve encountered on several occasions, people are quick to criticise us for being the Tories’ whipping boys but when you explain to them our policies in government, both what we’ve done so far and our plans for the future, they are quite often receptive to them.

My second question to Tim asked what his proudest achievement as Party President had been so far. I expected him to name a policy he supported but was quite surprised that his first choices were the new HQ and the appointment of a new Chief Executive. These are, in his own words, “geeky” choices but they are clearly things he is proud of and he went on to say the bit of the job he enjoys most is “just getting out there, and knocking on doors and lifting spirits”. He told a story of going out campaigning with councillors and MSPs who lost their jobs in 2011 but who are still hard at work campaigning for the Liberal Democrats and it was obvious how proud he is of the grassroots campaigners who made the party what it is and who, by and large, are very supportive of him.

One of the great things about Tim as a Party President is that he is so approachable and willing to take time out of his undoubtedly busy schedule to talk to four Liberal Youth bloggers around a cramped table under the stairs at the back of a conference centre. We can only hope he remains as approachable and eager to reach out to all wings of the party in the future.