Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Where We Work We Win....

I don't like shibboleths. I don't like this particular shibboleth of the Liberal Democrat party "Where We Work We Win".

I understand that we need to motivate our support to come and campaign for us. I don't think generalisations are the way forward - both because they can be counter-productive and also in this particular case, it could lead to burn out.

For me, the phrase more irritates me due to inaccuracy than depresses me but I have met activists who are depressed by this attitude. More depressing to me is blank looks when you raise that there may be a better way of putting this, or sometimes outright hostility and the assumption if you question the received wisdom you must not be working hard enough, possibly accompanied by side eye from the person you are questioning. Because hard workers don't have time to question, you see. Although I've always found there's a lot of time for thought whilst delivering leaflets......

I don't like to raise problems without solutions - so how about some of these for motivation?

- What have you done for the Lib Dems today? 
- Where can you help today/this week?
- Look at all these other activists helping, come join in!

I have an additional concern that phrases like this contribute to a general sense in the party that you can never work hard enough (and I wonder if that happens in other parties too?) and that can lead to burn out and loss of activists - it's important to balance the short and long term. Plus I am sure with a bit of imagination a less judgemental slogan to motivate people could be achieved.  If for no other reason that it should be renewed to keep it fresh. 

As a side issue : I'd actually be interested in the genesis of this phrase, especially as a campaigning motivator, so any idea where it started, or who was it's main advocate? Please answer in the comments if you are aware.

Friday, 20 June 2014

There are some things wrong with sexist and misogynist utterances... here's two.....

James Delingpole, from his reactionary "libertarian", yet curiously conservative pulpit, has pronounced that There Is Nothing Wrong With Wanting To Punch Yasmin Alibhai-Brown In The Throat

The first is it's ludicrously disproportionate to respond to anyone's political opinions by suggesting you would violently assault them. Apart from being an ad hominem attack (e.g. to suggest Michael Fabricant wouldn't know an ad hominem attack if it stood up and told him his haircut disqualifies his opinions from sensible debate), it's not engaging with the argument.  This is far from being the hallmark of a civilized society, in that we should all be so darn grateful Messers Fabricant, Delingpole et al do not feel they should physically attack us when we express opinions they disagree with. Praise be for not actually being assaulted in the House of Commons, female MPs, but do be careful with those opinions dears, wouldn't want to upset the blond bloke in the comedy mustache. 

The second, and most important, is that there IS actually something wrong with being sexist and misogynist. Delingpole attempts to disarm this objection but clearly hasn't done his research, by erm, watching a prime-time Kirsty Wark documentary "Blurred Lines" that was on recently. In fact that does tend to be feature of Delingpole's writing, that he sounds off without thinking about the thrust of his argument and where it may logically lead and perhaps what OTHER people may have achieved in this area.

The evidence says that sexism and misoygny has no effect on those with no pre-existing sexist beliefs, however will encourage those with those pre-existing sexist and misogynist beliefs to express them more. So it's not enough to say Fabricant is an idiot, ignore him - though of course Delingpole doesn't he seeks to justify it with some ill thought through thought police nonsense.

Infidelity isn't illegal in this country, but it is morally wrong to deceive your spouse. It's not illegal to talk about the possibility of assaulting someone, no James. But it's very unpleasant, not becoming of a Member of Parliament, and it encourages sexists and misoygnists to do similar. I really don't think it's something people should rush to back.

One might better reflect that if any opinions are quite so annoying to one, that threatening violence seems a proportionate response, why on earth one had arrived at that point of view.