My Response to the Welsh Governments LGBTQ+ Action Plan

Here it is. I couldn’t have done it without the help of Merched Cymru‘s brilliant cutting through the obfuscation, and it’s by no means a comprehensive criticism, but I’m pleased that I have got across my main reservations in my own words.

I’m happy enough for people to use bits of it for inspiration of course, but try not to lift it direct – this is very me.

Q1. Do you think the Action Plan will increase equality for LGBTQ+ people and what do you think the priorities should be?
No. It’s centred around trans rights, which are sometimes in conflict with LGB rights and womens rights, as is becoming clearer day by day to anyone with an eye on the news.
Some people (agreeing with Stonewall’s view) now define being gay / lesbian as ‘same-gender attracted’ whereas many gay / lesbian people are pretty certain that it actually means ‘same-SEX attracted’.
I don’t dispute that Stonewall’s perspective is valid, but it is not the only one, and it looks to me like you should have a wider panel of ‘experts’ if you really wanted to increase equality for everyone.
As it is, trans people stand to benefit, while anyone who requires single-sex spaces will lose out.
It is particularly poignant that one of those groups is women. The terrible statistics on violent crime and murder against women make it strikingly obvious that they are the most vulnerable group within our society and any rights they currently have should be strengthened, not weakened.
As for LGBTQ+ people, the common priorities remain safety from harassment, fair policing,  and ending discrimination in employment, housing and health. Beyond that the priorities to me appear to be different.
LGB is based on sexuality, and the priorities are about retaining sexuality-specific rights and spaces; TQ+ is based on gender identity and the priorities seem to be about recognition and validation.
Perhaps you need two plans?

Q2. Do you agree with the overarching aims?
What would you add or take away in relation the overarching aims?
I am all for ‘advancing equality’, as long as it is not at the expense of others.
I’m not sure about the ‘rights’ bit, that seems very unclear. There’s no mention of exactly what rights need to be ‘recognised and mainstreamed’.
If you are meaning the opportunity to record gender-identity on official forms and such then I have no objection to that as long as there is a ‘none’ option (similar to religion) for those of us who don’t believe that gender identity is a thing, and as long as it is in addition to, and does not replace, biological sex.
If you are meaning ‘Self-ID’ I am very opposed to that, at least until the language and terminology in the whole debate has been clarified. Once we stop conflating sex with gender, then I think we stand a chance of creating policies that respect everyone equally. Until then, you have only to look at events in places such as Ireland, Canada and Norway where Self-ID is law, or here, where Self-ID has already been implemented, to see that it has been abused – the case of Karen White, for example. Very bad news for women!
As mentioned before, you need to widen the expertise and views on your panel. Gender Identity Ideology is just one perspective, and not enough if you truly wish to improve the lives of all people in Wales.

Q3. Do you agree with the proposed actions? What would you add or take away in relation the actions?
I could be here all week, but these are the main points for me:
(9) Seek to devolve powers in relation to Gender Recognition and support our Trans community. 
So Self-ID then. Definitely not at the moment. As discussed above. It has already been shown to be abused, both here and in other countries. If the difference between sex and gender is understood and clarified and you retain biological sex-based spaces and laws then no problem.

(10) Use all available powers to ban all aspects of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy and seek the devolution of any necessary additional powers. 
‘Conversion therapy’ has also been in the news recently, and I fear that what you’re actually referring to here is an attempt to stop therapists exploring gender dysphoria, as they would any other dysphoria, or psychological discomfort. Therapeutic practise is already well regulated in the UK and therapists by default will neither affirm nor deny someone’s view of themselves, but they will seek to enhance someone’s understanding of that. THis of course could end up clarifying someone’s feelings about, and intentions to, transition – for or against.  It might open up other possibilities to less invasive, costly, and risky solutions. That is not conversion, but increasing the persons understanding of themselves and their dysphoria. To me that seems a much more balanced approach, and would help to avoid some of the terrible stories we read about from young people who regret their early transitioning, and feel their gender dysphoria should have been challenged.
I’m pretty sure most abusive techniques that were in the past applied to change peoples sexuality are already illegal.

(11) Explore ways unnecessary personal identifications such as name, age and gender markers can be removed from documentation particularly in recruitment practices. 
I thought trans people WANTED to be recognised officially? Maybe I have misunderstood something there – I had thought ADDING a gender identity option would be a good thing for those that want it. If this is about removing ‘SEX’ from forms I disagree strongly – we need that information to understand crime trends, health needs, etc.

(14) Work with Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables, along with other criminal and social justice partners, to review the under-reporting of LGBTQ+ hate crimes with the aim of acting to further improve the levels of reporting. 
I’m very worried about the understanding of what ‘hate crimes’ are at the moment, and feel these need much greater clarity. Just questioning Gender Identity Ideology can invite accusations of ‘transphobia’ and ‘hate’ even though many trans people themselves do not go along with it.
As someone who grew up in the 60s and faced ‘homophobia’ I can tell you from personal experience that someone saying ‘I don’t agree with you’ is a hell of a long way from the violence and hatred that we have spent decades moving away from. (And the police were part of that, so no help there.)

(43/44) Commit to review the Gender Identity pathway for children and young people in Wales following the review in NHS England. 
Commit to review the Gender Identity pathway for children and young people in Wales following the review in NHS England. 
You need to commit to widening the medical treatment pathways for anybody with gender dysphoria, children and adults, so that transitioning, with all its costs and risks, while still an option, is not the PREFERRED option. (To me it seems like it should be a very last resort.)

Q4. What are the key challenges that could stop the aims and actions being achieved?
You need to sort out the definitions, get a wider base of experts and look at the language, some of which many older gay and lesbian people, such as myself, will find offensive.

Q5. What resources (this could include funding, staff time, training, access to support or advocacy services among other things) do you think will be necessary in achieving the aims and actions outlined?
In terms of ‘advancing equality’ I think there is a potentially serious problem brewing in that the activities of trans rights activists across the UK are making non LGBTQ+ people more suspicious and antagonistic towards LGBTQ+ people . I have noticed this in my small rural community, and have felt a need to artifically initiate conversations about trans rights in order to distance myself from the terrible bullying tactics and mystifying language demands that we see on an almost daily basis. Whether this is related to the recent spate of homophobic attacks across the UK (and here in my very local Carmarthen) I don’t know. I want to make clear that I differentiate trans rights activists from trans people themselves, many of whom, I know, just want to get quietly on with their lives. So in short – some resources need to be put into stopping the backslide into more aggressive forms of homophobia and transphobia that had been on the decline.
If that can be dealt with, I think you need to carry on with what was already happening – more varied and less stereotyped exposure on mainstream media, relationship education in schools, etc.
I was not that comfortable in Wales in 2008.
I was VERY comfortable in Wales in 2018.
I’m definitely NOT so comfortable in 2021, and your action plan worries me that I will be LESS so in the future, partly because of what you are proposing, and partly because of what I fear will be the general public’s backlash to it.
You need to put resources into a new panel.
Until Stonewall widen their outlook, you should not waste resources on them. If you don’t understand why, then go listen to the Nolan Investigates podcast on BBC Sounds.

Q6. Do you feel the LGBTQ+ Action Plan adequately covers the intersection of LGBTQ+ with other protected characteristics, such as race, religion or belief, disability, age, sex, and marriage and civil partnership? If not, how can we improve this?
No. How do the sex-based orientations – lesbian, gay bisexual – fit in with the TQ+? You don’t make it clear whether women’s single-sex spaces will be respected as trans rights are opened up, and that to me seems fundamental. Women, not trans people, are the most vulnerable group in our society.

Q7. We would like to know your views on the effects that these proposals would have on the Welsh language, specifically on opportunities for people to use Welsh and on treating the Welsh language no less favourably than English. What effects do you think there would be? How could positive effects be increased, or negative effects be mitigated?
The plan is a messy language muddle in english, in my opinion. I can speak welsh but wouldn’t get very far with this! Much clearer definitions are needed, and only ones that can be AGREED across the whole spectrum of people – not just Stonewall’s Gender Identity Ideology definitions, which most people would question. The english dictionary is a good starting point, before starting on the welsh.

Q8. Please also explain how you believe the proposed policy approach could be formulated or changed so as to have positive effects or increased positive effects on opportunities for people to use the Welsh language and on treating the Welsh language no less favourably than the English language, and no adverse effects on opportunities for people to use the Welsh language and on treating the Welsh language no less favourably than the English language.

Sorry – couldn’t get my head around that one!

Q9. This plan has been developed in co-construction, and discussions around language and identity have shown that the acronym LGBTQ+ should be used. This stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning people, with the + representing other sexual identities. As a result we refer to LGBTQ+ people in the Plan.
What are your views on this term and is there an alternative you would prefer? Welsh speakers may wish to consider suitable terminology in both languages.

I have already expressed that the LGB groups in the acronym have different needs to the TQ+, so I don’t really like the lumping together. Less so, now that trans rights activism is having a detrimental effect across the board.
That said, the much bigger issue is the use of the word ‘queer’. For me this is a deeply offensive word, associated with humiliation, intimidation, verbal abuse and physical violence. It was a word that I internalised for my own intense shame and self-hatred as a child, and which I subsequently spent years trying to break free from. I do remember back in the 80s, during the Section 28 protests we did have a good go at reclaiming it, but it didn’t stick. To have it ‘reclaimed’ here by people using it as an identity, most of whom are too young to have been on the sharp end of homophobia and are not gay anyway, is deeply offensive. I can’t express it enough – absolutely disgusted by this, and it makes me feel that this plan has no respect for people of my generation and of what we lived through. Deeply deeply offensive.

Q10. We have asked a number of specific questions. If you have any related issues which we have not specifically addressed, please use this space to report them:

You have a decent starting point with the trans stuff covered, but this is not balanced with other needs. Please go back and listen to a wider range of voices.

Saying NO to the Trans Rights Activists. Saying YES to women, gay men, lesbians and … trans people!

I’ve been wanting to wave my flag on the trans rights issues for a while, but have kept putting it off because it is difficult, and in parts for me painful, but what with the stuff that’s been going on at Sussex Uni this last week I know that I can’t put it off any longer. I know not many people read my blog, but some of my friends do, who may or may not be familiar with the issues, and some of whom may have assumed that with me being gay I am a ‘trans ally’. Well … yes and no … Debbie Hayton, for instance: she’s a trans woman, and I would be proud to stand by her as an ally any day of the week, and there are others. BUT …

… I also stand with Kathleen Stock, Jo Phoenix, Marion Millar, Maya Forstater, Alison Bailey, JK Rowling, Jess De Wahls, Keira Bell, Sonia Appleby, Rosie Duffield, Kemi Badenoch, Graham Linehan, James Esses and all the many others who are called transphobic because they have challenged Gender Identity Ideology (as has Debbie Hayton and other trans people). I personally don’t consider myself transphobic but I know that I AM to the Trans Rights Activists who are fighting to implement Gender Identity Ideology globally. And with great success. In the UK, via Stonewall, it has made its presence felt in all the political parties, the NHS, the Police, you name it: the erasure of the word ‘woman’ is a hot topic at the moment (but not the word ‘man’?); ‘vulnerable’ trans women sex offenders such as Karen White get to serve time in womens prisons and go on to rape inmates therein; gay men and lesbians are shamed for being ‘same-sex attracted’ rather than ‘same-gender attracted’ (but not heterosexuals?); women are called bigots because they do not want to open up their single-sex spaces, refuges, and rape crisis centres to trans women.

Trans Rights Activists, and their ‘allies’ would like us all to believe that

“trans women are women” and “trans men are men”.

I don’t believe it’s that simple, but I do believe …

“[Trans people] deserve to be safe, to be visible throughout society without shame or stigma,  and to have exactly the life opportunities non-trans people do.”

Those are Kathleen Stock’s words from her book ‘Material Girls‘, which doesn’t sound like someone who is transphobic to me. But she has been on the end of the most horrendous bullying campaign by Trans Rights Activists who are trying to get her removed from her job. She is now under police protection and has to conduct her lectures via Zoom. I’m nowhere near as erudite and eloquent as Kathleen Stock, so I’ll leave the serious challenges to Gender Identity Ideology to her, and others of her ilk – Helen Joyce of the Economist has also written an amazing and thorough book ‘Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality‘ – where those challenges are clearly laid out.

I will say though that generally I think Gender Identity Ideology is a load of regressive bollocks, playing into gender stereotypes that I thought we were leaving behind. I also think it is very dangerous and harmful, hence the need for people to stand up and speak out, and for me to let my friends know exactly where I stand. I personally don’t believe I have a ‘gender identity’, in the same way that I don’t have a ‘political identity’. I accept that the concept might be a useful tool for some people to describe their ‘masculine’ and/or ‘feminine’ personality traits, but to me it is NOT useful, it is not a ‘thing’ and just seems like a strait jacket, and on a par with the concept of an immortal ‘soul’. I am who I am and I like what I like, pink or blue, no problem.

It hasn’t always been this way – when I was young I was called a cissy and teased mercilessly for being ‘girlie’ and I can remember knowing that I would have been happier as a girl. I can still feel the shame I felt as a child – for being not good enough as a boy. It chills me to my bones that Gender Identity Ideology’s response to that boy would be to identify him as trans and, without any exploration, ‘affirm’ that identity and set him on a course of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgery. This is insisted upon, as the only correct and compassionate option, even when it is known that most of these children will grow out of it. I did. Most of these children turn out gay or lesbian. I did. Pushing them into a trans identity and setting them on the transitioning pathway is to make them dependent on medical interventions for life.

If you are in any doubt of the horrors of transitioning kids – read this interview with Marci Bowers, a top American trans surgeon

For the children who have transitioned these last few years, there are now numerous reports of regret. The ‘de-transitioner’ stories are heartbreaking – there is no way back, very little help available, and furthermore there is censure and rejection from the very community that encouraged them to do it in the first place. My heart beats faster writing this – I could very well have ended up on this operating table, and then as a de-transitioner. Young women are left with facial hair and deepened voices and having had unnecessary mastectomies. Young men are left with micro-penises and stunted bone growth.  It is deeply saddening for me to think that the homophobic environment of the 60s and 70s that I grew up in, and that has so marked my life, is actually preferable to what has happened in this last decade.

Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #1) by Armistead Maupin

But “trans people are the most vulnerable people in our society”, or so we are told. Keir Starmer said it himself very recently. I’m not convinced. When most people think of a trans person they see someone who has struggled with gender dysphoria, gone through the process of gender reassignment surgery and are living their quiet lives as members of the opposite sex – like our beloved Mrs Madrigal. Someone we used to call a transsexual. The trans umbrella is much larger now and whilst transsexuals are a significant minority within that, trans now extends to anyone who identifies as a person of the opposite sex to their own biological sex. Gender dysphoria may or may not play a part in that, as may or may not sexual fetish. Some of this group may be ‘vulnerable’ but many are most definitely not, and it is easy to see why women do not want to open up the doors of their changing rooms, toilets, single-sex spaces to anybody who simply identifies as a ‘woman’. That word used to mean ‘adult human female’, but now seems to be more closely equated with trans identified male fantasies of the word – I am a woman when I wear women’s clothes, have my hair styled, wear make-up, tilt my head coyly and flutter my eyebrows.

It is no wonder that women are angry and leading the protest movement against Gender Identity Ideology. They are also the targets of the most vitriolic abuse, because they are not complying. Some women – those in prisons – are forced to comply, and are punished if they ‘misgender’ the ‘woman’ with male genitals who is housed with them. One of the responses to the Stephen Wood/David Thompson/Karen White debacle was that he/she was ‘not really trans’ at all, but whether they were or not is actually irrelevant. If anyone can get into a womens prison by simply saying ‘I am a woman’, then that is a loophole that IS going to be exploited, and has been. If ‘Self-ID’ comes in and any man can declare themselves a woman without any medical validation whatsoever, then at some point some predatory male, trans or not, WILL take advantage of that to gain access to womens changing rooms and single-sex spaces and thus to women. That is obvious. Sex crimes and violence are the real tangible risk, but beyond that is simply the everyday fear that many women will have of sharing their private spaces with unknown males, who may or may not have ulterior motives. How will they know if they are safe? I know we cannot police every aspect of life, but this is a backwards step. (The bathroom/changing room discussion seems to be only about trans women wanting to access womens spaces.) Aside from the validation of identity, one thing I have read is that trans identified males feel unsafe using men’s facilities. I can understand that. I do sometimes.  But surely that should just help us better understand the women’s position? This is an ideal opportunity to challenge and educate homophobic and transphobic men. Men come in all shapes and sizes and it would be great to able to wear what we like without fear of abuse and violence if we enter a changing room. It’s time to tackle it. I know that might seem like a bridge too far in the current debate and unachieveable at the moment, but if that’s the case then a second-best option would be trans people arguing for their own facilities. Leave the women alone. And enough with the ‘vulnerable’ argument – you’ve only got to look at the violence and murder statistics to see that it is women who are most at risk in this society, not trans identified males.

A few weeks back now Triskelion Yarn got effectively cancelled. Caerthan had retweeted some gender critical content and invoked the wrath of trans rights activists who had then contacted a show that he was due to attend. The show was supportive right down the line, but Caerthan didn’t feel he could face any potential problems nor did he wish to cause problems for the show. So he didn’t go. Fine – we can still sell online.

He also, wisely, withdrew from social media. I kept an eye on the Triskelion pages to see if the abuse would abate, which it did. Hopefully that’s the end of it – we will see next time we go to a show.

But as a result, I also started to use Twitter. I found it very shocking. So many of the debates seemed to be about language – dictionary definitions, and what words have evolved to mean, what words have been apropriated, invented, and re-invented. How on earth can anything be discussed if we don’t agree on the language? Predictably I have mostly followed gender critical people, but I have also followed a few trans rights activists. I found myself ‘liking’ many of their posts on other topics – the environment, refugee stuff, Chris Packham’s harrassment etc., and thinking … “well … this person has values broadly similar to my own”. Except for the trans rights, where there is this gaping chasm. I’m too much of a coward to engage on Twitter (aside from the verbal blood and gore, I don’t really understand all the Twitter buttons and terms), but it was plain to me that ‘sex’ ‘gender’ and ‘biology’ in particular are not clear in peoples understanding, and I wondered how much deliberate obfuscation of language there has been, and by whom. Are we being deliberately kept at loggerheads?

I don’t know. That, for me, is a very frightening thought. Along with the fake accounts and deliberate lies. Why would someone do that?

But back to the everyday battles that have pushed me to write this. I am frightened for womens right and for women. I am frightened for gay rights. I am frightened for everyday trans people who do not want this much attention. I am particularly frightened for Kathleen Stock. And I am frightened about where this could all end, unless people start finding the courage to stand up and say: “Trans rights – fine, but NOT at the expense of any other group.”

Oh yes … and THEN there’s women’s sports … and the dating apps … and … I’ll shut up.

Thank you for reading if you’ve got this far!

Recommended Reading

Material Girls – Kathleen Stock
Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality – Helen Joyce
Sex Matters – arguing for sex, not gender to be the basis in law
Transgender identities: a series of invited essays – The Economist
Welcome to Transtopia – Lily Maynard
Gender HQ – A RESOURCE & COMMUNITY For People Concerned about Same-sex Attracted Young People Harmed by Medical Transition for Gender Dysphoria
Transgender Trend – Support for parents of trans kids
MerchedCymru (Welsh Women) –  resource for welsh women challenging Gender Identity Ideology

Election Time again, but actually – time for Sortition!

Election time again. My heart sinks as the horrors of our adversarial political system spread out onto the streets and get even nastier than usual. I have been in a quandary about this one, and will probably feel compelled to tactically vote – the media bias has been extraordinary and the stakes seem higher than normal. But tactical voting for something that I don’t believe in, in order to thwart the frontrunner disgusts me – THIS HAS TO STOP!!

I believe very strongly that the time has come to stop giving power to the people who are seeking it, and instead build an entirely new expression of democracy with a sustained responsibility and engagement from the ground up, as opposed to marking a cross every few years and then moaning about it until the next time. The world has changed and our voices can be heard without self-serving representatives.

Is this possible? Yes. The way forward is sortition, in one form or another.

I have believed this for some time, but have always thought it could never happen – how would we get from where we are now to something so radically different? Well … I have some ideas about that … read on …

The Problem, very roughly …

So … companies, organisations, businesses and teams all over the world know that the best work is done when we are working together. Small fortunes are spent on team-building exercises, training in positive reinforcement and constructive criticism etc. But not in parliament. There, our elected representatives sit squarely opposite each other, tearing each others ideas, and each other, to shreds with very little listening, care and respect. Why? Well it’s easy to think of them all as devolved Banksy chimps, but I don’t believe that – at least some are there with genuinely good intentions I think. Unfortunately running the country is not the only agenda. Much energy is spent on one-upmanship, jostling for power, and an eye is always on the next election. Creativity and honesty is compromised further by party lines and ‘the whip’. How can we expect good decisions to be made in this nightmare working environment? Outside of the House the political parties seek and receive the support of businesses and organisations who of course have interests of their own …

Just as important is what the rest of us are doing, or NOT doing. Every few years we go and cast our vote. We can then pretty much forget about it until the next time. Some of us might get passionate about a party, or a politican; many of us will habitually stick with a party, sometimes down through generations of our family; most will simply leave the job of running the country to others and be disengaged.

There are lots of sortition models, but as an example I have outlined how one solution could work, very roughly …

MPs are randomly selected from the adult population, similarly to jury duty, except it would not be compulsory. There would be a fixed amount of time that a person could serve, say three years, with a third of the MPs changing annually. An annual rotation would allow an incoming MP to be mentored, and also mean parliament never has to shut down.
On a day to day basis parliament could be run from Regional Centres across the UK, meaning significantly larger numbers of MPs could be catered for – with a pool of, say, 1000 MPs across the UK parliament which could work to healthy hours 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year.
Within each Regional Centre issues could be discussed and explored in small groups designed to allow everyone to have a voice, not just the loudest and most forceful. Because business, power and funding interests will have been removed the focus can be on evidence-based solutions, calling on an active civil service and scientific think tanks for resources and information. Results from each small group are shared and evaluated, possibly generating more questions, discussion or a vote. Regional Centres can be linked by video so that ultimately everyone can come together to share findings and for voting.

Larger decisions could be fielded out for the entire voting public to have a say. Yes – referendums. I know most of us are still traumatised by the 2016 fiasco, so let me briefly outline how I believe a referendum should be run …
If you are asking people to make a decision, you must make sure they have as much relevant information as possible, clearly and without obfuscation of any kind. And whilst everybody would be entitled to vote, only people who have actually understood the issues at hand would be encouraged to vote. No spin. No ‘for’ and ‘against’ parties. Perhaps the odd TV debate but basically, referendums based on non-partisan information packs, produced by a balanced team, and sanctioned by the goverment.

Getting there

So if I had my way, there would be a load of career politicians all looking for work – indeed the very concept would no longer exist. In it’s place there would be a whole nation of people expected to keep up with what’s going on and make intelligent contributions, and a further proportion of those people would be making policy decisions every day. This is of course a huge leap from where we are now, and very different to what we are accustomed to, so how could this be achieved?

1. Replace the House of Lords with a House of Citizens. There is NO good reason why posh people and religious leaders are more qualified to check and challenge the work of the government than anybody else, except maybe they have the arrogance and self-confidence that comes with entitlement. You can read more about a Citizens House here …

2. Outlaw Political Parties. No more shortcutting by picking the Labour or Tory MP, or which ever party offered the least objectionable prime minister. We’d actually have to read the leaflets to find out WHO our potential representative is and what they believe. The elected parliament would then be responsible for appointing governments roles, with or without a ‘prime minister’.
3. Encourage more female politicians.
4. Rip out the oppositional rows of green benches and create a less confrontational horseshoe seating arrangement.
5. Start to encourage more frequent referendums, breaking the public in to being actively engaged with learning about tackling issues and creating a cost-effective ballot system.

5. Raise the profile of debating and decision making in schools so that children are aware from the get-go that they will be actively involved in the running of the country, and that they might have the opportunity to be an M.P. one day.

Whilst points 1, 2, 3 and 4 might seem like the bigger obstacles, I really see 4 and 5 as the most important bits – they are the steps that could really change our politics, our country, our world and ourselves.

If you are interested in knowing more about sortition you can read about that here:

Why I’ll ‘Vote None’ at the June 8th 2017 UK General Election

For most of my life I have voted for a political party that I had a measure of belief in. It was not a mainstream party so, because of ‘first-past-the-post’, it always felt like a wasted vote. Twice, when the consequences appeared to be too great, I was tempted to vote tactically to keep another party out, which worked, but felt like cheating.

At the 2015 election I dutifully cast my vote, but with misgivings – by that time I felt thoroughly jaded by the behaviour of our politicians and our electoral system. Much as I dislike UKIP it seemed appalling that they could take such a significant part of the vote and end up with so few seats. That said, the whole concept of seats now seems redundant to me.

Firstly, I believe we have a responsibility to engage with our culture, our shared lives, our community, our governing and law-making. Part of that, at the minute, means voting – it is one of the few tools we have, however inadequate. How many of us vote for things we don’t really believe in, or don’t even understand? Rather a lot I suspect.

Secondly, I believe that striving for honesty is always useful, if not always easy to achieve.

Combining both of those beliefs means on June 8th I will go to the voting booth and draw a clear line through all the candidates and write ‘None’ as per the suggestion on this website, which I found very encouraging.

Vote NONE on June 6th

The time for party politics and representation is over, and I can’t continue condoning a political system which I have no faith in whatsoever. So what would I like to see in its place?

Sortition is the answer …

It’s time to stop giving power to people who are seeking it. We need to select our government from the general populace as was done in Ancient Greece. From Wikipedia:

“In governance, sortition (also known as allotment or demarchy) selects political officials as a random sample from a larger pool of candidates.[1] The logic behind the sortition process originates from the idea that “power corrupts.” For that reason, when the time came to choose individuals to be assigned to empowering positions, the ancient Athenians often resorted to choosing by lot. In ancient Athenian democracy, sortition was therefore the traditional and primary method for appointing political officials, and its use was regarded as a principal characteristic of true democracy”

Doing something similar to this would mean an end to career politicians. The removal of party politics would mean that a government could work together at finding solutions rather than wasting time and energy on political point-scoring and needlessly pulling down of one another’s ideas – in how many other spheres of work would we put up with the behaviours and manners that we see in the House of Commons?

One very rough model …

From this simplistic starting point I believe many working models could be developed and evolved. I quite like the idea of a government drawn at random from eligible 20 – 35 year olds, who are offered the chance to serve for up to three years. Intakes could be staggered so there is always a change of personnel, with longer-standing members mentoring the newcomers.
Of course, this flexi-government would be supported by a stable civil service and bank of experts in all fields, to be drawn upon as required.
For larger decisions, the entire eligible population would be able to vote in online referendums. In that instance the government’s role would be to ensure that potential voters can access all the relevant information to make a sound decision (unlike our disastrous 2016 referendum, where hard facts seemed very hard to come by).

If it ever came to it, then I’m absolutely certain exact details could be hammered out, but would it work? I don’t know, of course. If we switched over tomorrow, then probably not, but if we knew right from a young age that we might be called upon at some point to help run the country, and had some preparation for that in our school years then I really do think it could. And with careful thought I think a transition from the current form to the new one could also work.

A whole load of corporate corruption could be swept out of the window, and the rest of us could no longer just cast our vote, shirk any further responsibility, and moan about the buggers until the next time!

So … they tell me I can get married …

its not fair – its not natural – gay people are nice – no they’re not – yes they are – its a sin – and so on … and on …

Not that I want to, thank you very much.
I suppose I should be pleased, and part of me is – the part that as a young man campaigned, marched, protested and at times just defied. But that was in the 80s.
As a young teenager in Wisbech in the 70s, my response to omnipotent homophobia was to just run away and hide, which I did, splendidly, in the loony embrace of the Hare Krishnas. Not that they were any less homophobic of course, but they had a downer on sex full stop, so I guess I just didn’t feel so out of place.
But that’s another story …
Today I find myself sitting at my desk working, with a background murmur coming up the stairs of MPs debating this (Caerthan appears to be transfixed). They have spent all day debating it.   I have spent all day getting mad that it is still necessary to debate it. My patience is clearly done. I am angry for men and women everywhere who have had to wait this long to have their relationships recognised.
If you want to comment, DON’T start debating the issue. There is no more debating on this subject here.
I feel better now!