The Naive Feminist

In a year, I'll probably not believe I wrote this.

Flashback – 19 January 2013 – Women in the Labour Party

I don’t usually like to read my old blog posts. This one was thrown up by the ever wonderfully cringe inducing Timehop this week and I knew it would be atrocious.

However I went back over to it to see if anything had changed for how we engage the ordinary woman in politics.

I don’t think it has that much.

Sure, JC pulls in the crowds and All Women Shortlists are doing fantastic things. But are we focusing on keeping women engaged with us?

The #metoo revolution is doing great things in that it’s opening up conversations and giving women a voice to say what is and what isn’t acceptable. I hope they’re being listened to.

But here it is, in it’s stunted glory.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Women in the Labour Party

On Thursday night I was invited to attend an evening organised by  a few ladies from Broxtowe Labour Party. Entitled ‘Women in the Labour Party’, the guest speaker was Gloria De Piero. Gloria is the Labour MP for Ashfield. Having met her on a number of occasions, I think she is one of the best allies women in the party can have. Second only to Harriet Harman.

Recently, Gloria has embarked on a journey taking her up and down the country to ask voters, ‘Why do people hate me?’. Not as her as a person, but because of her job. I doubt any of us would have to go far to find someone with negative views towards politics and those who represent us in Parliament.

During the evening she talked about this journey and how she feels women in particularly feel devalued and under represented within the party. Many feel that their circumstances such as having a job full time or bringing up children, stop them from progressing within the party and making changes to the their communities. Some even feel that without a university education, they will never get to be an MP. Gloria set out to dispel this myth, she believes that all you need to be an MP is a passion for the community and for helping others.

The evening was attended by women from various groups, some district councillors and some county councillors. Each spoke about their experiences within the party, what got them involved in the first place and what they feel prevents other women from doing the same.

I really enjoyed the evening. There was plenty of cheese and wine doing the rounds. I refrained from any of it to avoid a hangover the next morning at work. As things worked out I woke up with a headache anyway. Not so great.

At work yesterday morning I thought about the women there and how many of them would make great councillors and maybe even politicians. Discussing this with them the same responses kept coming through. Women can’t make a difference. Having what they classed as ‘normal people’ wouldn’t change the broad picture of the Labour Party. They even felt the system of who gets into Parliament was a fix. Some said that if they did join the party, they wouldn’t be taken seriously enough to progress up to the ranks of MP. I myself feel that the level of support for those who did wish to grow through the party is too low. If you want to find something out you almost need to know the answer first before you can look for it. It’s ridiculous.

Young women who work full time, don’t have children and didn’t go to university feel like there’s nothing in the party that concerns them. There aren’t the major issues that they can feel personally interested by. Of course, that doesn’t entirely stop them fighting against child benefit or housing benefit cuts. They still use the national health service and would be at an extreme loss if this was to be lost. As much as they feel angry about tuition fee rises for their friends who attended a university, it was probably for this reason that they didn’t want to go anyway. They would rather get a job and prosper in life as much as possible this way. So what can the Labour Party do for them?

Female MPs aren’t always allowed to carry out the job they started out to do. They have their private family lives dragged through the press and are helpless most of the time to stop it. When speaking to one friend who was undecided about a party she would swear allegiance to, she felt the only MP close to someone she could relate to was Louise Mensch. Enough said.

Unfortunately even at grassroots level the way in which the party is run means people feel disengaged and interested in joining. They don’t want to keep having to attend meetings. They may be ‘doers’. They want to get out on the streets and find out what people want from their party. Meetings about meetings aren’t going to pull anyone in soon. They aren’t going to progress a party who stands a good chance of putting things in this country right. They need the working classes to feel represented at work and at home. It needs to be financially viable for someone to take their passion for helping others and make a difference.

We have a long way to go but we need to engage our fellow female. The Labour Party is the party that can interested thousands, even millions. We aren’t going to achieve this without change.

So has much changed?


To my Jewish friends, I’m sorry for Labour letting you down over and over again.

HeaderNewI haven’t written anything on this blog for quite a while now. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t had much to say but I just haven’t felt like doing so. Been busy running and feeling pretty rubbish about it all.

But then my beloved Labour Party went and opened the door to anti-Semites galore by not expelling Ken Livingstone for life, last night.

So this morning, I am angry.

I went to bed a couple of hours after the ruling was announced having seen vile tweets sent to friends such as the Chair of London Young Labour. Ken Livingstone’s anti-semitic remarks are being excused as “freedom of speech” and “helping pick at the blairite bubble”. By allowing Livingstone to stay in the party these statements are just being accepted as somewhat truthful and fine to say because Labour won’t expel you for it. Which is utterly abysmal and we can’t stand by and let this happen.

Never mind the fact that I don’t think there’s a single Jewish member of Labour this morning that hasn’t probably; a) looked at their membership card and wondered why they should stay in a party so crass and accepting of anti-semitism at the top, and b) not a single one has condoned the comments of Livingstone. Because no matter how much others try and find weak excuses for the man, what he said was racist.

Why is it that at every possible chance Labour has to show that it has zero tolerance on anti-semitism, it chooses to ignore that roll over like a dog and make itself look so weak on it. Jewish Labour were a founding member of Labour and the way in which they are treated now is nothing short of despicable. I can’t convince someone to vote Labour is this is how we treat people. It’s down right wrong of me to want to put Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister when he himself has done nothing (after promising right in front of me to do so) to improve Labour so that Jews feel safe in it. Yet, unsurprisingly he chooses to ignore this. Because his loyalties to Ken are more important.

I’ve seen friends in the party share that over the past 12 hours, they have joined Jewish Labour Movement of which I’m proud to be a member and would encourage anybody who feels strongly that the NCC ruling was not enough, should also consider joining.

And as for our Shadow Attorney General commenting with “showed its ability to look at itself fairly and carefully in the mirror in more difficult times, however painful this might be.” I really don’t think she has any idea of what she is doing, her whitewash of a report was bad enough but this comment is just unbelievable. (She also commented with “I hope people might now revisit my report and remind themselves of better ways to argue about difficult issues without compromising our values of solidarity, tolerance and respect.” No Shami, they won’t. Because it’s made things worse for Jews. Now, Labour don’t comment either way and it’s cowardly.

I can’t bring myself to leave this party because I don’t want to leave it in the hands of those who seek to ruin it through racism and incompetence.

However, I know that I’m going to lose friends over this choice, because by staying I’m almost enabling those such as Livingstone to freely make their comments and receive no backlash.

Tom Watson and the Chief Rabbi are right, we are failing Jewish Communities and we all need to recognise this, sharpish.



My London 2012. 4 years on

Along with a lot of people, I genuinely cannot believe how quickly the last 4 years have passed by. My own Olympic journey began nearly 2 years before the Opening Ceremony, when I sent my application in to be a Gamesmaker. I had no idea if I’d even be accepted let alone what I would actually end up doing.
Looking back I think I pushed my work skills a little too much during the interview process. I didn’t forces enough on the me outside of work and what I could do. Hence why for 10 days during the Paralympics I worked at Eton Manor as a Venue Communications Team member as part of the wider Command Control and Communications team. I wrote about my time there over on my other blog.

This is just a quick post to ‘check in’ really. I am so tired after having my second shift today. I finished my first at 5 last night and started again at seven this morning. Add to that very little sleep because I just haven’t gotten used to this bed yet, the bags around my eyes are more like suitcases by the second.

So yes, I’m alive, having fun and eating well. Which is pretty good considering I’m a ‘Gluten Free Gamesmaker’. So no Nature Valley Bars, no McDonalds and as I’m still not too sure about dairy products, no Cadbury’s chocolate. If Wholebake Ltd could have also sponsored the Olympics and Paralympics, I’d be well away. Catering do provide a gluten free choice at each meal so I don’t go without. The two so far have been pretty nice. Mainly vegetables in vegetables, with extra vegetables. So it’s all counting toward my ‘5 a day’. And my nicotine intake is also down.

My fellow Gamesmakers within the team I’m on (and further afield too!) are all lovely. Even at stupid o Clock in the morning. Uniform is comfy, the trainers still nip a little but it’s getting better. I think I’m understanding the role more and trying not to fret about it too much. Another girl I was on shift with this morning also felt the same, so we helped each other out and kept one another positive about it all.

To top it all off, after worrying I wouldn’t get to see a single event, bar a bit of sneaking into Centre Court to see the Wheelchair Tennis, I have managed to get tickets to watch the Athletics in the Olympic Stadium next Saturday morning. Am on shift in the afternoon so my last proper day in the Park will be pretty amazing.


I only have one shift left. As of Saturday afternoon (hopefully, there’s only the final tennis matches happening), I will no longer be a Gamesmaker. This week has flown by. I’ve hardly stopped and am completely exhausted. I’ve done far too many sudoku puzzles to keep my mind alert too.

It seems like five minutes ago that I arrived at the Olympic Park on Thursday night to see how long the journey would take me from where I’m staying, to Eton Manor. Only half an hour! About as long as it takes me to walk to normal work in a morning. This time I’ve been using the tube from Leytonstone to Leyton and then walking from Leyton Station to Eton Manor Gate which is always quiet so no massive queues to get through security and onto Venue.

I walked round for a while and went into the Beat Box which is the big red and white monument near World Square on the Park. It’s run by Coca Cola and goes through how the Mark Ronson song ‘Anywhere in the World’ was put together. Through the sounds of 5 different sports from 5 different countries. I had my first photo with the Paralympic Torch that night. The photo had the stadium in the back ground and even though my hair is a mess because I’d travelled across the country and it was quite windy up there, it’s a decent photo. I walked around for a bit longer before deciding to head home after seeing my friend, Fiona.

Friday morning was my first shift and it began at 7am as it did again on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Getting up at 5am was a bit of a struggle and it was quite chilly in the morning. Thankfully the uniform jacket for us Gamesmakers is quite snug.

I’ve had shifts with pretty much everyone on our team and made some friends for life from doing so. I haven’t been the youngest nor have I been the eldest and there have been people from all walks of life on our team. From those who travelled from America to England at the age of 23 and have lived here for the past 50 odd years, to those who in two weeks will be starting University. We’ve all been able to find things to talk about and everyone is interesting in their own way. I’ve seen myself in certain members of the team and I think I’ve also changed in doing so. I’ve been able to act calmly in what can be quite stressful situations. No kicking off for Jayne from now on!! It’s just not worth it. There have been lessons in Spanish words, Portuguese words. Food from those countries. Discussions about the Sports we are watching. I’ve learnt so much in 7 days. All for the better.

On Tuesday, I had my first afternoon shift. It lasted from 2.30pm to 9.10pm because of a match between Japan and Thailand having to be delayed due to long matched previously. When it was over, three of the team, including myself, decided to take the walk from Eton Manor through the Park and out the Stratford Gate. It’s so lovely doing this at night. It wasn’t too busy, there were plenty of people around to make it lively though. We ended up doing some impromptu front of house work. I finally got my hands on a megaphone.

If you were one of the people I barked at to do a ‘Bolt’, ‘Mobot; or ‘Weirwolf’ pose, thank you for obliging. Also, if anyone sees me photobombing any spectators photos from outside the Stadium, let me know! I think I would have enjoyed being outside in the main park area a lot, though I don’t wish to take anything away from the great time I’ve had in the office of Eton Manor, communicating with all the teams using the radios.

One of the good friends I’ve made from my time as a Gamesmaker is Abbie. Abbie is brilliant and just the nicest person I’ve ever met. She understands my humour and banter and I am very grateful to her for putting up with me, letting me tag along and inviting me to use her spare ticket for the Athletics in the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night. Even if I was late! I had a fabulous time and when I go in again on Saturday I just don’t think it will be the same for me, not having a friend sat next to me. However, if you do end up being my neighbour on Saturday morning, I’m really friendly and will shout louder than you!

We got to see Oscar Pistorius and the rest of the South African relay win Gold and also saw the heartbreak of the Spanish team dropping the baton right in front of our stand. Seeing an athlete laying on the floor in utter defeat, is heartbreaking. The hush and reverence will stay with me forever, as will the applause the athlete got when he left the track to seek solace from his fellow teammates. I never imagined I’d be so lucky as to be in there and I will keep those memories in my mind for as long as my body will let me.

This afternoon after our shift, Abbie and I went on the Beatbox, the first time for her. We then drifted through the spectators, round the wildlife gardens and under the bridges. After heading into Westfields Shopping Centre, she then left to meet friends in Central London. I had something to eat, wandered round for a bit and found myself going back into the Park. It just seems to draw me like a magnet. I’m trapped in this whole Paralympic bubble and I never want it to pop.

Celebrations will be going on at home I’m sure. Oliver Hynd, who comes from our town, won a gold medal last night in the swimming. Thanks to the power of Twitter, I was able to see the postbox across the road from the house I grew up in, being painted Gold. Isn’t technology amazing?! Oliver and his brother Sam have won 4 medals between them. We are so proud of Team Hynd! I cannot wait to go to the celebrations in Mansfield when I’m home. I’m tempted to go in my Gamesmaker Uniform but I worry that will look a bit sad. I do love it though!

I also have a little collection of pins attached to my accreditation strap. Some of them I’ve received during the course of the week when I’ve turned up for my shits, others I’ve bought in the store on the Park to remember my time a little more.

I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me and sent me messages this week. Those who’ve retweeted my blog links. I’m so lucky to be doing this and like I said, I don’t want it to end. I get a bit teary just thinking about leaving for the last time. It’s been a blast.

What I have reflected on since is how different my fellow Gamesmakers were. How varied in age and background we were. And that is exactly what it was all about. Everyone was experiencing it together and bringing something of themselves to the role. I saw a lot of myself in others and learned from them too.
Yeah. Pistorius. Huh.

I remember where I watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Three quarters of it was spent at my brother’s house with his girlfriend at the time and her daughter. Then when they went to bed I darted back to my parents’ house around the corner to watch the final part. Tweeting along and just feeling so excited by it all. Chomping at the bit to get to London and join in for myself.
Those memories are bittersweet though. My best friend (he called me ‘sis’ and I called him ‘bro) was part of the props team for the Ceremonies. He was there in the midst of the stadium ready to cut Voldemort down and in the weeks leading up had made so so many of the props used by volunteers and performers.

He is no longer with us. Less than 9 months later he died suddenly. And his stories that he had not shared with us went with him.
Thankfully in the 10 days that I was in London in the September, I managed to see him often and we would talk about the aspects of the Games that we had each seen. (As well as seeing two theatre shows and eating vast amounts of pizza).
Seeing the footage of the Opening Ceremony leaves a bit of a lump in my throat knowing that he’s not here to be excited about it with us. But I do swell with pride about it too. It was just so good. BRITAIN WAS GREAT.

I was lucky enough because of my ‘bro’ to see the Imagine Special about the Opening Ceremony before it aired on TV. At a special premiere in Dalston at the beginning of July. All the way through watching it my eyes were darting around the screen trying to spot him in the footage whilst also feeling a mix of emotions about how bloody marvellous London 2012 was.
It showed Britain can be great. It can be creative. It can come together and celebrate humans for just being humans.
We were told to ‘Look to the stars, not at your feet’.

However the volunteers were given an unofficial slogan of ‘ Fly like arrows, fall like rain’. Which we could all stand to learn from. Right now Britain is in a total shit storm. One of hate, prejudice and alienation. How can we fall like rain when we can’t even fly like arrows? Because only love cures hate.
I’m still in touch with a number of those that I worked with at Eton Manor. I see them now and again. Including at the most unexpected times. I saw one in the hospital where my friend died. In the few days I was there before they switched him off. It was just bizarre.

Our shared experience made us all friends for life no matter how often we see each other. All 70000 of us.

I’m so glad I did it. I’m so glad my ‘bro’ did too.

And Jeremy Is An Honourable Man

I’ve been umming and ahhing about this since Friday evening. And with a hangover caused by the events of Friday night, that’s not been easy. I have no doubt that a few people will tell the another. All I can say is that the following is what happened. If others disagree, well, I guess you’ll have to choose to take their word for it or mine. And here’s mine.

I went to my CLP, delivered a speech, was shouted down half way through with the tacit approval of the Chair who jabbed his finger at me, was ruled out of order, called a traitor, and heard sexist and misogynistic remarks throughout. The End.

Oh, you want more details? All right, then.

Friday night, 8th  July, I attended my CLP meeting. I’d submitted – as have others in many CLPs around the country, and indeed the Parliamentary Labour Party, a motion of ‘No Confidence in Jeremy Corbyn’. I won’t lie, I was pretty nervous. It’s fair to say it wasn’t greeted by the CLP with unalloyed joy, and two other members had submitted one of confidence in Jeremy’s leadership.

This was going to be… interesting.

Just before going in to the meeting, the Chair of the CLP walked over, thrusted a copy of Chapter 15 of the Labour Party Rulebook into my hands and strode off without a word. Ok… He’d indicated with large X’s the paragraphs in relation to submitting motions. Due to timings, neither of the motions had been submitted via a branch and I guess he figured this was the most convenient way out of it for him. I grabbed one of the few seats remaining (the room rapidly became standing room only) and yes, it was great to have so many people there.

And then the Chair decided that as neither motion had been submitted via a branch, there would be a debate on whether  Jeremy Corbyn should remain leader of the party, after other CLP matters had been dealt with. He incorrectly identified only some of the CLP delegates supporting one or other of the motions but that could have been a genuine error, I guess.

Oh, that chapter I was handed; specifically said the motions could be submitted as Emergency Motions; it wasn’t allowed.

Jo Cox was remembered and the usual CLP matters dealt with: membership, reports, etc.

Then the debate.

A very passionate speech from our MP which paid tribute to Jo Cox and went on to explain why we so desperately need a strong leadership to get back in power and to help those who need a Labour government.

The Chair then said he would make a list of people who wished to speak, and announced that due to the amount of people  this would be limited to 2 minutes per speaker. This didn’t thrill me as I’d already prepared a speech of about five minutes. With a little help, I condensed it down to two minutes on my phone and read it from there.

And that’s when an already tense meeting turned… unpleasant.

Here’s the full 5 minute speech; I’ll put the the condensed version – or at least as I got before I was shouted down and instructed to sit down – immediately afterwards…

Let me say upfront that every person in this room who voted, less than a year ago, for the leader of our party, did so from the best of motives; I have no doubt about that. The election was fair and the result was decisive. Jeremy Corbyn had a huge mandate, both personally and for the policies he espoused.


He had a mandate. As did every other leader this party elected, some with bigger mandates than Jeremy, some with smaller. Neil Kinnock was elected by a higher percentage of the vote, Tony Blair with more absolute votes. Whilst I did not vote for Jeremy Corbyn as leader I of course respected the result as I hoped that any concerns I had about his potential leadership would lessen over time, as he put the Tories on the run, and inspired the membership, the PLP and the country. You know, what his supporters promised would happen. And as he said he would. And Jeremy is an honourable man.

Everything I’ve seen from Mr Corbyn, and his acolytes, since he was elected has confirmed again and again what I thought during the leadership campaign: that he does not possess the qualities, personal nor political, to lead this party to electoral success.

Any personal mandate he won in 2015 has been betrayed time and time again by his actions, behaviour and lack of political nous while in office. If any of us here had shown his incompetence doing our first 10 months in the job we would’ve been sacked or at least have to explain ourselves with more than “you never wanted me in the job anyway so yah boo sucks to you”. If the Executive Committee of a CLP voted by 4:1 they had no confidence in the Chair, there’s not a CLP chair in the land who wouldn’t resign as the honourable thing to do. And Jeremy, as we all know, is an honourable man.

A man who fought apartheid at a time when our current Prime Minister’s biggest struggle was getting the Bullingdon Club menu completed on time. (Pork, obviously.) A man whose fight against racism is matter of record… Apart, oddly, from any word of criticism against anti-semitism before 2015. A decent honourable man who apparently didn’t know until last Monday’s select committee appearance that wanting to kill Jews is anti-Semitic. An honourable man who repeatedly lied to the Select Committee.

An honourable leader who didn’t contact Ruth Smeeth MP for four days after she left a meeting in tears, the same meeting in which, moments after Jeremy decried the anti-Semitic trope of Jews controlling the media, Miss Smith was subject to that very attack yards away from him. In a room hardly any bigger than this one, Jeremy Corbyn did nothing. And continued doing nothing for four days.

We have been told by all sides of the labour movement that we should focus on attacking The Tories. Great idea; it’s a pity that our leader doesn’t share it. The architect of the most brutal hammering of the welfare system since Thatcher resigns; With a level of audacity that’s breathtaking, he hypocritically says he’s done it because the crackdown is too harsh. And Jeremy decides “it’s not really up to him” to say anything about it… Maybe he thought it would be dishonourable to kick a man when he’s down. And as we know… Jeremy is an honourable man.

Here’s a hypothetical for those of you who maintain that, whatever else his arguable faults, whatever else he hasn’t got exactly right, “But… Tories…”… Take a right wing MP, say, proud to be on the rockhard right of the Tory party. This man – let’s face it, it’s usually men – never makes a racist statement himself, but platform shares with overt racists, hosts them in parliament, says it’s his “pleasure” and his “honour” to host his friends and he thinks it’s a pity the government banned the other white pride racists he invited (he thinks that’ll be seen as a big mistake). He gives television interviews to affiliates of white power organisations, and defends white pride people as “honoured citizens” “dedicated to peace and justice”.

This man on the hard right of the Tory party makes statements against racism, but only ever in the abstract, condemning lynchings but never criticising those who carry them out; the closest he ever comes is saying in interviews that he doesn’t always agree with them. This right wing Tory MP says a man who wrote that “blacks are racially inferior and want to take over the white race” is an honourable man and he looks forward to having him for tea at the Commons.

What would you say of this right wing Tory? Racist or no?

Hamas and Hezbollah are overtly anti-Semitic organisations who want to kill all Jews around the world. But Jeremy calls them ‘dedicated to peace’, and Jeremy is an honourable man.

Jeremy attended events commemorating those in the IRA who died killing British citizens, but Jeremy says he never actively supported the IRA. And Jeremy is an honourable man.

After appearing on Russia Today and taking £20,000 from Iran to appear on Press TV, but Jeremy criticises others who take money from sources he considers abhorrent. And he should know what is abhorrent, for Jeremy is an honourable man.

Jeremy calls for loyalty from the Parliamentary Labour Party, despite showing no loyalty to any previous party leader during his time in Parliament, and voting against the party whip over 500 times. An honourable position, surely, for as we know, Jeremy is an honourable man.

This party cannot achieve government while Jeremy Corbyn is leader. But Jeremy says he always puts the party first, and Jeremy is an honourable man.

This party needs a leader of genuine honour, a leader of political skill, and a leader who can convince people who voted for other parties in the past to vote us into government. Jeremy Corbyn is none of those. I have no confidence in him as leader, and I ask you to show that you have none either.

And this is the condensed two minute version, at least as far as I got. You’ll see where I was shouted down and told to retract what I had said. Which I would not.

Every person in this room who voted for the leader of our party, did so from the best of motives in a fair election; I have no doubt about that. Jeremy Corbyn had a huge mandate, both personally and for the policies he espoused.


He had a mandate. As did every other leader this party elected, some with bigger mandates than Jeremy; Kinnock won with higher percentage, Blair with more votes.

And though I did not vote for Jeremy Corbyn as leader I respected the result, hoping any concerns I had about his leadership would lessen over time, as he put the Tories on the run, and inspired the membership, the PLP and the country. You know, what his supporters promised would happen. And as he said he would. And Jeremy is an honourable man.

But since the election, Jeremy has repeatedly shown that he does not possess the qualities, personal or political, to lead this party to electoral success.

He has betrayed any mandate he received by his actions, behaviour and lack of political nous and justified criticisms are met by “you never wanted me in the job anyway so yah boo sucks to you”. If the Executive Committee of a CLP voted by 4:1 they had no confidence in the Chair, there’s not a CLP chair in the land who wouldn’t resign as the honourable thing to do. And Jeremy, as we all know, is an honourable man.

A man whose fight against racism is matter of record… Apart any word of criticism of anti-semitism before 2015. An honourable man who apparently didn’t know until last Monday that wanting to kill Jews is anti-Semitic and who repeatedly lied to the Select…


Yes, of course I knew what I was saying was controversial. Unfortunately, it was nothing but the truth, unlike Jeremy Corbyn’s testimony to the Select Committee.

He lied. The Leader of our Party, the Leader of the Labour Party… lied.

Jeremy said – as has said on other occasions – that after Paul Eisen came out as a holocaust denier [in 2007] he never attended any more of his events. There’s photo evidence of him there in 2013. That’s a lie. He said Paul Flynn’s ‘dual loyalty’ slur on a Jew as a British ambassador was about politics. That’s a lie. Everyone said at the time it was about the ambassador being a Jew and besides, the dual loyalty thing is an anti-semitic trope going back centuries.

Here’s the full transcript of his testimony, courtesy of Parliament’s website.

Had I been a new member I would have been disgusted at the way the Chair stood up, pointed his finger at me and told me to take it back. Interesting sense of priorities, our Chair has; wants the truth left unspoken and, five minutes earlier, chose to allow a sexist comment about our MP.

And that’s what happened.

One final point: one thing identified and condemned in the Chakrabarti Report was that people  who raised concerns about anti-semitism in the party are often shouted down and also that any seasoned activist who says they have never witnessed anti-Semitic discourse within the Labour Party”must be wholly insensitive or completely in denial”. I’ll let that sink in and leave you to judge which applies.

Anyway, how was your Friday?

“Guest Feminist : Use your vote and don’t divorce Europe”

I’ve been a bit quiet on here for a while so I’ve handed the reins to someone who felt they had something to say about the EU Referendum but no safe space to place it. So I stepped in and offered a page. Please be kind to my guest contribution. Thank you.

On Thursday, our country faces a really important vote. A vote which isn’t about who you want to lead our country, whose personality you like the most, or how many people you might want to let in the country each year (although some people might lead you to believe otherwise). It’s about what state we leave the UK in for future generations. From the economy to the environment. To how easy they are able to travel if they wish to or what they want to study at university. If we leave the EU, we’re out for good and there’s no going back.

Total transparency here – I am personally indebted to the EU for so many life experiences, including a school exchange to China and a funding grant which has led me to almost every continent in the past three years. Although yes, I’m a scientist, this wouldn’t have been possible without the EU and the grants they’ve forked out to thousands of people like me and you. Horizon 2020 is an example of one of these programmes, and will run for another 4 years (provided we stay)

I know there is a lot of concern about immigration, the economy, and the legal system (to name a few…), but don’t blame our own country’s problems on the larger system. That is down to how underfunded our services have become under the current government. So many of our employment rights, trade and international relations are strengthened by being a part of this group. Things which both campaigns have failed to highlight throughout the referendum. Maternity leave? EU law. Cheap flights to Spain? Possible through the single market open skies. £250,000 to help put a stop to female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK? Just one of millions of pounds in EU grants we won’t have if we leave. Please realise that many of the Brexit crew are rich enough that another recession wouldn’t hit them in the way it would hit the average person.

If you don’t know how to vote, make it one to remain. It’s much easier to fix problems from the inside out, and there’ll probably be another opportunity to Brexit. Negotiations have been made between the EU and the UK to strengthen our relationship. Our MEPs that bother to turn up and get the job done are on our side. Just 2% of our legislation has ever been overruled by the EU. Which raises the question that if the EU have the big say over our laws that Vote Leave say they have, why do we even have a Parliament? Because VL lie. We need our government to work alongside the EU. You can’t do that from the outside.

Europe is still a vibrant, diverse and connected community with so much more to offer. For all our sakes, make sure it stays that way.

I don’t feel any less or any more British for being in the EU. I am just a citizen of the world. I didn’t ask to be born here and I don’t have a fundamental right to say who can and can’t be here. We pay tax for services that we do and don’t use. The services that we don’t use personally could be a lifeline to our neighbour. I want to have the EU to rely on to make sure this government can’t keep cutting services. I want them to be able to fund our cities, our town development plans and provide more support to vulnerable people who need it the most. That is what will and does make this country great.


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For the last time, no I don’t think Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite.

Because I’m tired of trying to fit my argument into less than 140 characters over and over again, I think it’s time to write what’s been bothering me for the past few days. I fully understand and expect that very few will share the same viewpoint as me. And I’d like to point out that this is no ‘smear campaign’. I will openly admit to agreeing that Jeremy Corbyn should be on the ballot paper to ‘broaden the debate’. This is simply doing just that. I’d happily ask the same of each of the Labour Leadership candidates, including the Deputy ones.

We cry out for open politics but as soon as anyone expresses concern about something they are accused of starting a hate campaign, called nut cases and in many cases told to join the opposition. I fully agree that politics needs to be reformed and become more inclusive not exclusive. I wouldn’t be bothering if I didn’t think that was an important issue here. Heaven forbid that a young working class woman should air her views. Only to be told to ‘calm down’. by a middle aged man, who as a Councillor, should know better and be able to come up with less of a patronising counter argument. The Labour Party is supposed to a party fighting for equality. Especially for our younger generation. I didn’t want gender to come into this but unfortunately it has done. There are a certain group out there who believe they are the one and only mouthpiece for the party because they have a penis.

As yet, on social media, not once have I been questioned by a woman (this may well change, I know.) and told to ‘calm down’.

Those that wish to call me a nut case should be glad that I am freely engaging passionately in such issues as anti semitism. That I have taken on everything my Labour government provided education has taught me in History lessons. That if we don’t learn from previous attitudes, then history will simply just repeat itself over and over. That if we don’t call out those who spread such hateful messages, then we will never become better as humanity and more specifically as a party. Would those who tell me to pipe down rather I just sat and kept sch tum like a good little housewife. Er, no, I won’t be doing that thanks.

I’ll happily listen to the other side of the argument. Dialogue is key, of course. I am not denying that. But interact with me, with respect. Educate me with persuasion, not sheer nastiness.

So I should probably start to make my point. Should candidates be saying to their supporters that they no longer wish for their vote if the support is from someone racist and/or anti semitic? Without a shred of doubt, they should, in my opinion. If, Jeremy Corbyn is the man of principle that his campaign says he is, then surely he should already be telling those who hold racists and/or anti semites that he no longer wishes for their support and that he won’t want it until they grow up and open their mind.

Thinking this way has been construed, funnily enough by what I consider to be a bias media, to be an attack on Jeremy Corbyn himself. I’ve listened to him talk about his alleged connections with Holocaust deniers (there are people out there that actually say Anne Frank’s diary was fabricated, and no, that’s not just wrapping it in material, sorry) and anti semites. I know he’s not anti semitic. And I’m sick of saying it, to be honest. But how can he accept the support of those that are? If this is a man on the verge of a fresh new political era, then jump straight in and do something very few would dare to do. Tell his racist voters to do one.

As I said before, I’d urge all of the other candidates to do the same. If we’re going to ‘purge’ members then let’s sift out the one’s who have no place in a racism free world.

The next question is, why wouldn’t he do so? Would it be political suicide to do so? I’m sure many would argue yes and therefore it’s never going to happen. So surely that means that their vote is more important to him than their views. A potential leader valuing someone’s support more than their view? That’s not what I want in a leader.

*On a separate note, I also worry about how we support a university system that doesn’t charge any fees. Where does the money come from? Genuine question, that I can’t seem to find the answer to.*

Review – The Little Flower Shop By The Sea – Ali McNamara

Poppy Carmichael has landed up inheriting her grandmothers flower shop in the little cornish village of St Felix. She’s not exactly the floral type, tending to wear full black clothing and tends to snap at anyone who tries to strike up conversation with her. She likes to be on her own and away from hoards of crowded areas. Having not been able to hold down a job or make a success of anything, she is quite reluctant to take on the task of running the shop and following in the family tradition of floristry. With a little help from the people of St Felix, has she finally found what’s been missing from her life?

My first thought after finishing this was that Poppy Carmichael has to be one of my favourite protagonists of this genre. There is something so believable in her, that other chick lit stories tend to fall short of. Dressed in all black, save for her burgundy Doc Martens, from the start it’s quite clear that the story will follow some sort of transformation in her. Hopefully ending up with a little injection of colour into her wardrobe by the end. In fact, there’s a great deal about the plot which is obvious about where it will lead. I wouldn’t say this is such a bad thing. Once you as a reader place hope in Poppy’s future and what that will be it excites you to keep on reading. I found myself waiting for the big twice. Which thankfully, wasn’t what I quite thought it would be. This pleased me that it’s still possible to give a chick lit/romantic novel a twist. Much of what else in the story is mirrored in many other authors work. Troubled protagonist, new best friend out of the blue, two or so love interests. It’s quite extraordinary that ‘The Little Flower Shop By The Sea’ has the added animal factor of Basil, the dog and Miley, the monkey. So all is not lost.
And please don’t think I’m also being negative when I say it’s ‘samey’. There’s a reason this is such a popular genre. And that’s the fact that it’s readers want that life. We are hoping for the day when our own lives may take the course of such tales. Much like a reader of Sci-Fi may dream of exploring far off alien races and becoming a hero across the universe.  It’s part of the beauty of story telling.

I also liked the fact that as luck should have it, this story touched on the cause I wrote about not long ago. Just by coincidence. It talks about Sudden Adult Death. Which is so good to see in modern literature.

After all the seriousness of The Bone Clocks, picking up this book was like taking a cool shower on a hot day. Quick and refreshing.

Having read Ali McNamara’s previous novels, I think this may be a particular favourite of mine. I can just see how much a labour of love it’s been for her. It shines throughout. How deep the research has been done. The chapter titles representing different flora types. Now I even know the word for fear of flowers. One to remember for the pub quiz.

Certainly, take this book on holiday with you. Or just stay at home on a drizzly afternoon and be whisked away in it’s pages to St Felix  and it’s wonderful inhabitants.

A great read.

Review: The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell

It’s been about fifteen years since I last even attempted to write a review of a book that I had read. At least at school, it was pretty much out of public domain. Never to be commented on, only marked by a teacher. The most it would be seen would be if it was put up on the wall of the classroom. Along with thirty other reviews of the same book by my peers. Not quite as open as putting it up on a blog. Good job very few people will find it here. Although, having my review surrounded by other people’s of the same material is pretty much the same as Amazon or Goodreads, I guess.

The only reason I even picked up this book was due to the sheer fact that I feel I do not read enough serious material. Books enrich a persons growth by so much. Yet, reading too much of the same is much like eating the same foods each day. You’re never really going to get the amount of nourishment you’d get from a varied diet, no matter how healthy the food. Basically, I’ve been reading too much ‘Victoria sponge cake washed down with pink lemonade’. It’s all lovely but sooner or later, it’s going to bloat. By comparison, ‘The Bone Clocks’ feels very much like triple cooked chips in a gastro-pub. It’s serious and dark, but delicious. And it probably comes with a jus of some sort.

It’s taken me a month to read it. But I would say it’s certainly a book you won’t want to put down. Sure, I had to but I still came back to it. Determined to make sense of what was written in its pages. Because sometimes, it just blew my mind.

The fact that the protagonist falls in and out of the story yet also weaves all the characters and plot together is marvellous. At certain points I became unsure of who the story was truly about. There are so many different characters, after all. Which challenged me and I’ll come to that later. The linking of characters who seem so far apart in class and political minds, it just wonderful. I found myself a lot of the time thinking ‘where the hell is this going? Where are we going to end up?’ And it was not the desolate lands described, that I expected. Not at all. The last part of the book, is pretty bleak.

I can’t gush about everything. Mitchell uses so much description, that I began to feel trapped in a labyrinth of words. Not all of it felt relevant either. But some like that. I can honestly say, I didn’t. I’ve forgotten most of it already. With the amount of characters to focus on in a scene, it really did not help.

The ease in which Mitchell felt he could just kill a character off was disturbing and disappointing. Plucking them from the page and dropping them from a thousand feet. Sometimes literally. I felt as though he’d forgotten that these characters meant something not only to the other characters, but to the reader. Maybe I just don’t handle fictional grief well.

The Bone Clocks, barks of humour at times and this helps to give it a lighter breath. From what is certainly a dark story, again with the very political and probably future, at the end of the story. At times, it’s quite hard to keep a count of every character that is possibly in a scene. I found myself going over their descriptions and trying to work out again and again, if they were good or evil. You can see why I stick to simpler stories.

Of course, it is blatantly obvious why Mitchell is an International Best Seller and he really doesn’t need me to big him up. Especially in my lack of experience as a writer. He almost pokes fun at the whole profession in Crispin Hershey. A move I felt was pretty brave.

The gem of the story is that Mitchell has taken something so human in those times of memory blanks that we all have, and turned it into something that verges on magical and it’s so believable, too. We know so little about our world and The Bone Clocks opens up a whole ideology about what could be in store for the human race and what could be all around us presently.

Do I feel I made the right choice in choosing this book to grow my literary knowledge? I hope so. I got to the end, so that’s something.

12 young people die a week. Not enough says Committee.

The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) put out an announcement yesterday. They announced that we do not need to screen young people for risk of sudden cardiac death. That in their eyes, that the issue is not big enough.

Never mind that at any moment, they might just have a cardiac arrest (which I now know differs from a heart attack) and die. They are otherwise fit and healthy. At the time of their death, they may even be actually playing sport. Twelve a week. And that’s only a base number. There is a possibility it could be more. Many more.

Now if it started being reported in the news that in the UK, twelve young people were being shot , there would be public outcry. Imagine if 624 young people died in an aeroplane crash, every single year. There would be public outrage. Why do innocent people have to lose their lives and in turn their families be ripped apart by grief. Every single one of those people are someone’s son or daughter, a brother, a sister, a best friend even. Yet here we are, travelling through life, ignoring the statistics staring us in the face.

In response to the NSC announcement, a charity called ‘Cardiac Risk in the Young’ have put out a counter statement. In which they describe how disappointed they are by the NSC and it’s findings.

Dr Steve Cox, Director of Screening and Research at Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) – a stakeholder in the long-awaited Government review on population cardiac screening – says:

“We are extremely disappointed to hear this announcement recommending against a UK-wide cardiac testing programme for the prevention of sudden cardiac death in young people. The National Screening Committee has let us down, it has let down thousands of bereaved families and above all it has let down our young people and our future generations – including many aspiring young athletes and sports stars.

“Every week in the UK at least 12 apparently fit and healthy young people (aged 35 and under) die suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. However, this is widely believed by experts in the UK and internationally to be a conservative estimate. For over 20 years, CRY has been calling for policy makers to stop pushing this issue ‘under the carpet’.

And that’s exactly what the NSC want to do. They want to just brush these people and their families ‘under the carpet’. To them, it’s just wants to think of these deaths as a small number. Of no relevance to them and they are certainly not thinking about the families of those who die.

Thankfully, through hardworking fundraisers, CRY runs an amazing screening programme which tests 17000 young people for the signs, every year. It’s not enough though is it? We need to wake up to their findings. The facts say it all. In Italy, where screening is mandatory, there has been a reduction of 89% in young sudden cardiac death.

Of course, I am not stupid enough to realise that we have a cash strapped NHS. That if we found a problem in someone’s heart, it would take a lifetime of treatment and that is costly. But are we really saying that we are so cold hearted in humanity, that we are OK with letting people who have their whole lives ahead of them, die suddenly? The majority of whom have taken steps to improve their fitness and life spans by doing exercise? Instead of people smoke (I include myself in this) and eat junk and expect to be treated for free by the NHS? I would decline any treatment for myself if it meant just one person could be treated for a heart condition found after screening. I really would.

I speak from experience. When you’ve watched your best friend, who for some miraculous reason, had a cardiac arrest and hung on after hours of CPR and whose heart did begin to heal itself. Yet the damage to his brain was done and a medical decision was made to turn off his machines that were helping to keep him alive.

If CRY had been listened to 20 years ago, my friend might just be here now. If this government don’t listen to them now, you might lose your best friend too. And let me tell you, it’s horrendous and heart breaking. Just ask any of the families of those who die this week.

Finally, I’m not just harping on and doing nothing. I am actually running the Run To The Beat 10K in September for CRY and would really appreciate sponsorship. I know 10k isn’t a marathon but as I came nearly last in a race of this distance, last month, it’s going to mean some hard work this time. With little over a month to go.

Should you wish to sponsor me, you can do so here

The NSC announcement can be found at

CRY’s response is here

I don’t pretend I’m clever.

I’m probably just average. I don’t really know where I’m going with this. There’s just a lot going round in my head today.
I still feel pretty useless. Though I do feel pretty relaxed. Almost careless. But not entirely. I’m still worried about what my life means and where I’m going. Out on the streets with binbags at this rate. Why does it take 3 weeks to send one bloody birth certificate. It’s mine? Print the bugger off and send it to me. Now, please.

I’ve managed to write some fiction pieces and sent a couple off for contests. Just for curiosity. I’m expecting that they won’t win. But no harm in trying, I guess.

I’m partly mad about how the narrative on last nights Welfare Bill has exploded all over my newsfeeds. I’m of the opinion that there’s more to defying the whip (It’s there for a reason, surely?) and that this does need to be fought across the committees and through all those other things in the autumn. Sure, it would be great to just bat back every Bill the Tories put through, sadly that’s just not possible, even with the ‘help’ of the SNP. Surely it’s better to fight each and every amendment because the Tories basically steal what we put through anyway? Like I said, I’m not very clever at this sort of thing but I’m not going to go shouting at anyone within the party who thinks differently. I’ll save that energy up for now. *just saying*. Oh and before anyone labels me saying I’m more to the right of the party or middle of the road, stop. You don’t know me and I’d hate to have to tell you why you shouldn’t put me in a little box to make you feel better about your political stance. Mmmkay?

I’m struggling to carry on reading ‘The Bone Clocks’. It’s very long and wordy. (really not sounding clever here). There’s untranslated french dialogue. I’ve picked at bits and I think that I’ve managed to get the gist of it. I just wish I could reach half way. I feel like I’ve been reading it for weeks. Desperate for it to step up a gear or two.

Onwards and upwards though. And I’ve got my other little political role going on at the moment, too. Which is good.