Category Archives: Equality

Writing about coronavirus and presenteeism

The first reported case of coronavirus outside China was on 13th January. It was in Thailand, and the patient had come to Thailand from Wuhan Province, in China.

Coronavirus is a virus that originated in an animal – almost certainly one sold live to be killed at home for food – that mutated so that it didn’t just transmit animal-to-human, it could also transmit human-to-human. Its proper name is 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease: coronavirus is a name for a type of virus to which this belongs.
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Filed under Coronavirus, Poverty, Sustainable Politics

Labour Leadership Election: Transphobia

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on nth month 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
Emily Thornberry is off the ballot: Labour Party members and affiliated supporters will be voting for Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, or Keir Starmer, to be the Leader of the Opposition from April.
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Filed under Politics, Women

Tory lies, anti-Semitism, the Labour Party, Israel, and Palestine

There are two general things happening through this election.

One of them is that the Conservatives keep getting caught doing very public, very stupidly bad, disinformation actions.

During the BBC Question Time leaders special, the CCQH Twitter account – which is a blue-tick verified account and therefore is not allowed to change its display name without informing Twitter – changed its display name/header image to appear at first glance to be a fact-checking account and proceded to tweet support of Boris Johnson.
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Filed under GE2019, Racism, Religion

How do they rise up, rise up, rise up?

Abortion Rights ScotlandScotland is a pro-choice country.

About four-fifths of the population of Scotland would agree – this crosses gender-lines, voting-intention, religious belief, class/wealth, or locale – that abortion in Scotland should remain freely available on the NHS.

Only a minority think that pregnant patients who need access to abortion should have that access decreased. That minority can be loud and can be unkind – the ones who think it’s a good idea picketing clinics to hand anti-abortion leaflets to patients are particularly cruel – but they are, everywhere, only a minority.

Abortion Act 1967 - Happy 51st BirthdayOn 28th April this year in Edinburgh we held our annual celebration of the day the 1967 Abortion Act became law. (On the other side of the road are the sad people who think abortion in the UK should have remained illegal and dangerous.)

We asked people who stopped by our stall to have cake and sign our open letter:

“We stand with the people of Ireland who will be voting to repeal the Eighth Amendment on 25th May 2018: for healthcare in pregnancy to be freely and fully available for all patients. Abortion denial is lethal.”

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Filed under Healthcare, Human Rights, Scottish Culture, Women

Feminist has a T

I am cisgender.

Cisgender is a word retroformatted from transgender, which in turn was coined in 1965 from two Latin words. Cisgender is first recorded in print in 1994.

Cisgender means that you still identify as the gender by which you were identified when you were born. Suppose that you were identified as a girl when you were born: then if you identify as a woman today, you are cisgender: if you identify as a man today, you are transgender.
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Filed under LGBT Equality

Ireland and Brexit

EU's chief Brexit negotiator Barnier and Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Davis attend a meeting in BrusselsThe UK’s Brexit negotiation team has been so fecklessly incompetent that their EU-27 counterparts thought this was a pretence and must be a trap.

The July photograph of the British team (on the right) sitting at the negotiation table without any briefing papers in front of them, while the EU team (on the left) all have a stack of paperwork, looks emblematic of the UK government’s lack of preparation. (According to British diplomats, David Davis’s papers were still in his bag at the time the photo was taken.)

The recent confirmation that the UK government will be paying the EU fifty billion or so, pretty much what the EU initially said the UK would have to pay to finalise the UK’s liabilities before Brexit, had Brexiteers Iain Duncan Smith and Nigel Farage squealing loudly that this was too much, that Theresa May and David Davis should have taken a harder line and refused to pay anything.

But with regard to the fifty billion bill, the only difference between a competent team of Brexit negotiators and the current crowd, is that a competent team would have realised last year that the UK had no choice about discharging our liabilities to the EU if the Brexit date was set before the end of the 2014-2020 budget period: would have taken that into consideration when deciding just when to invoke Article 50: and would have come to the table in Brussels prepared to dicker over exact amounts, not wasting time arguing that nothing at all should be paid. As far as we can tell, Theresa May and David Davis did none of these things.

Of course, a competent Prime Minister with a solid if small majority, wouldn’t have called a General Election after invoking Article 50, thus wasting three months of negotiation time – and losing her majority to be dependent on the DUP.

As a reminder: after June 2017, the Tories have 315 seats and are the largest single party: because Sinn Féin (7 seats) don’t sit in the Commons, and the Speaker doesn’t vote, an effective majority for the government is 322 and a formal majority is 325: the DUP have 10 seats. If all MPs of all other parties vote together, they muster 311 votes. So the DUP, the unionist and Brexiteer party in Northern Ireland, literally hold the balance of power in Parliament.

The issue about paying the EU billions to discharge the UK’s budget liabilities wasn’t even worth arguing about: the UK’s only leverage was to refuse to pay it and suffer hard Brexit, which would be catastrophic for the UK but only moderately damaging for EU-27.

Hugh Orde, former Chief Constable of Northern Ireland, on the Irish Border and BrexitThough some news reports described the problem of the Irish border as “unexpected”, the Irish border and the end of the Good Friday Agreement, was always going to be hugely difficult, and with the DUP in a confidence-and-supply arrangement to prop up the Tories, has probably become unresolvable by the current government.

I had initially here written a few hundred words summarising the history of Ireland in relationship to Britain, but Waterford Whispers points out that the UK public would most likely only believe it if it was written on the side of a bus. That’s probably true.

So, while it’s tempting to outline how the government of Confederate Ireland (1642-1649) was bloodily smashed by Oliver Cromwell and estates owned by Irish Catholics were then confiscated and redistributed to Protestant incomers, how the Penal Laws, enacted by the Protestant-dominated Parliament of Ireland that resulted from the land confiscations, ensured that Irish Catholics should become poor, be uneducated, banned from public office, and denied the right to serve in the army (a potential career path for even the poorest/most uneducated of men), and how “Irish jokes” which portray Irish people as stupid and ignorant, arise from the need of the English and the Irish Protestants to believe that it was okay to keep Irish Catholics poor and uneducated because they were naturally stupid: how after the Parliaments of Ireland and Britain were merged in 1801, while people in Ireland were starving during the Great Famine (1845-1852) in Westminster MPs debated on whether it would be right to provide food to the starving. But that would make this a very long blog post.

Even dealing with the 20th century only, there is the rebellion put down in 1916, two wars immediately after WWI ended and Sinn Féin won the general election in Ireland by a landslide and proclaimed the Irish Declaration of Independence in January 1919: the treaty accepted by the majority of the Dáil for the Partition of Ireland: and the formation of the Irish Free State, later the Republic of Ireland, and the separation of the six counties of Northern Ireland, which in 1922 and thereafter is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Although the Troubles are dated in British history as beginning 5th October 1968, the cause was systematic gerrymandering for decades to ensure that Catholics in Northern Ireland were cooped ip in slums so that in local authority areas where Catholics were numerically in the majority, Protestants had a majority on the local government councils.

Thank you for your attention: let us move on to the present day.
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Filed under Brexit, Economics, EU referendum, European politics, Human Rights, Poverty, Religion

An avalanche of steel snowflakes

This is the speech Susan Rae, the Scottish Green Party’s candidate for the Leith Walk ward in the May 2017 council elections, gave at the WMV Sister Women’s March in Edinburgh on Saturday 20th January. Reprinted here by permission.

Susan Rae at the Womens MarchHello and welcome to Edinburgh.

This is my first speaking event this year and I could not be prouder to be with you. I send solidarity from my fellow Scottish Green candidate Claire Miller who cannot be here today.

We’ve gathered here today in circumstances that in all honesty not a single woman out here, whether they are young, fresh and fiery, like Leah, or those like me who are not only pre-Google, but pre-proper feminism would have considered possible a year ago.

But we are here together – all of us – because the only way to stand up to a man who considers using his awesome sheer male money fuelled power of his voice to silence us; whose only consistent traits are inconsistency and pure misogyny is not compliance. You want to silence our voice?

Well. No.

We will not be silenced.

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Filed under Guest Blog, Scottish Politics, US Politics, Women