Think the Tory-LibDem coalition is a bad idea?

A short observation that’s nonetheless to long for a simple tweet.

Think the current coalition is a bad idea? Have a read of this post on Conservative Home about the “concession-o-meter” and don’t forget to also look at the comments. In fact, have a flick through all of Conservative Home.

Then consider this: No coalition would have meant several months of direction-less government, followed by a fairly inevitable second General Election. Which the Conservatives might have won. Yes, we could well have been five months into a Tory-only government by now. What do we think they would have done, left to their own devices?

As one self-proclaimed “LibDem member” put it in the comments on that article: “Long may the tugging hard continue. A pure Conservative government is a horrible thought.

Lawyer claims all Poly relationships should be illegal

I don’t usually do foreign stories. (Largely because I feel without the cultural background to frame a discussion, it can often be unhelpful)

I also don’t usually write about poly issues.

But, via The Wild Hunt, this one has me perplexed more than usual. Over in Canada, it’s being argued by the states own lawyer that poly households should be prosecuted. No, this isn’t polygamous marriage, just the suggestion that somehow allowing more than two people to live together in a relationship leads to “unmitigated lives of slavery, bondage and horror for the wives” and also causes human trafficking and child slavery.

But at least the attorney general’s lawyer at the centre of this is all for equality – gay/lesbian relationships are just as bad, he argues. Quite how an all-male household or all-female one would lead to this “horror for the wives” is unspecified. Actually, he argues it applies to anyone, “heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered”. Because, as we all know, transgendered is a sexual orientation…?

I take solace in the fact his argument is so obviously full of holes, no sane judge would swallow it. Which just leaves us with one question.

Are the judges in Vancouver sane?

(P.S. Think it couldn’t happen here? According to one interpretation of UK law, it’s unlawful to own a property “…where more than one woman or man resorts to for sex outside marriage, which covers many things. Luckily, being mostly-lesbian, I’m mostly-safe from this one. Communal Tea-drinking has not yet been ruled illegal)

The BBC is dead. Long live the BBC.

The web site, anyway:

Asking ns1.bbc.co.uk (132.185.132.21) for bbc.co.uk (type NS)
Response is:
25.0% 132.185.240.21 (ns1.thls.bbc.co.uk) with query timed out
25.0% 212.58.227.48 (ns1.rbsov.bbc.co.uk) with query timed out
25.0% 132.185.132.21 (ns1.bbc.co.uk) with query timed out
25.0% 212.58.224.21 (ns1.thdo.bbc.co.uk) with query timed out

Oops. It’s not just DNS either. They’ve totally disappeared off the internet:

cr1.th<show ip route 132.185.240.21
% Subnet not in table
cr1.th<show ip route 212.58.227.48
% Network not in table
cr1.th<show ip route 132.185.132.21
% Subnet not in table
cr1.th<show ip route 212.58.224.21
% Network not in table
cr1.th<

No news as to why, other than it’s a “major outage”. No, really?

Theresa May: Metropolitan Police say she’s asking for a Police State

On BBC Radio 4 this morning, Commander Bob Broadhurst, the Metropolitan Police officer in charge of policing the march at the weekend stated “Unless you want to turn this into a police state, I think the powers we’ve got are probably adequate“. (Quote at 2:03.37 on the Today Programme)

Yet according to the BBC News web site, just over an hour ago, Theresa May said “I am willing to consider powers which would ban known hooligans from attending rallies and marches, and I will look into the powers the police already have to force the removal of face coverings and balaclavas. If the police need more help to do their work I will not hesitate in granting it to them“.

So it appears the Home Secretary is considering giving powers to the police that even they think might be a bit draconian?

Poly and trans folk and the Census

I rather suspect that for both these categories, the demographic is so vanishingly small that it will disappear into the noise, but having filled in the Census last night I was interested in how some of the data is processed, so I fired off a Freedom of Information request.

Firstly, poly households:

1a) If a household consists of a polygamous relationship, will the data be accepted by the Census system? For example, if P1 and P2 are married or in a civil partnership and P3 indicates they are a partner of both P1 and P2, is this considered a valid response or will the “partner” response be ignored and not entered?

1b) If the data will be accepted and entered into the census computer systems, will it be either reported on or (In summary form) available via an FoI request?

In short: Will you be able to answer the question “How many poly households are there in the UK?” I doubt many people will accurately answer the question so the ONS figures won’t mean much. However, I don’t know if there have been any previous surveys in this area. (If anyone is aware of any, let me know!)

Having just started to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I do wonder if there are more people quietly getting on with their lives in such relationships than is usually reported on. Even more so than Trans issues, there doesn’t seem to be much of a poly community because stable poly relationships tend not to be the kind of thing one can really seek out. They just kind of happen and people are either open to being poly or not.

Someone is bound to disagree with me on the previous paragraph so I’ll caveat it now: In my own opinion, of course.

(Our census has been done on paper. Does anyone know if the online version restricts your answers at all and would not allow the response I’ve described above?)

Secondly question:

2) If there is an apparent mismatch between the indicated sex and marital status of individuals, how will this be entered into the system and handled? For example, if two individuals indicate sex as female but also indicate they are married, will this be entered into the census system as a marriage or as a same-sex civil partnership?

Translation: How many people are so militantly pro-equal-marriage that they’ll tick “married” despite technically being civil partnered. (And Vice-Versa, but I guess that’s a smaller group) There will also be people who have transitioned but have not received a GRC as they do not wish to divorce or are unable to obtain a GRC for any of the myriad other reasons, but there is no way of distinguishing between these two groups from census return data.

I expect to be disappointed with the response – I generally am with FoI requests like this – but they are potentially interesting topics if something useful does come of it.

A most bizarre census campaign from Stonewall

Stonewall do seem to struggle when figuring out which campaigns to support, don’t they?

No, they haven’t failed to support one this time. Instead they’ve decided to jump on last decades Jedi bandwagon by asking people to list their religion as “Lesbian”. This is a really bad idea for two reasons.

Firstly, putting any religion in there will mark you down as religious, no matter how silly it is. It’s far better, as the Census Campaign have been urging people to do, to tick “No Religion”. And secondly, the reason for the Census Campaign in the first place is that previous censuses have returned bad data – and the ONS survey results suggest that a census sexuality question would fare no better.

Yes, this is a bad enough idea that Amy Lame, who had the original idea, changed her mind about it.

Dear Nick Clegg, 10 things you can disagree with Cameron on

Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceDear Nick,

I hear you’re having problems disagreeing with Cameron. So, I thought I’d prepare this handy list of ten items where quite a few people I know who are also Liberal Democrats do not agree with the Conservatives. Hopefully this should be enough to help you in the TV debates in 2015 or, perhaps, a little before then.

  1. Fairer votes
  2. Tuition fees
  3. Trident
  4. Prisoner votes
  5. Europe
  6. The NHS
  7. Control Orders
  8. Multiculturalism
  9. Eric Pickles
  10. Immigration caps

Perhaps you could print this letter out and keep it with you, in case you need reminding? If you need any of these explaining to you, drop me a line. I’d be happy to help.

Yours,

Zoe.

Is that really Yahoo you’re logging in to?

A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.

That little padlock in the corner of your browser lost a little of it’s security yesterday. It shows that you’re talking to a web site via a secure, encrypted connection and that you’re really talking to who you think you are rather than someone nasty intercepting your username, password and credit card details.

Except that someone has broken in to a reseller account from certificate authority Comodo and generated certificates for several sites, including Google, Yahoo and Skype. And the fake Yahoo one has already been used on the internet, presumably to steal login credentials.

These aren’t fake certificates, so there is no way for your browser to know they don’t really belong to who they say they are. It’s akin to someone stealing the machine used to print money or driving licences and running off some fake ones. Luckily, in this case we know (Or hope we know) the serial numbers of the fake certificates so web browsers have already had patches released to keep an eye out for them, but it’s still illustrated a weakness in the system and it’s not clear how much data has yet been stolen as a result of this attack.

It’s possible the Certificate Authorities won’t be around for that much longer anyway, as a new technology (DNSSEC) could be used to give web site hosts a different way of ensuring their sites are secure and will mean we no longer have to pay a third party to prove to others – or fail to prove, in this case – who we are.

The attack came from Iran, although that doesn’t necessarily mean the attacker was in Iran – it could just as easily been a machine controlled by someone from Russia, North Korea or Peckham, London.

Channel 4 and transphobia, all mouth but no trousers?

There’s unease in some portions of the Trans community at the moment over how committed Channel 4 really are to their new Memorandum of Understanding. There’s a much longer post by Adam Smith over at Wrestling Emily Dickinson about this, but this excerpt sums it up nicely:

So in a similar way, as angry as I am with Peter Kay I find myself angrier at Channel 4 when I read that said channel – which, just last week, to general acclaim from the trans community, signed the Trans Media Watch Memorandum of Understanding – is planning to repeat the very programme in which Kay first aired his transphobic caricature, Geraldine. Yes: on March 26th, a grand total of twelve days after signing the MoU, Channel 4 plans to air a programme featuring a character and a performer universally reviled by trans people.

Adam has also set up a petition on the issue, which is worth a look.

But that’s not the end of it. At the TMW launch, Stuart Cosgrove (Director of Nations and Regions for Channel 4) said that the Trans community was still free to “shaft him” if he got it wrong. With they way they are acting at the moment, that shafting may come rather sooner than he expected, given the transphobic remarks in his BBC Scotland radio show, Off the Ball, this weekend. This from from just under 17 minutes in: (There’s another bit just under 42 minutes in but I’ve not seen the clip they’re referring to, so can’t really comment as I lack context)

So, Health & Safety. “Warning this product may contain nuts”
Said on what? A bag of nuts?
Airdrie lassie’s knickers! (Much laughter РAirdrie is a town in North Lanarkshire)

These are not particularly unusual remarks and typical of the usual kind of casual transphobia you will get in such circles. In the normal course of events, they would probably have passed unnoticed. But given that Stuart just helped to host a high profile event to tackle transphobia, should we not be holding him to a higher standard?

Trans folk and prisons, again: Parliamentary question from Caroline Lucas MP

Prisons and criminal law seem an eternally popular topic whenever I blog about them, attracting more readers and more retweets than almost any other topic. It’s probably not a good indication of the way Trans people feel about society as many of us are only too aware that we’re eternally only one prejudiced police officer away from a spell in prison, even when we are the victims.

This time though, it’s nothing bad at least.

Well, nothing that’s surprisingly bad.

Green MP Caroline Lucas asked a written question in Parliament (Hansard link) to find out who the Ministry of Justice had consulted on their new guidance. The answer was interesting, a little disappointing but perhaps not surprising: Asides from QUANGOs, government departments and those involved in running/inspecting prisons, it was just Unions, (Possibly including a:gender, but I fear not) the Gender Trust and the Beaumont Society.

For those not familiar with the Beaumont Society, it’s an organisation primarily designed to support crossdressers, not people who have actually transitioned. (Although many of it’s members do go on to transition, as is inevitable with such a group!) So, relevant organisations seem to have included, err, the Gender Trust, who were apparently selected because they “asked to be part of the consultation” or “on the basis of potential interest in the Instruction”.

It seems the Ministry did not publicly advertise the consultation, failed to mention any consultation in response to a Freedom of Information request and don’t consider that Freedom of Information request or a follow-up letter (To which I have not received a response) specifically asking about a consultation to be an expression of interest? How about prior work and submissions on the topic from both GIRES and Press For Change?

Does the Ministry of Justice and Ken Clarke actually care what we think?

Didn’t think so.

P.S. Brownie points, or the political equivalent, to whoever from the Green Party is briefing Caroline Lucas on Trans issues as you’re clearly doing an effective job. We need people doing this in all political parties. (Labour Party and Conservative Party members take note!)