Politician of the Year voting

The nominations are in, and voting for Politician of the Year is now open! The ballot will run until Friday 15th November and is an Instant Runoff Ballot, so you should rank as many people as you are able to express a preference for, based on positive work done for trans people in the UK over the last couple of years.

Below the voting form is a brief biography and photograph (Where available) of each nomination. Posts run in multiple locations, as long as you can see the Opavote form below then you can vote here. If you cannot see the form, it is also accessible on the Opavote web site.

Voting is open to anyone who identifies as trans*.

Voting has now closed

Baroness Barker
Openly lesbian, spoke in defence of trans rights during the passage of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill through the House of Lords.
Baroness Barker Hugh Bayley MP Hugh Bayley MP
Member of Parliament for York Central, long time campaigner for trans rights, has raised pensions issues in Commons debates
Cllr Sarah Brown
Only out transgender politician elected to public office in the UK. Executive Councillor for Community Well-Being on Cambridge City Council.
Cllr Sarah Brown Michael Cashman MEP Michael Cashman MEP
“…who said “We have to start saying Trans before we say LGB” at Work Place Pride this year, particularly relevant in light of @pinknews awards” – @natachakennedy
Lynne Featherstone MP
“…launched the consultation by the UK government on introducing equal marriage and was the first politician to take part in the Out4Marriage campaign.” – Independent on Sunday Pink List
Lynne Featherstone MP   Mike Freer MP
“…made one of the more moving speeches in the debate… “I’m not asking for special treatment, I am simply asking for equal treatment.”” – Independent on Sunday Pink List
Baroness Gould
Chair of the Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity. Spoke in defence of trans rights during the passage of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill through the House of Lords.
    Kate Green MP
Member of Parliament for Stretford and Urmston, worked hard on removing spousal veto. Also concerned about press coverage.
Julian Huppert MP
“Can’t remember any other politician speaking so forcefully on issues affecting T* people”
“…for good work re marriage plus support shown to non-binary people”
Julian Huppert MP Caroline_Lucas Caroline Lucas MP
Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion, raised trans-supportive issues in Commons debates on same sex marriage and sponsored EDMs on press coverage
Kerry McCarthy MP
Member of Parliament for Bristol East, met with trans groups throughout the year and attended vigil for Lucy Meadows outside the Daily Mail.
Kerry_McCarthy

Additional information on politicians with short bios above welcome. Photos (If creative commons licensed) particularly welcome.

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RCPsych Gender Dysphoria guidelines released

Some may recall the somewhat controversial history of the Royal College of Psychiatrists when it comes to transgender issues, and the decade-long wait for their guidelines for treatment of Gender Dysphoria.

Well, the wait is finally over and the guidelines were finally published last week. Given how potentially catastrophic they could have been, the positive nature of the final version is welcome and this is reflected in the long list of endorsements from trusted organisations.

The document is broadly in line with the latest WPATH Standards of Care, and positive points include: (These are mostly clustered around pages 15-16 and 21-23)

  • For HRT prescription, transition is explicitly not required. There appears to be an implicit acceptance that HRT without social transition (i.e. without “going full time”) is sufficient for many people with Gender Dysphoria, as it also states no commitment to transition should be expected.
  • If a patient turns up already on HRT (E.g, having obtained it online) then as a harm reduction measure, GPs are permitted to prescribe a “bridging prescription”.
  • Genital surgery is permitted one year (Rather than the 2 years commonly usually used by the NHS) after transition and starting HRT.
  • Revisions required from surgery or other complications should be referred directly to the appropriate healthcare provider and not result in a GIC referral.
  • Hair removal should be provided. (Either for surgery or facial)
  • The requirements for HRT and surgery are regardless of the direction of transition. The exception is top surgery for trans men which is permitted at the time of transition, noting that binding can potentially be harmful.
  • Anyone with an intersex condition should have equal access to gender services.
  • On an administrative front, all GP etc records should be fully updated from the moment someone transitions, including name and title, and this does not require a deed poll or statutory declaration. Information that a patient has gender dysphoria or has transitioned should never be disclosed to other healthcare professionals unless strictly necessary.

The document has a brief discussion of, but does not fully address, treatment of adolescents with Gender Dysphoria. It also does not attempt to set any age limit at which “adult” services should be accessible which will disappoint some people.

Of course, it’s impossible to compile a guidance document like this without some areas which people will feel are negative, or do not go far enough. Some of the more obvious ones include:

  • A full physical exam, to include a genital exam (Which may be refused) is recommended when a patient first approaches to a GP. No evidence is presented as to why this should be clinically helpful and given the distress such procedures can cause, it’s inclusion here is somewhat surprising and is likely to put people off approaching their doctors. Inappropriate handling of physical exams were the source of some of the most serious complaints in the recent #transdocfail saga, so this advice may be as harmful for GPs as it is for trans folk.
  • Discussion of non-binary/genderqueer identities is lacking. There is more on this on the nonbinary.org forums.
  • Some very odd language around “certificated” men and women, meaning holders of GRCs.

Finally, two points that appear to be older portions of the document from it’s original decade-old draft incarnation that were missed in later updates:

  • An uncited line on page 40 states “progesterone is not usually indicated since no biologically
    significant progesterone receptor sites exist for biological males
    “. This is inaccurate, as well as misusing the term “biological males”. The line appears to have been lifted from another paper coauthored by Wylie, who chaired the working group that produced the RCPsych guidelines.
  • The section on male-to-female genital surgery is somewhat gloomy and does not reflect the current state of the art.

Overall, it’s a welcome document and certainly one that can be used by those in the process of medical transition to persuade their GPs and other medical and administrative staff to do the right thing.

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Political Careers of NUS Presidents, 1969-present

Given the news that Wes Streeting has been selected as a parliamentary candidate for Labour in Ilford North, it’s time to update my list of political platforms NUS presidents stood on and the posts they have gone on to hold. Candidates prior to 1969 did not appear to stand as part of a formal organised grouping and none I can find had any further political career.

Name Years Party/Platform at time of election Subsequent political activity
Jack Straw 1969-71 Radial Student Alliance Labour MP, Shadow Cabinet member, former Labour Foreign and Home Secretary.
Digby Jacks 1971-73 Broad Left/Communist Party of Great Britain Former Labour councillor in the London Borough of Hounslow.
John Randall 1973-75 Independent No connection to the Conservative MP of the same name, appears to have had an entirely non-political career since.
Charles Clarke 1975-77 Broad Left/Labour Students Former Labour MP and Home Secretary.
Sue Slipman 1977-78 Broad Left/Communist Party of Great Britain Joined the SDP and stood for parliament, but did not join the Liberal Democrats post-merger.
Trevor Phillips 1978-80 Broad Left/Non-aligned Former Labour member of the London Assembly. Blair’s preferred Labour candidate for London Mayor in 1999.
David Aaronovitch 1980-82 Broad Left/Communist Party of Great Britain Non-political career, became a journalist.
Neil Stewart 1982-84 Labour Non-political career, as far as can be established.
Phil Woolas 1984-86 Labour Former Labour MP and Immigration Minister.
Vicky Philips 1986-88 Labour Non-political career, became a lawyer.
Maeve Sherlock 1988-90 Labour Labour member of House of Lords. Special advisor to then-chancellor Gordon Brown.
Stephen Twigg 1990-92 Labour Labour MP, former Minister of State.
Lorna Fitzsimons 1992-94 Labour Former Labour MP
Jim Murphy 1994-96 Labour Labour MP, former Cabinet Minister, current Shadow Cabinet member
Douglas Trainer 1996-98 Labour Special adviser for the Labour Scottish Executive 2006-07
Andrew Pakes 1998-00 Labour Former Labour Councillor and special advisor to Labour Deputy Mayor of London, Labour parliamentary candidate in 2010
Owain James 2000-02 Independent Former Labour party employee
Mandy Telford 2002-04 Labour Former Special Adviser to Labour MP Tessa Jowell, married to Labour MP John Woodcock.
Kat Fletcher 2004-06 Campaign for Free Education/Independent Labour candidate in 2013 by-election for Islington Council.
Gemma Tumelty 2006-08 Independent Labour Party employee, stood for selection as Labour parliamentary candidate.
Wes Streeting 2008-10 Labour Labour Prospective parliamentary candidate in Ilford North.
Aaron Porter 2010-11 Independent Labour party member and contributed to the book “What Next for Labour? Ideas for a new generation”.
Liam Burns 2011-13 Independent Labour party member.
Toni Pearce Current Independent Joined Labour only after being elected.

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Politician of the Year nominations

In light of recent events, it would seem a good time for the trans* communities to try to recognise some of the work done to champion trans rights over the last few years.

The rules are simple. Nominations are open for any politician elected to public office, who people feel have made a positive difference to the lives of trans people, covering the whole period of the equal marriage consultation and subsequent legislation. Initially, nominations were to be restricted to allies only as otherwise it could end up being divisive, but after discussion on twitter nominations will be allowed for anyone. Unless someone else feels like coming out, this is a very short list.

Nominations will be open until 5pm on Friday, 1st November and can be made by commenting below, via twitter (@zoeimogen) or EMail (zoe@complicity.co.uk). Nominations may be anonymous – please indicate if this is the case – and you may nominate more than one person. “Trans” in this context is as people self-identify.

Shortly after nominations close, the final result will be decided by public vote. You can not vote yet.

Below is a list of the nominations as received so far.

Baroness BarkerBaroness Barker
Openly lesbian, spoke in defence of trans rights during the passage of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill through the House of Lords.
Hugh Bayley MPHugh Bayley MP
Member of Parliament for York Central
Cllr Sarah BrownCllr Sarah Brown
“The Cambridge Councillor is the only out transgender politician in Britain. Representing the Liberal Democrats for the Petersfield Ward, Brown has been made the Executive Councillor for Community Well-Being this year. A member of the LGBT and Liberal Democrats Executive, she is also an advocate for equal marriage.” – Independent on Sunday Pink List
Michael Cashman MEP
Michael Cashman MEP
“…who said “We have to start saying Trans before we say LGB” at Work Place Pride this year, particularly relevant in light of @pinknews awards” – @natachakennedy

“Founder of Stonewall, an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a Patron of The Food Chain, a London-based HIV charity.” – Wikipedia

Lynne Featherstone MP
Lynne Featherstone MP
Member of Parliament for Hornsey and Wood Green, Former Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Equalities

“The Lib Dem MP launched the consultation by the UK government on introducing equal marriage and was the first politician to take part in the Out4Marriage campaign.” – Independent on Sunday Pink List

Mike Freer MP
“Mike Freer, the Conservative MP for Margaret Thatcher’s old seat, Golders Green and East Finchley, made one of the more moving speeches in the debate. He said that he was proud of his civil partnership, but wanted to be married like other people: “Many argue that we should be content with our civil partnership – after all it affords all of the same legal protections as marriage – but I ask my married colleagues, did you get married for legal protections it afforded you?” He concluded: “I’m not asking for special treatment, I am simply asking for equal treatment.”” – Independent on Sunday Pink List
Baroness Gould
Chair of the Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity. Spoke very effectively in defence of trans rights during the passage of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill through the House of Lords.
Kate Green MP
Member of Parliament for Stretford and Urmston, Shadow Minister of State for Equalities
Julian Huppert MP
Julian Huppert MP
Member of Parliament for Cambridge

“Can’t remember any other politician speaking so forcefully on issues affecting T* people” – @annajayne

“…for good work re marriage plus support shown to on-binary people” – @jennie_kermode

“…for the non-binary stuff, but also for just general “getting” of the topic” – @loyaultemelie

Caroline Lucas MPCaroline_Lucas
Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion
Kerry McCarthy MPKerry_McCarthy
Member of Parliament for Bristol East, Shadow Foreign Office Minister

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Another LGBT+ awards controversy: Pink News and Baroness Stowell

There does seem to be something about the LGb(t) community and awards, doesn’t there?

Pink News have played a blinder by giving their “parliamentarian of the year” award to Baroness Stowell. Yes, that’s the same Baroness Stowell that will cause hardened trans veterans of the same-sex marriage bill to wince when they hear her name, for it was her who gallantly defended the spousal veto as the bill passed through the House of Lords, shooting down every suggestion and compromise proposed on this and other trans-related topics.

It perhaps should not be too surprising that many people, both trans folk and allies, are somewhat miffed this morning at the news. At the time of writing, the only defence Pink News have put up is that it was an “independent panel of judges, although there would have been nothing to stop them shortlisting her in the first place…

(The award was shared with Yvette Cooper, although it is not clear what in particular Yvette Cooper was singled out for an award when there were many people on all sides of the house who engaged far more above and beyond)

The trouble with these awards is that it is often a small panel, with perhaps one trans person on. Unless you’re very careful picking that person then they’re unlikely to have the breath of knowledge to avoid obvious (To us) SNAFUs such as this one. In this case, a non-politician from the trans community was asked to vote on the award and didn’t have the background knowledge (And would not have been expected to!) to brief others accordingly.

The fix is to ensure proper representation of trans folk within ostensibly LGBT+ organisations, for when the nominations are initially put together and on panels. Given how much more politically active out trans folk are compared to the wider out community, it is not sufficient to have just one trans person on a panel of ten. (Around one third of the elected LGBT+LibDems executive is non-cis – I don’t know the figures for other parties) Even if you base a panel on population numbers, remember the huge numbers of not-out, non-transitioning or pre-transition trans folk – up to 1% of the UK population, with a wide enough definition.

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Won’t someone think of the children, part 534: Follow the money?

The latest possibly-not-that-well-thought-out idea in the debate about protecting children online comes from the little-known QUANGO The Authority for Television On Demand, or ATVOD for short. As the catchy name suggests, ATVOD has a responsibility for regulating on-demand video programming in the UK, a large portion of which will be delivered by internet or internet-like connections. One of their regulations prohibits the hosting of many forms of pornography unless behind a paywall or similar to prevent access by under-18s1, i.e. no free samples.

But it appears ATVOD have decided to exceed their remit of regulating UK content in the name of WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN! They’ve spotted a problem in that non-UK internet sites do not need to follow UK rules (Surprise, surprise) and that many sites offer free samples before paying. Being powerless to intervene directly and enforce UK rules on them, ATVOD decided to follow the money instead and have asked the banks to block payments to these sites. Whoever came up with this idea clearly hasn’t spent enough time on the internet (Or talking to politicians) for several reasons.

First, ATVOD and the banks are arbitrarily deciding what is right and wrong with no democratic oversight. That the banks might acquiesce to this request is in itself worrying, although we only have ATVOD’s word on it that they are thinking of doing so. There were many statements from the Home Office indicating that ISPs were going to introduce a default-block on porn on the internet, which turned out to be fibs…

Secondly, we are not the world’s police and our laws are different from other countries. What is illegal to access until you are 18 in this country might be quite legal at 16 in another, or might be totally unlawful regardless of age. The UK is a small part of the internet as a whole2 and it does not seem likely that the majority of foreign providers will want to pay a UK regulator and have to work with UK standards. By extension, they would also need to work with and pay money to the other 205 sovereign states of the world.

Unless you happen to be America, a single government does not carry anywhere near enough influence to alter de-facto internet standards like that. Even if you are America, it usually doesn’t work.

And finally, the attempt to block money appears to be born entirely of spite, or perhaps protectionism for the UK VoD industry. The majority of foreign content providers are not going to care enough about the UK market to do anything. That means the content ATVOD is so worried about – the free samples of pornography that is not behind a paywall – will continue to be accessible.

There are better ways to do this. Reputable adult sites in general do not want kids accessing them, as it is bad publicity and kids generally do not have the money to pay for anything so there is little point. Voluntary systems existed such as ICRA, but that system failed due to lack of takeup. Perhaps if organisations like ATVOD cooperated internationally to promote such voluntary systems rather than trying to force their own rules on everyone else, we might make some progress.

1. In practice, a paywall that requires a credit card to prove you are 18. Rules on credit cards will differ between countries, so this is another area that would need country-specific handling.

2. About 2%, based on Wikipedia.

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Own-goal from Stonewall over transphobic Paddy Power campaign

In what appears to have been a colossally mis-judged own goal, an article published today in the Guardian and written by Stonewall UK’s media manager endorses the use of transphobia if it helps further their anti-homophobic campaign.

The trouble stems from an advertising campaign featuring run by Paddy Power in early 2012 that the Advertising Standards Authority banned, branding the campaign “likely to cause serious offense” and “irresponsible”. When it was announced that Stonewall were teaming up with Paddy Power with a rainbow laces campaign, it was met with some grumbling from trans activists, but given Stonewall’s long history of working with transphobes it was hardly news.

However, today’s article appears to be the first time Stonewall UK have said the transphobic actions of someone else are actually helpful in working against homophobia:

It was clear from the very start of the campaign that working with an organisation like Paddy Power would allow us to communicate directly with fans, players and clubs in a way we simply wouldn’t have been able to had we worked alone. This, coupled with Paddy Power’s reputation for eye-catching, and yes, at times risqué campaigns would allow us to draw attention to the issue of homophobia in football.

Just in case the reader was in any doubt what was meant by “risqué campaigns”, the link (Yes, that’s in the original article) points to another article discussing the banning of the transphobic Paddy Power adverts.

Looks like Stonewall UK are back to being S’onewall again.

Update: The author of the original article has now “unambiguously condemned” the Paddy Power transphobic campaign, stating that the link to stories about it was added by the Guardian after the article was written.

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Updated CPS guidance on sex-by-deception cases

The Crown Prosecution Service for England and Wales has in the last few weeks1 updated it’s published guidance on sex-by-deception and other cases on what it calls “conditional” consent. The new guidance is available on the CPS web site.

There is not much to report in terms of the guidance itself. The first two cases discuss more explicit “conditional consent”, namely Assange (Consent only valid if a condom used) and another case, where consent was given conditional on withdrawal. McNally is highlighted as being different, hinging on implied rather than explicit consent. Whilst I do not like the language used in the guidance, which repeatedly refers to gender as a “deception”, that is unfortunately in line with the wording used by the court itself.

What is more interesting is that any cases depending on conditional consent must be referred to the Principle Legal Adviser (I.e. CPS HQ) before any decision is taken. For better or worse, that should introduce some degree of consistency in terms of prosecutions. It is worth pointing out at this point that even if the CPS decline to prosecute, the police will still retain a whole host of other measures that could be used (or abused) against someone whose gender is seen as deceptive.

Although not proactively published, older guidance from the CPS has been obtained via Freedom of Information2 which indicates the issue of someone’s trans status being directly relevant to the case with them as a defendant have never really been considered before. The currently-in-force guidance that would have applied in the McNally and earlier cases, which the CPS did take pains to point out was “notably out of date”, only considers old-naming of a defendant who has a criminal record prior to transition and the need to carry on with medication. The current draft version of the guidance merely expands on this and corrects some errors.

It can be seen from minutes of the relevant group meetings (20120925, 20121120, 20130121) that the McNally, Wilson etc cases were not discussed. Whilst the group did not exist at the time of the McNally appeal judgement, it was meeting after the initial judgement and after the Barker and Wilson cases so the issue was already on the radar.

It has been stated online that some members of the group met with the CPS after the McNally appeal result, but the content of that meeting and the outcome has not been made public as confidential details of cases were discussed.

1. There is no publication date, but the Wayback Machine shows the previous page not including the new guidance from the 8th September, so it is within the last five weeks.

2. The oldest CPS guidance document came with a note saying that the contacts page had been removed as it contained personal information. Of the others, all have been edited prior to uploading to this blog. The original response from the CPS included names redacted via a black marker, but were still visible on the scanned documents. No content has been edited besides blanking out names fully.

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2 Comments

Round up the usual suspects! It’s time for more sex-negative policing

It appears Norman Baker’s arrival at the Home Office in the latest reshuffle has come just in time, given the latest policy to arrive on the public’s doormat. Notably, they got this one out before he had a chance to get his feet under the desk, and in the gap just after Jeremy Browne left. I doubt that’s a coincidence. The policy is one called “Sexual Risk Orders” and I’ll give you the government’s own line on what they involve… (Emphasis mine)

Sexual Risk Orders can be applied to any individual who poses a risk of sexual harm in the UK or abroad, even if they have never been convicted.

In other words, you can have one of these orders slapped on you because the police don’t like you. The restrictions on the person who is unfortunate to receive such an order are quite severe. That’s particularly true in this day and age of the internet use clause as it’s not even possible to claim some benefits without internet access.

…a range of restrictions on individuals depending on the nature of the case, such as limiting their internet use, preventing them from being alone with a child under 16, or preventing travel abroad.

No doubt such an order, or having had such an order in the past, would show up on any checks for future employment as well. Finally, the “safeguards” against such an order are…

The Sexual Risk Order can be made if the police or NCA apply to a magistrates’ court regarding a person who poses a risk of sexual harm. It lasts a minimum of two years and has no maximum duration.

Not exactly encouraging. But unsurprising, given the groups who were consulted in constructing the orders:

There has also been consultation with front-line professionals including the police, the courts, and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

And it should go without saying that no government press release with undertones of “WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!” can end without a ministerial quote alone the lines of “We’re already far more draconian than anyone else, but we won’t stop until you have no freedom left”.

The UK has some of the toughest powers in the world to deal with sex offenders. Today, we are going even further by giving police and National Crime Agency officers the power to place greater restrictions on any person they judge to be a risk.

It probably goes without saying that likely targets of such orders include sex workers, those involved in consensual BDSM and anyone trans. (Particularly in the wake of McNally – imagine a “You must out yourself to anyone you meet” order) This would apply even if the activities you engage in would not be considered unlawful by a jury, because the police only need to convince a magistrate you might pose a risk.

Basically, round up the usual suspects.

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Anti-internet-censorship speech to LibDem Conference

The motion calling for internet filtering was defeated overwhelmingly via a reference back earlier today. I was not called to speak – apparently, there was a “huge stack” of cards put in to speak, “most on one side of the debate”.

But if I had been called to speak, here’s what I would have said.

Conference,

I am what many of you might regard as a geek. I have worked in IT for many years, including over a decade of experience working for Internet Service Providers.

But that is not why I am up here today.

I am also a parent. I have three school-aged children and I am opposed to this motion because it does not do what it says on the tin. Where filtering is in widespread use, we already see issues with overly aggressive blocking. Undesirable content is in the eye of the beholder, and to avoid complaints companies will block first and ask questions later.

We see blocking of support sites for mental health issues such as anorexia and body image issues.

Blocking of support sites for sexuality and gender issues.

Blocking of support sites for bullying.

The British Library even blocks Hamlet on it’s own wireless internet access, because it contains violent content. It’s simply not possible to get this right. The people who are pushing for the filters will be campaigning to make them stricter. Imagine the headlines if just one web site the Daily Mail deem to be questionable slipped through the ‘net.

There is no appeal if you are blocked, because the decision on what to block is left to private companies. Do we want private corporations censoring our internet? Who decides what sites are acceptable? The logical extension of such a policy is a British Board of Internet Censorship, a terribly draconian and unwelcome idea.

Senior Talk Talk staff once came to talk to me, when I had expressed concern about their filters. They assured me that it was not possible to bypass their filters and offered a trial – but they never made good on their promise to let us test it. Why not?

Software exists to bypass such filters, that’s why. Tor is one such mechanism and is part-funded by the US Government to allow people to bypass filtering, for the benefit of those living in oppressive regimes…!

As a parent, I do worry about my children online. But I am more worried about cyber-bullying and stalking, which filtering does nothing to prevent. Reliance on technology gives a false sense of security, something we must avoid. The best solution all round is Education, Education, Education – of both parents and children.

And that’s a view with widespread support in the party. A Liberal Democrat Voice survey published in the last 24 hours shows that a whopping 81% of party do not support the form of filtering described in this motion.

There is an amendment to this motion, but it does not do enough to address these issues and I cannot support it. But we do want a policy, because we know this is an important issue. Conference, I would urge you to vote to refer this motion back so that these issues can be addressed properly and a new, more robust policy bought to a future conference.

But if that fails, please vote against the motion.

Thank you.

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