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The Liberal Democrat blog Jazz Hands Serious Business recently published a fun article called “The Negative Narrative”, in which the author argued that the Liberal Democrats are currently being unfairly attacked. It seems that he and all his fellow Lib Dems who have kept the faith keep getting attacked by pretty much everyone they know, not because the Liberal Democrats have betrayed everything they previously stood for and allowed deadly policies to pass with resounding approval, but because of the prevailing media narrative that the Lib Dems are bad.

That naughty, naughty media, pointing out all those things the Lib Dems originally campaigned against, like tuition fee rises (advocated by Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat Minister for Business), VAT rises (approved by Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister), building nuclear power stations (supported by Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat Minister for Energy and Climate Change)… Why can’t the media go back to ignoring the Lib Dems completely between elections like they used to, so they can argue once again that their low poll ratings are due to that terrible media narrative which ignores them?

For heaven’s sake.

More nonsense from this article includes:

“The compromises inherent in coalition, which we understood and were prepared for intellectually, are emotionally a lot harder to swallow.”

All the more so for not being compromises so much as total capitulation, I imagine. Let’s follow the train of development for the big thing at the moment, tuition fees:

Nick Clegg, in a video to NUS Conference, April 2010: “To raise tuition fees is wrong. … We will resist, vote against, campaign against, any lifting of that cap.”

Self-justifying comment from Vince Cable, November 2010: “We didn’t break a promise. We made a commitment in our manifesto, we didn’t win the election. We then entered into a coalition agreement, and it’s the coalition agreement that is binding upon us and which I’m trying to honour,” he said.[1]

Coalition agreement Point 8: “…if the government’s response to Lord Browne’s report is one that the Liberal Democrats cannot accept, then arrangement will be made to enable the Liberal Democrats to abstain.”[2]

Liberal Democrats official (still) Education Policy: “To get a degree, young people are saddled with thousands of pounds of debt when it is tough enough to get a job, get on the housing ladder and make ends meet. The Liberal Democrats are the only party which believes university education should be free and admissions based on ability not bank balance. We will scrap unfair tuition fees for all students taking their first degrees saving them nearly £10,000 each.”3

Self-destructive statement from Vince Cable to the House: “The Liberal Democrats consistently opposed graduate contributions.

But in this current economic climate that policy is simply no longer feasible. That is why I intend on behalf of the coalition to put specific proposals to the House to implement radical and progressive reforms to HE based on the Browne report.” “…we are considering a level of £7000.”[4]

Hmm.

“The sheer quantity of vitriol hurled at us, regardless of its low factual quality, is hard for us to deal with.”

…I’ll just leave that one there for you to think about the sheer amount of self-justification and self-pity contained within that sentence.

Ooh, a Youtube video pointing out that the Liberal Democrats are liars…

“It’s very tempting to just dismiss anybody “stupid” enough to abandon us because of the national tide, but I don’t think that’s fair.”

How very kind of JHSB to say so. But the uncomfortable fact, and I shall pull an exciting “fact” out here, is that 40,000 people have joined the Labour Party since May, and a third of them went over from the Lib Dems.[5]6 And I think to be even tempted to dismiss 13,000 people as “stupid” is just the teeniest bit arrogant, perhaps… I look forward to reading the next Focus newspaper dropping through my door about how I’m stupid and I just need to get my act together and vote Lib Dem again and everything will be alright, my friends won’t getting denied their care packages or finding themselves on mandatory litter-picking and school wall painting because they can’t get a job because George Osborne and Danny Alexander have just fired 500,000 people…

13,000 stupid voters just don't get it, see.

This entire post was originally a much shorter comment that I left in comments section of JHSB’s blogpost, but in a true liberal spirit, my comment has magically vanished for “moderation” and has not been seen again. I have therefore included it below instead.

“Personally, I’m sickened by people making political capital out of whipping up fear among poor, ill and disabled people when the details of the proposals haven’t even been published yet.”

“I don’t know if your Facebook feed is the same, but mine is currently filled with poor, sick and disabled friends who don’t need to know exactly where their services are going to be cut to know that they are going to suffer a poorer quality of life after the Lib Dems and the Tories are done. For many of them, the cuts are already coming: in York – the early intervention in psychosis team has lost 2 Community Psychiatric Nurses, 3 Health Care Assistants, and its only psychologist. It reduced hospital admissions by 80%. Those hospital admissions are not bed places being taken up by the fit and healthy, they are used by my friends with severe mental impairments. In Liverpool, a friend of a friend with chronic treatment-resistant schizophrenia has been told she must pay £70/week to use a day centre for 3 days a week (her only social contact). She’s been on benefits for years & has no way of paying.

My own mother is a council worker who has been sent an email by the Chief Executive saying that they are going to get rid of 40% of their jobs *next year* – she says that pretty much all services except statutory functions will be scrapped. That includes parks, daycare, local small business investment schemes…

I ran into a lady yesterday on Oxford Road doing street surveys who told me that she used to work from home doing telemarketing but the floor has fallen out of the market because of the cuts and for the first time in 30 years she’s been forced back onto the streets in winter to get work. And then I receive emails from Simon Hughes telling me that the government cuts have a “progressive face”.

The socialist brain of a Liberal Democrat.

Where did these people go? Come back!

I’m not making much political capital out of this, but neither are the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats are colluding in the destruction of the lives of thousands of people. Maybe the media narrative is being dominated by Tory newspapers who want to displace blame for the fact that their own readers are about to get screwed over. But the fact is, in a year’s time, when college students are having to drop out because they can’t get to school because their EMA has been removed, or hospital admissions double because social care for the elderly and disabled has been cut by 30% and people are unable to live independently, or the job market becomes even tougher because the 1.3 million people who are about to hit the dole are forced into 30 hour a week placements at £1.73/h that effectively do all the menial and filing jobs that they used to perform for pay (look, I has facts!), people aren’t going to be paying any attention whatsoever to the dominant media narrative, they’re going to be looking at their own lives and the lives of their friends and family and making a judgment on that.

And I don’t suppose that knowing that there’s going to be a referendum on AV, or people will be able to recall corrupt MPs, or that Royal Mail is going to be part-privatised (wtf, man?) is really going to make them cheerlead the Liberal Democrats much.

The Labour Party doesn’t have to whip up fear, people are *terrified* already. What policies would have to be announced before it was a compromise too far for you?”

As a closing point, in researching some of the facts contained in this article, I came across this sentiment from a Guardian reader:

“There’s no honour in voting through 10 Tory policies, to get 1 back in return.”

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A chap called Matthew Smith, also known as Yusuf, recently wrote a blog-post in response to my recent letter to The Guardian regarding autism as an illness. The main thrust of his argument is that autism is not an illness in itself, but still a definite problem that needs dealing with. However, many of the problems which Yusuf claims come with being autistic are all from the way other people treat autistics, and not due to being autistic itself.

Yusuf writes, “The idea that you might not want kids to be autistic is kind of like saying you want autistic people strangled at birth.” Well, yes, it is. The people who are arguing that autism is a bad thing are also the same people who are talking about disclosing to pregnant women their child may be autistic – and how their child may not have full quality of life. The research currently being done to find a “cure” for autism, is not focussing on training kids out of it – you cannot change a child’s intrinsic nature, whether they are shy, boisterous, curious, or autistic. No, what organisations like Autism Speaks are looking into is the genetic causes of autism. They want to prevent us from being born, not to integrate us into society. That’s why autism advocates oppose them.

I am also an LGBT activist, and the similarities between the attempts to find a “gay gene” and “the cause of autism” are striking. About 8% of adult male rams are only interested in mounting other rams: hardly helpful for the average farmer. Scientists have been looking into the causes of homosexuality in rams with a view to identifying the genes which caused such behaviour, and when the study was published in 2007, the results were predictable- anti-gay advocates immediately stated they would be examining the research to see if it could be applied to human beings (I don’t have a reference for this bit, by the way, beyond “I heard it on the radio three years ago…”. It is not difficult to see how further research in the “causes if autism” will be used to eradicate us rather than to help us.

I am not saying that all autistic people are functioning human beings hemmed in by society rules that just don’t allow for our eccentricities. There are autistic people who can’t speak, who look straight through you in a world of their own, can’t bear to be touched, can’t feed, wash or clothe themselves. But they’re not ill – they can’t communicate with you, but they are feeling, thinking people. Amanda Baggs is a low-functioning autistic who needs round the clock care, who produces Youtube videos about her experiences of autism. Tito Mukhopadhyay is severely autistic and is entirely dependant on his mother to survive, but can still write poetry after years of coaching. My point is not that all autistic people can be made to express sentience, but that what these examples show is that regardless of what is going on on the outside to “distress” parents and carers, on the inside, we’re all there. We’re not ill.

Ultimately Yusuf’s argument culminates in a wish that autistic people didn’t exist. But I quite like existing. I would not be the same person were I not autistic, and I quite like being me. So do quite a lot of other people, too. I’m sure some parents wouldn’t want their children to be autistic. Some parents also don’t want their children to be red heads, gay, or obsessed with space. But some are. And yeah, maybe it will result in a harder life for them – I was bullied thoughout my school career, I’m heavily dependant on my Asperger’s tutor and my university has already attempted to throw me out for poor attendance – but I would never want to be “cured”, and neither do most of my friends who have mental health disorders.

Yes, I don’t know what people are talking about when they’re being subtle, I can’t bear ticking, and I have nervous breakdowns when my friends lie to me. Those things aren’t pleasant. But I enjoy my ruthless honesty, extremely deep knowledge of specific subjects, and relentless, single-minded drive to achieve what I want from life. I don’t think I would have those qualities were I not wired up differently to other people, and I don’t want it any other way – and other people shouldn’t either.

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