We got it wrong on Syria

Today our parliament, by the slimmest of margins, voted against intervention in Syria as the BBC showed footage of alleged napalm-like attacks on schools.

Some are saying it was a good day for democracy, but it really wasn’t.

The Govt recalled parliament because it wanted to act on the knowledge chemical weapons were used it Syria, that much is obvious. However, after consulting others and talks with the opposition, it is clear the motion was watered down – to state we were to wait for the UN reports; to say there’d be a vote on military action should it come to that.

So, today’s motion? Was more a message, to say we would not stand by and watch  country commit war crimes against its own people.

Why, then, did Labour table an amendment that was practically the same as the motion and vote against the Govt?

I am, mostly, against intervention. And I have no problem with people suggesting non-military solutions or voting against something they disagree with – but to see MPs vote both ways just because of the name at the top of the paper? Not cool.

And to see MPs jeering at the vote result, talking about leadership challenges, of victories for their leader? It sickens me. There are people dying at the hands of their own government and our parliament resorted to turning a vote on how we could help them into a party political slanging match.

Across both votes the majority, in principle, were for action based on evidence. And now they’ve somehow managed to turn that into the result we have.

Now what? Do we not get a second debate and vote, because the first failed? Do we table another motion on how to help the Syrian people & condemn a tyrannous regime? How long do we have to wait until we DO something – another two years?

The problem isn’t necessarily the result, more how it was reached – and reacted to.

So no, today wasn’t a good day for parliament, even if the outcome was one you hoped for; it was a lesson in how to be a top-class dick.

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Upsubbing to GCHQ

Remember when you were a kid, and you found a snail, and as you went to lick it one of your (nicer) brothers might’ve shouted: “Don’t do that! It’ll make you sick!”

And so you put it down and carried on eating grass instead.

This is what the Government are doing right now, only the snail is not really a snail; it’s the hard drives from the Guardian. And your big brother? GCHQ.

In both cases, the subjects are doing what we’re all taught to do; listen to your elders, respect experience, acknowledge you are not the expert on everything.

Throw words like ‘terror’, ‘threat’ and ‘national security’ at any Govt and they will immediately be on high alert, ready to defer to anyone who knows more about the particular threat of the day.

That doesn’t mean we should support, excuse or condone the destruction of data, more we should understand that the sole reliance on ‘experts’ is not always a good thing.

“Destroy the hard drives but keep reporting” seems like a logical compromise from the likes of Clegg when you remember he is both tech-illiterate and listening to the advice of the security services.

The Cabinet is mostly made up of 40-something white men who think having an iPad means they are in-the-know about technological advances. In the last 10 years, technology has advanced quicker than it probably did throughout the rest of their lifetime, and they are ill-equipped to dealing with the adaptations – you need only look at the responses to social media issues to see it’s an all-encompassing illiteracy.

There would be difficulties in having ‘independent’ advisers on these sorts of instances, of course, but someone within the Govt (and independent of the security services) who understands even the basics of data transfers, hard drives, encryption etc really wouldn’t go amiss.

I’ll admit, there is a part of me that agrees data in the wrong hands should be destroyed – would you want the deaths of people on your conscience if it landed in the laps of the ‘bad guys’ because you forgot to turn WiFi off before writing up your story?

It has to be said, though, I can’t really imagine the Guardian would be stupid enough to hook up hard drives containing sensitive data to an internet connection, never mind an unsecure one. Journalists have been doing this longer than most have been MPs.

But as Rusbridger said, it was not the only copy – so it still exists elsewhere. And if it still exists, then what was the point? My guess would be GCHQ showing some muscle and trying to limit the amount of leaks that could happen. But mostly muscle.

And it’s that, rather than the actual destruction, that should worry us most.

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Liberal Youth Elections 2013

So, I’ve cast my votes in the Liberal Youth elections. Here’s who I went for, and why.

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Everyone’s wrong on Leveson, but nobody’s got the balls to admit it

Leveson makes me angry. Not because I work for NI (not as a journalist, because I’m bad with words and also it’s hard and I like not having to immerse myself in bad news), but because I’m one of those horrible people – a logical liberal.

Everyone is wrong. Everyone.

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We need to talk about Rennard

Not the specific/non-specific allegations relating to him, but the issue as a whole.

And by we, I mean everyone – not just the wimmin’.

Firstly, there is something that everyone needs to be absolutely clear on – any allegations made must be taken seriously, and must be the priority for everyone.

To those who think it’s a Tory plot – shut up.

To those who want an investigation into Clegg/ministers to resign – shut up.

You may be right, you may be wrong, but I don’t care. Because what you are doing, intentionally or not, is letting the women involved down again by ignoring what may have happened to them to find a narrative you can deal with.

By glossing over the main reason for all of this, you are allowing an unacceptable culture to continue.

And it has to stop. Now.

I don’t think I know of any woman who hasn’t been groped, or leered at, or had disgusting things said to them by men who think it’s acceptable.

Why should the responsibility for addressing these issues by placed on those who are the most affected? Why do we expect victims – some of whom may well be severely traumatised – to be the ones to brave the speculation and dismissive nature of a sceptical public to bear the brunt of the spotlight and vitriol of the disbelievers?

If you want to truly change things, start by looking at the broader issues – how women are continuously let down, in all walks of life, by those who behave like this, by those who see it and do nothing.

If you want to help, put yourselves in the shoes of a victim – how would you feel if all those around you saw you, or someone close to you, being mistreated and walked on by?

If you want to help, don’t let other people be dicks.

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