No, I won’t be friends with conservatives either

Apparently there was a dust-up in British parliament because Labour member Laura Pidcock said she “wasn’t going to be friends with Tory [conservative] women.” I mean, this controversy is ridiculous for so many reasons–I have never “befriended” a colleague either, so I don’t understand why that would be contentious–but also because it implies that somebody’s personal politics shouldn’t affect your view of them.

Abi Wilkinson breaks it down. She distinguishes between “ambivalence” towards suffering versus actively perpetrating it (which is precisely the reason I tend to dislike conservatives), but otherwise has a pretty good rebuttal:

Roughly a week ago, Labour MP Laura Pidcock said in an interview that she doesn’t want to “hang out with Tory women” in Parliament. The 29-year-old was discussing the support she’d received from one specific group of Labour colleagues, who have invited her to join a WhatsApp group and offer advice on “anything from procedure to women’s issues”. A barrage of criticism followed, with numerous pundits expressing disapproval at her attitude. Comments she previously made about Tory MPs were taken out of context and presented as evidence she sees everyone who has ever voted Conservative as “the enemy”. Her actual point – that she has already friends she chooses to spend time with and is in Parliament to “be a mouthpiece for [her] constituents and class” rather than to socialise – got lost.

Heaven forbid a democratic representative represent their constituency. Didn’t she get the message that Parliament is just a proxy for corporate networking??

(The sarcasm runs deep)

There are two broad, related criticisms of Pidcock’s stance which seem to have become muddled. The first is that by ruling out friendship with MPs from the other side of the House, she’ll limit her ability to engage in potentially productive cross-party work. The second presumes there is no relevant difference between Parliament and any other workplace or social context, and posits that writing off a whole group of people without getting to know them individually is simply narrow-minded.

Both of these arguments rest on a very particular understanding of what politics actually is. Cross-party work is only possible so far as there is an overlap in goals and priorities. Pidcock has since clarified that she will “work with a Tory if it is going to benefit the people in [her] constituency” – but argues that basic ideological differences make the possibilities for cooperation limited. She notes that she has already attempted to reach out, but when she “asked them to sign [her] letter asking for a pause to Universal Credit” she was ignored, and describes Conservative MPs as “ambivalent to the suffering of [her] constituents”.

“Ambivalent to the suffering of constituents” seems to nicely summarize the direction of conservative politics since the 70s, yes.

Many such MPs would doubtless object to this characterisation, but this disagreement is at the heart of the conflict between Conservatives and the left. Publicly, at least, Tories tend to argue that their policies are the only logical option in the circumstances that exist. Austerity might hit the poor hardest, but that is just unavoidable. We simply have to balance the books. The way the economy works now is the the only way it can possibly work. To see politics as fundamentally conflictual, as Pidcock does, you need to believe that more than one possible alternative exists.

The consequences of the last politician to balance the books at any cost can still be felt in Alberta, over a decade after his legacy. Unless you’re rich, I don’t recommend it. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the primary recruiting arena for conservative politics is wealthy frat boys.

Read more here.


Canada Primer p3: GOP North, eh

Back before 2003, Canada’s right-wing existed in two parties: the “socially progressive fiscally conservative” Progressive Conservatives of Canada; and the Reform Party, which is what the tea party would be if they had maple syrup rather than tea. Then in 2003 the two parties merged and formed an effective political strategy using the “big tent” under the banner of the “Conservative Party of Canada,” wherein “respectable” conservatives would court less savoury voting blocs under the assumption that the demands of these blocs would be defeated in government so as to continue winning their vote without actually implementing their shitty policy, whereas the respectables would get their agenda through.

This was the function of Conservabot Model 4.16A, aka Stephen Harper. Harper was able to somehow project the image of being a moderate, even handed conservative, even whilst he executed an alarmingly Randian agenda. People seemed to fixate on the fact that some Conservatives voted in favour of legalizing gay marriage in 2005, forgetting the rest of the big tent that had been screeching brimstone and hellfire the entire debate. Harper refused to put abortion rights to a vote, maintaining a quasi-legal status quo, but his religious backbenchers huffed and puffed. Rinse and repeat for a number of important progressive causes–Harper didn’t support them, but simply not antagonizing them was somehow seen as a sign of Conservative moderation, even as vast tracts of his party nearly burst at the seams any time it was suggested the government ought to acknowledge the humanity of anyone who wasn’t white, straight, cisgender or a man, and even as he made some pretty fucked up policy.

But, you know, it’s hard not to notice those Conservative backbenchers with the sort of voting records you’d expect from a tinpot dictator. Those of us who’ve been watching closely identified nearly a decade ago that Harper was the only thing filtering out the worst of his hoary-throated reactionary dipshits under the new “big tent,” but these people still had seats of government and they were clearly jonesing for some regression, even as the rest of the country marched on. American readers are familiar with this too, given that their de facto two party system by definition tries to mash together political alliances that often manifest as separate parties in other countries.

Then Harper resigned after his 2015 defeat, in which the country gave the Liberal party a majority in Parliament.

With the party’s filter removed, the big tent appears to be unraveling spectacularly.

The first question, then, is whether the new “big tent” will fly the flag of so-called moderates, or whether it will fly the flag of Canada’s aluminum-sheet-flailing-anti-reality bloc. The second question is whether they will maintain their big tent at all. And the third, if the big tent is preserved, will the so-called moderates gamble on the rights of minorities to vote for tax cuts in their favour or will they finally have the sense to see the pus-filled pimple growing steadily in their midst and consider the not-terribly-liberal-anyway Liberals?

It will all depend on who wins the leadership race. The political geoscape at the federal level can change rapidly depending in the course of the right-wing cruiser.

And here’s a fun game for y’all: Let’s play Spot the “Moderate.”

The Conservative leadership race (or who I’m paying attention to, at least)

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What happens in the US doesn’t stay in the US

The question of what America’s progressives are going to do next is a complex one. There are many US analysts attempting to dissect the bloated carcass of the 2016 election and for my part I’m probably going to take a while to really take stock in terms of action in the United States. I’ve started regular donations to Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union and I strongly urge you to do the same if you have disposable income.

The problem, of course, is that Trump is a symptom–and the disease which caused it knows no borders. Something I do have more direct involvement in is the politics of Alberta and Canada. There are only limited ways I can help in the United States but right here, at home, there’s hot iron for me and other Canadian progressives to strike–because all signs point to our next Trump, too. Most of us will only be indirectly affected by the disaster that is sure to be the Trump administration, but we’re afraid nonetheless. Ideas don’t stick to borders.

After all, I’ve been mocking our very own opportunistic climate change denying xenophobic forced birther Christians-can-do-no-wrong fuck-the-gay-kids alt-right posterboy grifter and conman. This is the same leadership hopeful of Alberta’s so-called “Progressive” Conservatives who got a pat on the back from Michael Gove of all people and who manufactured the niqab outrage in our last federal election. That’s like getting an endorsement from Emperor Palpatine.

The question, of course, is what does it mean for Canadians that the projected winner of the PC leadership, Jason Kenney, is a derivative of Trump-esque beliefs? Specifically, what does it mean for conservative Canadians–the “not sexist/racist” kind who support fiscal conservatism–when at least some of their big tent includes the “proudly sexist and racist”?

If you consider yourself a centrist or conservative in Canada, you are overdue for an honest introspection of who exactly sits in your “big tent.” Like American conservatives, the right-wing has enjoyed successes in the recent past by uniting many different voting blocs under a single banner; indeed, the big tent fracturing is likely one of the largest contributors to the left-leaning New Democratic Party’s (NDP) success. So if you’re one of those more reasonable centrist types, the voting bloc that seems to think Trudeau Sr.’s budgeting was bad but thought he was on to something when he said “the nation has no place in the bedroom,” then you have a problem. Because also sharing space in your tent of fiscal conservatism is, you know, the voting blocs that would put a self-admitted rapist in the White House and bring the government back into people’s bedrooms.

If you’re not convinced, you need only look at how the current race for the Progressive Conservative leadership is playing out. Two centrist candidates, Sandra Jansen and Donna Kennedy-Glans, ran for PC leadership on platforms that fit the bill of fiscally conservative but socially progressive: Jansen in particular was explicit about a woman’s reproductive right to choose and her support of the NDP’s environmental protections. In other words she was just the sort of reasonable voice a progressive could communicate with, since she was less concerned with towing the party line and more concerned with whether individual policies were effective and needed. I don’t think I would’ve voted for her but I wouldn’t be sweating below the collar if she got in.

At the same time Canada was curled up into a ball and crying into its knees as the results of the US election came in, revealing some 60-odd million who actively supported Trump and another ~180 million who didn’t seem bothered enough to vote against him, Jansen and Kennedy-Glans were entering their resignations from the PC leadership. Their reason? Their nomination forms had been returned with misogynistic slurs and rape threats written all over them. I’m sure it’s total coincidence that this sexist harassment coincides with Kenney’s bussing in so-called Bible-boys and signing up youth en masse to PC membership so they can vote for the candidate who just not-so-subtly “incentivized” them. Which, by the way, is breaking the PC charter–you’ll note the PC executives don’t care. All this, by the way, paid for by Kenney’s “charity” dedicated to himself, so he could skirt around election oversight.

Kenney’s playing dirty, and he’s slated to win.

Conservatives of Alberta, this is your big tent. For decades you’ve been able to put respectable conservatives front and centre, courting this other Trump-esque voting bloc implicitly through the use of dog whistles, banking on the fact that the respectables would be able to sit on the trembling Pandora’s Box.

Well, America just demonstrated that the deplorables in Pandora’s Box can break free, and we have the early signs right here in Alberta that the respectables don’t weigh enough to keep the lid on: Kenney just broke a charter rule which requires members to be members for at least 7 days before they can vote, and just had hundreds of youth bussed in from rural Alberta to vote for him after signing them up the same day; he keeps characterizing the NDP’s changes to the education curriculum as “social engineering”–surely you agree the basics of “gay people exist” is not a radical revelation for our rusty and creaky curriculum; Kenney has a long, long track record of voting to erode a woman’s right to choose; women in politics are regularly receiving rape and death threats from his supporters; and he has a soft spot for regressive Christians routinely violating public policy despite pocketing public funds in public contracts. Is that your idea of “fiscal responsibility”–letting scammers who steal from the public purse off the hook because they mumble something about Jesus? How about Kenney grifting national taxpayers to finance his provincial leadership bid? Is that fiscally responsible, too?

You need to soul search, because it’s rapidly starting to look like the fiscal-conservative-socially-progressive types aren’t going to have a party in the next election. Kenney is slated to win the PC leadership and he has been very, very open and forthright about his intention to absorb the Wildrose back into the fold. The problem is that it isn’t the respectables at the helm anymore. It’s the deplorables. The ones who are serious about being socially reactionary. The ones who think death and rape threats are a legitimate vehicle of criticism. The ones Brian Jean has been trying to contain like a beleaguered dog-owner pulling back on the chain of his rabid pup: You know, the ones making targets of the Premier, mocking victims of domestic violence and the assassination of labour-rights politicians, and publicly approving denigrating posts about gay politicians, because there’s apparently not enough policy to criticize?

We have about 3 years to see what damage the deplorables will do under the Republican big tent before our next provincial election. I seriously hope you pay close attention, because here in Alberta the women, trans folk, queer folk, immigrants, people of colour, students, youth, poor, sick, and disabled are all going to be at the mercy of your big tent whose presumed-leadership intends to grind us into dirt. Some of us are even fiscal conservatives ourselves, but our political calculus is tainted by the fact that the party which potentially agrees with our economic policy is bolstered by a highly controlling voting bloc, one that wishes to make life difficult for us “deviants” through a climate of explicit legal and social hostility.

And yes, to head off the accusation that the Left has its own brand of deplorables: It’s true that we have our lunatic fringe as well. The difference is that our Greens bagged 0.49% of the popular vote. Our Communists bagged 0.01%. Neither has a penchant for doxxing their critics, something I can’t say of the right-wing deplorables. Let’s not pretend that radical leftists in this province have a voice. If Kenney succeeds in the creation of another big tent conservatism, that’s well over half the province throwing their weight behind him: And it’s the social regressives at the steering wheel. Your lunatics aren’t a fringe sequestering themselves in Pandora’s Box anymore. The handler’s grip on the leash is slipping, and we’re slated to watch the rabid dog break loose.

There’s two voting blocs this post isn’t addressed to: the capital-P Progressives, and the socially-conservative Conservatives. If you’re the type that has already been convinced by Kenney’s rhetoric that respecting trans kids constitutes an “experiment,” I’m not sure how to communicate with you. We are working with very different data sets and at this point might as well be speaking a different language. This language problem I have no solution for, though if you’re willing to communicate without hurling insults then so am I. We can give it the old college try. And if it fails, you can at least take the liberty of looking me in the eye that my wellbeing matters so little to you that you’d support a reactionary candidate like Kenney. At least be honest about it.

As for Albertan Progressives, I’ll have more detailed plans as we near the 2019 election. There’s too many variables to commit to any given plan just yet, but I am confident I can give you something thorough after the lines are drawn. I know several Pride centres across the province working together with several BLM chapters across the province, so progressives are already teaming up. Start there while we wait for the dust to settle.

To close, here’s the homework for conservative Albertans and Canadians: If it truly matters to you to make a fiscal conservatism that doesn’t deliberately single out minorities for mistreatment, you need to make that clear as your political parties take shape. Albertans, there’s still time to make Wildrose the respectables–Kenney appears to be more-or-less confirmed in taking the PCs hard to the right. And federally? The Conservatives agreed to axe their “one man and one woman” policy on marriage. Push for more of that.

Tonight I attend a federal Liberal party gathering. I intend to raise the spectre of reactionary successes and how the Liberals will almost certainly do what the Democrats did and take the progressive vote for-granted in their next election. Results of that coming soon.

We all have a responsibility to cast informed ballots in our upcoming elections and there’s far too much at stake for minorities to have the respectables become complacent as the deplorables take charge of the conservative apparatus. If you want to be branded as the politics of personal responsibility, then make sure your tent doesn’t have deplorables in it. Denying they exist and are in your tent is anything but responsible.


Jason Kenney’s next endorsement (in which Shiv loses a bet)

When I last guessed on who would endorse Jason Kenney next, I wagered it would be a Holocaust denier.

Well, Kenney has received his next endorsement, and I was wrong:

As Kenney leads a crusade against Alberta’s policies tackling climate change, it turns out the man running Kenney’s leadership campaign was once described as a “global warming critic” by the Globe and Mail.

Oh good. Just a climate change denier. Much better than a Holocaust denier.

He’s suggested those who agree with the scientists are participating in “wacky mass-behaviour,” dismissing climate change concerns as nothing more than a “sociological phenomenon,” a “popular delusion” and yes, even as a form of “collective psychosis.”

That’s John Weissenberger, Stephen Harper’s closest friend and most trusted adviser, who now serves as Kenney’s campaign manager as he seeks the leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives

Laughing? Crying? With Jason Kenney, who knows.

I can’t even parody this shit.

-Shiv, Fashionable Communist, Annihilator of Man

Jason Kenney: Exploiting taxpayers a feature, and not a bug, of Conservative work ethic

An administrator of a Facebook group called “Government for all Canadians, not just the wealthy” has the tragic circumstance of being represented by Jason “I Don’t Get Caught Up in the Details” Kenney in the federal government. He had some issues he wanted to raise with his Member of Parliament–invoking the whole “meet with your constituency in order to represent their concerns in government” idea.

However, Jason Kenney’s office said it was too busy to meet with the administrator, because he is preparing to campaign for provincial conservative leadership in Alberta.

While still being paid by the federal government to be an MP.

Must all be part of that Conservative work ethic, right? All Canadians are currently financing Kenney’s leadership bid in Alberta. I’m sure the Quebec sovereigntists and liberal Newfies are thrilled.

Source: Government for all Canadians, not just the wealthy

Source: Government for all Canadians, not just the wealthy

Parliament is not in session right now, which is precisely why now is the time to meet with your constituency.

Unless you’re Jason Kenney, campaigning on “pull up your bootstraps” rhetoric while employing the rest of Canada to pull up your bootstraps.

“Hard work” indeed.

-Shiv, Fashionable Communist, Annihilator of Man

Political roundup: Albertan values edition

In case y’all ever wonder why I hate this Province, I present a reminder: a picture of a target made in the likeness of the Albertan Premier, Rachel Notley, was posted by the organizer of an oilmen’s golf tournament yesterday afternoon:

An organizer of a golf tournament says he’s not sorry for putting up a target displaying a photo of Premier Rachel Notley’s face on a golf course.

Ernest Bothi, president of the Brooks Big Country Oilmen’s Association, said the sign was displayed at a tournament held Friday at the Brooks Golf Club.

He said the photo of Notley was placed intentionally and was meant to be a target. Although he said no one actually hit the display, Bothi defended his right to have it there.

Oh Dog, not another one. Get yer bingo cards!

It’s called freedom of speech.

*stamps freeze peach*

“I’m the president of the organization. I take full responsibility for it. And I did it because I see a lot of frustrated people out there,” Bothi said.

*stamps psychological projection*

“The picture was just a headshot. It wasn’t anything of a lewd nature. We just went out, everybody played 18 holes. That was it.”

*stamps Mansplaining*

Bothi said that the group members of the Brooks Big Country Oilmen’s Association playing in the tournament are “fed up” with people being out of work and the increased cost of living.

*stamps misattribution error*

“This has nothing to do with a physical attack. We didn’t burn her in effigy or anything like that. We just wanted to release some steam,” Bothi said. “It’s just, enough’s enough.”

*stamps denialism*

Important observation: Bothi has exactly zero pending criminal charges laid against him. He is free to be a fucking asshat, just as we are free to call him one. Seriously, stop misusing the term freedom of fuck mothering speech.

Implying violent acts through the use of an identifiable target is pretty much always tasteless. Doubly tasteless right now, considering a British MP was recently assassinated for her policy. Triply tasteless, because violence against women is still epidemic in the West. I’m not sure what part of “haha, I blow off steam by fantasizing about violence against you” is funny.

Derek Fildebrandt, the Dickweed Wildrose MLA who apologized for getting caught endorsing a transphobic & homophobic comment without reading it, responds:

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