Ditch the label, end hate crime

Bullying and nastiness seems to be reaching an all time high at the moment. Despite various equality laws that have made big steps forward over recent decades, abhorrent, vile views are now spreading like wildfire on the internet and spilling out into the real world. The Home Office released statistics this week which showed hate crime has increased by nearly a third in the last year, with the biggest rises being against people who are transgender and people with disabilities. The work of Ditch the Label is extremely important in the struggle to create a more equal world that is free of bullying and prejudice.

The internet is definitely a massive driver of what is a growing culture of toxic hate. Politicians understand this all too well. It’s part of our job to listen to different views, form an opinion, take difficult decisions, and justify all of that to the public whom we answer to.

Of course sometimes you will meet a difficult character who makes it very clear that they hate you and everything you stand for, but what we are seeing over recent years is the internet providing a platform for the wholesale manufacture and distribution of hate. Amnesty International ran an analysis of Twitter in the lead up to the General Election and found over 25,000 abusive tweets sent to female politicians in a six month period. Diane Abbott alone received over 8,000 abusive messages, mostly focused on her race and gender. So politicians know a lot about online abuse and bullying. We know it has to stop.

Ditch the Label focuses their efforts on people aged 12-25, probably the age range where most people face bullying. It’s also the time in life where most people are working out who they are. These are the formative years where you are trying to figure out what style you like, what music you like, what your sexuality is, what your political and religious beliefs are. For some people, it’s the time when they grapple with deep questions about gender identity. It can be an intense and confusing time for many people.

Bullying can be deeply traumatic and make it difficult for people to be the person they want to be. It also has a detrimental impact on people’s mental health, which can extend long into the future. But mental health problems can also lead to people being bullied. The social stigma around mental health makes it difficult for people to reach out for help and support, so they try to just deal with it alone. Suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45, so something is going terribly wrong. Support is out there – family, friends, support groups, charities, GPs and specialist mental health services – but the hardest step can be reaching out for help in the first place. The easier we can make those conversations, the more help people will be able to access, and the happier and healthier we will all be.

Ditch the Label’s collaborative online focus seems like the perfect recipe for making an impact on the future of the Digital Generation. Their #isitokforguys campaign is focused on supporting young men to be comfortable with who they are, free from the dangerous shackles of toxic and oppressive masculinity. Their #GamersUnite campaign is about standing against bullying and trolling in online games, where apparently half of people surveyed reported experiencing bullying in game. These types of campaigns are about breaking through commonplace bullying and oppression, giving people the tools to survive and be themselves. I’m proud to have hosted Ditch the Label in Parliament yesterday, to support them to lead the debate in society and make real changes for the better.


£3.1m cost of policing Lancashire frackers

The Lancashire Police have asked the Home Office for an extra £3.1m to recover some of their additional expenses in policing the Cuadrilla site at Preston New Road. That is the equivalent of £8 a Lancashire household and enough to pay for 25 police officer jobs. In 2014, Sussex police got £905,000 for their operation to protect a fracking site. Continue reading “£3.1m cost of policing Lancashire frackers”

Fewer Lords is no guarantee of improved efficiency

A recent report by the Electoral Reform Society says that 115 peers claim £1.3m despite not speaking in Lords for nine months. I’m happy to say that I’m not one of them. I spoke nearly a hundred times last year and as the only Green in the room (i.e. the Lords), I’m in a unique position to raise issues that are often ignored. From civil liberties to the use of pesticides, I can influence what issues are discussed. Continue reading “Fewer Lords is no guarantee of improved efficiency”

My day at a fracking protest

I’ve just come back from a few hours in Lancashire, at the Preston New Road protest against fracking by Cuadrilla. The people who are protesting are a mix of locals, initially reluctantly drawn into the fracas but now pivotal organisers, and experienced campaigners who can supply the outside contacts and good advice.

Continue reading “My day at a fracking protest”

No fracking Mondays

The fight for local democracy and basic ecological common sense continues its frontline on an A-Road in Preston, Lancashire. It is where locals and protectors from across the country have been standing up against the fracking firm, Cuadrilla, and the Government’s dash for dirty gas.

Throughout August and September, Green Party members are joining the protests en masse each Monday at Preston New Road. These “Green Mondays” have seen hundreds of Greens taking direct action while promoting the ecological alternatives to fracking.

I’ll be joining fellow Greens and activists on Monday 25th September. I want to show my support for the protests and gather essential information ahead of questioning a Home Office Minister in Parliament on the 9th October. I’ll be asking the Minister critical questions about the policing operations at Preston New Road and any future fracking sites.

It would be great if you could join us on Monday 25th September! We have to get the word out that fracking is totally unacceptable if we are to achieve a safe environment and stable climate. Greenpeace have got all the practical details like public transport and a map here.

I hope to see you there on Monday.

P.s. could you please share this on social media to help get the word out to fellow Greens?

When the NHS catches a computer bug are security services to blame?

There is no doubt that the delays and disruption caused by the NHS computer virus could have been avoided. The government could have used a fraction of the multi-billion security budget to enable hospital trusts to update ageing software. However, instead of being focused on designing out crime as they promised to do, western security services are doing the opposite. The US government and our own, are pressuring companies like Microsoft and others to create ‘backdoors’ which open up our privacy and security to attack if they are leaked.

Continue reading “When the NHS catches a computer bug are security services to blame?”