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Month: June 2013

The latest on the No More Page 3 campaign…

What’s that Neil? You as a liberal are going to update us on this move by the No More Page 3 campaign to get the House of Commons involved and an Early Day Motion about stopping this publication being stocked at any of the parliamentary estate locations? No doubt you’ll be as sympathetic as ever to this campaign and not just chortle to yourself…

Oh brain. You slay me.

Anyway here we are. Boobs are still on Page 3 and The Sun don’t seem to be changing their attitude anytime soon. However they have changed their editor so maybe that will give the campaign more impoteus? We shall see as they say. I have actually spent the last half an hour or so surfing the No More Page 3 website (after it took several stabs to load – possibly get a better server?) and despite the obvious pixelation in the banner being my first concern (yes I’m a geek) there are some interesting pieces there but also what I didn’t know is that the campaign has decided to diversify. It now isn’t just about getting Page 3 removed (which so far it has failed spectacularly in) but how also wants a certain type of relationship education and doesn’t like Lego being advertised with soft porn. Sadly the photo they have included on the latter piece is so small no-one who hasn’t seen an original can tell how bad the content is. Anyway…

So the No More Page 3 campaign isn’t against women baring their chests in men’s magazines just the news but just a few weeks ago we saw another campaign against women baring their breasts in these magazines in case people who didn’t like handling said magazines had to handle them if they were employed in shops that sold them. The masses are uprising another boobs being available anywhere.

That isn’t really the story though. The story is obviously how are they doing with this? Well Caroline Lucas’ Early Day Motion has 13 MPs backing it calling for The Sun not to be available around parliament. I can’t get my head around this EDM as if an MP or worker wanted to get a copy then they could still just go and buy one and I’m pretty sure The Sun aren’t going to be crippled by not being available within the parliamentary estate but oh well. Also I don’t get why Miss Lucas and others do not want the Daily Star to be available. Last I saw the Daily Star also had boob (every single time I type boob I say it in my head in the voice of Steve from American Dad!).

This has been a part of my argument for a long time. They want to stop boob in The Sun because it is an ‘institution’ but in the Daily Star it is fine. Yeah that makes sense. Honest.

However this has (and still is) my biggest issue with the whole campaign. They don’t want government intervention (well they didn’t until recently) and this was all about asking The Sun to change for moral purposes. A big corporation changing on moral purposes even though it would probably cost them millions of pounds in lost sales? Yeah that sounds likely.

Here we go. I’m guessing most people who back the No More Page 3 campaign don’t buy the newspaper. Will they buy it once boob isn’t on Page 3? I am doubtful. Even if some do then will enough people start buying it who did’t before to make up for the loss in sales due to boob disappearing from Page 3? No. No they wouldn’t because if they did then The Sun would have already done it. They don’t put topless women in the newspaper on a jolly. It is because their market research leads them to believe that by doing so they sell more newspapers.

So it boils down to this. Will The Sun sacrifice money for morals?

I have my opinions and I think you all have exactly the same.

So the No More Page 3 campaign continues to roll. As for my opinion on the whole thing. Well personally I don’t like seeing boob in a newspaper. Hence why I don’t buy it (also the whole Hillsborough thing still wrangles) but unless it is against the law they have every right to do what they like. Until they think they’ll make more money from no boob they’ll continue to show boob. That is the way it is. I think that is relatively obvious to anyone but seemingly it is not.

So the No More Page 3 campaign needs to go down the legislation route or they are doomed to fail. Also take on the Daily Star as well. Going after one publication and not the other makes no sense. It never did and it never will.

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Why men have to be involved with Lib Dem Women

Last month Lib Dem Women was launched – an amalgamation of the Campaign for Gender Balance and Women Liberal Democrats and they are imploring members to sign up and join in making the Lib Dems a party which encourages women to get all the way to the top without any barriers due to their gender.

Now it may surprise one or two of you but I am indeed a member of this group and as such I got sent through nomination papers for their executive the other morning. This got me thinking. Then a couple of days ago a Lib Dem member blogged and tweeted about how Paddy Ashdown had declared that he wouldn’t be sitting on any all male panels and plenty of people RT it in my twitter timeline but she has subsequently deleted the blog post so whether this was not true or she decided to delete the blog for other reasons well I just don’t know.

The main point though is that members – mainly female members – were delighted that Paddy had decreed that he wasn’t going to stand on all male panels and therefore surely members would also want at least one man to be involved with Lib Dem Women? Makes sense, no?

Now I’m probably not the guy for this. I firmly disagree with positive discrimination when it comes to PPC’s and believe that the progress of women within the party will have to come from other avenues. Unlike the other main parties the LDs do not have any natural safe seats where women can be elected and learn on the job. Therefore women (and men) who aren’t already MPs will face an uphill battle to get the nomination for a winnable seat and it is harder (for both sexes) to get their foot in the door with the party due to this.

In my opinion the best way to deal with this is to have gender equality firmly on the map internally. Now whether this means that a certain % of all national internal bodies be made up of men and women or some other way I don’t know. This maybe why there is a group to discuss all these matters. For example I could propose that all internal bodies have a male and a female as Chair/Vice and that people vote for a list of people and the person with most votes gets the chair and the next highest person of the opposite gender gets vice. That is a possibility but recently Lib Dem Youth voted for a female chair and vice and that has been roundly rejoiced so in my scenario that would have failed to happen unless we insert a ‘well unless the two highest votes are for women and therefore sod the quota system.’

Also what happens if say for a national party group not enough people of the opposite gender apply? Say we have a 40% minimum of one gender in all national party groups and in elections only 27% of the candidates are of a certain gender. Then what do we do? Also training is of vital importance. Getting people interested in politics is hard but when they are interested then you give them the most backup you can. For many young people politics is an interest but unless that interest is nurtured then it can dissipate and I think that is similar to issues LDW face. If women don’t believe that they can progress then they won’t bother but if we can show there is a route either further up the party internally or towards being a PPC then interest will ignite.

There are many questions to answer but I really do think that Lib Dem Women should not just be made up of women because doesn’t that doesn’t really help their remit of gender equality. So I would implore a man or two who have joined Lib Dem Women to put themselves forward to become members of the executive. I’m more than comfortable with the main positions being all filled by women (but if they had a male vice for example that wouldn’t be a bad thing) but there are eight positions available on the executive outside the main positions and two or three of them hopefully will be filled up with men who also advocate gender equality and can give a different viewpoint to help aid the whole situation along.

Update: I’m told that Labour actually outlawed internal party election quotas which is a bit of a bugger considering I just spent a good while advocating that. Oh well. My main point still stands though. Need to find ways to excite and show enthusiastic women (as well as men and youth) that there is a future of progression if they want that and I think having different viewpoints is vital to working out the best way forward for gender equality within the party.

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Nick Clegg’s comments Re: Lawson/Saatchi that have caused a stir shall we say.

Nick Clegg has put himself in some hot water this morning following these comments regarding what he would have done if he had seen the Nigella Lawson/Charles Saatchi incident/assault:

What a difficult question. I find it so difficult to imagine… I don’t know what happened, I’m like you, I don’t know what happened …

When you see a couple having an argument, most people just assume that the couple will resolve it themselves. If, of course, something descends into outright violence that is something different.

I just don’t know, there was this one photograph, I don’t know whether that was a fleeting thing. I’m really sorry Elizabeth [the name of the caller], I am at a loss to put myself into that position without knowing exactly [what happened].

You are asking me to comment on photographs everybody has seen in the papers – we don’t know if that was a fleeting moment so I’d rather not comment on a set of events that I wasn’t …

Let’s say if a man who is much stronger than the woman is physically threatening the woman then I hope everybodies’ instincts will be to protect the weaker person, to protect the person who is likely to be hurt.

Trying to re-imagine how you might react to very specific events which still are not entirely clear, that is the bit that I feel it is difficult to now comment.

The thing is…no-one knows exactly how they would have reacted. It is something I bang on about all the time. No-one can say they know how they would have reacted to a situation they were not actually involved in. No-one would have known exactly what was going on. You can’t say exactly what you would have seen or heard. So answering a hypothetical with a lack of knowledge is basically taking a stab in the dark at an answer.

Now of course what Nick should have said was ‘I’d have seen and heard everything, stepped in, asked Nigella to go and sit with my wife whilst I restrained Charles and called the police’ but of course that isn’t an honest answer because he would not have known what he would have seen or heard if he was a fellow diner in the restaurant.

Nick has issued the following statement after being lambasted for his comments:

“I completely condemn all forms of domestic violence.

“As I said on the radio, my instinct would always be to try and protect the weaker person, to try and protect the person who otherwise would be hurt.

“But I was asked a very specific question about how I would have reacted to a specific incident which I did not see.

“I said I did not know how I would have reacted to that specific incident because I do not know what happened.

“The point I was making is that I don’t know what other people in the restaurant saw and I don’t want to make a judgement on their reaction.”

Yvette Cooper (who is actually a pretty awesome MP) has jumped in:

Nick Clegg revealed how little he understands violence against women this morning.

Far too often violence against women is dismissed as fleeting or unimportant. Too often public institutions don’t take it seriously enough. Domestic violence is still a hidden crime – and victims suffer or are ignored as a result.

Mr Saatchi has accepted a police caution for assault and the images from the restaurant are disturbing.

Ministers should show they are prepared to condemn this kind of violence against women and that they recognise the seriousness of domestic abuse. Nick Clegg completely failed to do that this morning.

A quite wonderful statement. Doesn’t really connect the truth with the words but in politics we all know that doesn’t matter. She makes out like Nick Clegg thinks violence against women is unimportant, which I think it is pretty clear he doesn’t think. The best bit is Yvette Cooper doesn’t even believe what she just said in a statement. she knows Nick Clegg doesn’t think this but is happy to use anything to further her point. This my friends is why I dislike politics at times. People on purpose telling mis-truths in aid of furthering their viewpoint/cause.

The long and the short of it is thus. No-one can tell you with 100% accuracy how they would have reacted to a hypothetical situation. If you think you can then you are a liar. You can be 99% sure but you can never be 100%. Nick Clegg doesn’t think domestic violence against woman is unimportant. Nick Clegg actually answered the question honestly but the longer you get sucked into the world of politics the more you understand that honesty isn’t a good weapon. Spin, spin, spin is the name of the game and if you can spin it like Shane Warne did to Matt Gatting all those years ago then you’ll be doing just fine.

Sadly this story has the potential to actually blow up thanks to the nature of it but when you actually read his words you’ll see that he was asked a specific, hypothetical question and he couldn’t answer it in the way he should’ve answered it without lying. So he told the truth and that hasn’t helped anybody.

Oh the joys of politics…

The funny thing is my next blog will be about Lib Dem Women…

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Would MPs back a law that sees them go to jail for running the country in a ‘reckless manner?’

Look I know everyone hates bankers. Thanks to a delightful mixture of media and political scapegoating bankers are now as beloved as Joe Kinnear in the North East. However at some point surely some common sense has to breakout and we as a nation actually stand up and say ‘No, no Mr Politician and Mr Media Mogul. This is enough of the lambasting of the banking industry and can you please move on to actually dealing with the issues of the day in a grown-up manner.’ I suspect though that I’m pissing into the wind on this. As I always seem to do.

Anyway what is this latest tidbit of absolute bollocks that Labour MPs want to bring in and the coalition certainly don’t seem opposed to? Oh yes jailing bankers. Pur-lease.

Let me at this point quote from the Telegraph:

Andrew Tyrie MP, the chairman of the Commission on Banking Standards, warned that bankers had escaped “personal responsibility” for their actions, and said that drastic reforms were the only way to restore trust in banks.

Personal Responsibility. An interesting term. I do presume that said MP (and in turn all senior MPs) back a law to jail senior politicians who screw things up? Surely if they think bankers should pay in terms of jail time for making errors that force the economy to plunge then there is no doubt that they should as well? Norman Lamont’s performance on Black Wednesday cost this country £3.3bn – I’m sure that is worth a few years in the slammer under this law?

All the Labour MPs who apparently let the bankers do what they wanted that led to this recent recession must take some responsibility, yes? They ran their government in a reckless manner by not overseeing the banking industry strongly enough. They saw the good times and let them do what they liked believing that the good times couldn’t stop. I’m pretty sure sticking your head in the sand isn’t a defence under the law.

Now the thing is I wouldn’t advocate this law. Running a country and a bank and in turn any giant multi-national is probably a rather tricky job and mistakes will be made. Things will happen that you couldn’t see and outside influences will have a significant impact on how you perform which are totally out of your control. However this proposal in the Banking Commission report isn’t exactly viable and in my opinion is solely a political cheap shot knowing that the public will lap it up.

Also shall we look at it this way. The government are telling banks that they need to lend more and get money circulating in one breathe but in the next they are saying they want to send bankers to jail who give out plenty of loans that in turn can’t be repaid as that’ll be running a bank in a reckless manner. Can you see the irony?

If you are a senior banker you basically shut the purse strings with the public and deal solely with large companies and countries where the risks are absolutely minimal. Why would they deal with risky investments like lending the average person money for their business or for a mortgage? It would make no sense. No sense whatsoever considering the money they make from the public is vastly inferior to what they can make from other avenues but is in fact one of their riskier investments. Did the world’s economies stall and tank because of bad mortgages? No but they were certainly a significant catalyst.

If the government wants to bring in a criminal offence called ‘in hindsight you cocked up’ then so be it – as long as they do exactly the same to their decisions in the House of Commons and then spread it to the House of Lords then I’ll be fine with it. Just putting a provision in place to criminalise one section of the economy who make poor decisions and not applying it to others is just wrong. However the best thing to do is ignore this proposal but of course deep down we all know they won’t as the banking industry and bankers have become the poster boy/girl for public and media anger about the economy.

Jailing bankers in hindsight of what happened. What absolute bollocks. sadly though this would certainly up any governments approval rating. At this point I shall retire and despair.

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Only 55% of Brits believe same sex couples should be allowed to marry

As part of Ipsos-Mori’s Global Advisory Panel this month they focused on Same Sex Marriage and asked their people all around the globe various questions on it and if I’m going to be honest here folks – the results are rather disappointing and in some respects are just flat out worrying. We’ll start with the good news and that is those Scandinavians are pretty awesome but seriously Japan? I thought Japan was a forward thinking country but clearly I was wrong.

Here is the slide about whether people think they should be allowed to marry – and then in turn whether they should be allowed some form of legal recognition but not to marry:

same sex marriage
Should SSM be legal?

As you can see only 55% of those asked fully backed SSM in the UK with a further 26% comfortable with legal recognition but not in the form of marriage. This to me is a disappointingly low number and doesn’t really resonate with my thoughts on the issue. However look at some other countries with Japan only just seeing 51% of people agreeing that SSM or legal recognition should be in place meaning that 49% of people do not agree with this basic premise.

However those numbers pale into insignificance based on the next slide. This one the statement they have to agree or disagree with is ‘Same-sex marriage is or could be harmful to society’

same sex marriage harmful
Is SSM harmful to society?

As you can see here there are three nations – Hungary, South Korea and Poland where 40% or more of people believe SSM will actually be harmful to society. Like for reals. Here in the UK 24% of people think that Same Sex Marriage will actually be harmful to society. I just can’t comprehend such a viewpoint. I know I’m liberal but do one in four people really believe that giving people of the same gender the opportunity to marry really impacts on society as a whole? Seems like codswallop to me.

The next slide I have for you is asking whether couples of the same sex should have the same rights to adopt children as heterosexual couple do:

adoption same sex couples
Adoption amongst same sex couples?

Here we see overall only 59% of people believe children can be brought up as successfully in a same sex household instead of one with traditional mum’s and dad’s. Overall that is a disturbing figure and here in the UK we are just above that at 65%. For me it is pretty simple – the most important thing is to be in a loving household whether that is a heterosexual couple, a gay couple of either men or women or a single parent family where there is plenty of love and care to go around. That is the key question and not the sexuality of the parents but 35% of people disagree in this country. Look at Poland though. I must say the Poles have disappointed me thoroughly throughout this PPT on my screen.

Next up are same-sex couples as likely as other parents to successfully raise children?

same sex couples raising children
Can couples of the same-sex successfully raise children?

28% of people in the UK believe that they can’t. Why? Honestly why? I just don’t get it and in what isn’t a surprise Poland once more props up this list.

The last slide I’m going to show you is the breakdown of people wh replied to the initial question about SSM:

same sex marriage demographics
Demographic breakdown of SSM Question

More women are supportive of SSM (77% to 69%) and the younger you are then the more supportive you are. Also those who earn the most and are most educated are clearly more supportive. The last thing is the more you use Social Media then the more you are likely to back SSM. Is this because on social media we are all exposed to more people and from a larger variety of backgrounds than we are in everyday life or is this just a coincidence based on more young people using social media compared to the older generation?

All I know is these numbers overall shows a disappointing view of humanity. I know there are people who are deeply religious and that in part goes to show why Italy has an interesting set of results here. Also respondents from South Korea and Japan are so far ahead of every other country in saying they personally do not know anyone who is gay or identifies themselves as such and that goes a long way to explaining some of their responses.

To bring this back to the UK though. I know plenty of backbench MPs have been saying they have been receiving 100s of letters and e-mails from constituents saying they disagree with it and these results show maybe they weren’t lying. Maybe a large percentage of Brits are still not ready to move forward – and nearly one in five of them believe that same sex couples should not have any legal recognition. That to be frank is a wholly dispiriting view of our society and I think a good place to end.

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On virginity…

Well here we are. A few weeks short of being middle aged and writing a blog post about virginity and how I still have that label. How did this happen? Well let me tell you and let me also tell you why it is a label that shouldn’t be placed around someone’s neck but let me first tell you why today I am writing this blog post.

It all stems from yesterday when I was Googling to see how strong my blog post about being a 29 year-old virgin was doing on Google. Yes this is the type of thing I do. This might say a lot about me. Anyway I was Googling it because I get a steady stream of traffic from people searching for ‘I’m a 29 year-old virgin’ and variants there of. A couple of spots below my blog I read a post entitled ‘It happened to me: I ended up in bed with a 27 year-old virgin and my blood kinda boiled reading through the piece. If you don’t want to read it then here is the premise. Girl was just out of a long-term relationship, was dating, met a guy, liked him then when they went to sleep together he said he hadn’t done it before and this is her reaction…

Internally, I was screaming at myself to not laugh, not make a face, not judge. He definitely didn’t need that — and really, he should get points for honesty, right? But outwardly, I was ultra-calm.

I don’t think I can be the person you do this with. I’m not going to be your girlfriend, this isn’t going to be a relationship — and you probably should do this with someone who is,” I told him as placidly as possible. He just groaned.

I have bolded the bits that galled me the most.

Firstly why would anyone laugh, make a face or judge anyone who is a virgin? There are various reasons behind virginity and as a race we try not to judge on sex, on colour, on race, on sexual orientation and yet here is a seemingly well adjusted young women who is having to strain herself not to judge someone who hadn’t had sex for whatever reason. I genuinely despair but I have to say that whilst this story isn’t about me – it has actually happened to me in a similarish context.

I have never been about to have sex with someone and told them that I was a virgin and then they’ve stopped and said no. However I have had people stop talking to me and stop perusing romantic interests in me because they found out I was a virgin. I remember once someone Googling me and reading me talk openly about my virginity on this here very blog and sent me an e-mail saying basically ‘you seem like a nice guy but I have no interest in dating a boy but I’d really like to still be friends as apart from that you seem like a really great person’ only for her promptly to never speak to me again. Hilarity.

On to the next bit I bolded. Who is this woman to judge who this guy needs to lose his virginity to? He is a grown man and is surely capable of making his own decisions and knows his own mind. Just because said woman wasn’t journeying into sexual activity for the first time then does it mean she is the only one capable of making decisions on that front? It is a bit like when parents tell non-parents that they know nothing about children and never will until they have kids. One section of humanity telling the next that they are essentially inferior at making decisions just because they haven’t spread their oats and creating offspring. That is another of my bugbears.

The thing is there are two types of virgin when it comes to those that have made it through their teenage years without doing it. First of all you have the people that just want it over and done with for whatever reason and you have those who choose to not have sex until they feel it is the right person at the right time. I identify myself in the latter of these two categories. Even I have had plenty of offers in my years of circling the sun and lets be blunt here – none have even tempted me for one iota. I think that says a lot. Either I’m completely frigid or I’m strong willed and know what I want. I like to think I know the answer on that but heck you may have your own opinion.

I’m now going to tell you a story that I found sad – not sad as in ‘that’s so sad’ but as in ‘that is genuinely sad and a terrible indictment of our society’ type of sad. I used to work with someone who was a few years younger than me who was also a virgin and he got teased about it a lot. It made him depressed and feel like a second class man as it were so do you know what he did? He lost his virginity to an escort. See personally I find that sad that he felt he had to do that but I don’t know what was going on in his mind – he may have been very happy to just get it done and out of the way and has kicked on and is far happier now that perceived monkey is off his back.

See that is the point – society as a whole makes far bigger a thing about virginity and sex than they should. It seems strange that a virgin says such things but I firmly think that sex is a very personal thing and if people want to sleep around or choose not to sleep around then that is their own decision to make. It shouldn’t be societies. This is why I get annoyed at slut-shaming because if someone wants to sleep around and act like a slut then that is a decision they are fully entitled to make. Just like it is if someone chooses to be reserved when it comes to sexual activities.

In the situation linked to earlier the woman decided not to speak to the man again due solely to his virginity. She made a decision that the fact he had not yet had sex determine solely how she progressed in their relationship – basically it was something so appalling that she couldn’t bare to even know him any more. Now of course she was fully entitled to do this but I wonder how she would have reacted if the roles were different and she was the virgin looking to lose her v-card but the guy made a decision that he wasn’t the right person to take the v-card from her. Would she have thought that she was a grown woman who could make her own decisions? I’m pretty sure she would.

Also one other line from that piece. After he told her she said, ‘I went into caring stranger mode’ – why does someone being a virgin need someone to turn into caring stranger mode? He wasn’t ill. He hadn’t just lost a member of his family. He was a virgin. That was it. It really bugged me that she felt that was the correct default position to resort to.

Anyway back to me and my place in all of this. I write about this openly because I don’t think it is a stigma to be afraid of. I’m not saying I’m proud of it per se and wish to flaunt it all over the shop but it is part of who I am and I’m not going to pretend it isn’t. I like to think it is a footnote and is certainly not something that would appear on my epitaph should I curl up and die today. ‘Here lies Neil James Monnery. 29. Virgin.’ – Nah I just don’t see it and not just because I’ll be cremated.

Virginity and in turn their views on sex does not define a person – well it shouldn’t anyway. However I strongly feel that individuals are well adjusted enough when they reach adulthood to be able to make their own decisions on sex and what they want. No-one should feel that they need to make decisions for the other person in their best interests. If you know a virgin and they are happy then leave them be. If you know a slut who enjoys sleeping around then it is their decision and if they are happy then who is anyone to step in and tell them they are doing wrong?

Society dictates that women who sleep around are sluts but men who do the same are not. This again is totally wrong. Both men and women should be free to act as they please as long as they aren’t breaking the law and as far as I’m aware having multiple sexual partners or being in an open relationship is not against the law – neither for men nor women. So let people live their lives as they please do not feel sorry for me for being a virgin. I don’t and if I did I’d have lost it a long long long time ago.

Personally I am far more saddened by my inability to meet someone with whom I could share my life. There is no-one who I’ve felt I could have an ongoing emotional relationship with. Someone to share the good times and bad. Someone with whom I could create memories and a partner with whom I could share this journey that is called life with. That is far more disappointing than never having had sex and if at the end of my life I came to say that I never found anyone special to share my life with then that to me would be a far sadder state of affairs than my penis never having entered a vagina.

So if you are reading this and are in a similar position to me then don’t worry or fret. You are not alone. I know many people who are virgins and into their 20s and beyond. Some worry about it daily and some don’t. I would implore you not to worry about it and remember that you actually hold the cards in this situation. If you feel that for your own good being you need to just get it out of the way I’m sure you could find a hook up with a friend or an acquaintance. If you feel that you want to wait then remember that it is your decision and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that and if someone has a problem with it then it is their problem – not yours.

In those situations where people have dropped off all contact/romantic interest in me because of my virginity then I think it is their loss and move on. I don’t regret it for one instant. If someone else doesn’t have the mental capacity to get over being someone else’s first then it is their issue to deal with. Personally I could see some good parts to being someone’s first as you have a blank slate to play with and probably someone who is rather eager to please. A virgin won’t have developed any bad habits and is probably rather experimental but maybe I’m biased.

I did say in the introduction I’d write about how I got to this point. Well towards the end of the first year of university I realised that it wasn’t just a simple act of going to uni and then meeting someone and the sex would follow/be plentiful. So at that point I distinctly recall making a conscious decision that I would wait until it was the right time with someone whom I cared about and who cared about me. They were the three criteria. They have yet to be fulfilled and here we are.

When I meet someone and things get to a stage where I genuinely care for them and I believe similar the other way round then we’ll be there. I’m not talking love. I’m certainly not talking marriage but I decided that I didn’t want to have sex (not just losing virginity) with anyone just for the sake of it. That was (and is) my decision to make and one I’m comfortable with. When people say things like ‘come round here and I’ll fix you’ when hearing about my virginity then it reinforces my decision in my mind (yes this actually happened – those exact words).

So here I am. A few weeks shy of reaching middle age and I’m a virgin. Do I care? Not really and the important thing is neither should you. I’m sure that when the right person comes along they’ll deal with the situation appropriately and if they didn’t then you know what – they won’t be the right person. Simple as. However if someone awesome wants to walk into my life anytime soon then I would appreciate it…

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Do girls like nice guys? Yes they do but what exactly is a ‘nice guy’?

I’ve been inspired folks. Well I say inspired but more I read something today that made me think and do some light reading, which in turn turned into heavy reading and well here we are.

I read the following:

Is nice really enough? Logic states yes, but the heart may query. Fireworks burn fingers, but let’s face it – it’s fun.

This is the type of stuff you can read anywhere and not blink. However the source of this wasn’t random. It was written by a young lady after we’d had a date or two. I didn’t read it at the time but it has since been brought to my attention. When I say it was brought to my attention I literally just stumbled across it, Google is a bizarre thing at times. As an aside here a few weeks ago I was Googling for some advice and the top result was a blog I had written on the topic last year. So I read my own advice. It was brilliant (if I do say so myself).

So yes a young lady with whom I’d had a date or two was struggling to decide whether the fact I was a nice guy was enough for her or whether she wanted and needed someone more fun. As things turned out she would need someone more fun (or maybe just not me) and as far as I’m aware she is extremely happy with another guy so things worked out well for her. However this is not a story about my experience in this situation but more a look at the whole issue of being a ‘nice guy’ and what it really means.

The thing is there can be a distinct difference between genuinely decent people (men and women) and people who like to think of themselves as just that. Now I’m not going to sit here and type that I’m a nice guy – that isn’t for me to judge – but I will say that in the past some people have commented that I am (and in all fairness a not insignificant amount of others have said the polar opposite). I know my personality traits and I know my good and bad points.

When I was younger (and frankly more immature) I used to really lament the fact that others had partners and I did not. I thought it was unfair. I thought being a decent person was enough but then you look back and think ‘was I really a decent person?’ If I’m sitting there stewing about how unfair things are and how unfair it is that others to whom I deemed myself ‘better’ or ‘nicer’ were with great women then was I really being nice? Maybe not.

Now on my travels around the interwebs this afternoon I came across a quite startling and fascinating piece by a LiveJournal user called DivaLion which speaks about the differences between Nice Guys and nice guys. Boom. I saw bits of myself in that piece but more bits of myself from my past. I also saw bits of many people that I know in there. Many men (and to some degree women) complain about being ‘too nice’ or stuck in the friend-zone like it is one big travesty.

Well you know what. It isn’t. Just because someone to whom you had developed feelings doesn’t reciprocate them it doesn’t mean the world is unfair. It is what it is. Some guys that I know (myself included) have had women take interest in them but they didn’t have interest back. So these things work both ways. Just because you think you are a decent guy doesn’t mean everyone whom you are interested in should fall at your feet.

Personally speaking I have lost count of the amount of women who have said things like ‘you’d be an amazing boyfriend for someone’ but then they have shown no interest in me. In my head I hear ‘you’d be an amazing boyfriend but for someone else obviously – I’m not that desperate’ but that is totally unfair and my brain has had to learn that this isn’t what they are saying. Just because someone thinks that someone else would make a great partner doesn’t mean that they themselves think that a person would be a great partner for them.

We are indeed all different. That is what makes our species wonderful. We all look for different things in a partner and need different traits. Some people need sparks to fly early doors and some don’t. Some feelings burn bright from day one and others burn dimly before gathering strength in time.

Often the quote unquote ‘nice guy’ is quiet and shy. These people often become infatuated with someone and instead of doing the healthy thing and getting to know that person more by talking to them and spending time with them – or just plain asking them out. Instead of that they create this kind of fantasy world where they think that all these things could happen with said person they have become infatuated with and blaming everyone else and the world for that fantasy world not being reality. I know. I’ve been there.

This my friends is not healthy and is just flat out weird and creepy. What these people have to understand is how they would feel if the situations were reversed. If you would be weirded out and/or creeped out then really it is a no brainer. You are being weird and not acting in a way that could be described as genuinely nice and just flat out wrong.

So it is time for me to hand out some advice from someone who has in the past blamed the world and the female of the species for not being lucky in love. The thing is folks it isn’t the world’s fault, nor it is the female of the species fault. The only constant is me and whilst I’m not saying it is my fault, I am saying that I haven’t exactly been blameless in all this.

First things first. No-one owes you anything. If you like someone and they don’t like you back in that way then they are not to blame, no-one is. Just because you’ve given it your all (either in your fantasy world) or in reality and they don’t love you back then that is just the way it is. Just because you think you’d be a better partner than their current beau it doesn’t mean jack shit.

Secondly no-one owes you anything. Ok that is exactly the same as the first thing but it is so important I thought I’d say it twice (at this point I’d like to give a knowing nod to a recurring joke from the sixth season of Red Dwarf).

Thirdly many many women do actually like nice guys. Yes there are those who do genuinely have a thing for bad guys and love the thrill and unpredictability of it all and if you are infatuated with one of those women and you don’t have any of those personality traits then you know what – it might not be a great match. It should be noted here that some women can like the bad boy but in time their desires change and they’ll change the type of partner that they go for.

The fourth thing I want to say is that women aren’t bitches if they don’t love you. I haven’t exactly asked out a plethora of women in my time but I can’t recall one who turned me down doing it in any other way than extremely gently. Just because they don’t want to go out with you it doesn’t mean that you are awful or they are awful it just means that at the time of asking they do not want to go on a date with you. This could be because they are seeing someone else, they don’t find you attractive, they don’t believe that you are worth their time or whatever. The main point is the so called ‘nice guy’ doesn’t accept all offers of a date so why should anyone else? Why are we entitled to that? The fact is we aren’t.

Fifth thing is a biggie – do not live in a fucking creepy fantasy world. If you like someone then ask them out or if you are already close tell them about your feelings. At this point you’ll quickly find out where you stand and if things go well you can progress to another level and if not then at least you know and you can deal with it instead of living in this fantasy world where you think ‘if only this was different and this and this and this…’ Also there is no ideal time. There is never an ideal time so just bite the bullet and deal with it. You’d be surprised how many women even if they don’t find you attractive would find it sweet and nice and they would prefer that to knowing that you were lusting after them but in a creepy way behind their back.

There is no point moping about life being unfair and how you deserve happiness more than other people who you perceive (either correctly or incorrectly) as jerks. In my late teens and early twenties I was guilty of this. Looking back I can see that. I’d like to think I have moved on from this and don’t think anyone owes me anything. If I ask out a woman and they say no or I have a date and say they don’t want to see me again or that they only see me as a friend then I would hope (and do think) that I take that in my stride.

My best advice is clearly about biting the bullet and not taking rejection personally. We have all rejected people in life either romantically or even in general friendship senses. If we are allowed to reject others then surely others are allowed to reject us. Rejection is just part of life and when it happens there is little point blaming it on others or the world. Best thing to do is move on and if you genuinely care about someone who has rejected you then the best thing to do is respect their wishes – whether it is to leave them totally alone or take a step back or to remain as close friends. Whatever. The important thing is to respect the other person’s wishes because if you don’t then it is probably likely that you never genuinely care for them in the first place.

With that I shall wind this down. Life isn’t easy and relationships even less so but genuinely nice guys do not finish last. Genuinely nice guys often finish first. The problem is many people who identify themselves as nice are just not that nice or decent. On a personal level I like to think that I have gone through my creepy nice guy phase and that I am a relatively decent guy who doesn’t blame the world or blame a potential partner for rejecting my advances. I like to think I respect the wishes of people I care for but like I said earlier – that isn’t for me to judge. I just think in time a lot of people who blame everyone else for their woes will realise that at times things just happen – good and bad – and it is how we deal with them that shows our true colours. Also a bit of maturity and experience helps a wee bit and we all get that in time…

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Kelly-Marie Blundell gets the Guildford Lib Dem nod as PPC for 2015

Last night Kelly-Marie Facebooked & Tweeted (and probably in other places where I don’t follow her) announced that she had been selected by the Guildford Liberal Democrats to be their candidate for the 2015 General Election. It wasn’t exactly a surprise as most people that knew the situation thought that it was going to go that way but it wasn’t a fait accompli.

With lots of talk within the party at the moment focused on women and the fact only seven of the 56 MPs (Mike Hancock currently is an Independent MP following his ‘resignation’ of the party whip earlier this week) are women has caused a bit of a stir shall we say. Seven of 56 is not exactly a great ratio and my GCSE maths comes up with that is one female MP for every seven men. As a party that promotes equality that is not a great figure and reflects poorly on the party.

However I think it is fair to point out that the Lib Dems do not have what you could call ‘safe seats’ where women can be parachuted into and then bring up those ratios and learn on the job as it were. This is why the party has to develop keen, hard working and ultimately electable women (as well as men) and get them in a position where they can win both nominations in target seats and also in turn win said elections.

I am on the record as saying that I don’t believe that sex is a barrier within the Liberal Democrats. I am also on the record that I don’t believe in positive discrimination. I want the local parties to nominate and back the best candidate in their opinion for their constituency based on whatever criteria they have laid down. Whether that is they want a young person to re-energise the local party and work from the ground up on a long-term project, whether they want someone experienced who can come in and win the seat at the next election or want someone local who has a long track record who the voters can relate to. Whatever it is I don’t think that gender, sexuality, race etc. should (and neither do I believe) it is a factor.

There has been some talk about what if Mike Hancock resigned not only the party whip but also his job as MP then who would the Lib Dems put up. The common consensus is that Gerald Vernon-Jackson would be the best placed to defend that seat. However many have argued that they would be disappointed by this because the party needs more women and this would be a good place to put one in a position to win despite them not probably being the ideal candidate. This also happened in Eastleigh with a significant proportion of Lib Dems unhappy that a white male got the nod. Sometimes the best candidate will be a man and sometimes it will be a woman, if it is a man then people shouldn’t (in my opinion) get mad because of this.

Now on to Kelly-Marie and I think she is a wonderful example not only to young women members but to all young members both men and women. To borrow directly from her own site and in her own words:

Always politically active, since joining the Liberal Democrats, Kelly-Marie has managed parliamentary and local election campaigns in Ashford in Kent, and is now an executive officer of Guildford local party. She was elected by the party to the Federal Conference Committee and Federal Policy Committee in September 2012 and chairs the Policy Equality Impact Assessment Committee. She is also a South East Regional representative and elected by the Social Liberal Forum to sit on their Council in July 2012.

So as you can see, she has put in the work and the time to gain valuable experience in many issues of politics and has shown she is an excellent candidate. You can read more about her at the site linked to above but if you know her or at least know of her then you’ll know she is a fantastic choice for Guildford and the local party there have put themselves in a position to really attack a seat that in 2001 returned a Lib Dem MP.

The best way for young people who aspire to serve is to work hard, work on campaigns, go to meetings and learn from those who have done it before. The more you absorb from others to add to your own ideas and opinions then you more rounded you’ll become and the more valuable an asset you’ll be. This is the same in any profession but in politics it is one of the hardest places to just bluff your way through.

So good luck to Kelly-Marie for her Guildford 2015 campaign. If the people of Guildford elect her then they will have an intelligent and hard-working MP. A pretty darn good combination you might say. For other young and ambitious Lib Dems I would say that Kelly-Marie is one of the people you should try and hunt out at conference or drop off an e-mail too because she would be a valuable source of advice for how to get to where you might want to be – a PPC in a seat that is winnable.

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Tonight I am disappointed in both Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. Sad times.

Yesterday I went through the formalities of renewing my membership. Today I am disappointed. Oh the emotions of being a member of a political party. As you all will have heard this evening Mike Hancock MP has resigned the parliamentary party whip to concentrate on clearing his name against a civil action against him. He will continue as an independent MP. Which basically makes his resignation sound so see through it is as transparent as I am when someone tells me that they’ve made me a mushroom and fried egg sandwich and I’ve said ‘ooo that sounds lovely’ – it doesn’t. It really doesn’t.

In a letter to the Chief Whip Mike Hancock writes:

Following our meeting today I have decided to offer to temporarily withdraw from the parliamentary party in the Commons until the civil court case against me has been concluded.

I can assure you that I will continue to vigorously defend my position and that I completely refute the allegations made against me.

I’m doing this in the best interests of the party nationally and in Portsmouth and for my family.

I will continue to work hard for my constituents in Portsmouth as I have always done.

He says he is doing it in the best interests of the party nationally and in Portsmouth and for his family. Considering up until a few hours ago he certainly didn’t think this then it is relatively clear that in his meeting with the powers that be today he was pretty much strong armed into this position.

Now we know Mike Hancock faces a very serious civil action against him but remember the police and CPS have investigated and decided there was no case to answer. At this point the party decided not to do anything. Now a civil suit has been forthcoming they have been extremely proactive and decided they want to put him at arms length (at best) until the case against him has been concluded.

Now I am in no position to judge the merits of the court case and I won’t. However I believe strongly that the Lib Dems decision to act has been influenced by the lack of action on Lord Rennard. The Liberal Democrat peer is under investigation from both the Met Police and the party but nothing has happened as yet and I think the party are keen to be seen as proactive in these situations – just like most companies are. The difference in my eyes is the fact it is not a criminal investigation, it is a civil action. To me that is an important distinction as to how an employer or representative should be judged.

The Lib Dems have decided that they want to judge and instead of letting the matter unfold they want him out. Of course the door is open to him to return should the case against him be unproven, the chief whip said, ‘If, at the end of your case, your name is cleared then I would fully expect to have you back in the parliamentary party to play again your role in the Commons.’ However I wouldn’t be so sure that Mike would want to return having been told that essentially the party want rid of him. Lets be blunt here. I know I wouldn’t if I were in the same situation.

I don’t think the party should pre-judge anyone and that is the role of the courts. The fact of the matter is that Mike Hancock not having the parliamentary party whip will do nothing to help the MP concentrate on his case. If that were the case he’d have resigned as an MP. This is all a PR situation and shows that the party either do not believe Mike Hancock’s side of the story or were just looking for a way to get him as far away from them as possible. Either way it is either disappointing to me that they have decided to judge Mr Hancock or they have used this situation to get rid of who they perceived to be a problem.

Reading through Twitter this evening and most Lib Dems are practically rejoicing his departure. To call Mike Hancock a ‘colourful figure’ would be doing the term a disservice. Some just think he is a bit too out there, some think that there is no smoke without fire whilst others think that anyone with serious allegations over them should be gone until they have proved their innocence. Yeah the old ‘innocent until proven guilty’ line doesn’t apply in certain circumstances when it suits… *vomit*

The reason I’m disappointed is because of this last line. The party have decided that they either think he’ll lose and/or that he is more trouble than he is worth. So instead of doing nothing they want to be seen as being proactive. As of this moment the MP for Portsmouth South has not been found guilty in a criminal court (and the police and CPS have decided there is no case to answer) and has yet to face a civil court. When Chris Huhne was facing allegations (albeit of a less serious nature) he was not strong-armed into a resignation. Whilst the allegations against Mr Huhne were far less serious they did come with the possibility of prison and they were criminal charges. The civil action Mr Hancock is facing does not.

The Lib Dems want to be proactive. Great. However I fully believe in innocent until proven guilty and certainly that is the case when it comes to civil action. The differences between a civil suit and a criminal case cannot be understated. Anyone can bring a civil suit and no weight of evidence is needed to get the ball rolling whereas in a criminal case it should be different. If the party now have the motto that anyone facing any legal action either civil or criminal needs to be suspended/strongly encouraged to resign from the party until that situation is resolved then we are going down an extremely slippery slope.

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Jose Mourinho returns to Chelsea and personally I’m delighted.

Look. I’m no Chelsea fan. My loyalties are firmly with another team in blue currently plying their trade in League 2 but I love football and the Premier League has been missing something over the past couple of years. With the loss of Sir Alex to retirement the league needed a figurehead manager and who better than Jose Mourinho?

The one thing I want to say about Jose Mourinho is he has produced two of the most exciting teams I have seen in the past decade. His first Chelsea team with Robben and Duff marauding down the flanks, Drogba all powerful up top and the midfield power and pace of Essien and Lampard coupled with a steely determination and resolution of never being beaten until the final moment made them one of the most exciting teams the Premier League have seen.

In the 2011/2012 season he put together a Real Madrid team who scored goals for fun and beat possibly the greatest club side of this generation in Barcelona to the La Liga title. Yet again the team was full of strong players and strong characters and in the end it was the strong personalities in that dressing room that led to Real Madrid falling short of their goals.

That won’t be a problem at Stamford Bridge. His job at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan can all be said to have been fantastic successes. His legacy at Real Madrid is mixed but when you consider how great that Barcelona team were/are then he did a fine job in my eyes.

I’m positive Jose’s return to galvanise the club and also add some much needed spice to the Premier League. The nucleus is there to be a great team but they still need to be more secure defensively and they need a great striker. Whether that person is Fernando Torres or not we’ll see but when you consider that the kid Lukaku did great on loan at West Brom last year then he must be an option. You’d assume the Jose has the money and freedom to spend it on who he deems necessary and whoever that is I’m excited to see.

Whatever happens it will spice up the season. In a way it is a shame that he can’t go head-to-head with Sir Alex one final time and that Man City have sacked Roberto Mancini as that would have been fireworks. Still we have one of the most polarising and provocative figures in the game back in the Premier League and I for one can’t wait.

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