Gaga, Rilke, what?

Ah Gaga: artist, philosopher, self-confessed icon of the modern age

A rare trip to Celebrity Land with news of Lady Gaga's new tattoo on the Huffington Post (how can we resist something so earth-shattering?).

First up, the tattoo is penned by Rilke (not literally). It reads:

In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?

"Yes you must, Gaga!" we cry. The world would be lost without your musings. Whatever you do, keep writing. It is our literary oxygen.

But back to the tattoo: too long perchance? (I imagine it stretching up her arm, across her face, down the other arm and then having to go really small to fit the rest on her hand.) Aren't tattoos supposed to be four words long (I love you Mum; Come on you Spurs; Oh god I'm drunk), not an essay? And Rilke? (Her favourite philosopher, of course.) Why not just have the complete works of Heidegger etched into your skin while you're at it? Or a helpful little glossary of philosophical terms. Or some of your own lyrics, for God's sake - the philosophy of "Just Dance" would trounce Rilke any day of the week:

I've had a little bit too much, much
All of the people start to rush, start to rush by
How does he twist the dance? Can't find a drink, oh man
Where are my keys? I lost my phone, phone

But Gaga's cultural references are many and various, her comparisons so modest. An early contender for quote of the week goes to this:

I believe in the power of iconography, which was something that Andy Warhol did, and it's repeating an image over and over again. So I rarely change the shape of my hair.

Oh sweet Lord.

 

 

 

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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How the Lib Dems learned to love all-women shortlists

Yes, the sitting Lib Dem MPs are mostly white, middle-aged middle class men. But the party's not taking any chances. 

I can’t tell you who’ll be the Lib Dem candidate in Southport on 8 June, but I do know one thing about them. As they’re replacing a sitting Lib Dem (John Pugh is retiring) - they’ll be female.

The same is true in many of our top 20 target seats, including places like Lewes (Kelly-Marie Blundell), Yeovil (Daisy Benson), Thornbury and Yate (Clare Young), and Sutton and Cheam (Amna Ahmad). There was air punching in Lib Dem offices all over the country on Tuesday when it was announced Jo Swinson was standing again in East Dunbartonshire.

And while every current Lib Dem constituency MP will get showered with love and attention in the campaign, one will get rather more attention than most - it’s no coincidence that Tim Farron’s first stop of the campaign was in Richmond Park, standing side by side with Sarah Olney.

How so?

Because the party membership took a long look at itself after the 2015 election - and a rather longer look at the eight white, middle-aged middle class men (sorry chaps) who now formed the Parliamentary party and said - "we’ve really got to sort this out".

And so after decades of prevarication, we put a policy in place to deliberately increase the diversity of candidates.

Quietly, over the last two years, the Liberal Democrats have been putting candidates into place in key target constituencies . There were more than 300 in total before this week’s general election call, and many of them have been there for a year or more. And they’ve been selected under new procedures adopted at Lib Dem Spring Conference in 2016, designed to deliberately promote the diversity of candidates in winnable seats

This includes mandating all-women shortlists when selecting candidates who are replacing sitting MPs, similar rules in our strongest electoral regions. In our top 10 per cent of constituencies, there is a requirement that at least two candidates are shortlisted from underrepresented groups on every list. We became the first party to reserve spaces on the shortlists of winnable seats for underrepresented candidates including women, BAME, LGBT+ and disabled candidates

It’s not going to be perfect - the hugely welcome return of Lib Dem grandees like Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Julian Huppert to their old stomping grounds will strengthen the party but not our gender imbalance. But excluding those former MPs coming back to the fray, every top 20 target constituency bar one has to date selected a female candidate.

Equality (together with liberty and community) is one of the three key values framed in the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution. It’s a relief that after this election, the Liberal Democratic party in the Commons will reflect that aspiration rather better than it has done in the past.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

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