My official complaint to the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn

Dear Mr Corbyn,

I am not a member of your party, nor am I a Labour voter however I’ve had a lot of respect for some of your recent policies and as we agree on certain subjects; I thought it best to approach you on an issue which almost cost me my life. An issue which has silenced me for so long but now I feel able to discuss.

Until the local authority elections in May I was a Councillor in an area called North Lanarkshire, the home of Kier Hardy and many other politicians of note. I was an SNP councillor, but more than that I was a single mum of two disabled girls, a woman fighting hard for her constituents in probably one of the most toxic political environments you could ever imagine. I also work at Holyrood, and while difficult to manoeuvre at times, nothing compared to the horrors that were induced from my time at NLC.

Mr Corbyn, I was subjected to a prolonged and dangerous campaign of abuse and whispers. As I tried to dig for information on events in our area, the chief executive had to approach me because “senior Labour Councillors” had led him to believe I as having an affair with married officers. Labour Councillors approached me with deep anxiety because their colleagues in your party had decided to infer that they had or would show “nudes” of me, this is revenge porn if true, but it was just smear in its worst form. They said and I quote “that it would shut me up”.  These were only some of the incidents that Labour Party members were willing to discuss with me, I admire their unwavering courage because it seems that Scottish Labour is quite a different beast, and to come forward to protect me is admirable.

I often hear you talk of the many. I was the “many”, I was the lone parent living on the bread line who believed she could be part of our democratic process, a voice if you would like, for others. I didn’t expect to face a catalogue of gender based discrimination, lecherous comments and a premeditated campaign to discredit me. That’s exactly what happened. Your party having a fundraiser to campaign for “The Many” which manifested as a great night to make fun of my distress surrounding the coming out of my fragile transgender daughter, is nothing short of vile. She is precious and she did not deserve this.

I consulted the leadership in Scotland and while empathetic, the answer was “I don’t know what to do”. Can you imagine seeing that leadership in the media now condemning those who stood by and did nothing during the Weinstein allegations? Hypocrisy in full swing. As the summer of 2017 approached I was suffering from the worst period of mental health and the abuse did not stop. It was relentless. Comments in corridors. Whispering. Media stories which could only have come from inside the organisation. Sexual innuendo. I was forced out of politics, like a child hounded out of a school by playground bullies.

On June the 19th I collapsed in front of my eleven year old daughter, unable to speak or move she watched as her mum had a stroke like incident. Paralysed down one side of my body for weeks, unable to feed, wash or dress myself; the stress of my time at NLC at reduced me to a woman who could not provide for her children, take care of them properly or even take care of herself. I have a wonderful boss, who has been supportive and caring; but the fact of the matter is that your own elected members could have cost me my life and my children their mother. This has been confirmed by some of the most senior stroke consultants in Scotland, it’s not my opinion, it’s a medical fact.

I am lodging this email as an official complaint. There are probably other “procedures” but these have only served to fail me in the past. As the leadership of Scottish Labour hangs in the balance, it seems like you are the only credible destination for complaint. I am owed an apology at the least and I will not rest until what happened to me is investigated fully, and with transparency. To that end, I have copied in my lawyer as any previous concerns, as stated above, were left ignored; and I feel it prudent that I have a witness to this official complaint against the leadership of North Lanarkshire Council and any elected member who contributed to this sordid situation.

As a man who talks honestly and openly about families like mine, I very much look forward to your reply and to discuss actions which you deem appropriate.

Kindest Regards

Rosa Zambonini

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The Last Date

Well if id known how this month was gonna pan out for women across the world I don’t know if I would have even started this dating blog, but I did and it was a ray of sunshine in a dark month.

Many have told me I shouldn’t be talking about meeting strangers for dates, when I’ve so freely called out harassment. So I tell you what, I’m going to stay at home forever incase I upset anyone on social media and cant call out sexual harassment without fear…. wrong. I will continue to seek romance, love, affection and passion; on the grounds of mutual respect. Who a woman chooses to love or not love doesn’t mean she’s up for grabs.

I’ve spent the month wondering if I should change the way I look, maybe move to the more conservative way of dressing, but I don’t want to! I like how I dress and I am fucking fabulous just the way I am. I don’t dress for men on tinder or men in general, I dress for me and for the spirit of Carrie Bradshaw. But if a man thinks I’m beautiful, and loves and respects the way I look then that’s just a bonus.

So did I find love? I don’t know about that but I’ve been surprised in some of the most lovely ways. I received some funny, interesting and downright bonkers messages. I had some amazing dates and some not so amazing encounters. I guess what I’ve taken from this is that there is someone out there for everyone and thanks to the internet we are a little closer to finding them.

What even is love? I read a beautiful blog during this which said “it’s not two halves of a hole; it’s reaching your hand out in the night and finding someone there”. So actually I really DO have love. Sometimes I reach out and it’s the podgy wee hand of skye (charlie is a lonely sleeper). Sometimes I reach out and it’s the rigid type body of my best pal Karen, she stays sometime when I’m sick, she is single and bloody amazing. Sometimes it’s kirsty in Dubai and The hand that is reaching out to me cupping my Lady garden. Sometimes I reach out and it’s the arms of my best boy pal conor letting me cuddle him in; just because I’m not his “type” (ie no a man) he is still solid. Sometimes I reach out and it’s the soft squishy touch of my mammy, making me feel loved and secure. So I have love and I love.

I’m gonna keep dating, maybe someone will manage to get me to commit to them. I got to know one of my dates quite well and he says “fuck it” a lot when I say something stressy. It makes me feel empowered, like yes fuck it who cares, I can do this. Maybe that’s all I need, someone who reaches back out to meet my hand, and someone who soothes my worries mind by telling me “fuck it”.

My final ever dating tips would be these.

4) if your on tinder don’t go to oneup, folk will think it’s ok to say “seen ye on a tinder hen”

3) recognise the love you already have in your life the beautiful friendships and family that surround you.

2) don’t date Tory’s, you’re better than that.

1) most importantly, know your worth. If you have to chase him and he rarely tells you how wonderful you are, he’s not for you. You are fantastic just as you are “so never ever settle for anything less than butterflies”

The unapologetic woman!

So today there was a story about sexual harassment in the Sunday Herald, I’ve had more texts and questions than I can shake a stick at. Is it you? Who’s rocking the boat? what’s the story? A bit of me wants to reply to every single text with “none of your bloody business”. The fact of the matter is this story has touched so many women in my industry and the story belonged to all of them. Not just mine.

Since Kezia, Nicola and other known political women have come to voice their disgust about sexism in their own arena I’ve been fascinated to read the “if it’s true name them comments” or worse the “you’re responsible if this happens to others” remarks. STOP. The only people responsible for sexual abuse, harassment and violence are the perpetrators. They are the sole reason for sexual aggression. Not short skirts, not flirty women, not flirty men, not blond hair, not big boobs. Those responsible, are those who can see a bloody line but still decide to dive head first over it.

When I was in North Lanarkshire Council the chief exec asked to “have a quiet word”; the head of education had been sacked and he had been tipped off by a senior labour councillor that it was because I was having an affair with this officer. It couldn’t possibly have been that this man had approached me with damning information of the labour administration; you see I was young, single but smart and I had their measure and they were scared. I had been tipped off about this rumour by another labour councillor and told that this was the tactic they were going to use so I was prepared, in a way it almost didn’t matter to me as I was single, but this man had a wife and family. So why were they able to peddle this bullshit? Because I was blessed with having a vagina and it was a nice easy lie to hide their own disgusting misdemeanours. It wasn’t the fault of any woman who had fallen into their slimey games before my time; this was their fault and theirs alone.

When I had a stroke type thing in the summer and recovered, as much as I am thankful for my recovery, no one told me I have to become a medical researcher and cure the suffering of future victims. An odd comparison? perhaps. However that’s just how absurd it is to ask a victim to be the advocate for those who are still to be “abused”. Here’s a thought, and it’s crude, but why don’t abusers keep their hands, words, dirty thoughts and penis to themselves? Just do that and then we can all go to our work without shuddering when we open or DMs!

I’ve had this a lot “do you know men are abused too…? Do you Rosa… do you??” Yes I do but to be honest I don’t have the energy to battle for the poor white males who’ve had it so tough for so long. I mean, I feel for anyone who’s been abused, Equality is for everyone but at the moment this is a predominantly female facing issue and I will not apologise for fighting for my gender. It is mine.

Last night in Glasgow it was Halloween weekend and I watched all the beautiful young women dressed as fairies, Angels, devils etc. I heard a lot of “she’d get it comments”. Ringing around my ears. There was definitely a “she’s gagging for it” mentality. Mate, she isn’t, honestly she just isn’t. Women are proud of their beauty and sexuality these days and they can express it as an Anne’s Summers sailor if they so choose and further more they should be allowed to do it without your lecherous mind defiling her. When “taps aff” season hits Glasgow NO one thinks you are well up for it, in fact, we really do not care that you’re slinging yer tshirt round your shoulders when it hits sixty.

This is a message for my fellow girls if you are scared, if you are sad, if you are worried about backlash after abuse and if you don’t want to name names – then don’t. You call it out wherever you see fit but your story is YOURS. You have been through enough and it’s the job of those who are stronger to fight when you cannot. You don’t have to feel guilty because someone else might be hurt, that is not your job. Your job is to find a safe and peaceful recovery. Your story, your body and your vagina is YOURS to do with what YOU choose and you do NOT have to apologise for that.

There is so much to fight for in this world but I will do it on MY terms. Have I been harassed in the Scottish Parliament? Yes. Have I been harassed at NLC? Absolutely but I will not put myself under any pressure to share that with anyone other than those who I see fit. It’s not my job to make lecherous men behave. I will not be scared of a backlash. I will not be dictated to. I have fear but I am strong. I sometimes feel alone but I’m not lonely. It’s my body. It’s my vagina. It’s my story; and I will not apologise to anyone.

Note* this was in the Sunday herald and not the mail as the tweet says

She is not a number. She is Charlie.

I wake up all too often these days and see newspaper stories of trans kids. Children plastered across the front of a paper with the single purpose of making sales, and making money.

What’s my Charlie?

She isn’t one of a growing number of trans cases. She isn’t a statistic in your papers. She isn’t a prize to be discussed or a story to be told. She isn’t a case to be studied, or a prop in a some sort of drama. She isn’t weird or part of a media circus; she isn’t a subject on display. She isn’t a child on the verge of meltdown, or person in the wrong body. She isn’t to be feared, not to be dismissed. She isn’t scared of change, and she isn’t scared to be her.

What is my Charlie?

She is part of a growing number of children who are free to be themselves. She’s part of a generation who are being fierce and bold. She telling her own story, the way it should be told. She is her own wee person and her soul is more precious than most. She is brave, kind and courageous; and she is as stubborn as a mule. She’s funny, she’s quirky, she’s spoiled and cute. She’s only just a child who is perfect beyond all words. She has a fantastic body, it’s hers and it’s unique. She just needs a little adjustment.

She is a sister, a granddaughter, a friend, a cousin, a niece, a daughter and she is mine. So dear newspapers be careful what you say, these children have a force behind them…

Do not be scared of my Charlie. She isn’t infectious, although I wish everything about her courage was. Do not be afraid of what you read in the papers “sex change clinics” don’t exist. These trans men and women want exactly the same as you. They just want to be free.

I will celebrate the growing number of children being themselves, they are ferociously brave in a world which is so outrageously cruel. We tell our children always to be their own person and never to conform, then we must stand by that.

Charlie isn’t perfect but she is perfect to me.

The Weinstein Effect

I’ve been doing a dating blog and some research this month, but it’s sex and relationships on my terms. During this period the world seems to be flabbergasted that a man in power has used his might to sexually abuse women. I say abuse because that’s what it is. It’s hard for a woman to make it in this world and if you think women are equal then you’re so off the mark your hitting the wall.

I love being flirty when I fancy someone, I love kissing, I love laughing at jokes and I love feeling desired. What I don’t love is feeling objectified, cornered and unable to say anything because the man in person wields power. In my job there have been men, powerful men, who have made me cry myself to sleep. Men who have taken my outgoing personality as a geeen light to talk to me like some poor girl from a cheap porno. Why did I cry because I could do nothing about it. If I said something it would cause a huge problem and I was terrified I would be black listed. Even worse I was horrified that people would think it was my fault. I’m blonde and I wear makeup, I’ve had a boob job and fillers; so it must be right? Even now I wonder if it is, it shouldn’t be, but maybe it is. Maybe I have to realise that even 2017 isn’t a place I can be myself without harassment.

Typing this now the tears are falling down my face.

How many times did I go to bed wishing I could run away? Too many. Even as I type this I’m frightened someone is saying “she’s such an attention seeker”. Do you know what it’s like to have to avoid a corridor in your place of work because you feel sick to your stomach? Do you know what it’s like to hide tears from your children because you’re scared you’re never going to be more than the blonde girl? Do you know what it’s like to worry you will lose your job because you can’t take “flirty banter”? Do you know what it’s like to cry to your friend and beg them to let you quit your job because men cannot behave? Do you? Do you think this is self pitty? It’s not. It’s abject fear for the future of girls, my girls, your girls, all girls.

when I was 14 years old my friends brother slid his hand up my top and I vomited for a whole day. I told my parents  and they made sure something was done. My mother and father told me it was never ever my fault that someone had mistreated me, and that it never would be in the future. This incident has made an indent on me so much, that regardless of who you think I am, I find intimacy a struggle until I have deep trust.

I work for a wonderful MSP. So many times I’ve heard stories, here are some: He is fucking her. He employed her because, well look at her. He is into her. She only got the job cause she’s a flirt. Let me set the record straight, my boss has more integrity in his little finger than most men I have ever come across. He is kind, loyal and respectful. So let the rumours come back to bite you, that’s what karma does.

I am deeply flawed, insecure and sometimes I make mistakes but I am a woman who hurts. A woman who cries. A woman who has nightmares. A woman who feels deeply. I deserve to feel safe. I deserve to wear heels, lipstick and big hair in peace. I deserve kindness. I deserve respect….. and so does every other woman who walks this planet.

Where do you find them?

So I’ve decided October will be a dating month, everyone needs someone to snuggle under a blanket with right? so it’s the perfect time to start this series of blogs and to “put myself out there”. The question “where are all the men?”  is probably one of the most asked in female (and gay) history. The real question should actually be: where are all the nice guys (and girls)? 

The first time I ever “got a number” was in the Hamilton Palace. The guys name was Steven and he was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen, apart from Luke Nijholt, who had the best legs on my teenage planet. Sidenote: if you don’t know who Luke is you aren’t a well fan. I digress, so I’m in the “Hugh Dallas” and Steven asks the barman for a napkin and a pen, and wrote down his HOME phone number. That’s right dolls, I had to do that amazing “oh hello is Steven in” phonecall to his maw. Swear, there is not  a nervous feeling that comes close to that phonecall but alas our young team will never know it. Yes I called, yes we dated and yes I dumped him for a hot doctor who I worked beside. I’ve always been the same, easily distracted.

It’s sad to think people will never again have to stand in Victoria’s or Archaos and will someone to pull out a napkin. I still go out in hope, dolled up to the nines, wishing that a milk tray style man will send over a bottle of champs. (Yes I can feel the rage of the feminists but this is my fantasy and I’ll think as I wanna). These days you go out and then you only need a name and you’ve got a Facebook, Instagram and credit check done on your potential date. Now it’s all internet isn’t it? I met one of the loves of my life on twitter. Yes, yes I don’t believe in one great Love, I’m an optimist. I met this man on twitter and he was lovely and delicious and funny and smart; the problem is that in real life the story can be different, a persons online persona is never the same but in this case he was as charming in real life. To be honest too charming and there lay the problem (that and a very mean ex-wife). Sidenote Im still friends with this man, and you can’t have too many of them. Facebook I hate because it’s a hunting ground for creeps, mate just because you like every one of my photos does not mean I’m gonna rush out for a Nando’s and back for a boxset. No sir. Oh and don’t get me started on the married ones, mate I only know you because I do the school run with yer Mrs! (For example…..) BOLT. 

So that leaves me with the dating apps. I’ve never tried them. I’ve heard such terrible things about tinder, grindr and the likes that I’m scared that just looking at the app will cause an influx of disgusting genital pics. FYI boys: girls hate seeing photos of your penis, if there is a woman out there who disagrees then fair enough, but I’ve yet to meet her. Sending a woman a willy pic will turn her on in the same way it would Donald Trump doing a strip tease. In other words, don’t, ever, never. 

So a few weeks ago a friend gets me on “bumble”. It’s like tinder, you swipe left and right like a human dating catalogue; this makes me feel really guilty. Seriously, every time I swipe left I think “Rosa you’re so shallow and mean, maybe he has a nice personality and a good heart”; but as my friend Joe said “you don’t walk a personality down the street”. Shameful, but true. You have to have a physical attraction, fact. So you plow on and then, out of no where you “match” he likes you and you him. You have a chat, you exchange numbers, date, fall in love and have babies. WRONG. You send a witty message only to be ghosted and then your insides fall apart because you think you’re no longer as funny or cute as you believed. Or they reply and their chat is as bright as winter night. Or you go on a date and you have to listen to the “im so wonderful, you’re so lucky to be with me” subtext of their date chat. Bumble proving to be a nightmare, well almost…..

I have had one date. It was fun, he was handsome and kind, there was beaches and walks. First kisses, hand holding and music. It was perfect bar one small detail, he lives over 2 hours away. Just my luck troops, but then that’s the joy of dating, if you could find it on your doorstep you would already have Love, but that might be mundane. If you want to go to the effort of dating then you’ll push the boundaries (and your  lease car mileage allowance) and expect nothing less than butterflies…

Wish me luck team… the month has only just begun….

P.S if you have a funny dating story or top tip, then guest blogs are welcome 

Iconic Award

Everyone has something to say about my life, often painful and hurtful things; but I guess that’s public life. However very recently something lovely happened to me. I was given an award for being a “straight ally” to the LGBTI community. The First Minister and Glasgow Provost were in my category but I won, a wee single mammy from Wishaw. I really do love this award but in some ways it’s odd, because really I’ve only been awarded for doing the right thing. My mum and dad have always taught us that if we are able, you do what you can for those around you who need a little extra love. I wasn’t able to make an acceptance speech as I was poorly but I still think it would be nice to say some thanks.

To my three Ks, three “sisters” Caz, Claire and Alison, and Conor who are never done texting me, for keeping my eyes on reality and for reminding me of who I really am. Thank you. To Amo who is my can’t live with, can’t without pal; I know you always have my back no matter what separates us. Thank you. To Jordan Daly and Liam Stevenson who always inspire me to do more for LGBTI young people, you are the epitome of change. Thank you. James Dornan MSP, my boss, my rock and my friend. Thank you. My pals across politics and beyond for always saying nice things on the twitter and fighting with trolls on my behalf. Thank you. Rhiannon V Who is the spark that makes me want to fight harder. Thank you. To my mum and dad who are sellotape that keeps my heart together when so many of my dreams and hopes shatter. Thank you. Pete and the three Gordon’s who love me and the girls and never fail to make us laugh. Thank you. To the LGBTI community who have allowed me to stand and fight in your name. Thank you.

Finally I’d like to thank my beautiful girls Skye and Charlie. They are courageous, kind and frankly the most beautiful souls to have walked this planet. Both with unique challenges and both not without struggles; and yet both so willing to allow me to use their struggles to reach others. Thank you. I’m not gay, I was born in the right body and I have a lovely life; but it is the duty of all of us to stand up for those who are unable to do it themselves. I beg of the straight community ask questions. Challenge homophobia and transphobia. Ask for your children to be educated in LGBTI issues. Be the change this world so desperately needs. If you are a man or woman, boy or girl, who is currently living in a secret, if you are scared to be yourself and you don’t know what the future holds because of your gender or sexuality then this award is for you. It’s to remind you that you are not alone and we are fighting to make this world less frightening. This award is for those who cannot be themselves 🌈