Monday, October 08, 2012

Gay marriage debate pulled from Tory Conference

As the Conservative Party Conference kicks off in Birmingham with its (now) usual sequence of staged, set-piece events aimed (principally) at the media and sundry lobbyists, the 'real' conference (ie discussion, debate, healthy disagreement) is taking place on the Fringe. And there you'll find disputation on all the main topics of the day, courtesy of The Freedom Association.

They have put together a full programme of over 50 speakers, including Liam Fox, Dan Hannan, Roger Helmer, Ruth Lea, Tim Montgomerie, Patrick O'Flynn, Eric Pickles, Paul Staines and Toby Young, all discussing inter alia online campaigning, taxation, the EU, the Anglosphere, the Communications Data Bill, the moral case for capitalism, trade union reform, surveillance in schools...

But there's one debate which isn't happening, and it's not the fault of The Freedom Association.

Back in July, the Conservative Party's favourite think-tank Policy Exchange produced a booklet entitled 'What's In A Name? Is there a case for equal marriage?'. They came down firmly in support, with glowing endorsements from the likes of Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of Stonewall, to whom all opponents are simply 'bigots'.

Representatives of Anglican Mainstream contacted Neil O'Brien, Director of Policy Exchange, asking if they'd be prepared to debate their booklet and defend their conclusions at a fringe meeting. Anglican Mainstream is a non-partisan information and education charity for mainstream orthodox Christians (particularly Anglicans), and they said that they were 'very concerned at the publication's superficial, badly researched and weak "conservative case" for equal/gay marriage'. The invitation was aimed specifically at authors David Skelton and Robert Flint, but Anglican Mainstream was prepared to debate with other representatives and ensure an impartial, mutually-agreed chairman.

Policy Exchange already had a large fringe programme at the Conservative Conference, but it excluded all debate on the vital issue of gay/equal marriage. But David Skelton replied that he would, in principle, be very happy to participate in the debate. A meeting took place in the offices of Policy Exchange a month ago, and (with an independent chairman from the Bow Group) they thrashed out the details of the debate which included that both sides would try to find a Conservative MP to lead for their respective side in the debate. There was no suggestion that the participation of Conservative MPs was a prerequisite to the debate taking place.

Unsurprisingly, both sides had difficulty finding MPs who would put their heads above the gay marriage parapet and debate against each other. But Anglican Mainstream had, in the meantime, booked accommodation, paid deposits for catering, and spent an awful lot of money on advertising and promotional flyers.

Interestingly, Policy Exchange did have a speaker lined up, but he/she 'had to drop out'. They proposed to postpone the debate until next month (ie out from under the aegis of the Conference). But, having forked out the best part of £1000, Anglican Mainstream was keen to proceed, asking simply that Policy Exchange defend its own publication.

It was clear that there was considerable interest in this debate irrespective of the participation of MPs. But Policy Exchange decided to pull the plug, despite Anglican Mainstream suggesting alternative speakers for a lively and informative debate, which would then have been available to the rest of the world via the video recording.

Anglican Mainstream had worked intensively researching and writing a 55-page response to 'What's In A Name?'. One of their number even took days off work to get it done in time. They had intended to argue for 'Real Marriage' while Policy Exchange argued for 'Equal Marriage' - the categories encapsulate the essence of each sides 'conservative' argument. They had booked hotels and made personal and travel arrangements to be in Birmingham for the debate.

But it isn't happening.

Policy Exchange profess to have developed a conservative case for gay marriage, which they refuse to debate with social conservatives at the Conservative Party conference. The point of the debate was to have it at the Conference: a public debate itself was not the issue. They now insist that Policy Exchange 'do not hold conference events without MPs present'. This was never disclosed in the formative discussions: at no point, even in the final phone discussions, did Policy Exchange say that MP's participation was a condition of holding the debate. Indeed, quite why David Skelton isn't the best person to defend his thesis is something of a mystery.

But Policy Exchange has pulled the plug, quite possibly to spare the Conservative Party Conference embarrassing and distracting headlines about 'homophobes' and 'bigots'. Policy Exchange has lost nothing: Anglican Mainstream are poorer by £1000. Blessed are they which are out of pocket for righteousness' sake...


Blogger John Knox's lovechild said...

Oh dear.

Some people fear debate, you know.

On this same theme, I read last week that the Aussie parliament rejected gay marriage.

Can anyone remember this being reported at any length by the Guardian, which I read daily, or the BBC?

Now imagine the vote had gone the other way.

8 October 2012 at 10:26  
Blogger John Chater said...

On the subject of Stonewall CE Ben Summerskill's 'bigotophobia' – Stonewall's Annual Awards for 2012, which will 'celebrate the outstanding contribution of individuals and groups towards lesbian, gay and bisexual equality' will be held at the Victoria & Albert Museum on 1 November. It has a category called 'Bigot of the Year' for which glory the following have been nominated:

Alan Craig (leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance)
Simon Lokodo (State Minister for Ethics & Integrity in the Office of the President in the Ugandan Cabinet)
Lord Maginnis (Baron Maginnis of Drumglass)
Cardinal Keith O'Brien (Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh of the Roman Catholic Church)
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow)

Now, it used to be the case that if you publically insulted someone (for example, by calling them a 'bigot') you could well end up being hauled over the coals in an action for defamation. This was especially the case where the person had some public standing, where their loss of reputation would be all the more serious (and even more so if they were, say, a minister of religion or politician). I can't help but wonder what would happen if one of the above took umbrage and legal action for libel.

8 October 2012 at 11:05  
Blogger Preacher said...

One would like to be surprised, but I'm afraid that this was, in the light of the present non Government inevitable.
The Debater vanishes seems like the latest illusion to baffle the honest enquiries of the populace. Perhaps Dave, Nick & co should apply for membership of the Magic Circle. They are fast becoming masters of Smoke & Mirrors.

8 October 2012 at 11:05  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Two Catholic archbishops nominated for 'Bigot of the Year'? Great news! To me, that's proof that the Church is beginning to regenerate; like I always say, if they don't hate us, we're doing it wrong.

8 October 2012 at 11:19  
Blogger Gary said...

I, for one, am happy to be called a bigot for Christ's sake. It's such a small slur to suffer for the eternal glory of His name.

8 October 2012 at 11:31  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

So last year Cameron declared "I'm in favour of gay marriage BECAUSE I'm a Conservative" and this year he can't pluck up the courage to defend it?
If a leader can't lead from the front then he's not much of a leader!

8 October 2012 at 12:46  
Blogger BeeLZeeBub said...

"I, for one, am happy to be called a bigot for Christ's sake. It's such a small slur to suffer for the eternal glory of His name."

OK then.

Your a bigot.

8 October 2012 at 13:11  
Blogger Rob Pearson said...

Odd that Policy Exchange declares itself to be an "independent, non-partisan educational charity" but David Skelton stood for election as a Tory candidate for Durham North in 2010 - losing to Labour, obviously!

Also there's no mention of a 'Mrs Skelton' - so what knowledge of marriage does he have?!

8 October 2012 at 13:16  
Blogger bluedog said...

Wonderful news, Your Grace.

The SSM lobby have just lost their case in the court of public opinion by their failure to be present at the debate.

Yet another humiliation for Dave.

8 October 2012 at 13:16  
Blogger Nicodemus said...

It seems the ssm brigade are on the run now they have lost the argument!

8 October 2012 at 13:32  
Blogger Flossie said...

Anglican Mainstream's website declares that the 'debate' will still go ahead, but with an empty chair.

8 October 2012 at 13:36  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

John Knox's lovechild said...

"Oh dear.

Some people fear debate, you know." Hmmm and does'nt old Ernst know it!!


8 October 2012 at 14:13  
Blogger Brian West said...

Bluedog, Nicodemus,
It is surely premature, and rash, to conclude that SSM supporters have 'lost their case' or 'lost the argument'. Only today Humphrey Dobson of The Christian Institute has emailed supporters to "continue to pray for the protection of marriage".
Among other things he urges us to pray that public figures would speak out boldly in defence of marriage, and that Government Ministers would have a change of heart.

8 October 2012 at 14:26  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Debates are not noble exercises intended to facilitate the single-minded pursuit of truth. They are tactical exercises put on by advocates who are primarily interested in winning. And the number one rule of debate is "Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever give your opponent a platform he doesn't deserve." That's why they refused to have this debate at this time. There was no upside in this debate at this time to anyone by Anglican Mainstream. So they pulled out because there was no cost for not participating, but a huge potential cost for going ahead. Now, you can say they were afraid and lost face. But in fact the reverse is true. It is a measure of the confidence they have in their position that they can refuse to debate. Weakness seeks to debate strength in order to draw some measure of that strength to itself.

This debate crosses presuppositions. The population at large is following the evolutionary logic of no Creator to the inevitable conclusions of self-creation, destruction of created boundaries, and the establishment of human autonomy as the greatest good. It may have some residual attachment to marriage, but that attachment is incoherent. Its attachment to marriage cuts across its own presuppositions and thus it will not stand over time. Politicians know this. They are managing you and your resistance. They aren't managing the debate. As far as they are concerned, you have already lost.

The debate will be revisited only when the consequences of those presuppositions become evident. Unfortunately an extraordinary amount of damage will be inflicted in the process.


8 October 2012 at 14:45  
Blogger William said...

Brian West has a point. It seems likely that the Government will close down the debate (as it did with the "consultation") and declare the argument won. Perhaps using the proposed reduction in the abortion limit as a sop.

8 October 2012 at 14:47  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Your Grace


Heard Osbourne promote his vision of where he intends to take us and it sounds like 'From here to disparity'.
Pleased he didn't hang around for a standing ovation that was not going to come..saved us all from a heap of embarrassment and one of political life's awkward moments.
Chris Leslie called him a chancellor in denial whereas the same could also be said the Shadow equivalent. What a shower they both are, bereft of any workable ideas other than allowing an employer to shaft you at one's own behest in exchange for a fist full of worthless shares in the company sacking you!

Where are the 20 billion + in welfare cuts going to come from..shutting down hospitals, letting charities sink in the mire, etc.

It appears Osbourne's ethos that welfare weakens private charity such as family, friends and non-governmental welfare organisations will be tested to the limits but perish the thought of social unrest through incompetent tinkering.
I wouldn't leave those nincompoops at Westminster in charge of my grandson's piggy bank.

These knobs in all parties cannot get the sale of gold or placing rail franchises right so how on earth can they get us out of a mountain of debt and unemployment, only the Almighty knows.

Which ever way we turn we appear shafted!!!

If these are the cream of politicians, old Ernst would hate to see what the riff-raff looks or sound like.

I am Plebicus the plebiscite, darned proud of it and demand a referendum now before these plonkers make the status quo permanent.


8 October 2012 at 14:52  
Blogger John Chater said...


I think you've nailed it, as it has been clear from the start that the government has no interest in deciding the matter based upon the results of the consultation – for or against, the decision has already been made to extend the meaning of marriage; all that remains is the timing.

It may be that its introduction will be delayed, especially as the Conservative Party in conference season is keen to pretend that there is still clear ground between itself and the Lib Dems. So this week we will have nothing to ruffle the feathers of the grass roots of the Party, who doggedly trudge along for some reassurance from the top that they still matter. Hence Osbourne's pointless rant today against benefit claimants and the PM's huffing and puffing last week about the mansion tax, etc.

Capitulation to the power of the gay rights lobby and the previous government's equality and diversity strictures will go under the radar for a week, but continue unabated all the same.

8 October 2012 at 15:01  
Blogger graham wood said...

Carl Jacobs wrote:
"Debates are not noble exercises intended to facilitate the single-minded pursuit of truth.....

Very good post Carl, and you may be right in your assumption that Ministers in general and 'Policy Exchange' are so confident of their cause.
On the other hand, it may not be the case, and that public exposure of their empty argument for SSM (the false plea for "equality")
is so thin that their withdrawal is an exercise in damage limitation. I think the latter.

In fact it is entirely consistent with the fact that pro SSM Ministers and MPs have failed almost completely to present ANY coherent, logical, or well thought out arguments for SSM.
Maria Miller's ("culture" Sec.) Out4marriage video which Cranny displayed recently is a case in point.
a more vacuous, patronising, and sanctimonious presentation would be hard to find.

Policy Exchange, to be fair, does set out very good arguments for the general approval of marriage - but one soon discovers that they mean marriage to one another, and not the traditional meaning of the word - which vitiates their case entirely!

I have sought to answer some of their, and the Government's case for SSM, in a Open Letter to Coalition Ministers (&MPs) on the report produced by Policy Exchange.
Copy available in Word doc. if you want one
Graham Wood

8 October 2012 at 15:13  
Blogger gentlemind said...

"What's in a Name?" puts forward an awful case for the redefinition of the legal institution of marriage. It is hard to argue in favour of something that cannot physically exist (a marriage between anybody other than one man and one woman), so instead Policy Exchange argue against something that does not exist. Neat! The report spends 60 pages arguing against the exclusion of gays and lesbians (individuals), only to conclude in favour of the inclusion of same-sex couples. The report should, of course, have been titled "What's in a definition?".

8 October 2012 at 16:43  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace. Not washing your soiled laundry in public is to be expected. There it is in the corner, stinking away. It’s wafting everywhere. One feels very sick indeed…

On a happier note, those queer types at Pink News Comments are furious the Coalition for Marriage are rallying today, and have reverted back to their ‘nasty Tory’ position. That didn’t last long, did it. All those months of going down on them for their votes has come to naught. Though it was going to happen anyway, when the government deny them the right to instruct school children on how to sodomise each other. Anyone who didn’t realise that was next on the Gay Agenda needs their head examined. Straight in there they’ll be, with shouts of “It’s legal, we’re legal, and there’s nothing you can do to stop us !”

Feel even sicker now…

8 October 2012 at 17:57  
Blogger David Lindsay said...

The clear majority of Labour MPs would vote in favour of the redefinition of legal marriage to include same-sex couples.

But far more of them would oppose it than many people seem to think, from Blair legacy loyalists who regard the matter as settled permanently by civil partnerships and that measure as one their hero's greatest achievements, to the 50 or more who know that the local Catholic machine could and would simply remove them as candidates without a second thought, plus anything up to half that number who now have the same relationship with the mosque committees.

All of these are found at every level, up to and including the Shadow Cabinet. The second one, of course, always has been, throughout the history of the Labour Party. The 2010 intake is comprised very largely of people who have come up through the Movement over many decades, rather than the untested and the blow-ins whose only real experience, if any, was in student-based identity politics. Yvette "Abortion" Cooper, take a bow.

But the point has always been that Labour never had any intention of compelling anyone to vote for this, nor of punishing anyone who failed to do so, including anyone who went so far as to vote against it. In view of the above, how could it possibly? Likewise, Labour has never had any intention of attempting to introduce this, but only of permitting its MPs to vote for it if the Coalition did so or, including in the event of a Labour Government, if it were to be the subject of a Private Member's Bill, with no suggestion of the government time without which such a Bill stands virtually no chance of success. That, obviously without the caveat's having been made explicit, will be the Labour manifesto commitment in 2015, if there is any mention at all of this issue.

But even that presentation by the Coalition now looks as good as certain never to happen. This whole matter is so toxic within the Conservative Party that any discussion of it has had to be forbidden on the floor of that party's Conference this week. Half - yes, half - of its activists have already resigned because of it. A Coalition for Marriage rally today was packed to the rafters and gave a rapturous reception to speakers including Ann Widdecombe. So there will be no Bill in the course of this Parliament. Just as there will be no Government Bill, the only kind with any realistic chance of making it onto the Statute Book, in any subsequent Parliament. The, frankly, daft idea to abolish husbands and wives is dead. Forget about it.

8 October 2012 at 18:22  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

The blessed lunatic fringe

8 October 2012 at 18:30  
Blogger John Chater said...

And let's not neglect to mention that Lord Carey has also taken the gloves off (well, as much as he can) at the Coalition for Marriage meeting.

Read here:

8 October 2012 at 19:17  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

David Lindsay. Labour have been very quiet about ssm for a reason. They face the loss of inner city seats to Respect, or at the very least, a split in the vote to let the Lib Dem candidate in. Can’t see ssm going down too well in the mosques. Can you ?

8 October 2012 at 19:20  
Blogger gentlemind said...

@David Linday.
We are not witnessing party political manoeuvres. We are witnessing Western civilisation being marched towards the edge of a cliff. In our moral chaos, we have lost the strength - or desire - to say no. The enemy is politics, full stop. Politics knows that our civilisation has been corroded. Politics is going in for the kill, and it will not be bargained with.
And it isn't Husband and Wife you need to worry about. It's Father and Mother.

8 October 2012 at 19:23  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...


What a bunch of vicious and self-centred children they really are over at Pink News. The comments are astonishing. When this equal marriage nonsense is defeated there will be weeping and nashing of teeth.

It is acceptable for them to personally insult Anne Widecombe im an obnoxious manner and yet we have been banned for life for offering balanced counterviews to the homosexual agenda! And they say they want a debate.

8 October 2012 at 19:38  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dodo, one thinks Carl has nailed ‘debate’. Those benders on that site are a salutary warning of how a tiny per cent can have the same effect on politics as the moon does on the tides. Tin hat on old chap, the Sharia law advocates are monitoring all this with interest...

8 October 2012 at 20:06  
Blogger David B said...

I noticed this tweet - "Bless you. His Grace is minted." - and wondered if His Grace was implicitly claiming to be the lamb of God.

as an aside, next on my agenda in a couple of weeks will be chemotherapy:(

David B

8 October 2012 at 20:24  
Blogger bluedog said...

An impressive post, as ever, Mr Carl @ 14.45. However this communicant shares the view put by Mr Graham Wood, 'public exposure of their empty argument for SSM (the false plea for "equality")
is so thin that their withdrawal is an exercise in damage limitation.'

This is the point, if the argument for 'equality' as defined by the proponents of SSM can be exposed as false, their case collapses.

In the final analysis the electorate does wake up and come to its senses. For example, five years ago, criticism of the EU was very rare. But now the entire debate on the EU has shifted and the EU is no longer a defensible proposition. It has ceased to be a 'good'.

If 71% of Conservative Party local chairmen are now against government policy on SSM, Dave has yet another revolt on his hands at least as damaging as the back-bench revolt on the EU. It is possible to create a new political paradigm and we are seeing the shift on SSM right now.

8 October 2012 at 20:28  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

There you are David B. The Inspector was wondering how you were getting on on another thread.

Carry on and keep hanging in there....

8 October 2012 at 21:50  
Blogger Flossie said...

I reckon Policy Exchange have had a peek at one of the speaker's - Alan Craig's - website. Scroll down a couple of posts and his exposure of the vile Terrence Higgins Trust (which we all support financially, like it or not) is there for all to see. I imagine they would not want to be quizzed on that.

He is a feisty fighter, that's for sure. On learning that he had been nominated for the Stonewall 'bigot of the year' award, he made the following statement:

"The Bigot of the Year Award is a vicious name-calling Stonewall annual event that reflects more on the donor than the recipient. By attempting to bully, intimidate, humiliate and generate hatred of individuals through the Award, Stonewall fully justifies the Gaystapo tag which I gave the organisation and for which apparently I have been nominated.

"Nonetheless if I win the Award over the other candidates and if Stonewall invite me, and permit me without harassment to offer a proper acceptance speech, I plan to attend their Awards dinner and ceremony at the Raphael Gallery on 1st November." (end quote).

It can be seen from this that he has no intention of cringing and cowering, which will probably ensure that he doesn't actually win the award, but I expect it has put the fear of God into Policy Exchange.

8 October 2012 at 22:17  
Blogger Flossie said...

The best thing about the 'Gaystapo' tag which earned Alan Craig the Bigot of the Year nomination is that it was actually coined by gay journalist and plagiarist Johann Hari, in his article about gay fascists.

(Just imagine if Alan Craig had written that article instead of Johann Hari!)

8 October 2012 at 22:21  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi David B,

Thinking of you, xxx.

8 October 2012 at 22:36  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...


Thanks for the 'heads-up' on Alan Craig'sreaction to his nomination as Stonewall's "Bigot of the Year".

With our host's permission, here's an extract of his article:

"There is a war going on at the heart of the nation. The political establishment, having fragmented our strong rich and cohesive Christianised culture by promoting corrosive relativism and silo multiculturalism, is now planning to fracture the bedrock social ideal of marriage as a life-long union of a man and a woman.

‘Gay marriage’ is not a human rights or equalities issue as civil partnerships fulfil those requirements. Rather it’s a deep cultural and ideological – even civilisational – war over a word, a war declared unilaterally by the power-hungry intolerant and insatiable Stonewall Gaystapo et al.

Conventional marriage was “ordained for the procreation of children” and is easily the most stable, healthy and committed domestic environment in which to bring up the next generation, our future. On the other hand and by definition, gay marriage cannot be about procreation – nor about nurturing the next generation.

Rather gay relationships are a sexual and generational dead-end which of course people should be free to choose if they wish. But they should not be used to redefine and undermine society’s time-tested fundamental institution of marriage.

Furthermore, once gay marriage is conceded to the miniscule minority who will actually tie the gay knot, there is logically no argument against the legalisation of Islamic polygamous marriage for which there is already significant demand in the UK. Then, logically, what’s to stop group marriage and even marriage to other mammals? All bets and brakes are off.

Women’s rights campaigners never argued that women should have the right to be called ‘men’. But gay campaigners insist on the right to be called ‘married’. They are clearly not on about claiming equal rights. They are campaigning to capture someone else’s word and idea. It’s an ideological battle pure and simple. And it’s at the heart of our national culture and a vital key to our future."

Absolutely spot on!

He's also on to the Terrance Higgin's Trust:

"THT’s gay health information is sick and evil. The organisation must lose its public funding and charity status. Its programme of targeting minors should be outlawed immediately. And its advice and information needs to be relegated to the repulsive ranks of the most depraved hard-porn gay sites on the web."

8 October 2012 at 22:46  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

David B

Wasn't going to touch this comment list, but now feel obliged having seen you've posted. Been thinking of you recently - glad to see you're chuntering through, but sorry for the upcoming trials of chemotherapy. I hope it is successful, its side-effects as minimally nasty as possible, and as before, that you're getting good treatment.

8 October 2012 at 22:58  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

A couple of things.

1. You don't have to posess good arguments to win a debate. You only need to persuade people you are right. The latter does not imply the former.

2. The quality of an argument is often evaluated according to the presuppositions of the evaluator. The brutal implication is that argument across presuppositions is not really possible. You can use argument to clarify positions, but you can't win or lose. Because there is no shared standard of truth, there is no possible resolution. Ultimately the argument can only be settled by the application of power.

Thus it will be with gay marriage. Supporters will never convince me, but they don't really care so long as they can conform the law to their liking. My approval is not required, and my discomfort would probably be seen as providing the added benefit of schadenfreude.

Debate is not going to change the minds of a population that believes itself to be metaphysically free. Pain will change their minds. The pain that comes from getting their way, and having to experience the resultant consequences.


8 October 2012 at 23:38  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Carl said ...

"Debate is not going to change the minds of a population that believes itself to be metaphysically free."

But do they really believe this in their souls - in their heart of hearts? Do you not accept we all have a God given sense of right and wrong? A conscience that troubles us when we do not follow it? A prompting pushing a damaged spiritual self towards real freeedom?

Maybe that's a key difference between us. I have a Catholic view that man is spiritually wounded; you a view that he is totally depraved. I believe you can influence people by discussion and reason; it seems you do not.

9 October 2012 at 00:14  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

I sense we are reaching a tipping point. The cry of the brave & isolated 'hateful, homophobic, bigots' who have been declaring the Emperor's (...or is it the Commissioner's?) nakedness are actually being taken up by the crowd.

As a nation I think we probably deserve gay 'marriage' to be inflicted upon us. But I think in the Lord's great mercy towards those whom He declared 'the greatest in the Kingdom' we might be spared it.

I believe the Lord will have some especially large millstones reserved for those in Stonewall & THT

9 October 2012 at 00:22  
Blogger David Lindsay said...

OIG and gentlemind, Labour, or at least the responsible Labour figure, has been keeping quiet about a number of things.

Like Maria Miller before him, Jeremy Hunt has said nothing more than that he himself would vote for a backbench amendment lowering the abortion time limit, though not under the catch-all "special circumstances" for which Margaret Thatcher legalised it up to birth. There is no story here. Would that there were. But there isn't.

Speaking of Thatcher, the 12-week time limits on abortion elsewhere in Western Europe (where there is not an outright ban, as there was in Great Britain for the first generation of our own National Health Service, and as there almost still is alongside the NHS in Northern Ireland) are due to the consensus between, upon and around Christian Democracy and Social Democracy, once the twin pillars of One Nation Toryism, and now once again, as historically, the twin pillars of One Nation Labour.

What is essentially that consensus can still be said to unite the four or five major parties in Northern Ireland when it comes down to practical, day-to-day policy-making. Whereas post-Thatcher and post-Blair Britain is like the United States since the dismantlement of the New Deal: dependent on abortion, among other evils, for the maintenance of the underlying and overarching evil that is our economic system.

A system the superiority, or even the self-evidence, of which was disputed by no major party between the death of the staunchly pro-life John Smith and the election of Ed Miliband, who is no pro-lifer himself, but who is no sectarian enemy of such strands of Labourism, either. His relationship with, among others, his party's social conservatives is very much as Smith's relationship was with his party's economic Left and with its Eurosceptics, to neither of which he belonged, but neither of which he sought to alienate or exclude.

Listen to the silence from the Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, practising Catholic, Hero of Hillsborough, working-class boy made good, and Yvette Cooper's potential nemesis in any future Leadership Election that they might still be young enough to contest.

9 October 2012 at 00:55  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


But do they really believe this in their souls

They believe either that there is no God, or that there might perhaps be a God, but He is silent, distant, unknowable and detached. They believe they are the product of random chance and not purposeful creation. That has consequences. If there is no Creator, then there is no law. There is no intended purpose. There are no fixed limits on human behavior. Who then limits the behavior of man? It is a short step from "I am not created" to "I am my own creator. I set my own limits." And that is the central moral insight of modern man.

All of the argument we present will ultimately presume fixed boundaries on human behavior. The response will come back "There is nothing to fix those limits. We may agree to set any limits we like according to our own desires." And so they will not receive what we are saying. It violates the presuppositions that undergird their view of the moral universe. Thus you cannot persuade them by getting them to evaluate your arguments according to their presuppositions. You must change their presuppositions. That is the same as getting a man to change his religion.

Ultimately this is a religious conflict, after all. It is rooted in metaphysical assumptions about the nature and purpose of man. So, yes, I do believe they believe it in their souls. They do not believe there is any fixed truth that constrains their behavior against their will. That is the hurdle you must overcome. It isn't a hurdle that can be overcome by argument.


9 October 2012 at 01:50  
Blogger Jon said...

Carl said "Thus it will be with gay marriage. Supporters will never convince me, but they don't really care so long as they can conform the law to their liking. My approval is not required, and my discomfort would probably be seen as providing the added benefit of schadenfreude."

Were you really open to being convinced? There's not a lot of open minds on this subject, so what's the point in having a debate? It would just turn into a shouting match - "My God says you can't do this" vs. "I don't believe in your God so I don't care what your sacred text says".

I imagine it was struck from the roster because it would be unedifying, undignified and inconclusive.

9 October 2012 at 09:37  
Blogger graham wood said...

Jon said...

Carl said "Thus it will be with gay marriage. Supporters will never convince me......"

Jon/Carl. I'm sure there is much truth in the 'shouting match' mentality as you quote.
But that is not the primary issue which really is a practical question as to how Christians can combat the united will of the three main political parties on this one?
My MP tells me, that he and other MPs are being innundated with angry posts on SSM.
That is important because they now know that this may be a defining issue for very many voters and could be a strong contributing factor in defeat for them and their party in the next GE.
Thus there is more opposition out there than may appear on the surface. The battle is by no means over, or victory assured for Camerlot.
Why not sign up to the 'Open Letter to Coalition Ministers and also send it to your MP?

9 October 2012 at 09:52  
Blogger William said...

Graham Wood

"My MP tells me, that he and other MPs are being innundated with angry posts on SSM."

Which suggests that although the "campaign for real marriage" is being spear-headed by religious leaders, there are many non-religious (and even gay) people out there who understand the real dangers of redefining the marriage ideal to exclude the child rearing and exclusive sexual aspects that have been held so important across cultures and centuries.

Also, I think that many are asking who the hell does the Government think they are changing the definition of marriage without even an election manifesto commitment. If they want to redefine the institution they have to ask, at the very least, those who have actually signed up to that institution. This could only be done with a referendum.

9 October 2012 at 10:24  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Were you really open to being convinced?

No, but then neither are you.

There's not a lot of open minds on this subject...

No one has ever convinced me of the intrinsic value of an open mind. Should I be open-minded about whether Jews are a subhuman bacteria that infects the Volk? Well, no. Should I be open-minded about the possibility of sexual relationships between adults and children? Well, no. What then do you think I should be open-minded about? My presuppositions. And you will assert this even as you cling with tenaciously closed mind to your own. what's the point in having a debate?

It would serve to clarify both sides position. There is value in that. Effective cross-examination drives out the true position of the opponent for all to see.

It would just turn into a shouting match - "My God says you can't do this" vs. "I don't believe in your God so I don't care what your sacred text says".

This isn't strictly speaking true. I don't need to appeal to scripture to make my case. I can make it from the boundaries imposed on man by complimentarity. Ultimately this is a debate of structure vs will. I am going to assert the necessity of organizing sexual behavior around the procreation and nurturing of children. I am going to assert the imposed obligation of parenthood that attends the choice of a sexual life. My opponent will deny both on the basis of the primacy of human will. That's where the argument resides.


9 October 2012 at 13:28  
Blogger gentlemind said...

@Graham Wood.

Hello Graham. I am interested in seeing a copy of the open letter you have written to MPs. I could not see your email address anywhere on your blogger profile. Do you mind posting it on this thread? Alternatively you can contact me through my profile email address. I have something for you in return.


9 October 2012 at 14:48  
Blogger Jon said...


I'm not saying there's anything great about being open minded, but if no one's open to being convinced, or even really listening, it's all just hot air, isn't it?

As to your main points, the trouble is, asserting "the necessity of organizing sexual behavior around the procreation and nurturing of children" (firstly, I don't think sexual behaviour and nurturing children go well in the same sentence, though I know what you mean. The Catholics will get their knickers in a twist though).

Mainly though, you're going to stop a lot of MPs and voters having (what they see as) harmless rumpy pumpy with their own and one another's wives/ husbands, and on that basis, you're going to lose in the court of public opinion.

If I'm honest with you, I've got some respect for your hardline position - sex should only be done to have kids and is therefore always unprotected and with your wife only. If you honestly believe that (and more importantly, practice it), then I respect you and fear for your uncontrollably large family(!). But the trouble is that most people don't share this view, but seek to apply it where it only suits their pre-established prejudices.

It's the inconsistency of application of the many, rather than the hardline position you espouse, with which I have the most problem.

9 October 2012 at 18:26  
Blogger Naomi King said...

By Wednesday morning the "party line" message coming down from MP's to us humble party members in Birmingham was, "The world isn't going to come to an end if we just give these homosexuals what they want, so why don't you just accept it and be quiet".

Well I am afraid to say Mr Cameron et al, you haven't heard anything yet. Just wait until you bring forward draft legislation, if you are foolish enough to do so, it will truly be "woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees and that write greviousness they have prescribed ... behold the Lord, the Lord of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled.

And remember all you MP's "fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell". You have been warned, this is spiritual warfare !

10 October 2012 at 23:38  

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