Thursday, 25 March 2010

Conservatives Divided On Support For Equality

Controversy has struck the Conservative party after leader David Cameron stumbled in an interview when challenged on equality issues.

In particular the question of whether Conservative Lords would be allowed a free vote on allowing civil partnerships to take place in places of religious worship caused him to get his wires crossed which ultimately lead him to request censoring the video edit.

Luckily LibDem Paul Walter has saved Mr Cameron's 'meltdown' for posterity.

Paul picks up on interviewer Martin Popplewell's quote that pleas and arm-twisting were to be employed to cover-up the real story about the potential Prime Minister's inability to be frank and open about his policy positions.

Elsewhere centre-right commentator Graham Pointer delves more deeply into the matter.

He contradicts gay Conservative frontbencher Nick Herbert MP (telling him he should only speak on matters relating to his shadow portfolio) to argue that the provisions of the Equality Bill amendment contravenes Church of England laws. He points out that while civil partnership ceremonies may now take place in churches they will still not be able to be conducted by members of the clergy, or have any hymns or readings which refer to the religious basis of the ceremony.

Graham states Maidenhead MP Theresa MP really should be making a statement to clarify where the party stands, but she noticably steered clear of controversy in her contribution to the debate to add her voice to the consensus on supporting women's rights in society - possibly a case of admission by omission.

Meanwhile Maidenhead United Reformed Church elder, Chris Campbell, has been prominent in applauding the reform which would allow him to cement his civil partnership in his church.

He explains that God is 'at the heart' of his relationship, adding, "it seems bizarre for the law to insist that religion should play no part in our marriage!"

And religious think-tank Ekklesia has welcomed the amendment to the Equality Bill, although they note the subject of same-sex relationships continues to divide religious communities - not least in Berkshire [1], [2].

Several prominent Conservative Lords voted against the amendment and Bishop of Bradford, Rt Rev David James, argued it confused the civil partnerships with marriage.

Mr Campbell countered that this was his intention, declaring that "today, we are one step closer to being married in a very meaningful way for us."

Ekklesia's founder identified the growing diversity of partnership arrangements as indicative of the need for a more wide-ranging reform of marriage law. Symon Hill said, "It is important for the religious liberty of the faith communities concerned."

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Update: LibDem Cllr Glenn Goodall says the the tories have shown their 'true colours' on the issue, arguing they are 'not liberal, not progressive and not fit for government'.


Oranjepan says:
Conservatives are in a bind - they cannot make their minds up because they don't want to upset potential voters, but they still need the support of their ideologically-motivated base.

That's not the strong leadership they argue is needed - no wonder Mr Cameron was so easily flustered!

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More on equality issues

5 comments:

  1. I doubt Cameron is homophobic. But his shadow defence minister Gerald Howarth is http://greenreading.blogspot.com/2010/03/old-school-politics-shocking-tory-mp.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Adrian,
    it's not necessary to be a homophobe to promote policies which treat members of society unequally based on their sexuality, and vice versa, of course.

    Personally I'm less concerned about the personal opinions of individuals than I am about any action they may take based on those opinions - without exception everyone has their own biases and prejudices so what matters is that these don't have a negative impact.

    Introducing 'thought police' must be the bigger worry because that removes any means to mediate or moderate how a person's thoughts translate into action.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Who said anything about their thoughts? My post quotes from what was said in parliament and at hustings.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Er, you did when you said you "doubt Cameron is homophobic."

    ReplyDelete
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