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Freelance Journalist Marcus Stead

Archive for February 2013

Why Did Labour Allow John O’Farrell To Stand For Public Office?

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WHY ARE those on the left and right of the political spectrum judged by different standards when it comes to attacking their opponents? Here are three unpleasant statements about my political opponents:

“I hope Gordon Brown goes blind in his remaining eye. It’d serve him right for screwing up the British economy.”

“I hope David Blunkett’s guide dog leads him off a cliff.”

“I hope Chris Smith’s HIV turns into full-blown AIDS and that he dies an extremely slow and painful death.”

John O'Farrell, the alleged 'comedian' and Labour candidate in Thursday's by-election in Eastleigh.

John O’Farrell, the alleged ‘comedian’ and Labour candidate in Thursday’s by-election in Eastleigh.

Not very nice, is it? And I don’t mean any of it. So why is it that John O’Farrell, the alleged ‘comedian’ and Labour candidate in Thursday’s by-election in Eastleigh, has been allowed to get away with comparable comments about Margaret Thatcher?

In 1998, O’Farrell, already in his mid-30s and old enough to take responsibility for his actions, wrote a book titled ‘Things Can Only Get Better: Eighteen Miserable Years in the Life of a Labour Supporter’ in which, referring to Margaret Thatcher and the IRA-planted Brighton Bomb during the Conservative Party Conference in October 1984, he wrote: ‘In October 1984, when the Brighton bomb went off, I felt a surge of excitement at the nearness of her demise and yet disappointment that such a chance had been missed. This was me…..wishing that they had got her. “Why did she have to leave the bathroom two minutes earlier?” I asked myself over and over again.” He goes on: “I just hated her so very, very much.”

Also in the book, O’Farrell states that he wishes Britain had lost the Falklands War, which is an appalling insult to the troops who fought, and in some cases died in battle, as well as to the inhabitants of the islands, who would have been subjected to the tyranny of General Galtieri had Argentina won.

Let’s be clear: O’Farrell didn’t write this as a throwaway remark. He was a mature adult, who had already established himself in fashionable left-wing literary circles and as a regular on the Thatcher-hating BBC, especially on snide panel quizzes. The book would have been proof-read, edited, and checked by lawyers, and he would have had numerous opportunities to amend or remove his remarks before publication.

It’s bad enough that he didn’t delete these remarks at the time out of shame and embarrassment, but far worse is the fact that he has, at no time, apologised for making them in the years since.

If someone from a right-wing perspective had made remarks about Labour politicians like those in my example, they would quite rightly face scorn and condemnation from the mainstream media. Apart from one interview conducted by Andrew Neil (a rare example of a genuinely impartial interviewer at the BBC) with Labour’s Sadiq Khan, who stated that O’Farrell’s remarks were ‘tongue in cheek’, very little has been said. O’Farrell’s comments should be leading TV news bulletins, and be front page news in all newspapers, including those on the left.

That principle clearly doesn’t work both ways. My remarks about Brown, Blunkett and Smith sound a lot less funny. The trendy left don’t regard Brown and Blunkett as anything other than ‘brave’ for forging political careers due to their disabilities, and Smith is treated as a victim. I’m not disputing any of these statuses, but there is an obvious moral inconsistency between what’s acceptable to mock, depending on one’s political beliefs.

What DOES require an explanation is why do so many on the left feel such hatred towards those who hold differing beliefs to themselves? I count a pro-EU Labour councillor among my friends, I am on good terms with several former and current Labour MPs, and members of my family hold vastly different views to mine. I do not wish them any personal harm, and am confident enough in my own beliefs to defeat their arguments through peaceful means. Why can’t the likes of O’Farrell feel the same way towards their opponents?

The Grand Hotel, Brighton, shortly after the bomb during the Conservative Party Conference in October 1984.

The Grand Hotel, Brighton, shortly after the bomb during the Conservative Party Conference in October 1984.

O’Farrell’s comments first came to my attention via Norman Tebbit’s blog. Tebbit suffered terrible injuries in the Brighton Bomb, and it left his wife permanently paralysed. Tebbit put his marital vows ‘for better, for worse’ before his political ambitions, and his time in politics was cut short as he became a full-time carer. If the bomb had never happened, Tebbit may well have gone on to become Prime Minister, and I, for one, believe that Britain today would be a far happier and safer country as a result.

Through his blog, Tebbit gives us occasional glimpses into what life is like as a full-time carer. Nowadays, his wife has the added problems of old age on top of her paralysis. Does O’Farrell take any pleasure from this? Or what about another former Cabinet minister, John Wakeham, whose first wife was killed in the bomb? Wakeham was able to continue his political career, but sustained terrible injuries to his legs. He still walks with a limp and receives on-going medical treatment. Is O’Farrell glad?

Only those hate-filled types on the left can answer these questions, but I have a more important one: What on earth was the Labour party thinking of in letting O’Farrell become their candidate in the first place? Why, at the very, very least, didn’t they demand O’Farrell offer a full and sincere apology for his crass comments before he continued his political career?

Fit to run the country? Labour leader, Ed Miliband.

Fit to run the country? Labour leader, Ed Miliband.

This tells us a great deal about the judgement, and quite possibly the mind-set, of Ed Miliband and those close to him. It’s worth remembering that Miliband had a very strange upbringing. His father, Ralph Miliband, was a Marxist academic who wanted to destroy British society. Where most young children are taught nursery rhymes and simple songs, the Miliband children were taught to quote Marx. Even as children, they were allowed to sit around the table as their father discussed Marxist politics with far-left figures.

Children do not always follow in their parents’ footsteps when it comes to shaping their political views, but it’s hard to imagine how such an abnormal upbringing didn’t have at least some impact on Ed Miliband’s thinking.

No right-wing political candidate would survive wishing personal harm on Brown, Blunkett and Smith. The entire mainstream media would rightly paint them as lacking in credibility and integrity. Why are the rules different for those on the left?

If Ed Miliband and Labour are so crass at managing its selection of candidates, why should we trust them with the far more complex task of running the country?

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Written by Marcus Stead

February 27, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Posted in Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Why ‘Gay Marriage’ Legislation Has Unintended Consequences For Society

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THOSE WHO support the proposals to legalise gay ‘marriage’ usually do so out of a desire to be kind to homosexuals, rather than because they have read the legislation and reached that conclusion.

Few have thought through the legal and social implications of redefining an institution that has existed in its current formfor between 5,000-10,000 years.

Like so much of the Coalition Government’s legislation, it’s extremely clumsy and badly worded. It was drawn up on a whim, and was not subject to detailed scrutiny within Cabinet or by cabinet committees. It doesn’t seem to know what exactly it is trying to do or why it is trying to do it. The legislation is so flawed that the former Labour David_Blunkett_-8April2010Home Secretary, David Blunkett (hardly someone who could be called a ‘homophobe’ or a ‘bigot’), described it as a ‘ complete dog’s dinner’.

Careful scrutiny of all proposed legislation and its wording is essential, because without it, it can all too easily lead to unintended consequences.

Let me be clear: I am not anti-homosexual by any means. I have no interest in intervening in the private lives of consenting adults. I believe gay couples should have next-of-kin rights in hospitals, and I believe ALL inheritance tax is fundamentally immoral. On that basis, I believe that one gay person should be able to hand his or her inheritance on to their partner without taxation. I believe homosexuals should be treated fairly and without discrimination in the workplace. I believe that physical or verbal abuse of homosexuals should be vigorously punished by the courts.

Yet this legislation, however well-intentioned, could lead to a number of unintended consequences for society as a whole. It leaves some very serious questions which have not yet been answered:

1. How is adultery defined in same-sex marriage?

Adultery is one of the key grounds for divorce in heterosexual marriage. Government lawyers recently admitted they could not agree on what constitutes sexual intercourse in same-sex relationships. I don’t want to get too graphic on here, but it seems to me it’s especially hard to define between two women. It is also fairly easy to work out why many gay men may choose to abstain from anal intercourse on the grounds of safety, health and hygiene.

Therefore, in a gay ‘marriage’, a man can claim divorce on the grounds of adultery if he has sex with a woman, but not if he does so with another man. Similarly, a woman can claim adultery if her ‘wife’ has sex with a man, but not with another woman. This may well lead to adultery being removed as a ground for divorce altogether, which would cause a fundamental redefinition of marriage.

2. How will consummation be defined?

In a heterosexual marriage, failure to consummate is a ground for an annulment. Since a  definition of what constitutes sexual intercourse in a homosexual relationship cannot be agreed upon, where does this leave the requirement to consummate?

 

3.   Will the rights of religious groups REALLY be protected?

Mr Cameron assures us that no religious institution will be forced to marry homosexual couples if it has a moral objection to it, but is this really true?

Certain gay rights groups have made no secret of the fact they plan to test this under the Human Rights Act, which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into our legal system. Let’s not forget that this is the same ‘Human Rights Act’ that presents our government from deporting Islamic terrorists, forces the State to pay benefits to convicted criminals, and has ruled that we must give prisoners the vote in Parliamentary elections (in the long run). It is quite possible religious and moral objections to ‘gay marriage’ will not be seen as acceptable grounds to deny ceremonies on religious premises under the Act.

Therefore, this will leave churches, mosques, synagogues and all other religious places of worship no choice but to stop offering wedding ceremonies altogether.

In a free society, it is quite right that the rules for voluntary religious groups, and groups of conscience are free from Parliamentary and judicial interference. Rules for the Roman Catholic Church are made by the Holy See, and the Anglican Church by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the General Synod.

4.  Parliamentary legislation

How many pieces of Parliamentary legislation include the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’? These will now all have to be redefined. There are certainly many hundreds. Has anybody bothered counting?

5.  Lack of mandate

Three days before the 2010 General Election, during an interview with Sky News’s Political Editor, Adam Boulton, Mr Cameron said that he had ‘no plans’ to introduce gay marriage. It was not in the Conservative or Lib Dem manifestos, nor was it in the Coalition agreement.

Outside the fashionable parts of London in which those close to government operate, there is a great deal of opposition to this.

Britain has a rapidly growing Muslim population. In 1991, there were 950,000 Muslims living in Britain. By 2010, this had risen to 2,869,000, more than trebling the Muslim population. It is very likely that Britain will be an Islamic society within 60 or 70 years, even if mass immigration ends. Muslims tend to be younger and have larger families than the non-Muslim population. All that is required is a basic understanding of mathematics to understand how this is going to happen.

A Gallup poll surveyed 1,001 British Muslims in 2009 and showed that NOT ONE of them thought that homosexual acts were morally acceptable. Other polls have shown that a significant number of young British Muslims believe that the death penalty should be enforced for homosexuals. Therefore, it’s safe to say that demand for ‘gay marriage’ among the Islamic community is very low indeed.

Furthermore, the majority of mainstream Christians are opposed to homosexual acts, especially in Northern Ireland and Presbyterian Scotland. Immigration from Eastern Europe during the last decade has seen a surge in the number of practising Roman Catholics in Britain, with many formerly struggling churches now having healthy numbers in attendance. The Roman Catholic Church has made it clear on numerous occasions that it firmly believes that a marriage is a union between a man and a woman.

Similar objections can be found among many in the Sikh, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu communities. The government has NO MANDATE for this legislation.

6.   An unwise use of Parliamentary time

Let us be clear: ‘Civil Partnerships’ have been legal in Britain since December 2005 – more than seven years ago. There are just 100,000 people, in ‘civil partnerships’ today. That’s about 0.2% of the population. Most homosexuals have no intention of making a formal, legal, lifelong commitment to a single partner.

Therefore, would it not be wiser to use Parliamentary time on more pressing matters, such as Britian’s relationship with the European Union, the ongoing economic crisis, controlling immigrations, repealing the Human Rights Act, and dealing with our looming energy crisis?

However nice gay marriage may or may not sound in theory, these six key points give us all serious cause for concern with regards to the unintended consequences of the legislation. It may well be that some of these points are addressed when the Bill reaches the House of Lords, a mature, calm and thoughtful institution. It contrasts sharply with the Commons, which consists largely of career politicians who vote for whatever legislation will most likely enhance their own climb up the greasy poll to the Front Bench.

European policy, ensuring overseas aid is wisely spent, and military intervention in foreign conflicts are all areas where this Coalition Government has failed to develop, scrutinise and manage policy in a businesslike and professional way. We can now add ‘gay marriage’ to that list, and it will have unintended consequences for society as a whole.

Written by Marcus Stead

February 6, 2013 at 2:19 am

Posted in Comment, Law, Opinion, Politics