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What a nonsense bit of reporting. Boris wasn't endorsing polygamy for goodness sake - he was making a point about his diverse background.

This is hardly a major piece of news worth taking up precious ConHome space. Are you deliberately looking for so called 'gaffes' even where they don't exist?


Make the man mayor, so his views on both civil partnerships and polygamy are taken out of the Commons to somewhere where they're irrelevant.

Andrew Lilico

I saw the edition of Question Time in which Boris made his "indeed, three men" comment. And he was right. Why shouldn't three men be able to contract into a civil partnership? Similarly, why shouldn't Muslims and others be able to establish polygynous contracts?

The only objection I hear is "But polygamy is wrong!" I agree, but so what? I thought we were long past all that - thinking that the point of laws was to give "signals" about what the State thinks is right and wrong. What business of the State is it to tell me what is right and wrong, anyway? I have my church and family and conscience to educate me about that. The state has an interest in order, to be sure. But what threat to order would be created (in our society at least) by permitting polygamous contracts? I may not think that polygamy is right, but why should my views about right and wrong prevent those that disagree with them from getting on with their lives. I think that the marriage of adulterers is wrong, also, but who is going to suggest banning that?

I think that Boris has, in his own shambolic way, gently pointed at an issue that the Conservatives have the opportunity to get on the right side for once - being ahead of society and consistent with our principles, rather than being dragged along when nothing else is possible. We should be champions of polygamous marriage. It obviously isn't the *most* important issue in politics, but that shouldn't prevent us from being clear where we stand.

Yet Another Anon

If he put himself up as being the candidate for monogamy he might get lots of laughs but would probably go down like a lead balloon.


Andrew Lillico: "Defend the weak". No less relevant now than ever.

Andrew Lilico

[email protected]:08

You are correct that the State should seek to defend the weak. You are also correct to imply that marital relations can and often do involve asymmetric power relations that justify state involvement. But if people choose to live with several partners, British law does not prevent this. All we do with our prohibition on polygamy is to exclude the state from involvement in these relations and make the weak *less* powerful within them (by denying them legal redress) rather than more powerful.

Moral minority

The real penalty for polygamy is polymothers-in-law! I'll stick with monogamy.

london conservative

It's just offensive to talk about gay people and gay relationships in these terms--not perhaps to some Daily Telegraph readers but then that's part of the problem.

Far from disowning the three men and a dog comment he again wants to compare civil unions with polygamy, which they are not.

People like Boris Johnson who don't apply professionalism in politics--can't be bothered to speak about people and their relationships respectfully and happy to support Section 28 in the past because he he can't be bothered to think about the issue and it has no importance to him--is how we, or rather the Conservative Party's opponents, end up with those quotes.

Andrew Boff knows better. Even Victoria Borwick learnt better in her role of helping Steve Norris to raise money when he first ran against Ken Livingstone.


so Boris considers his comparison of gay marriage, to a union between three men and a dog, to be libertarian - I'd hate to see what the more orthodox Tory thinking was on this issue!

Similarly, for the record, gay marriage and polygamy are not the same, although, to the untrained eye of an uninformed mayoral candidate who appears to be u-turning and learning on the hoof, (but STILL considers the idea of an apology for defending Section 28 to be "all bollocks"), I can see how this he might have thought this.

Sorry Boris, but I dont see the Gay and Lesbian community in anyway convinced by your supposed overtures towards them.


On apologies - do we ask Labour to apologise for its nationalisation policies? For ripping down the grammar school system? You don't apologise for every damned policy you recant of.

As for the orthodox Tory position on gay marriage, it is flat opposition.

And why is gay marriage different to polygamy? It is a foreign, vaguely heathenistic sexual practice, specifically criticised by the established religion of this country.

There are many Tories who are prepared to put up with "tolerating" people who are openly homosexual, but this does not stretch to supporting social structures and moral codes foreign to the traditions and the religion of this country.

I don't agree with the reply to my "defend the weak" point. I believe quite firmly that people should be taught how to live and taught how to be decent people. How can you expect people to be moral if they are never taught morality? I don't think I'm arguing my case well, but my views on most things come from observation and experience, rather than the sort of detached theorising which has done little for the weak in the past century.

justin Hinchcliffe

IRJMilne, what a nasty posy. It's people like you who are responsible for our nasty image.


Well, Mr Hinchcliffe, that was insightful critcism of my points.

My point on apologies is right. I was certainly correct about the "orthodox position" (regardless of whether that position is right or wrong). And I see nothing unreasonable in my remaining points. Old-fashioned, orthodox Toryism does stand, more or less, for the traditional social values conjured up by the term "1950's" (regardless of what the 1950's were actually like).

Is gay marriage a British tradition? Has it ever had a place in our social structure? Polygamy, likewise? But there were "gay marriage" ceremonies in pagan Rome, and in various other foreign cultures at different times and places; and there has been polygamy in various parts of the world, at various times, usually in cultures with pantheistic religions.

I believe we should stand for the values and traditions that made Britain great. These traditions can certainly, in my view, extend to tolerance, but that is not at all the same as the state supporting alien social structures and societal norms.

That is not an unconsidered or gratuitously nasty position. It is a position based upon a clear and strong philosophy, which would hope to build a society that looks after the majority of good, decent British people far better than the modern chaotic liberalism which is helping to enslave the people to the new political class (I agreed strongly with Peter Oborne's recent Spectator article on that lot).

There are an awful lot of selfish Tories who benefitted from being able to grow up without being bombarded with pornography, sexualized society, "gay marriage", and so on and so forth; who are not prepared to fight for their children to have good and decent lives too.

There was, perhaps, one error in my post - specifiying gay marriage as a "sexual practice". Slightly lazy on my part and possibly insulting but a very minor point.

Andrew Lilico

london [email protected]:53

Setting aside Boris' silly joke about the dog (which I suspect is an "every man and his dog" reference and a piece of self-mockery) - why is he wrong to equate homosexual civil unions with polygamy for legislative purposes? Why do you wish to deny polygamists the freedom to contract over their chosen relationships any more than you would want to deny homosexuals the freedom to contract over *their* chosen relationships? Is it that you believe polygamy is *wrong*? But don't most homosexuals rightly consider it to have been an offensive imposition for those that believed homosexuality was wrong to vote to deny homosexuals the opportunity to contract with those they chose?

Is your only objection to this former position a *moral* one - that you disagreed with them about what is right and wrong? Isn't it better for minorities to believe that it is simply not the business of the state to legislate for morality? It does not seem like wisdom to me for homosexuals to take advantage of a moment in time when society's key opinion-formers share their moral outlook so as to impose that outlook on others. Rather, it is surely better if we promote a tolerant society, in which those whose beliefs and practices we do not share are nonetheless free (within reason and order) to act in accordance with their beliefs. Defining yourself as "accepting" and then being intolerant of anyone that happens to disagree with you just seems like a step backwards to me.

Michael Rutherford

"Sorry Boris, but I dont see the Gay and Lesbian community in anyway convinced by your supposed overtures towards them."

What a load of rubbish. Who is this community and when did they comment on it? The Pink News gave a very positive report on it and I really don't see why anyone would be offended by it.

Boris Johnson didn't compare polygamy to homosexual relationships. I interpretted it as him saying 'of course I support gay marriage': that the arguments are different but that he can see the benefits of stable relationships.

I think it's a shame that the supporters of the other candidates think that the only way for them to win is to attack Boris. The three others are a miserable array of candidates that will get us absolutely nowhere.

Fred Baker


Graeme Archer

One of my literary heroes, Joe Orton, used to amuse himself by writing letters of complaint to libraries for their "disgusting" books, signing himself "Edna Welthorpe".

Poor Joe is long gone, but thanks to IRJMilne the spirit of Edna is still thriving! Edna and IRJ -- could they, perhaps, be related?

Here's an example of one of Edna's letters:

Sir — As a playgoer of forty years standing, may I say that I heartily agree with Peter Pinnell in his condemnation of 'Entertaining Mr Sloane'.

I myself was nauseated by this endless parade of mental and physical perversion. And to be told that such a disgusting piece of filth now passes for humour!

Today's young playwrights take it upon themselves to flaunt their contempt for ordinary decent people. I hope that the ordinary decent people of this country will shortly strike back!

Yours truly,
Edna Welthorpe (Mrs)
(p283 of the Orton Diaries).

The plot of Entertaining Mr Sloane is so close to what is getting IRJ all worked up it seems far too strange a coincidence for chance!

Michael Davidson

IRJMilne, I think you need to enter the 21st century.

And I certainly think you are in a minority in the Conservative party.

I'm generally a solid conservative and not in favour of Cameron and his shift to the left, but even I can understand that two gay people should be allowed to marry and that is in no way similar to polygamy.

Whilst Boris wasn't saying gay marriage is comparable to polygamy, he did mess his words up and gave the wrong impression as per usual. This is why I'm not keen on him being our candidate for Mayor - he just cannot get his message across in a coherent manner.

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