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thanks John,
yes i do believe in freedom of speech and that everyone has a right to their own opinion.

i just beleive the idea that "liberty exists in proportion to virtue" and to me that makes homosexual practice wrong.

"Seriously, are you for real? 'those poor damn gays, not only are they to blame for the collapse of society and have that on their consciouses, but they are also mentally disturbed!' Good god! I seriously wonder sometimes."

now you're the one being ridiculous rob. gay people are not to blame for the collapse of society. i never said that!

"and the state's job is not to maximise individual freedom"

You're right, that's the 'job' of the Conservative Party.

We believe as a Party in freedom and tolerance.

"im just saying we should enforce christian principles and morality. thats what we did until 60 years ago, then we stopped, and now look at the state our society is in"

Not in so many words, but this sure does suggest it.

"You're right, that's the 'job' of the Conservative Party.

We believe as a Party in freedom and tolerance."


i repeat the claim that "liberty exists in proportion to virtue"

"personally i feel sorry for people who have homosexual feelings and i think it may be a mental problem so the state should help them to get back to normal"

what's your view on the Holocaust?

"Not in so many words, but this sure does suggest it."

suggest what?

That homosexuality being legalised is 'responsible for the collapse in society'

"what's your view on the Holocaust?"

the holocaust was evil, wrong and should never be allowed to happen again. and before you say it, no i dont think gassing gays is the answer. im a christian and i beleive everyone is important to God and made in his image. which coincidentally is why i oppose abortion.

That homosexuality being legalised is 'responsible for the collapse in society'

no the collapse of society has come about because the state has failed to enforce morality in the name of social liberalism. which to me is a left wing, and therefore stupid, philosophy.

A consistently pro-life position is the polar opposite of the views which provoked the Holocaust.

"A consistently pro-life position is the polar opposite of the views which provoked the Holocaust."

i dont understand, are you agreeing or disagreeing with me?

"i repeat the claim that "liberty exists in proportion to virtue""


On which basis matt, your lack of tolerance and acceptance, two long held Conservative virtues, should determine your liberty on this thread.

What sort of Conservative wants the state to "enforce morality"?!

With social liberalsim comes individual responsibility.

Trust the people.

"i dont understand, are you agreeing or disagreeing with me?"

My comment was directed more at Daniel, who seemed to imply that Christian, socially conservative views (however crudely expressed) have something in common with those of the Nazis.

"On which basis matt, your lack of tolerance and acceptance, two long held Conservative virtues, should determine your liberty on this thread."

ok, lets look at this shall we. drugs! social liberalism says you should tolerate drugs and drug taking because otherwise your opposing people's liberty. right, so people are more free when they are under the influence of drugs and addicted to heroin? ok i can accept that argument.


"What sort of Conservative wants the state to "enforce morality"?!

With social liberalsim comes individual responsibility.

Trust the people."

I don't think that Conservativism necessarily involves complete Libertarianism.

Moreover, you're overlooking the fact that it's impossible for the state to be "neutral" with regard to values.

" I don't think that Conservativism necessarily involves complete Libertarianism.

Moreover, you're overlooking the fact that it's impossible for the state to be "neutral" with regard to values. "

i agree john

"ok, lets look at this shall we. drugs! social liberalism says you should tolerate drugs and drug taking because otherwise your opposing people's liberty. right, so people are more free when they are under the influence of drugs and addicted to heroin? ok i can accept that argument."

Social liberalism doesn't transcend the law. A better argument, would be smoking - when does the freedom to smoke impinge on another person's freedom to breth clean air? Should the state legislate one way or the other?

I happen to think that it should be left to people to exercise judgement and responsibility. Continue to allow people the freedom to smoke in public, but encourage people to exercise tolerance for those who don't smoke. Again, trust the people.

"better than the greatest President the US never had, President Josiah Bartlett,"

There is a very witty riposte to that - which I'll try and dig out from somewhere.

"What sort of Conservative wants the state to "enforce morality"?!"

well lets see, shall we. Edmund Burke, the father of conservatism: -

"persons possessing any portion of power ought to be strongly and awefully impressed with an idea that they act in trust; and that they are to account for their conduct in that trust to the one great master, author and founder of society."

John and Matt, you talk about 'the state' as if it were a living thinking being. The people and the Government we elect are the state. Power and value judgements should lie with us - locally and individually.

Let the people take responsibility for collective values in their own communities. Don't rely on big brother and legislation.

Tom Greeves:

I agree that McCain will struggle to win the primary, probably hitting a ceiling of about 30% support. I didn't realize Sanford was no longer a McCainiac. However, I still expect part of McCain's campaign to be waged on cutting back wasteful spending and this would make it difficult for an unknown candidate like Sanford to make the issue his own.

I think the real dark horse for the Republicans could be Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who has the contacts amongst the establishment to quickly raise cash. He was also one of the few people to emerge from Hurricane Katrina with his reputation intact. His biggest problem would probably be that as a good ol' boy southerner he would remind people of Bush, though I believe he's supposed to be very intelligent

"im just saying we should enforce christian principles and morality. thats what we did until 60 years ago, then we stopped, and now look at the state our society is in"

You cannot change human nature by legislation. In his speech Cameron reminded us that when faced with the need to address the moral condition of society Margaret Thatcher made a speech emphasising the importance of religion. Harold Macmillan said 'If you want a moral lead you should ask the bishops'. Politicians who set themselves up as champions of morality either sound preachy and sanctimonious a la Rev ARP Blair or get exposed as hypocrites like John Major.

The most politicians can do is to establish the conditions in which virtues such as hard work, thrift, self-discipline and generosity can thrive. Tax cuts and tax breaks for mortgages, charitable donations
and private health and pension provision
have a strong moral basis as well as being
good in practice. We need policies which encourage self help and self improvement.

The good news is that David Cameron seems to be a man of moral decency and probity and will hopefully never embarrass the party with his personal failings.

"you talk about 'the state' as if it were a living thinking being."

no i dont.

"The people and the Government we elect are the state."

true.

"Power and value judgements should lie with us - locally and individually.

Let the people take responsibility for collective values in their own communities. Don't rely on big brother and legislation."

then why do we need government?

"You cannot change human nature by legislation."

and its exactly becuase of the flaws of human nature that we need to legislate to ensure people act right.

"You cannot change human nature by legislation"

I think that's correct. Interestingly, quite a lot of people on the liberal left do think you can change human nature by legislation - for example, they think you can legislate to make members of different ethnic groups get on well with each other.

"My comment was directed more at Daniel, who seemed to imply that Christian, socially conservative views (however crudely expressed) have something in common with those of the Nazis."

Excuse me but I implied no such thing, and as a Christian myself, I find the suggestion that I did rather offensive. My point was that the views MattJ expressed about homosexuality are in line with those who also deny the Holocaust.

The english legal sytem judges on the basis of disrupting the Queen's Peace or breaking her Laws. So while starting from a basis of individual liberty it proscribes activities that seriously disrupt social harmony or which Parliament has decided should be outlawed.

It doesn't impose a moral view, it's a collection of value judgements made in respect of the pervading moral codes at that time.

MattJ has a right to argue his beliefs about homosexuality and in the moral code of 19th/early 20th century England they would have found acceptance.
We equally have the right to disagree and where we believe the Law is unfair or unjust to seek to change it.

But as a small c christian I must add that investigating what the Bible says about homosexuality seemed to me to demonsrate that it doesn't clearly condemn homosexuality - the original meanings in Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek are unclear ( don't lay down with a man as a woman seems to be more about place than activity - original sense was closer to don't lay down with a man in the same bed as a woman; in St Paul the greek words used are not those commonly used for homesexual activity but seem closer to prostitution). What is clear is that when God is directly speaking - to Moses or the other prohets or in the New Testament - it doesn't seem important enough for Him to proscribe.

If it is so destructive of society then couldn't we expect an eleventh commandment or at least a sentence from Jesus on the subject.

"then why do we need government?"...A Breakthrough!

That's exactly why Conservatives believe in small Government...In getting out of the way, to allow people the freedom and opportunity to shape their own destiny - economically and socially.

We seek Government to govern less.

I think that anyone who has contributed to this rather absurd debate (including myself) should be fined £5 - to be paid immediately into the editor's computer fund. Put your hands in your pockets.

"John and Matt, you talk about 'the state' as if it were a living thinking being. The people and the Government we elect are the state. Power and value judgements should lie with us - locally and individually."

"Value judgements" are inherent in all people and in all legislation. You seem to act as if its possible to remove all bias. It isn't.

You may say, for example, that the issue of euthanasia is a purely libertarian issue, and that therefore the government has no right to decide. But that is a bias and a value judgement in itself and is therefore "imposed" on other people whether they like it or not.

I agree with you that in general too much legislation is a bad thing. And I am hesitant about government office being used to "enforce" moral values, as Matt J puts it. But let's face it, what exactly is being suggested that would do that? All the "changes" being made to our culture are being done by the social liberals, and with many unforseen and adverse consequences. Social conservatives are merely trying to resist the havoc the liberals are try to wreak.

I believe, for example, that the elderly and vulnerable should be protected by keeping euthanasia illegal. I believe that if the "Assisted Dying Bill" is passed, that it would have very unfortunate consequences for elderly and vulnerable people. This is because I believe that the "value" of life is important for a healthy society. Am I a theocrat for believing our laws should refect that value? I don't think so.

"personally i feel sorry for people who have homosexual feelings and i think it may be a mental problem so the state should help them to get back to normal"

I personally think that people who think what Matt J thinks, should have the decency to keep such bigotted, homophobic nonsense to themselves.

"My point was that the views MattJ expressed about homosexuality are in line with those who also deny the Holocaust."

1)i do not deny the holocaust
2)those who do are idiots
3)no christian would ever support the holocaust.
4)i said the holocaust, including the gassing of homosexuals, is utterly evil and wrong.

i am pro-life.

"That's exactly why Conservatives believe in small Government"

notice its SMALL government NOT NO Government.

adam smith said the duty of governemnt was to uphold justice, law and order and defence.

"I think that anyone who has contributed to this rather absurd debate (including myself) should be fined £5 - to be paid immediately into the editor's computer fund. Put your hands in your pockets."

I've already posted my 1% contribution towards the site's running costs!

"Excuse me but I implied no such thing, and as a Christian myself, I find the suggestion that I did rather offensive. My point was that the views MattJ expressed about homosexuality are in line with those who also deny the Holocaust."

Then you ought not to have any problem with my response that a consistently pro-life position is the polar opposite of the views which inspired the holocaust.

"I personally think that people who think what Matt J thinks, should have the decency to keep such bigotted, homophobic nonsense to themselves."

whether you agree with my views or not i still have a right to express them, just as you have a right to express yours.

and did you know the word homophobic doesnt appear in any dictionary before 1994 as far as i know!


oh and i agree with you john on the euthanasia thing. not just coz of morality though that is the main reaosn, but because of the risks involved too.

Of course Matt, but where does your belief in legislating to curtail liberty fit with Conservative belief in SMALL Government?

"Of course Matt, but where does your belief in legislating to curtail liberty fit with Conservative belief in SMALL Government?"

Which "liberty" are you talking about?

Don't misunderstand me Matt, I don't think you should be *prohibited* from expressing your views, just that you should have the decency to keep them to yourself.

Rest assured, I'm quite prepared to defend the right of any semi-educated, religious wacko to express his or her views.

"Of course Matt, but where does your belief in legislating to curtail liberty fit with Conservative belief in SMALL Government?"

basically, the governemnt's role is not running the economy or anything like that i.e. small government and having small bureaucracy. the government is meant to be carry out a few tasks and do so well. one of which is making laws i.e. enforcing a moral code.

Mark,

You're quite right. Donation on its way.

"Rest assured, I'm quite prepared to defend the right of any semi-educated, religious wacko to express his or her views."

thanks gareth.

p.s. im not semi-educated. i am a student at exeter university studying economics and politics.

and isnt the whole point of debate to share your views.

Gareth

Just because you disagree doesn't mean you need to insult people.

This blog would be boring if people kept their thoughts to themselves just because they irratate. From your comments you are geeting close to 9maybe one step from ) Blair in his decision to bring in thought-laws such as the Religious Hatred Bill to ban people expressing opinions some might find insulting?

Mark, i'm only going to give £5 if it becomes illegal not to do so. The state should decide on my behalf.

"Mark, i'm only going to give £5 if it becomes illegal not to do so. The state should decide on my behalf."

You didn't answer my question, Michael, and you're just parodying the socially conservative position. I don't see how abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, or any other similar issues are anything to do with civil liberties, and I fail to see how it could be convincingly argued that they are.

Erm, Ted, where's your outrage when Matt suggests that gay people are mentally ill? I find that offensive and profoundly insulting.

The commnent has not been justified with anything approaching a coherent argument other than 'the bible says it therefore it must be right'. That, taken together with the semi-literate nature of the posts, cause me to apply the epithet 'semi-educated'.

In the circumstances I think I've been very restrained.

And quite how you can make the 'thought police' point when I have *expressly* said I would not stop Matt from expressing his views, is beyond me.

I gave yesterday DVA , but I would agree with you, an absolutely absurd debate rather like last nights.I hpoe this doesn't become a regular occurence.

"Matt suggests that gay people are mentally ill?"

its possible. some evidence shows that having a very bad relationship or no relationship with your father when you're young can be a reason why some people turn homosexual and it has been found that when these people repair that relationship they can sometimes turn straight again. so.

Sorry DVA,should have been addressed to Mark Fulford.

what's DVA?

Personally, I think Matt J is (a) a repressed, self-loathing homosexual or (b) a profoundly unsuccesful hetereosexual who needs a good shag asap.

Just expressing my view. Freedom of speech and all that ...

jsut to make it clear, i never started the debate on abortion and homosexuality!

John,

I was referring to the starting point of this debate. Matt wants to see his version of morality taken up by the state and enforced by law.

when you introduce a law which bans any activity, it is a curtailment of liberty.

Social conservatives are too quickly prepared to sacrifice freedom in the name of morality.

"Personally, I think Matt J is (a) a repressed, self-loathing homosexual or (b) a profoundly unsuccesful hetereosexual who needs a good shag asap.

Just expressing my view. Freedom of speech and all that ..."

wrong on both counts, and just for the record. i also believe sex before marriage is wrong!

"Social conservatives are too quickly prepared to sacrifice freedom in the name of morality."

no we aren't. we just believe that some freedom comes from morality. e.g. its no good saying we hate the welfare state, if people arent gonna be moral enough to give away some of their income to help the poor and charity. or e.g. the state allowing family breakdown to reach disastrous proportions and then cliaming its all in the name of liberty. what about the children who grow up without fathers, who run riot on the streets stealing and hurting old people. that isnt freedom, thats anarchy. conservatism is about balance - the balance between liberty and law.

Coffee Monster:

Phew - it's hard to be heard above the din!

I THINK that's right about Mark Sanford and McCain, but it might be worth running a Google check.

Yeah, Barbour could be a good bet too.


Changing the subject completely, what do you think the outcome of the Lambeth borough elections will be, Gareth?

Labour seem fairly confident of regaining the borough.

"I was referring to the starting point of this debate. Matt wants to see his version of morality taken up by the state and enforced by law.

when you introduce a law which bans any activity, it is a curtailment of liberty."

I must've missed that, but I must confess that I am not really keeping up with everything that Matt is saying.

"Social conservatives are too quickly prepared to sacrifice freedom in the name of morality."

I can't see how this is true, unless you define freedom in terms of "the right to die", or, "the right to kill unborn children" etc.

Gareth - I did say you were "close to" not that you were in agreement with the thought law - just think that saying keep those thoughts to yourself is in itself a repressive response.

Expressing your view is fine!

I think social conservatives are wrong in looking to the law to ban any activity they find upsetting and disagree with anyone using a holy book to justify imposing a proscription in secular law.

"I think social conservatives are wrong in looking to the law to ban any activity they find upsetting and disagree with anyone using a holy book to justify imposing a proscription in secular law."

What objectionable activity are social conservatives looking to bad? Am i missing something?

ban not bad*

the last time the church or religion left the law to be secular, we ended up with hitler, stalin and chairman mao. we must not do that again.

"the last time the church or religion left the law to be secular, we ended up with hitler, stalin and chairman mao. we must not do that again."

I hope you're at the start of your politics degree Matt, not the end.

It's a while back, but in response to that "Bartlett" quote, evidently Aaron Sorkin or whoever wrote it hasn't heard of Acts 15.

To get back to the subject at hand, Hillary is exceptionally unlikely even to be the Democratic nominee. My money is on Mark Warner. My GOP money is on George Allen, making it a contest between two former Governers of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

"I can't see how this is true, unless you define freedom in terms of "the right to die", or, "the right to kill unborn children" etc."

By definition John, if I'm free legally to do something, then it is a freedom. Where we agree is that freedom comes with responsibility. But I believe that responsibility should be defined in value terms (I hate the use of the word morality) by individuals and local communities. Only where necessary should the state be used to do that through legislation.

Conservatives should say what freedoms they are for, rather than what they are against. Hope, optimism and change...Cameron's mantra.

i think arnold schwarzneggar should be the next republican candidate. pity he cant.

Sean,

I think much depends on whether the Liberals can shape up before May. Before they imploded I thought the most likely outcome was a Liberal overall majority. Now, I suspect the status-quo is most likely i.e. hung.

I think we'll gain at least 2 seats and go up to 9. Very much doubt Labour can take outright control. I'd take their own optimistic predictions with a pinch of salt - last time they thought they'd increase their majority and they lost 15 seat.

"By definition John, if I'm free legally to do something, then it is a freedom. Where we agree is that freedom comes with responsibility. But I believe that responsibility should be defined in value terms (I hate the use of the word morality) by individuals and local communities. Only where necessary should the state be used to do that through legislation."

I can see why you're refusing to be drawn into specifics: once you do so, the above unravels into nonsense.

"Then you ought not to have any problem with my response that a consistently pro-life position is the polar opposite of the views which inspired the holocaust."

John, stop trying to engineer an argument out of nothing. Leave that to me ;-)

"Only where necessary should the state be used to do that through legislation."

define necessary!

To go further:

I think the first step in approaching issues like abortion and euthanasia is to accept that there is a genuine dilemma. There are arguments for and against, and you must make up your mind where you stand. There are trade-offs involved.

But it's pure nonsense just to say, "I'm on the side of...freedom!"


Thanks, Gareth. If the Lib Dems take a real hammering, is there not a risk Labour could take control?

This rather strange thread is also quite revealing I think in how MattJs comments (shared by many conservatives not long ago) now seem to outrage many of the posters. I think it also points to a major difference between Britain and the US in that the Christian right and the Conservative Party don't have much of a common cause on abortion, gay rights etc.

But there is much more common cause with christain (small c non evangelical) thought on individual responsibility, on community involvement and , as we develop policies, maybe in social justice, world poverty and a second chance society.

Well what specifics do you want?

I'm in favour of the freedom to smoke in public.
I'm in favour of the promotion of all sexualities.
I'm in favour of a couples right to choose to have an abortion.
I'm in favour of a citizen's right to walk the street without identification.
I'm in favour of 24 hour pub licensing.
I'm in favour of the right to hunt.

All come with responsibility, but I trust the people to decide how best to exercise these freedoms ahead of Tony Blair and Charles Falconer!

Sean Fear - quoted you on the other thread on just that subject. We would be better off with Libs at around 20% and Labour in the low thirties (thugh I long for the collapse of the Lib Dems in South West England...)

"I'm in favour of the freedom to smoke in public.
I'm in favour of the promotion of all sexualities.
I'm in favour of a couples right to choose to have an abortion.
I'm in favour of a citizen's right to walk the street without identification.
I'm in favour of 24 hour pub licensing.
I'm in favour of the right to hunt."

im in favour of the right for people to enjoy a clean atmosphere where they work.
im in favour of supporting marriage.
im in favour of a child's right to live.

as for the others, i basically agree, tho i have reservations on the pubs one.

"Well what specifics do you want?"

Well, the specifics relevant to a debate about social conservativism, which you were criticising.

Thus, issues like euthanasia, gay marriage and abortion.

You say you're in favour of abortion. But also responsibility. Presumably, then, you'd be in favour of making the young women pay for their own abortion?

Also, are you in favour of all abortions, even late term ones? In which case, you must be faced with the issue, what is the difference between killing a baby in or out of the womb?

Or are you in favour of child murder generally?

The Australian philosopher Peter Singer took his belief in the right to choose and extended it to young babies after birth. Do you?

"im in favour of supporting marriage"

You can support marriage without calling non-heterosexuals mentally defective.

"You can support marriage without calling non-heterosexuals mentally defective."

ok i think they may have psychological problems then.

"You can support marriage without calling non-heterosexuals mentally defective."

oh and i wasnt calling them mentally defective, its the same sort of thing as depression or emotional problems or something is what i meant.

Sean,

Elections in Lambeth have, at least since 1990, been somewhat immune from the ebbs and flows of national popularity. There are still a lot of voters who would just never vote Labour in a Lambeth election and plump for whomever has the best chance of beating them. Loony Lambeth casts a long shadow.

Also, a lot of the Liberal councillors are very hard working and have strong personal votes. I think the Liberals are almost guaranteed 1 gain from Labour, and we're almost guaranteed 2. So Labour start 3 down. I think they have a realistic chance of gaining 5 seats from the Liberals and an outside chance of gaining 3 more. On the other hand, the Liberals could quite conceivably gain a further 6 from Labour.

All v complicated but the reality is that there just aren't that many competitive seats in Lambeth at present.

"You say you're in favour of abortion. But also responsibility. Presumably, then, you'd be in favour of making the young women pay for their own abortion?"

No, If we can encourage a society where people have sexual freedom but are exercising it responsibly, we don't even arrive at the abortion part of the debate in most instances.

I agree, there is a genuine debate about when legislation steps in from allowing parents right to choose to protecting an unborn child and I really don't know enough to express a view on it.

"thugh I long for the collapse of the Lib Dems in South West England...)"

we definetely agree on something here ted.

"No, If we can encourage a society where people have sexual freedom but are exercising it responsibly, we don't even arrive at the abortion part of the debate in most instances."

180,000 abortions a year Michael. They aren't being responsible. So much for "encouragement" (And isn't "encouragement" moralistic anyway?)

And if you're so in favour of responsibility, why not make girls pay for their abortions?

That's not consistent Libertarianism, Michael. It's government interference. The government is intervening to pay for the costs of a girl's irresponsibility. Moreoever, such government interference that *alters* morality, and *makes* people less responsible.

You see, if a girl knows she's going to have to pay for an abortion, she's less likely to do get pregnant because she's faced with serious consequences. Moreover, parents will more likely raise their children to beware of sex because they won't want to have to pay for the costs etc.

You can't have the state interfering in one way, and then say it can't interfere in another.

It's inconsistent.

John Hustings

I'm in favour of the right to life and hate that my tax is being used in abortions BUT I would find it hard to justify the law forcing a rape or incest victim to bear the child...and if I compromise there can I then say where the line is (danger to the mother, mental health problems...). The old view was that before quickening (feeling the child in the womb) was a good dividing line between murder and abortion and I'm more comfortable with that - it seems to work in Germany where its generally before 12 weeks.

But I think we need to argue the case and win public acceptance.

"I think that anyone who has contributed to this rather absurd debate (including myself) should be fined £5 - to be paid immediately into the editor's computer fund. Put your hands in your pockets."

Would be happy to contribute, except for reasons explained on another post. Those damn queens again. ;)

Phew! And here I thought there had been 188 posts on Mitt Romney's electoral chances.

Personally, I doubt he'll win because, while he portrays himself as very conservative now, he positioned himself as a centrist to win in Mass in the first place, and many of the primary GOP voters like their conservatism as pure as can be - and you can get that from others.

Andrew Sullivan linked to an Americna survey of some kind in which conservative bloggers listed who they most, and least wanted to see as the GOP candidate - McCain did surprisingly badly.

Fundamentally, primaries in the US are so hard to judge even for the candidates - the religious right (I apologise for the generalisation but those of them whom I met in the US don't mind the label in the slightest) in the primaries almost have a veto, so Giuliani won't win. My personal feeling is that few people stand out in the race as obvious front runners, and everyone has some kind of obvious weakness. I would love to see the Democrats deal with the Republicans nominating a black woman but, unfortunately, I suspect there are too many GOP activists who like having her as S of S, but will NEVER back her as the pres candidate. Plus, there are quite justified grumblings about her lack of experience beyond foreign policy, and governors can always point to things they've actually done.

Hillary has built up a very strong base, but the left are going off her for her repositioning, and Dem moderates think she'd be:
a) unconvincing as a centrist, and
b) just carrying too much baggage for independents, including a husband.

"Thanks, Gareth. If the Lib Dems take a real hammering, is there not a risk Labour could take control?"

Thank goodness that some of us are obviously still working on some *real* politics for the Conservative Party...

I was halfway tempted to grace the likes of Matt J's homophobic rantings with a detailed response, but was feeling too tight to make a donation to the Ed's computer fund as penance for responding to such clap-trap! Don't worry, Ed, I'm sure you'll catch me later somehow...

Btw, the Bartlett quote above is just fantastic - some of the speeches in that series send a shiver down my spine never yet found in real-world politics, and this passage just nails the issue! As a complete aside, I have to say that any series that gets to title one of its first episodes in Latin and gets away with it gets my respect!

None of these people will be the next US President. Romney is a Mormon, and his record in Mass. is pretty short. Giuliani is too liberal on social issues for the religious right. McCain is probably seen as too opportunistic and has credibility issues on the right. Rice isn't interested, and not at all qualified. Jeb Bush, well, Enough with the Bush family!!! Besides, I could never, ever vote for someone calling himself "Jeb", no matter what his policies.
So, it could be Hillary against someone we haven't thought of yet. However, it is almost certain that Kerry will try again for the Dem nomination in '08, so who knows?

John H. Your argument on charging re abortion is bogus. Money is always the argument used to hide paternalist instincts.

"John H. Your argument on charging re abortion is bogus. Money is always the argument used to hide paternalist instincts."

My arguments were not bogus. I was pointing out the inconsistencies of your position. You claim the government cannot interfere in one way, but *support* government interference in another. If that is the case, you can't claim to be on the side of small government!

Of course I can John. I'm a liberal Conservative, but not a dogmatic one, there are many inconsistencies of course. I think wherever possible and practical the state should only step in to protect people from direct harm - but it's not absoloute. The state musn't be used as a weapon for social conservatives to enforce their version of morality on others.

As Conservatives, we need to be positive and pragmatic. Encouraging communities to make collective value judgements which we all take responsibility for.

After all John, how can society encouraging people to exercise reponsibility alongside sexual freedom be state interference?

families, communities, faith groups, schools and voluntary groups are the not the state, they are society.

Paying for abortions isn't Government interference, because the choice still lies with the person having the abortion. If the Government were enforcing abortion or indeed making it illegal, that would be illiberal.

The Conservative Party now has a real opportunity to become a consistent liberal voice in British politics. The Lib Dems are divided and Labour is depressingly authoritarian. This is a great opportunity for us.

"Of course I can John. I'm a liberal Conservative, but not a dogmatic one, there are many inconsistencies of course"

Well you sounded pretty dogmatic earlier on in this debate. You *seemed* to be arguing against *anyone* who was on the side of curtailing liberties (such as abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage). I'm glad you're finally acknowledging that there are limits to such libertarianism!

"I think wherever possible and practical the state should only step in to protect people from direct harm - but it's not absoloute."

I'm glad we finally agree.

I believe that in the case of abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage, the state should curtail liberties to protect the very old, the very young or the infirm. I prioritise these protections above the "rights" of others.

"The state musn't be used as a weapon for social conservatives to enforce their version of morality on others."

Once again you repeat this mantra. *How* are social conservatives enforcing their version of morality on others? By protecting the young, the infirm and the old? Is that enforcing morality?

(I think it's *you* imposing *your* morality.)

You see, we come back to the same point: Your belief in having abortion on the NHS is, to some extent, "enforcing morality on others". You can't avoid it. There is *no* morally neutral position. By allowing women to have abortions for free, you are encouraging abortion to happen. That affects morality.

Stop pretending the state can be morally neutral!

"As Conservatives, we need to be positive and pragmatic. Encouraging communities to make collective value judgements which we all take responsibility for. "

I don't disagree with this. But I fail to see how allowing women to have abortions for free is encouraging them to take responsibility for their actions. It is absolving them of the responsibility of their actions.

"After all John, how can society encouraging people to exercise reponsibility alongside sexual freedom be state interference?"

Eh? I am not saying we curtail sexual freedom. What people do in their own bedroom is their business.

"families, communities, faith groups, schools and voluntary groups are the not the state, they are society"

I am sorry, but I don't see how this is relevant. I am not arguing against localism. I am arguing that there are limits to the "freedom" mantra you're advocating; not least from yourself, since you don't even believe the dogma you yourself repeat.

"Paying for abortions isn't Government interference, because the choice still lies with the person having the abortion. If the Government were enforcing abortion or indeed making it illegal, that would be illiberal."

Paying for abortions *is* government interference. I am sorry, but that is the truth. You cannot complain about government intervening in a socially conservative manner if you advocate it interfering in a socially liberal manner.

You're either for state interference, or you're against it. If you're against it, you should be against the state paying for abortion.

Otherwise, you're not libertarian, you're just leftist.

You're in favour of socially engineering society in a liberal bent. Well, how is that any more defensible than trying to mould society in a conservative bent?

"The Conservative Party now has a real opportunity to become a consistent liberal voice in British politics. The Lib Dems are divided and Labour is depressingly authoritarian. This is a great opportunity for us."

You're not a consistent liberal voice, as I've pointed out. (You might be consistently liberal in the sense of leftist, but not in the libertarian sense).

But either way, you're free to your views. I don't share them, and I don't like your vision of society. But you can't criticise me for my socially conservative views, when you yourself advocate government interference for socially liberal views. It's hypocrisy.

John, I'm not going to tackle each of your points in turn, because your argument as a whole is wrong.

Your version of protecting people from harm is based on your moral code of how people should behave, ie you want to protect people from what you believe is harmful, not what will cause them direct physical harm. And you want the state to enforce that code.

I want people to own the freedoms to behave in anyway they choose, but I want society (not the state) to come to collective agreements on how those freedoms can be exercised responsibly and then work to shape behaviour accordingly. People have the freedom, but choose to exercise it or not in a way which works for society.

Just one example, I am free to smoke in public, but through the influence of society, knowledge and education, I choose not to smoke at all.

The irony of this debate is that we both aspire to a better society. It's just that your socially conservative approach doesn't work. Indeed, when the state decrees something to be illegal, it actually takes away the need for individuals to exercise their own judgement and value system.

"John, I'm not going to tackle each of your points in turn, because your argument as a whole is wrong."

No, I put it to you that you won't respond to my points because I pointed out a blatant contradiction in your argument that you are unwilling (or unable) to address.

"Your version of protecting people from harm is based on your moral code of how people should behave, ie you want to protect people from what you believe is harmful, not what will cause them direct physical harm. And you want the state to enforce that code. "

Once again we see that you prefer to talk in generalisations than in specifics. Yes I want to protect people from harm. Yes I want a culture that values life.

But as I said several times before:

*You cannot have a morally neutral state*.

But either way, your distinction of "direct" and "indirect" harm is either unclear or meaningless. Euthanasia causes direct harm, as I see it. So does abortion. And the evidence that marriage is beneficial to children is so overwhelming that I believe it behoves the government to have the tax system encourage it (not discourage it, as it does at present). I am not sure if that counts as "direct" or "indirect". I don't know if it matters.

Furthermore, you want social liberalism without cutting back the welfare state. This is liberalism without responsibility. This encourages immoral behaviour.

You can't say "I'm in favour of allowing people to be more responsible" while actively encouraging them -- through the government -- to be irresponsible.

For example, at the moment it is financially tempting to be a single mother. I take it as a given that you would not be in favour of changing this situation. Thus you are in favour of the government interfering and actively *altering* morality (while dismissing the likes of me as a moraliser).

That's fine. That's your view. But don't complain about *my* moral inteference when you're in favour of the same thing but with a different end in sight (the truth is I don't you think you want the same society I do).

"I want people to own the freedoms to behave in anyway they choosebut I want society (not the state) to come to collective agreements on how those freedoms can be exercised responsibly and then work to shape behaviour accordingly. People have the freedom, but choose to exercise it or not in a way which works for society. "

In which case you ought to be in favour of the state withdrawing and not offering to pay for a woman's abortion!

You contradict yourself!

"Just one example, I am free to smoke in public, but through the influence of society, knowledge and education, I choose not to smoke at all."

Your example is, in my view, uncontentious. I don't want to ban smoking in public places.

"The irony of this debate is that we both aspire to a better society. It's just that your socially conservative approach doesn't work. "

What total nonsense! How do you know they don't work?

And what great things have the welfare state combined with social liberalism done for our people? (which is your position).

That approach is why we now have a society of drunkards, drug-addicts, single-mothers, abused children and 180,000 abortions every year. You claim *your* approach works?

I don't think so.

"Indeed, when the state decrees something to be illegal, it actually takes away the need for individuals to exercise their own judgement and value system."

In the case of euthanasia and abortion, I would rather people were not placed in the position of "exercising their own judgement and value system".

John,there is a clear distinction between physical harm to others, where a role for the state is necessary and harm which is defined by social conservatives:

eg Drink driving requires a law because the consequence causes direct harm to others.

Abortion does not cause direct physical harm to others and is therefore a legal choice. The fact that you are unable to prevent abortion through the power of your argument based on your own value system doesn't mean you should encourage the state to enforce it for you.

socially conservative views don't work because history proves that...alcohol, abortion, homosexuality, all were once illegal and all carried on regardless, because people and society made their own value judgements and rightly so.

We do have problems in society of drink, drugs and alcohol, but the best way to tackle them is through collective responsibility. Why don't you trust the people?

On a smaller state, of course I believe in that. When taxes are lower, people are more likely to give to charity, that's because they are exercising their own judgement and value system - deciding how best to spend the money they earn.

"In the case of euthanasia and abortion, I would rather people were not placed in the position of "exercising their own judgement and value system"."...I know you wouldn't John, but that's why you are authoritarian and I trust the people.

When you trust the people you've got to be prepared to live with the consequences and then encourage people as part of a community to exercise the responsibility which comes with freedom.

The socaially conservative view of life is such an untrusting, negative, controlling approach and it's one which has damaged the Conservative Party for far too long.

"John,there is a clear distinction between physical harm to others, where a role for the state is necessary and harm which is defined by social conservatives"

I don't believe the distinction is clear at all. You try to make things sound nice and simple and clear cut, but when I point out your contradictions you ignore them and just carry on spouting generalising platitudes.

"Abortion does not cause direct physical harm to others and is therefore a legal choice. "

This statement betrays your own moral prejudice.

You see, you cannot be morally neutral. Which I have said before.

"The fact that you are unable to prevent abortion through the power of your argument based on your own value system doesn't mean you should encourage the state to enforce it for you."

The fact that I am unable to prevent abortion is a cause for immense sadness, and it doesn't have anything to do with the effectiveness of my arguments.

You constantly claim that *I* am authoritarian in wanting the state to interfere to stop abortion (though I have never claimed I want to ban it outright), but you advocate the state interfering to encourage abortion.

I repeatedly make this point. You repeatedly ignore it.

You want to "trust" people? Then withdraw the state interference entirely! Otherwise you are inconsistent.

"socially conservative views don't work because history proves that...alcohol, abortion, homosexuality, all were once illegal "

First of all, I am not advocating making any of these things totally illegal. You are debating a straw man.

Secondly, when was alcohol illegal in this country?

"all were once illegal and all carried on regardless, because people and society made their own value judgements and rightly so."

Well, the only one even slightly relevant is abortion, and let's see. Well, when abortion was illegal, it was extremely rare. When it was legalised (and state funded) the number of abortions has rocketed and there are now 180,000 abortions a year.

So it would appear that the state makes a difference, contrary to your claims.

Perhaps you don't even see a trade-off. Perhaps 180,000 abortions a year doesn't trouble you in the slightest. In which case, I think you are either ignorant or morally base (that's my personal opinion).

If you *do* see a trade-off, then you must acknowledge that the actions of the state have produced adverse consequences in legalising and funding abortion.

"On a smaller state, of course I believe in that. When taxes are lower, people are more likely to give to charity, that's because they are exercising their own judgement and value system - deciding how best to spend the money they earn."

Yes. Absolutely, but I doubt you really *are* willing to cut the welfare state, and thus "trust people", because it would inhibit the cause of social liberalism.

"When you trust the people you've got to be prepared to live with the consequences and then encourage people as part of a community to exercise the responsibility which comes with freedom."

I have made this point many many times now.

Funding abortion is not "trusting people" or allowing them to "exercise responsibility". It is absolving them of the responsibility of their actions.

You are inconsistent.

"The socaially conservative view of life is such an untrusting, negative, controlling approach and it's one which has damaged the Conservative Party for far too long."

This is nothing more than a smear.

Social conservatives want to protect the weak and the vulnerable. Yes, that involves *some* state restriction. But it is not authoritarian or dictatorial as you would seek to parody it.

The truth is that the welfare state, and the actions of social liberals, have had more effect in changing people's natural morals, sometimes this is inadvertent, but often it is completely intentional.

Stop pretending you are morally neutral and I am morally biased. It is intellectually dishonest.

And if you don't like social conservativism, fine. But don't pretend it has been the cause of all woe and sorrow in this world (or that it is responsible for all the Conservative Party's failures); that is simply mendacious.

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