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« Hague to back Fox? Howard to abandon Cameron? IDS to stop Davis? | Main | Is David Willetts the contest’s ‘middle man’? »

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The Political Thinker

Er... don't you contradict yourself here? Clearly it's not obvious to you precisely who he's talking about, and as to which attitudes - as I asked in my earlier post: is he complaining about support for marriage?
All that remarks about "Tory Taleban" do is generate headlines against the party, without offering any serious or rigorous analysis. If that's the best he had to offer, it's a good thing he has withdrawn. Sadly, though, I think he could have done better than that. Nothing has so unbecome the manner of his campaign as his leaving of it.

Okay, it's true I wasn't entirely clear there. I believe he is talking about people like Brazier and Howarth – who are extremely socially conservative. Davis and Fox would also fall into this category.

It's late, and I've been up since the early hours of the morning, so please excuse me if I'm not too clear here or there.

In regards to which attitudes ... It's not really about the promotion of marriage. It's more that a lot of Conservatives are still very much against homosexuality, and gay rights, and many treat single parents like criminals, and overall many Conservatives judge how others live their lives when in reality it's got nothing to do with them.

Interestingly though, Michael Howard later commented on what Alan had said, saying that the party had moved on and was no longer censorious about people's lifestyles.

You need to understand that Alan is from the libertarian wing of the party, and believes people should be left alone to do their thing providing it harms no one else. He wants a Britain which espouses liberal attitudes and liberal economics. You could say he wants our social attitudes to reflect those of Holland.

Sean Fear


"By social tolerance we should accept, and promote the rights of women, homosexuals, ethnic minorities and Muslims. We should embrace our multicultural society."

Do you not see though that those points run against each other. Mulitculturalism, as currently practised, means placing group rights over and above individual liberties. That's not really compatible with the kind of tolerance you are talking about.

Graeme Archer

(to Michael: ) I actually posted my comment in response to Bruce's assertion that homosexuality is chosen - that we can actually be discussing this shows what a very, very long way this party has to go before it looks and feels like normal Britain.

(I'm not sure which "Soho moderniser" has actively suggested that they don't care about STDs either.)

I think I agree with The Political Thinker's tone. Let's see if there's not a win-win here. OK, "Social Conservatives" are not comfortable with homosexuality, I guess because of their internal moral compass. They are VERY keen, however, on protecting the institution of marriage, because of the incontrovertible empirical evidence that such institutions are best for the children (they also cost the state less, another win-win for social and liberal Tories).

Why not do the Disraeli type thing and confound our opponents by massively extending the franchise: recognise that marriage is indeed the best way for adults (and their children) to live, and extend the franchise to homosexual couples? That way you extend and entrench a conservative institution and (in my opinion) would go someway to fixing the dysfunctionality displayed by most gay "culture" or "community" (there isn't, of course, a gay community, any more than there's a Moslem one, but I'm referring to the hedonistic, bordering on morally nihilistic, lifestyle choices which gay business advertises to young men, as the path they should follow. Now I sound like the Daily Mail! I'm such a bad writer, apologies, it's impossible for me to express what I think neatly, please ask Matthew Parris to start posting here).

I might be biased, but I do think this issue has resonance way beyond the small number of us it would directly affect (though you cannot underestimate the fury when the Tories in the Lords defeated the government's partnership bill - it is quite hard to stay calm when the state happily removes more than half my income to pay for other people, then tells me I can't even have the same estate inheritance protection as they do). If we were grown up about homosexuality and made constructive, win-win type proposals that marry (pun intended) socially conservative with libertarian thinking, we would:

1) win back the gay vote from Labour (ever wondered why local assocs are so full of (ahem) intelligent gay men? it's because of the core message of freedom).

2) more (electorally) importantly - show that we're not the party of Clause 28, and start winning back the middle class vote from the Liberal Democrats.

I am sure that's mroe than enough from me. I just think that the issue is totemic for a reason, but that the party could use the natural tension (tension is good, schism is not) between social conservatives and the libertarian-minded to produce RADICAL win-win solutions on a whole host of social issues. Else, what's the point of the Conservative Party (as Disraeli said much more eloquently).

The Political Thinker

Well, it seems I was certainly right on the people...

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article300091.ece

Although Alan didn't name anyone, speculation is under its way in the Commons tearoom and most believe Gerald Howarth is part of the moralising wing.

Sean Fear


Graeme, I am very sceptical that are many votes in that particular issue.

People talk about winning back professional/middle class voters. We did actually win back a fair number of them on May 6th. Overall, the fifty seats with the highest proportion of professional/managerial voters in them saw the Conservative vote rise by 2.1%, compared to 0.6% overall. We saw some huge swings in places like SW London, and around the M25 corridor, in seats filled with the 30-something professionals who have supposedly deserted us.

Economic issues, such as taxation, matter much more to that social group.

Michael McGowan

Graeme, apologies for any miunderstanding. I think that we may well see eye to eye. I think it is absurd the way in which the Tory Party has allowed Labour to hijack the gay vote....and many homosexuals are quite rightly very indignant about the fact. Having said that, certain "modernisers" do their cause no favours at all when they denounce as bigots certain sections of the population who do not share their views on gay issues. Many conservative Catholics and Muslims, who should have a lot in common with the Conservative Party, have very mixed feelings over homosexuality. I do not share those views (even though I am a Catholic) but I respect their right to hold those views because it is a free country. Moreover, I respect their right to have the final say in what their children are taught in school about these issues. I call that respecting diversity and freedom of conscience, even where I do not share the same beliefs. I am not sure that the likes of John Bercow are prepared to respect that freedom of conscience. Ditto Matthew Parris given his comments over Buttiglione.

Simon C

Today's Guardian article by Michael White (see CH Homepage for a link) suggested that Alan Duncan was referring to the IDS & CSJ social justice agenda when he talked about the "Tory Taleban". If that's right, it is a graphic illustration of the limitations of the self-styled modernisers' vision for the country and for conservativism.

Sean Fear


At the time I thought that Parris's comments about Buttiglione were completely out of character. Perhaps he was just setting out to provoke.

James Hellyer

"I respect their right to have the final say in what their children are taught in school about these issues. I call that respecting diversity and freedom of conscience, even where I do not share the same beliefs."

I think the issue there, is what if the children are not taught that homosexuality exists by their parents, or are taught falsehoods. There is a good case for keeping some form of coverage on the curriculum to reduce the risk of gay children thus neing ostracised and stigmatised.

Michael McGowan

This is of course where the illiberal tendencies of the politically correct quickly come into view....always of course in the name of correcting "error" and "falsehood", and cracking down on "prejudice". We can of course all agree that there should be some threshold coverage in the curriculum of these issues but it is all too easy for that to degenerate into force-feeding moral orthodoxy in the name of "social liberalism". I was struck by the comments on the BBC Website of Michael Howard's adviser on Muslim affairs, a 34-year-old female lawyer who has felt obliged to educate her children privately because she is unhappy at the way they are having the orthodoxies of the left imposed on them in state schools. In short, she is a social conservative. Will any of the modernisers defend her right to educate her children according to her own moral values?

James Hellyer

'We can of course all agree that there should be some threshold coverage in the curriculum of these issues but it is all too easy for that to degenerate into force-feeding moral orthodoxy in the name of "social liberalism".'

Can we agree this? This threshold coverage seems irreconcilable with the statement that "I respect their right to have the final say in what their children are taught in school about these issues."

Either these things should be taught, in which case the issues are the timing and scope, or they should not.

Michael McGowan

I don't see that they are necessarily imcompatible. Take a simple, less contentious example. Many, though not all, Christian and Moslem parents regard sex before marriage as reprehensible. Isn't the classic liberal answer in schools to teach that there are two points of view on this one; to explain what those views are but not to insist that the "social liberal" position is by definition "true" and the alternative view expressed by the parents in question is "false" or "bigoted"? Ditto re homosexuality and re drugs. This is exactly what Mill advocated in "On Liberty". I sometimes wonder whether any Tory modernisers have actually read "On Liberty".

Editor

William - it's taken me a little while to act on your excellent suggestion of July 18, 3.06pm, but that fat red X has now been superimposed on Alan Duncan's handsome face. I wonder who'll be next for the 'red X treatment'..?

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