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It is easy to make a politician feel uncomfortable by quoting their earlier views on a subject, when they are the complete opposite of their current ones. John Sopel is no Paxman, but it was still an awkward moment. Where are the principles of politicians I have to ask myself, when they can hold such opposing views on a simple matter like whether or not they are opposed to the promotion of homosexuality in schools? It is a worry if our leaders behave in this way.

Richard Allen

Yet another example of Cameron's utter lack of core principles. I wonder if he has even a single belief that he would not jetison in his pursuit of power.

Ed R

Glad to hear he's seen sense (assuming he wasn't just trying to be loyal before). It was a nasty measure which is best left in the dustbin of history.

Steve K

Richard Allen - I worry when I read such comments. Will you and DC's other detractors be loyal to him should he become Leader, or will you back-bite as supporters of defeated candidates have in the past? Will you be part of the solution, or part of the problem?

Richard Allen

Steve K, I cannot think of a single reason why I should offer any loyalty to Cameron. He is clearly lacking in principles and conviction.

Selsdon Man

This is a false debate. If parents had real choice, they could determine what their children are taught. The real alternative is to introduce education vouchers and abolish the national curriculm and Ofsted.

Bishop Hill

Selsdon Man

100% right. This sort of liberalising measure would give people what they want without resorting to "nasty party" policies like Clause 28.

Mark Fulford

Richard, the single reason why all of us should show loyalty to whomever is elected leader is that disunity will keep us out of power.

I also disagree that people shouldn't be allowed to change their minds if they see a compelling reason to. Provided it doesn't happen on every issue (which it doesn't), it shows the wisdom not to flog a dead horse.


Actually Sopel quoted from the Witney newspaper and other written materials in which a strident David Cameron accused Blair of introducing homosexuality into we know he engages in hyperbole to keep the old dears in Witney faithful to the Tories.......just happens that Witney has a problem keeping its MP loyal to Tory Shaun ?


Politicians should not speak out on an issue until they have thought about it carefully. If they change their mind then they ought to be able to explain clear and logical reasons for doing so. Casual changes of mind give the impression of not thinking things through in the first place, or [worse] simply mouthing what they think the audience wants to hear.

There are too many politicians who seem to do that. For example Tony Blair over the EU. With politicians being so inconsistent, who can blame the public for accusing them of being cynical? In this leadership election we have seen MPs change from one candidate to another, from DD to DC, when if they weren't sure they could have kept quiet. Look at Bercow - running DC down at one stage, and ending up endorsing him! These are the people who we expect to take the decisions to run the country.


A friend recently encouraged me to run a 'comment of the day/week' thing.

You would win it for that last observation, Derek!

Mark O'Brien

Am I being too dogmatic for thinking this should be less an issue of what children are taught, but more an issue of freedom and responsibility?

This is about the State telling teachers what they can and can not say, having already taking away responsibility from parents to be able to hold schools to account properly. If schools were free, and more importantly, parents had responsibilities, there'd be no need for anything like Section 28 to exist at all.


"Will you be part of the solution, or part of the problem?"

I have a real problem with this too. Disunity does cost us the chance of power, absolutely. Right now I'm struggling to find enthusiasm for the guy so that I can show unity, but Derek is spot-on: should I make an active effort to help a guy who doesn't seem to think things through for himself? Who appears to experience no struggle to come to his views, but is fed them with a spoon by his campaign team? Perhaps even by focus groups?

As it becomes clear that Cameron will be the next leader, I'm forced to think very hard about my own position. I hope Cameron realises that his future success depends at least to some degree on winning over us doubters, which requires his becoming a better politician, a truer statesman.

You Cameron supporters meanwhile should realise that while DC may deserve to beat DD (I'm not sure of that but let's accept it for now), he really is not the impressive politician you pretend. At best, he's only barely adequate.

Innocent Abroad

Don't worry about "disunity" or getting into trouble for causingit . Steve Hilton, Cameron's campaign manager, supported:

1.) Redwood against Leader Major in 1995

2.) Portillo against leader Hague 2000/2001

3.) and was just plain anti-Leader IDS 2001-2003.

I'm sure when this poacher-turned-gamekeeper finds himself in a position of power under Leader Cameron, he'll be suitably lenient towards dissidents.


What was most worrying was DC's inability to come back with a good argument on his feet. What Sopel quoted him as saying was perfectly compatible with thinking Clause 28 a bad piece of legislation - even if it was bad, devoting significant parliamentary time to the revision of a minor piece of administrative law that had never actually been used was working to a fringe agenda.

I've seen this before with DC - on his Newsnight interview during the conference, he was left to get all defensive by Martha Kearney when she challenged him on marriage. If you're going to make conservative arguments, you have to be prepared to tackle liberal criticisms head on, and not be cowed by them. I'm not sure if DC has shown that he can do that.


Well, Innocent Abroad, that's a good point and suits my mood, but I'm trying to be constructive!

I am of course also reminded, when you say that, of Gove's constant undermining of IDS ("I just can't hold it back; I love Tony Blair!" was really an unhelpful Times/Giove headline at the time; and I don't think he kept best company on the loyalty front during that period). But I honestly think Cameron IS a decent cove who is not naturally disloyal and deserves our best efforts (on the 'human front', as it were, if not on the policy or 'direction' front.)


Blimpish, you're right, and we know Cameron isn't very good at anything other than delivering a script. This is the worry: to perform well you need a) presentational, selling skills (which he has); b) a real 'centre' to your beliefs which informs your reactions to changing circumstances (which he appears not to have); and c) the wit to connect the two in a 'live', pressured situation.

Selsdon Man

"This is about the State telling teachers what they can and can not say, having already taking away responsibility from parents to be able to hold schools to account properly. If schools were free, and more importantly, parents had responsibilities, there'd be no need for anything like Section 28 to exist at all."

Exactly my point earlier, Mark. Parents need to have a rights as purchasers of education services for their children.


Yes, Selsdon Man. Hence the problem with telling them they need to teach phonics. I completely agree that teachers should use phonics as a core method for teaching reading, but it shouldn't be imposed by the state on behalf of parents (because the state gets things wrong, and big-time: the reason our education system is a mess in the first place). The state should hand power back to parents, as partners to teachers.


Sorry, meant to complete the point:
And therefore, since Cameron wants to tell schools what to do (teach phonics), HE takes the responsibility; which means he also takes responsibility for what they teach (or don't teach) about sex. It's the wrong approach.

Tory T

Buxtehude can't be allowed to get away with misrepresenting the excellent Michael Gove. At the time that MG wrote his famous "I just can't hold it back; I love Tony Blair!" he was a newspaper columnist, not a Tory MP. Like many of us, he was deeply impressed by our Prime Minister's sheer guts in standing up to the demented anti-American, anti-western prejudices of his own party. Blalr has many faults - and many political errors - to his name but on the biggest issue of our time he has been right. That's the context in which the Gover wrote, not as part of some anti-IDS plot. As I recall he came late and only reluctantly (at least in public) to the conclusion that IDS had to go.

Cllr Iain Lindley

As I understand it Section 28 was never used - in addition to being hateful nonsense surely Conservatives should welcome the removal of dead legislation from the statute book?

I also don't see how acknowledging the existence of gay relationships is "sexualising" children - if it is, then surely talking about straight relationships is too?

I can only imagine what it is like to be openly gay (or even in the closet) in a school. Much of that bullying stems from ignorance and surely we should be working to stop that.

It isn't about going into lurid detail as some idiots would have it, but simply getting the message across that some people want to spend their time with someone of the same sex and that this isn't something to be reviled.


"Buxtehude can't be allowed to get away with misrepresenting the excellent Michael Gove." This is surely correct in this instance. Michael Gove was earning a living as a journalist with a desire on his part and that of his editors to make his columns as widely read as possible. Or do we only want Conservative MPs who have never had to earn a living outside of politics? There certainly are some of those in our party but they are not regarded as our most effective performers.

Graham D'Amiral

It is certainly possible to exaggerate the significance of Section 28, as both sides of the argument have tended to do. It is absurd to suggest it undermined the institution of marriage, but equally it is difficult to see a law under which nobody was ever prosecuted as a nasty piece of legislation that destroyed lives.

The problem with it was it was so badly drafted it was never at all clear what it actually meant and subsequently many teachers felt that if a child told them they were gay, then this was a conversation that legally they could not have, others argued this was not the case.

I'm glad it was repealed and we were foolish to oppose it. A badly drafted law, that nobody was ever prosecuted for and nobody understood what it was about.

Daniel Vince-Archer

The trouble is Iain, (and I cannot stress enough that this is not a homophobic comment) gay culture is very sex-oriented.

My flatmate at university was head of Aberystwyth's LGB society and one day, out of idle curiosity, I made the mistake of picking up one of his gay lifestyle magazines (the name escapes me now), and was confronted with several advertisements for hardcore pornography, articles about the positive effects of 'poppers' and speculation about which male celebrities may or may not be well-endowed!

Fascinating and informative as this was (not), I'm not sure that it is the sort of material that children should be exposed (no pun intended) to.

I'm all in favour of increasing awareness and combating intolerance, particularly if it involves tackling the scourge of homophobia and preventing disgraceful incidents like the recent murder of an innocent barman in London, but this can be achieved through sensible teaching in schools (like that I received, even though it was before Section 28 was repealed) without subjecting impressionable young minds to sexually explicit material.

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