THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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The blame shifters

Iain Dale is not a Conservative

Iain Dale's Diary: Good Riddance to Mr Lardner.

There is no reason why a Conservative should not be homosexual or vice versa. A person's sexuality is politically irrelevant. So, per se, is a person's opinion about sexuality. So why are Iain Dale and Tory Rascal in such a tizz about the very conservative (but probably soon-to-be-ex-Conservative) Philip Lardner?

If he had suggested any legal consequences of his view that homosexuality is "not normal", that would be worthy of discussion. It would be outrageous for a parliamentary candidate to suggest, for example, that homosexuals should enjoy fewer civil rights or be subject once more to criminal penalties. Those days are gone and rightly so. That Lardner simply thinks homosexuality is "not normal" (whether you agree with him or not) is however irrelevant. He has observed, oddly, that;

Toleration and understanding is one thing, but state-promotion of homosexuality is quite another...

What's odd about it is the notion that homosexuality can ever be successfully "promoted." If you are not that way inclined, frankly I think it's pretty unlikely you are going to be talked into it. it's as unappealing a notion to those of another persuasion as that of heterosexual fun and games presumably is to gays. For that matter, sexual orientation is not binary. It's a long and at times strange continuum. Whether it's determined by nature or nurture is, pace Iain (for whom that science was settled by Freud) a matter of opinion, but where one falls upon it has little to do with choice. Others have no legitimate interest in your place on the continuum for so long as you only ever act upon it with a consenting adult partner.

That homosexuality exists in nature, is a matter to be taught in Biology. That it was once illegal is a matter to be taught in History. That homosexuals now enjoy equal rights is a matter to be taught in Civics. None of that amounts to "promotion," which is why Philp Lardner's observation is odd. As is his nostalgia for Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which referred scathingly to the notion of homosexuality as "a pretended family relationship."

I don't know Mr Lardner and I suspect I wouldn't like him much if I did. He has expressed some other old-fashioned views unlikely to commend him to the modern voter and I can't help but feel his local party was ill-advised to select him. But his opinions on this matter don't deserve the attention they are getting, not least from David Cameron. Indeed on one point, many of us would have been reassured if his leader had backed him. Freedom of speech is a conservative (and was once a Conservative) value, for which Iain is a strong and admirable advocate, except when homosexuality is the topic. Therefore I could wish that David Cameron, Iain and Tory Rascal would find it in them to agree with Lardner's statement that;

Christians (and most of the population) believe homosexuality to be somewhere between 'unfortunate' and simply 'wrong' and they should not be penalised for politely saying so

Normality and abnormality are themselves politically irrelevant. The desire to join a political party, let alone to run for office, is statistically far more "abnormal" than homosexuality. I hesitate to offer this as a reductio ad absurdam for fear it will be embraced by the Labour Party as policy, but stupidity is very normal, whereas high intelligence is not. Yet, who (apart from a desperate Gordon Brown) would take seriously a proposal to exclude atypically intelligent people from voting?

I forget which actor responded to congratulations on being the first black man to win some award by saying that race would cease to be a problem when it was "like different flavours of pizza; not even worth mentioning." I think Iain and Tory Rascal might usefully meditate on that wisdom. I have never troubled my readers with details of my sexuality and I don't propose (you will be relieved to know) to begin now. Not least because I don't seek your approval. On the contrary, if I may express myself in abnormally High Tory terms, it's none of your damned business so be off with you before I fetch my horsewhip.

The "gay rights" movement has triumphed and I, for one, am pleased. That it has yet to fade away is, I suspect, merely nostalgia. The erstwhile activists are simply not ready to leave the field of victory. Their lounging around on their laurels, however, is in danger of becoming counter-productive. The once-persecuted may even be at risk of becoming persecutors. Most of us in Britain take Mrs Patrick Campbell's classically liberal view that:

My dear, I don't care what they do, so long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses.

The religious Right in Britain has never enjoyed the influence it has in America. Nor have social conservatives generally (as witness Mrs Campbell's wisdom). There is a danger that Christians told they may not teach their children "the Word of God" may join forces with immigrants belonging to even more sexually conservative religions. If Iain and others insist on demanding active approval for their sexuality, they will awaken forces we can all - straight and gay - well do without.