Wednesday, 19 April 2017

My thoughts on Tim Farren's perceived homophobia

I woke up yesterday morning to a text from Philippa which informed me that a snap general election had been called by the ghastly Theresa May. It is, I suspect, being done as punishment to her fellow MPs in a sort of "you won't get behind me in these troubling times, so I'm going to prove to you all that I'm the most popular girl in the school and get you put in detention whilst I take the rest of my class down the local park to be mugged." She's recently made a number of statements about how she can feel the country uniting again after Brexit. So, now she's throwing the country back into instability again? Getting neighbours and family members fighting about politics again? Divide and rule. Margaret Thatcher anyone?

So here's the dilemma. I am a natural left-leaning voter. For many years, I voted Labour by default, but got very disillusioned by Blair, so swung across to the Lib Dems because my constituency MP, Lynne Featherstone was a brilliant, brilliant politician, both on a local level and globally. She was almost single-handedly responsible for the same sex marriage bill. Lynne lost her seat in the last election to Labour, and, in fairness, her replacement has proved to be vehemently pro-Europe, rebelling against her party on every Brexit vote.

...But the Labour party supports Brexit. So there's very little point in giving my vote to someone who represents them. And, furthermore, the Labour Party is utterly divided and disillusioned. As the country shifts from classic left/ right divisions based on wealth, to a place where political views are more likely to be defined by how cosmopolitan and liberal our values are, the Labour Party's traditional voters find themselves standing two sides of a massive chasm. More than that, the Old Labour guard have proved themselves time and time again to be antisemites. I can't vote for antisemites.

So I'm left with the Lib Dems. And the largest part of me thinks that it's their time. The party has been anti-Brexit throughout. They are fabulous on climate change and social issues. Yes, their getting into bed with the Tories during the coalition felt a little grotesque, but I'm not sure I would have done anything differently under the same circumstances. The tuition fee u-turn was a catastrophe, but I've always firmly believed the Lib Dems tempered the Tories, and, as evidenced by our being able to get married on March 29th 2014, they made good things happen.

A massive shift towards support for the Lib Dems could prove incredibly embarrassing for Theresa May and make it clear that the country isn't as united behind Brexit as she was hitherto assuming. If young people get off their arses and vote, extraordinary things could happen.

...But then there's Tim Farren, the Lib Dem leader. I like the fact that he's Northern, and speaks with a light Lancashire accent. He appears to be state school educated, which, for me, is a massive plus. He's not the most charismatic figure in the world, but these things take time to develop. He is, however, an evangelical Christian. Now, my very close friendship with Abbie has taught me over the last few years that you can't tar all Christians with the same brush. Just because someone believes in him upstairs doesn't necessary mean they're going to be evil or judgemental, or interpret the bible in ways which condemn people like me. Abbie is, in fact, a passionate and deeply vocal supporter of gay rights and shares, I'd say, almost exactly the same set of values as me.

The issue I have with Farren is that he's been interviewed on the subject and refuses not to define homosexuality as a sin. Furthermore, he abstained in one of the votes on same sex marriage and there was a curious tweet which he claimed was a hack, which suggested gay people could be cured: "they can be," the tweet read, "most sexual disorientation is caused by chemical leaching. Check out fish and frogs." All of this makes me a little uncomfortable. Particularly the phrase sexual DISorientation.

Lynne Featherstone has now personally assured me of his pro LGBT stance and that his religious beliefs will not get in the way of his Liberal values. Furthermore, the Pink Paper has published an interview with him where he actually vows to get rid of the ban on gay men giving blood (oh yes, we still can't give blood) and tighten some of the legislation which currently makes it easy to shaft trans people. He was also the first leader to respond to what's going on in Chechnya. I guess if he's one one those Christians who has grown up thinking homosexuality is a sin, we actually have to applaud him for not allowing those backward views into his work.

I'm sure there are scores and scores of other MPs who secretly think being gay is disgusting but feel they can't express the sentiment out loud. There are certainly many many Tory MPs with a far from perfect history when it comes to voting on matters of conscience like LGBT rights.

I find Theresa May's implied assertion that God would have voted Brexit much more worrying. Perhaps Farren is the first religious politician to understand that there is no place for religion in politics?

I have thought about the issue a great deal today and am veering towards giving my fully-fledged support towards his party. I'll sleep on it, and see what emerges out of the shit storm which seems to be surrounding this particular issue.

Of course May will win. The country is not presently in a position to look at the mess in education, the lack of NHS funding. So it's eyes down for five years of near dictatorship. Five years when public services go down the pan. Five years of strikes and terrorist attacks and horrible Brexit-related financial hardship where the Arts and sport simply drop off the curriculum in schools. In five years' time, however, she'll fail spectacularly, and I shall enjoy the look on her smug face as the shite drips off her chin!

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