Thursday, November 15, 2012

Are MPs allowed an opinion?

Yesterday I wrote that I would vote against redefinition of the word 'marriage'. Only did it because I'd been forced to declare publicly my opinion. Chris Eakin asked me directly when I was reviewing the papers on BBC News Channel on Tues night. I would have preferred not to have been asked, but it was an entirely fair question and not one I felt I could avoid. So I expressed my honest opinion. Worst fears have been realised. I have been widely branded a homophobe, a description I find deeply offensive. It leads me to reflect whether MPs are wise to ever express honest opinions. Probably a better tactic to waffle -be slippery - avoid answering the question.

I've been around a long time, and I'm comfortable with my opinions. And I'm not afraid to say what they are. I'm usually willing to consider amending them if confronted by logical persuasive argument. But since being elected an MP, declaration of opinion seems to cause trouble.  Lets look at a few examples. I am in favour of a pilot cull of badgers. I oppose legalisation of assisted suicide. I oppose introduction of presumed consent into organ donation system. I support stricter rules for abortion. And I oppose redefinition of the meaning of the word 'marriage' to allow gay marriage. I fiercely oppose  mass building of wind turbines and pylons in Montgomeryshire. And much else as well. Made all of this public before I was elected. Now I receive emails from constituents informing me that they will not vote for me again because of one or more of these opinions. I don't object to anyone disagreeing. Because no two thinking people agree on everything, this seems a bit odd. We settle these things by voting on them.

The strongest response so far has been about gay marriage. Some of the commentary has been unpleasantly condemnatory. I have been accused of being a bigot and homophobic. I deeply resent being so branded. Its utterly ridiculous. Gay friends tell me they agree with me. They tell me they resent being used in a rebranding exercise for a political party.

Now here's another opinion. Nothing damages politics more than politicians refusing to answer questions, using a form of words to disguise what they are saying. The curse of modern politics is 'The Line to Take'! I don't much like being given stick on the Internet - especially by constituents. But I think I will carry on trying to be open about what I think.


Anonymous said...

I simply don't understand why you object to Mr Cameron's idea of giving equal civil marriage to gay couples. In your previos blog you stated about SSM "But it doesn’t. It just redefines a word which has great meaning for hundreds of thousands of good people across Britain – for no real purpose, other than to convey some ill-defined ‘message’"
Gay people are "good" people and marriage mean a great deal to them as well. I simply don't understand what you mean by "ill defined" message.

Anonymous said...

Glyn, I am glad you say you are open to logical persuasion. You have not explained your reasons for opposing civil recognition of marriages between same sex couples.

If you are struggling to understand the reasons why this is needed. please consider all of the reasons why you think marriage is desirable for heterosexual couples - these are equally valid for same sex couples.

You don't like being called homophobic or a bigot, but there is no point getting angry about it. If that is the impression that some people have received then you need to consider how you have presented your opinions, and whether they show genuine and full acceptance of gay people.

You must remember that you represent a political party that has a very bad historical record in this area and there is much that it should be ashamed of. Gay people have been the subject of persecution and exclusion for a very long time and it is only recently that this has started changing. Now your Leader is trying to make a significant move forward. It does not look very nice that so many Tory MP's are doing all they can to stop this.

Roy Norris said...

It has long seemed to me that we know only what some gay activists think about gay marriage. As I understand marriage, it is something that happens between a man and a woman. There are some things that cannot be by definition. A cow born in a stable can never be a horse.

I have no issue with accepting and endorsing that same sex couples can and do have loving, caring relationships. Many do not consider themselves married. others do already. But for me a table cannot be made into a chair just by a name change.

So, risky as it is to say so, I am with Glyn on this issue.

Anonymous said...

But over half of the population of the UK are in favour of equal civil marriage and most people and the press already regard civil partnership as marriage. In those cirumstances then marriage has already changed for most people in the UK and we all accept the fact that gay couples are indeed married. So why not identity them as such instead of calling them so other artcifical name like civil partners which for most people in the UK has little meaning.

Anonymous said...

Civil partnerships are not the same as marriage, and just by having something as simple as the semantics of a word does change the meaning of the relationship and how it is viewed by society. There are several legal implications as well, which I think of as positive and I'm sure opponents would find unimportant. I do, however, completely understand your point about labelling opponents as bigoted - it isn't accurate for all opponents. Just suppose I was hopeful you would vote in support of civil marriage, a step on the way to general equality and acceptance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer citizens of this great nation and world.

Anonymous said...

While I disagree with all of the positions you stated (well maybe not a pilot Badger cull, don't really have an opinion either way on that), the point you made about it sometimes being tactically the best option for MPs to be slippery is one worth making. It suggests that in order to reduce the occurrence of such behavior might require a change in the voters themselves, perhaps becoming more tolerant of outspoken MPs with "controversial" views - now there's a really controversial idea!

Anonymous said...

You say you find being labelled homophobic deeply offensive. I find you voting against the equal rights of homosexual couples to a marriage in a registry office or supportive religious organisation deeply offensive and for arguably more logical reasons.