Saturday 18 July 2015

Dear Cathy Newman, your interview was a sin against journalism

Forgive me for having better things to do on a Friday evening, especially in a week I have spent many hours playing competitive bowls, that to watch Channel 4 News and your interview of my new party leader Tim Farron. But I finally got around to it this morning and have some comments to make.

Firstly, Tim Farron's views on abortion are ones that a number of us can take. I've known a number of single women who became accidentally pregnant at inopportune times in the their lives and with men who were inappropriate or unable to become the father figure to the child they were carrying. I believe the decision of those women as to what they should do under those circumstances is entirely up to them.

On one occasion  I was actually asked by the mother of one of the young women in my church youth group what advise she should give her daughter who had found herself pregnant. I probably shocked that mother by saying that whatever that daughter decided to keep the child, or to give it up for adoption or to abort it so she could get on with the life plan she had, the most important thing was that her mother supported her in her decision. That is a liberal answer and one that Tim was alluding to.

From personal experience I have faced the dilemma of a girlfriend being late. While we waited to see if she was just a little late before buying a testing kit we discussed the possibilities. Both of us were of the opinion that no matter what the circumstances we at that time were in we would work around the fact that there was another mouth to be fed in our lives. That was our personal opinion, our personal decision after considering the various options together. As a Christian when faced with that decision the option of abortion was considered.

As for challenging Tim on whether he believes homosexuality sexual practise is a sin or not shows a clear misunderstanding of:

a) what the liberal party is about
b) that all Christians are the same

Tim was quite right to point out that the Liberal Democrats believe is religious freedom for everyone. That means that there are Christians, Humanists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Pagans, Atheists, Shintoists and whatever living tooth by jowl within the Liberal Democrats. Indeed our party policy on same sex marriage didn't single out any particular religion but gave all faith groups and humanists the right to self-determine their own position on whether to carry out same-sex marriages or not. That is how the Liberal Democrats deal with religious diversity and diversity of the population as a whole.

As one of the many LGBT+ people within the party who also has a faith I can account for the fact that not every member of a faith group within the party is diametrically opposed to same-sex relationships, those who are in them and those who are sexually active. Tim and I have had a number of rather frank discussions about this in the past, not as accusational and finger pointedly as your brief exchange yesterday. Yes Tim absented himself from the vote on the third reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill but he was present and voted for the second reading, as well as its subsequent divorce and annulment provisions and extension to armed forces personnel serving overseas.

Unlike many of those who have used language in the past (if not so much these days) that homosexuality is a sin who voted against it at every stage here is a man who has actually voted for and actually spoken in Parliament and asked questions positively about LGBT rights. Unlike many of those he actually takes part in debate around the issues that he publicly expresses concern or lack of understanding over, as someone blocked by many Northern Irish politicians for asking much simpler questions that the ones I have bombarded Tim with down the years this is a true reflection of how he views LGBT+ people.

Cathy there is one final thing you should be aware of, there were a number of prominent LGBT+ members of the party who were supporting Tim just as there were supporting Norman. People who were instrumental in getting the party and then Government to accept same-sex marriage. If these people had in anyway felt that Tim's faith in anyway hindered him from representing them as leader that would have been news. But the LGBT+ members of our party were as split as other sectors based on the individuals and what they could do for the party and not based on faith, LGBT friendliness or other criteria. We were looking at the person who could lead our party, represent liberty and freedom for all and help promote the ethos of who we are as Liberal Democrats.

We have been demonised by Labour, the Conservatives and the press (yourself included Cathy) for years while in coalition. The result in my opinion is a far more marginalising government than that of the past five years, one that is not supporting those who need it most, but actually making their lives tougher. David Cameron claims to have a faith yet does not seem to take Jesus' command to feed the hungry, cloth the naked and care for those less fortunate than yourself at face value. Maybe you should challenge him on that, Tim at least does care about social housing, the poor who have to attend food banks and are hit by the bedroom tax. Maybe you only have a limited view of what those of faith are all about, but they are a broad spectrum too, just like the Liberal Democrats.

Considering the interview started out asking the leader of the Liberal Democrats about the news that our troops had been involved in bombing raids in Syria all that liberal stuff was lost by Ms Newman's personal agenda on these other issues.

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