FORMER THATCHER government minister and chairman of the Conservative Party in the UK, Norman Tebbit, has sparked controversy with a provocative and expletive-laden outburst against Prime Minister David Cameron and his pursuit of legislating same-sex marriage, and his remarks warrant attention.
Attention, yes, and discussion, yes, although I do point out that whilst this column does not support the legalisation of same-sex marriage, as readers already know, there are surely better ways to argue the case than this.
Tonight’s post is an observational one, and more to generate discussion than anything as well as keeping an eye on what’s going on elsewhere in the world that is relevant to debates and discussions taking place here in Australia.
This is especially relevant today, given former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s announcement that he has changed his mind on the issue, and now supports the measure.
To give Australian readers a little context, this is a much “hotter” issue in Britain than it is here; the ruling Conservative Party is losing a lot of popular support at present to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), predominantly over the issue of Britain’s continued membership of the EU, but same-sex marriage is fuelling the drift as well.
There is ample anecdotal evidence that traditional Tory voters want a referendum offering the option of leaving the EU altogether (the so-called “in-out referendum” you may have heard of) and for marriage in Britain to continue to be defined as being between one woman and one man, as is the case here in Australia.
David Cameron, who — in a ceaseless campaign to “modernise” the Conservative Party that seems to be transforming it into a bastard amalgam of economic conservatism and social postmodernism — is doing all he can to avoid the referendum, but to legalise gay marriage.
So there is real…er, spice…surrounding this issue in Britain, and much of it has nothing to do with gay rights, same-sex marriage and so forth.
He says — among other things — that Cameron and the Tory Party leadership have “fucked up” by alienating the grassroots vote over such issues.
There are two ways to look at what he has had to say; once you’ve read his remarks in full from the clippings I have pasted here, I will be interested to see which way you view them.
It is important to note that despite appearances to the contrary, Tebbit in the past has been known to opine that whilst he disagrees with the practice of homosexuality, he is a defender of the right of the individual to practice it.
But even so, “I rather fancy my brother, perhaps I’ll marry my son” would seem to be a somewhat extreme means of expressing opposition to same-sex marriage.
So, too, is his scenario of a lesbian queen inseminated using semen from an anonymous donor.
Are these scenarios realistic?
Tebbit does touch on a couple of issues that haven’t been given consideration, such as inheritance tax, but really — and remember, I don’t support the measure either — isn’t this going a bit too far?
I’m in two minds as to how to judge Tebbit, given I was a big fan of his when he was a minister in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, and given he is — normally — a voice of hard cold reason, dour as it sometimes is.
On one hand, is he guilty of an indiscretion here on the scale Cory Bernardini was roundly (and rightly) savaged for, by supporters and opponents alike of same-sex marriage, some time ago?
Or on the other, is Tebbit right to rip into the ridiculous, focus group generated slogans “marriage equality” and “equal love” with venom to prosecute his case and, if so, are his illustrations justified?
I’d be interested to hear what people think.
There is a parallel debate in Britain at present, which is gathering pace; whether David Cameron should be replaced as Conservative Party leader (and Prime Minister) before the next scheduled British general election in 2015.
The hubbub over gay marriage is the latest in a litany of issues that have sparked both controversy over Cameron’s leadership and an exodus of Tory voters in the direction of UKIP.
I was one of David Cameron’s staunchest Antipodean supporters for a long time, both before and after he became Prime Minister; I came to the conclusion some time ago that I was in error, and that he must be replaced if Labour is to be prevented from an unjustified and unmerited return to office in two years’ time.
What effect will Lord Tebbit’s outburst have on that?
I look forward to hearing readers’ thoughts — both for and agin.
By the way, I wish to note to readers that I will be resuming “normal” columns in the next day or two; I’ve been distracted for a few days by other issues, but will have a little more time to post very shortly, starting with the post-budget polling.