Holy Smoke! The Politics Blogger gets religion

Dearly Beloved Brethren

People seem to be getting their knickers in a twist over the role of religion in politics in Brighton and Hove.

Feeling the heat at the moment is the Green Party over its decision to expel Christina Summers from the Green Group. It is a decision in the finest traditions of the Spanish Inquisition and the intolerance of New Labour. But none of the main political parties have a clean record on religion.

Labour seems determined not to offend male Muslims, a legacy of Iraq (sorry Flo, that four letter word just won’t go away). In a foolhardy attempt to attract disillusioned Muslim voters, it turns a blind eye to misogynistic tendencies of some Muslim ‘leaders’. In Bradford it was Muslim women who led the anti-Labour protest by voting for Gorgeous George Galloway in the recent by-election.

The Conservatives have amongst their ranks more evangelical Christians than the other parties, evangelicals who wish to deny women the right to choose, preach the headship of men in the family, and who believe that homosexuality is a sin. Having said that, the Tory Party has changed and cannot be compared to the Party of Intolerance that introduced Section 28 in the 1980s.

The Greens, on the one extreme, have Christina Summers and, on the other, Ben Duncan who they narrowly avoided electing as Mayor in Brighton and Hove. He would have made it a badge of honour to stop prayers at Council meetings. That would have been a far greater distraction than the vote of a single councillor with outdated, irrelevant and discredited views.

It strikes me as ironic that the only reason why anyone is talking about Christina Summers and her views, having made her a martyr and causing the Green Party such damage, is because of a shortsighted, foolish decision to instigate action against her. Nobody thinks that she was representing anything other than her own views.

It is about time that politicians took a more mature approach to religion, speaking truth when religions are intolerant or oppressive, and ignoring religion the rest of the time.

Here endeth the lesson. Good night and God bless you all.

14 Responses

  1. The voters who elected hristina Summers thought she was representing the published platform of her party.

    • You’re out of your mind if you believe this. Do you genuinely believe that each and every vote that Christina Summers achieved came from a person who had read the manifesto, scanned all there was to scan to ensure that she was a right-on gal who would vote for gay marriage?

      I call you: this is blatant black propaganda.

    • Tim – there is no mention of equal marriage in the Green Party manifesto, so Christina can claim to have supported the published platform, provided you accept that you can support equality, but that this does not have to include equal marriage. That, in essence, is the nub of this issue – Christina clearly believes that her committment to equality is not compromised by this specific issue, and the Green Party disagree.

  2. There is a long tradition of free voting or at least pairing in the H of C and this allows holders of paradoxical views within a party that are deeply held to dissent and still support everything else. Such action is both liberal and honourable. It respects conscience and accommodates coalitions of interests..

    Our Green friends were green by nature as well as name to make a mountain out of one poor lady’s inability to support one tiny part of their whole programme and to crucify her for so doing.

    Those who adhere to any religion or none should be tolerated and respected as people. As the late Nobby Clarke used to say “I defend your right to say what you want, whether you are a Jew or a genital”.

  3. Oh dear BPB, it would appear Labour aren’t the only ones guilty of turning a blind eye to misogynistic tendencies.

    I found “Gorgeous” George Galloway’s description of the allegations against Julian Assange as “bad sexual etiquette” fairly offensive.

    Clearly so did Salma Yaqoob as she has resigned as leader of Respect today.

  4. And yet all too often religion is used as a cloak for small-mindedness, don’t you think BPB? The Bible is full of vile, misogynist instructions yet fundamentalist Christians feel free to pick and choose the gospel that appeals to their personal insecurities.

    I suppose Christina’s position was made more difficult because of the fact that, comparatively speaking, there are so few Green councillors on the planet. A lot of people felt that she brought shame on the party by voting along more conservative lines than even the local Tories. In a larger party it would be much easier brush this under the carpet.Yet maybe it is a desirable characteristic that smaller parties are better able to democratically preserve their integrity and core values.

    Due constitutional process was followed, and the inquiry panel stated that it wasn’t so much her initial vote but subsequent briefing against the party by Christina’s legal team which swayed their decision.

    With a couple of over-the-top exceptions, the tone of debate within the party has been heartfelt yet measured and considered. The Green Party doesn’t despise Christina or wish woe upon her, we just don’t think she can seriously claim to represent the party politically any longer.

    • For the Greens to believe that Christina can no longer “seriously claim to represent the party politically any longer”, the Greens would have to have no other policy than gay marriage.

      Someone commented on the Argus website that the court of Human Rights judged that gay marriage is not an equalities issue. Anybody know anything about that that the Green Party is ignoring?

      I keep feeling that the gay marriage vote is an excuse being seized on and used by the Green Party – that they have some other reason for wanting to get rid of Christina. Otherwise it just looks so rip-roaringly bonkers.

      • I can see why it would look odd if you thought the Green Party was just about ecology, but for a long time now social justice (including Human Rights) has been as strong a principal for us as sustainability. Equality must mean full, unqualified equality.

  5. I wonder if Christina would have been expelled had she been a gay man? Surely it is a mistake to think that the section of gay rights movement which wants to expel Christina represents all gay and lesbian people, anymore than ‘White Power’ movements and the English Defence League represents all white people in this country.

    Frankly, one wonders if the Green Party is going back to its authoritarian roots in its early incarnation as the Ecology Party when it was anti-immigration and promoting population control? Would David Icke wnow be welcomed back in if he signs up for gay marriage now?

    More seriously, what does this say about tolerance and freedom of conscience in green politics today? The totalitarian mindset that requires strict obediance to ideology is one that George Orwell warned against most eloquently, but the lessons have to be learned again with each generation. It is very sad that Brighton Green Party has come to this.

    To paraphrase Orwell, “If you want a vision of the future Winston, (or Christina) imagine a rainbow welly stamping on a human face forever”.
    Different boot to the one Orwell was talking about, but the same face nonetheless….

    • As others have said there are religious LGBT people who self-chastisingly don’t support equal marriage rights, and if such a person voted against an equalities issue (and had recently been picketing abortion clinics as well) then I think the same questions would be asked – if you only support half the party’s policy and actively oppose core principals is that tolerable for an elected representative?

  6. Mr Steampunk,

    Gets a bit tiring, all this “i don’t”,i don’t, but others do”, business from the usual suspects. Be honest, you are clearly not a tory, but i would guess a campaigner for one, or several, of the following: Marxist Green, Labour, gay rights comunities, so why not own up.Should you support the equal marriage thing, just say so and be clear about it. All the usual smarmy prevaricating is not necessary.No one is convinced by it.

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