Sunday, 19 May 2013

Won't somebody shut that swivelgate!

In case you hadn’t noticed, the media is currently in a tizzy about ‘swivel-eyed loons’ – indeed, the inevitable coining of ‘swivelgate’ (would it shut properly?) has already occurred.

This all centres on the tale that someone ‘close to the prime minister’ used that term to describe the constituency Conservative activists. A state of high dudgeon has ensued; fingers have duly been pointed and wagged, and the target has denied all knowledge and says he is taking legal advice.

Frankly, given the current implosion within Conservative circles, and the nefarious behaviour of some in the media, it would hardly surprise me to learn that it was all a calculated invention to whip up a storm in a teacup.

But while the vexed question of ‘Europe’, in its conflated sense of That Place Over There and the political institutions of the EU, once more threatens to give the Tories a collective nervous backdown, it’s not the only issue causing havoc.

Yet again, a number of people are getting their oh-so-sensible underwear in a knot over equal marriage.

Now you could be forgiven for imagining that such matters as the huge rise in British people needing to use foodbanks or the deaths of yet others mere days after being declared fit for work – or the suicides of some in this same category – might be cause for such angst.

You may indeed believe that unemployment and underemployment are the big issues, together with that of a culture of low incomes that means that over 80% of all recipients of welfare in the UK are in work.

It’s possible that you would consider the small matter of the privatisation of the NHS by stealth to be worthy of attention. Or even – heaven forfend – the state of the economy and the outright failure, based entirely on his own standards, of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

But no: these all pale into insignificance beside the question of whether any two people who love each other should be able to get married.

So much is the issue upseting some, that the Conservative Grassroots umbrella group has written to David Cameron saying that equal marriage will lose the Conservatives the next election, because activists, in their disgruntlement, won’t do the work, and voters will flock away.

Chairman Bob Woollard also says that the government needs to ‘strengthen traditional marriage’, “for the sake of our children”. Oh, won’t somebody think of them!

What a pity his concerns for the future of “our children” appears not to extend to concern at the diminishing educational and job prospects for so many.

But while Mr Chumley Wumley of Tunbridge Wells is grinding his teeth over this (and ordering his wife to pour him another cup of tea) he has found common cause with Abdul from the mosque.

Because, as if it isn't funny enough when the shire swivel-eyes suddenly become multi-culturalists when it suits a homophobic agenda, a group of more than 500 imams and community leaders has also written to the PM (and Messrs Clegg and Miliband E) on this same question.

For them, the worry is that “Muslim teachers will be forced into the contradictory position of holding private beliefs, whilst teaching a new legal definition of marriage.

“Muslim parents will be robbed of their right to raise their children according to their beliefs, as gay relationships are taught as something normal to their primary-aged children.”

First, is the legal definition of marriage really on the national curriculum at primary school – or is that only something that will happen after Michael Gove has (personally, the rumours suggest) redrafted it on the front of a blank fag packet?

Second, if such matters of equality are taught in schools, then it’s good to know that all the same teachers will already be stressing the equal rights of women, and that this will be in no contravention at all to anything taught in the home.

Although the presence of sharia courts to deal with ‘family’ cases might speak against this, just as the presence of Beth Din courts says much the same of Orthodox Jewish communities. And for the record, it’s worth noting that the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, has also stated his opposition to equal marriage.

Given that a number of Muslim leaders have acknowledged that some parts of some communities have major issues with respect – not least for young, white women – such an intervention seems inappropriate at best and a downright demand of a right to promote intolerance at worst.

Not that they’re alone. The antics of leading figures in the Catholic Church on the same issue – and related ones – has hardly been a shining example of a tolerant, integrated and equal society.

And let’s not even mention the paranoid rantings of Lord Carey, champion of ‘persecuted’ Christians on these islands, or the sudden u-turn by the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby (presumably after pressure from the CofE hierarchy) on personal support for allowing heterosexual couples to have civil partnerships.

Oh, if anyone doubted that these are swivel-eyed times, all this should be entirely enough to confirm it.

But we can scarcely let this subject pass without mentioning UKIP – not simply because its leader, Nigel Farage, is conducting a large section of the swivel-eyed orchestra himself (a discordant cacophony) but also because it now it appears that the party’s major donor is a swivel-eyed loon of the very highest order.

Not only does Greek businessman Demetri Marchessini say that all women who wear trousers are “hostile” (I’ve dressed in a miniskirt to write this, just to be on the safe side), but he has actually penned a tome dedicated to his photographs of women’s posteriors and the further, philosophical discussion of the meaningful issue of how trousers were not designed for the female.

Because as every fool knows, trousers are the perfect attire for keeping men’s bollocks in the right state for optimum sperm production. Perhaps that’s why soldiers in some Balkan countries, including Marchessi’s own country of Greece, wear the fustanella ...

He also states that unmarried mothers need “a good smack” and date rape is a feminist fiction – so girls, if you date a man, it’s no point saying no to sex at the end of the evening, because even if you do, you cannot be raped.

His blog also links sexual abuse and homosexuality.

Where do they find them?

Let’s very quickly put a myth or two to bed.

Although equal marriage was not in the Conservative’s manifesto at the last election, it was a specifically stated as an aim in the party’s ‘contract for equalities’ that was published just three days before the country went to the polls.

And if they want to complain about the manifesto, they should remember that the privatisation of the NHS was not featured and indeed, David Cameron had pledged “no more top-down reorganisations of the NHS”.

While – I hope – everyone would agree that a safe, loving home is the very best environment for any child to grow up in, the idea that this is not possible within a home where there is only one parent or where a couple have not been formally married, or that single-sex couples are incapable of providing that, is as groundless as would be a suggestion that all married homes are wonderful and that all marriages are a raving success.

Equal marriage will not ‘devalue’ marriage. It can only do that in the minds of people who want it to do that for reasons that can only be homophobic in nature.

Equal marriage will not change the nature of any individual couple’s own marriage. It can only do that if they themselves decide that it does, for reasons that can only be homophobic.

No religion or sect has ever had a monopoly on marriage or the nature of marriage. It is historically and factually incorrect to suggest otherwise.

* With apologies to anyone with a swivel eye who isn’t a loon.

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