Title: Antisocial and Unjust Credit: Craig Young Comment Tuesday 28th June 2011 - 11:36am1309217760 Article: 10536 Rights
As if to highlight the Cameron/Key axis, Iain Duncan-Smith is going to be a Maxim Institute speaker at the Sir John Graham Lecture on July 22. Given his past anti-gay track record, we should be very concerned. Duncan-Smith led the British Conservative Party (2002-03) and failed to effectively campaign as Leader of the Opposition. In a scathing account of his period as Leader of the Opposition, Tim Bale describes Duncan-Smith as "simply not up to it" as Tory leader. He has limited intellectual capabilities and his tenure only raised further anxieties about Tory commitment to the National Health Service and public education expenditure in the event of a renewed Tory administration. In May 2002, the Tories were decimated at local body elections. Undaunted, Duncan-Smith launched an appallingly racist tirade against immigrants and asylum seekers in the right-wing tabloid Sun newspaper. In May 2002, Duncan-Smith let his social conservative dogmatism go beserk over antipathy against adoption law liberalisation and inclusion of eligible lesbian or gay couples. He tried to impose a whip on the issue, only to have several liberal Tory MPs cross the floor in defiance. Under Duncan-Smith, public revulsion continued at their stances against immigrants and asylum seekers. After a particularly humiliating by-election loss that saw the Tories fall to third place against the insurgent Liberal Democrats in Brent East, a particularly appalling opinion poll showed that the Tories were haemorrhaging support amongst educated AB professional and managerial voters. Finally, in October 2003, the party had had enough of their incompetent leader and dumped him before he had the chance to lead them into what might have been catastrophic electoral defeat. In 2004, he established the "Centre for Social Justice." This project is a misnomer- it is designed to 'spin' the Tory Party message that it has become newly communitarian and inclusive, at a time when the Cameron administration is slashing public service expenditure and assistance to macharities and NGOs. If anything, critics argue, the Centre for Social Justice is designed to ringfence civil society off from active political participation and representation and attack social justice through denial of redistributive taxation and equality of opportunity. In the case of LGBT concerns, Pinknews noted that Duncan-Smith was up to his old tricks- CSJ's "Broken Britain" attacked same-sex parenting in the context of fertility assistance for lesbian couples who wanted to start families of their own, which is an ominous note. Indeed, this should not be surprising as Duncan-Smith attacked current 'liberal' UK abortion time limits (at twenty four weeks) and civil partnerships and LGBT relationship equality in one of his pamphlets, still distributed by the Centre for Social Justice: Britain's Conservative Majority (2004) . I decided to investigate the pamphlet in question and noted some old, hackneyed social conservative shibboleths. They include paens of praise for the right-wing, destructive regimes of John Howard in Australia and the mediocre, incompetent administration of George W.Bush, to blame for much of America's current economic turmoil. More telling, however, are the attacks on metropolitan urban diversity, multiculturalism, and professional allies of reformist social movements. Clearly, Duncan-Smith is an unreconstructed social conservative and it would be foolish to deny that he is indeed such. Moreover, as the New Statesman noted in a 2010 interview, he espoused the following beliefs about gay adoption still: The day before we meet, the Pope has suggested that the provisions in the Equality Bill requiring Catholic adoption agencies to consider gay couples run counter to "natural law". Duncan Smith is relaxed about Benedict XVI's intervention. "I don't have a problem when religious leaders enter the fray. And there is an argument here as to whether this bill has deliberately sought to put greater pressure on religious bodies to do one particular thing. Does tolerance stretch to religion, or are you to exclude it?" (Uh yes, when it is a deliberately sectarian attack on the meaningful religious and philosophical freedoms that underpin western liberal democratic societies, which anti-abortion and anti-gay religious conservatism indeed are. Not to agree with this is to endanger the core liberal democratic value of faith/state separation that leads one away from such murderous spectacles as Nigeria's sectarian Christian/Muslim communal violence, and the agonies of the Balkan Wars of the nineties.) Clearly, too, the United Kingdom does not have a "Conservative majority." The Cameron administration needed to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats last year after the general election produced a hung parliament in that country. Due to that ill-advised arrangement, the Liberal Democrats have been abandoned by progressive Britons and under Ed Miliband, Labour's new Opposition Leader, the centre-left has rebounded. The Liberal Democrats have suffered severely already in several by-elections and may be decimated at the next general election. Indeed, it is still entirely possible that the Cameron administration could well suffer the fate of Edward Heath in the mid-seventies, when his Conservative administration was thrown out of power after only a single term of office. And then there's CSJ's former director, Philippa Stroud, currently Iain Duncan-Smith's executive assistant within his current portfolio as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Stroud founded the “Kings Arm Project” in Bedford after returning to London when she returned to London from Hong Kong in 1997. Commendably, it helped to rehabilitate down and out alcoholics and drug addicts. That is not the problem here. What is the problem should be familiar to all critics of “faith-based initiatives”, which is that privatised and delegated welfare services can be deeply dangerous to any LGBT clients who are forced to absorb homophobic and transphobic propaganda as a condition of receiving food, accomodation and medical services. Unfortunately, the Kings Arm Project may be a textbook example of such perils. Ali, a young transperson, was enrolled in the programme because her parents were convinced that Ali was “demonically possessed” due to gender identity issues. Stroud and others prayed over and “exorcised” Ali. T. was gay and after he took a break from KAP, his depression lifted as he learnt to accept his sexual orientation. Kacey Jones was told that if she didn’t abandon her lesbian relationship, she would be forced to leave a ‘discipleship house’ for “Christians with problems.” As a Pentecostal, Stroud wrote in her God’s Heart for the Poor that “demonic activity” should be ‘exorcised” through the power of “prayer.” In one reference, there is also mention of “perversion.” Without further investigation, it is uncertain whether she was referring to homosexuality or to predatory paraphilias like pedophilia, which is a psychopathology. What about the Maxim Institute, though? Since "Logangate" destroyed its Christchurch offices and forced the closure of Evidence in 2005 after Paul Litterick exposed former Institute Director Bruce Logan's copyright "issues", current Institute CEO Greg Fleming has sought to rebrand the organisation. Since then, it has adopted Tory anglophilia and established close relationships with UK Tory thinktanks like Policy Exchange and the Centre for Social Justice, hoping to capitalise on perceptions of a shared political culture to foster good relations with the New Zealand National Party. Unfortunately, Duncan-Smith is too unreconstructed in his own social attitudes and his past outbursts. Inviting Duncan-Smith is a poor move, though. Iain Duncan-Smith is an extreme social conservative on issues like abortion and homosexuality. His presence can only arouse fears about its own unreconstructed militant fundamentalism and raise questions about its degree of influence within the Key era National Party- and dissuade social liberal voters from voting for the centre-right in November? It has also provided the New Zealand Labour Opposition with a gift. If I were Phil Goff and Annette King, I'd book a conference call with Ed Miliband and his advisors and plan an ambush, come late July... Recommended: Tim Bale: The Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron: London: Polity Press: 2010. Jonathon Derbyshire: "Poor relations" New Statesman: 01.03.2010: "Gay partners of parents should have less rights, says report by former Tory leader":. Pink News. 2009-07-17. Jamie Dowd: “Rising Tory star Philippa Stroud ran prayer sessions to ‘cure’ gay people” Observer: 02.05.10: “Philippa Stroud appointed special advisor at Department of Work and Pensions” Pinknews: 16.05.2010: Hugh Bochel (ed) The Conservative Party and Social Policy: London: Policy Press: 2011 Not Recommended: Philippa Stroud: God’s Heart for the Poor: Eastbourne: Kingsway: 1999 Centre for Social Justice: Britain's Conservative Majority (CSJ, 2004): Maxim Institute: Craig Young - 28th June 2011    
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