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Photograph: Gary Calton for the Observe

Robbie’s Election Coverage: Stop the Crucifixion of St. Tim Farron

I’m not renowned for being a writer who indulges being noticeably vague, so I’ll be honest: I have very little time for the Liberal Democrats in their current incarnation. Admittedly, I voted Remain, yet I find the Liberal Democrats inability to accept the referendum result staggeringly arrogant. Farron and accomplices display a constant desire to undermine the Government, seemingly motivated by a desire to see Brexit fail for their own electoral gain. This is a strategy I find reprehensible particularly because it puts the future of their party first, before the good of the nation.

Furthermore, it seems to me an undeniable reality that Farron seems to be attempting to undermine the Government’s ability to negotiate a coherent Brexit strategy at all costs by his constant unreasonable proposals entailing the demand of a second referendum. The entire purpose of said referendum is to invalidate the result of the first, consequently poisoning debate and eventually leading to yet another referendum being held on halting the entire process. This or the Liberal Democrats would demand that remaining a member of the EU be on the ballot, which cannot be entertained. Even as a remain voter, I can see the ultimate strategy of the Liberal Democrats is spectacularly dishonest.

Farron needs to understand that he, as a Remainer, is far less qualified to tell Leave voters what they understood to be the outcome the Leave voters voted for. Farron also needs to grasp that his claims the voting public of Great Britain didn’t vote to leave the Single Market are paper-thin at best, and can be easily rebuked. Britain voted to leave the European Union, which obviously includes all the institutions of the European Union. The very same institutions that Farron, during the referendum, campaigned as having made such a positive contribution to the economy. Notably, he focused on the Single Market.

Farron cannot possibly dare claim that Brits were unaware of the Single Market, or the benefits of that bloc, without admitting that he himself did a catastrophically unsatisfactory job of campaigning, as did Remain. Both sides focused on those institutions, and Farron’s argument condescendingly instructing Leavers exactly what the vision of Britain they voted for is is perhaps not just distasteful, but a sign of an extremely sore loser who not only wishes to undermine the process, but dominate it, despite having lost and only 9 MPs.

I wouldn’t trust Farron with Government, because, to me, he seems not only highly unscrupulous, but his strategy is dishonest. He, in my view, will let Britain fail simply to make a point on Brexit, rather than try to make Brexit a success. He is, however, like the worst of Europe in his practices; demanding the people vote on a situation again, with the aim of essentially reversing the outcome of the previous vote, is a typical Eurocratic strategy we’ve seen deployed time after time.

So, having identified that Farron and his party have electoral weaknesses and poor arguments, it infuriates me that I now have to defend Farron from an unfair crucifixion, on a number of counts. Farron is now being constantly harassed about his personal religious belief about whether homosexual intercourse is a sin. This has been asked of Farron time and time again, and Farron, as a Christian, has struggled to answer the questions compellingly. But should Farron even be asked these questions? It seems evident to me that he should not. Why? Several reasons.

Firstly, we should not care as to what Farron thinks about the act of homosexual intercourse, we should simply care how he legislates on it. We cannot police an individual’s views on sexuality, and personal views on it. There are many Christian and non-Christian individuals who show no will to discriminate, yet may find homosexual intercourse unpalatable or indeed, even sinful. C’est la vie.

Farron may think that homosexual intercourse is purely sinful, but if he is willing to tolerate it in a liberal and tolerant society, we shouldn’t be able to fault him for this. How many individuals do you know who feel uncomfortable with the sexual aspects of homosexuality but wouldn’t discriminate against it? I’m guessing a few. Farron’s personal views largely have shown not to be relevant to how he legislates. Unless he later breaks his word on his personal views, this is not an issue.

Secondly, Farron notes that politicians shouldn’t’ “pontificate on theological matters.” I largely agree with him in terms of discussing the morality of certain actions, but would note that we shouldn’t assume that because he follows a certain religious belief, or belongs to a certain church, that his opinion is that of the majority. Even then, Farron can have private religious beliefs that are separate from his Governmental policies. Thatcher, Blair, and almost all Prime Ministers, including Theresa May, will have personal stances that they realise they cannot bring into policy making.

Consequently, an example would be that I identify as an individual who opposes abortion on a personal level, yet have realised that it is both important and largely positive that women be able to make their own choice, and to do so in a safe environment and they are aware of the risks. To separate some personal convictions from policy making is often a sign of intellectual strength.

Thirdly, we shouldn’t be surprised if Farron believes that it is a sin. He’s clarified that he does not, but I think that is to silence the hounds of the media that have been unleashed upon him. Homosexual intercourse has for a long time been deemed a sin by large swathes of the theology of Christianity. Importantly, it remains considered so in many branches of the faith and churches. What is beginning to worry me, is that elements of religious society that have extreme reservations about homosexuality may be hounded for a stance that should be their right to hold. The LGBT community should be much more careful; it should be standing against those who would actually discriminate against it, rather than those who feel uncomfortable due to it.

Another question, though perhaps a side note, that comes to mind is why are these question uniquely being asked of Tim Farron? Surely this question could and should now be asked of Sadiq Khan and other religious politicians who are of faiths that traditionally disapprove of homosexual intercourse? Would you react quite in the same way had you found out a Jewish or Muslim individual who held such beliefs? I’d dare suggest that in the case of the latter, the beliefs may actually be even more extreme.

And ultimately, why is there this constant need to bring an individuals faith into politics? It doesn’t seem relevant. Tim Farron rarely notes that he is a Christian, largely only when he is needled about his faith. Alasdair Campbell once is noted as having said to Blair, “We don’t do God.” Unless an individual is bringing God into politics, and importantly policy, perhaps it is best “We don’t do God” as a cheap way to attack and undermine them.

Laughably, though, Tim Farron’s inability to communicate a clear answer on whether homosexual intercourse is an issue is manifestly a problem for the Liberal Democrats. A leader needs to be able to communicate their views effectively: and one of the main issues with Farron is that he has been so clumsy and allowed such a non-issue to become such a major unresolved attack point. He has allowed it to dominate the news.

I won’t be voting for the Liberal Democrats in 2017, but if I would encourage you not to decide not to vote Liberal Democrat because of some poorly constructed smear of homophobia that doesn’t exist.

About Robbie Travers

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Robbie Travers is a Political Commentator at the Gatestone Institute, former Communications staff at the Human Security Centre, and a law student at the University of Edinburgh. He has written for Left Foot Forward, the Telegraph, and the Clarion Project.

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