Earlier today, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was read, by a former member of his party, what is written on the back of every Lib Dem membership card.
“The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”
Specifically he was asked, live on LBC radio, how he can reconcile this government’s attacks on the poorest within society with these stated aims of the Lib Dems.
Clegg responded that he was ‘immensely proud’ and drew listeners’ attention to the changes in income tax. A policy which the party claims will cut “£600 from your income tax bill”.
Clegg’s claim misses the wider picture and flies in face of the TUC’s suggestion that the UK’s poorest families are facing a 30% reduction in income by 2017. It ignores evidence put forward recently by the Charted Institute of Housing that says 400,000 of the poorest families are losing out because of the government’s new benefits system.
Indeed, I am sure that these facts and figures go some way to explain why ‘John’ – the former Lib Dem County Councillor who rang LBC this morning – said he was ‘ashamed’ of the party.
Clearly on this answer, John and I disagreed with Clegg. Did we expect anything else though? Did we expect Clegg to suddenly condemn the coalition? Of course not. Clegg is in this coalition for the long haul.
Was there anything in the Q & A that I agreed with? Well, there was one answer.
Q: If you had to take one [Tory] for a drink?
A: Ken Clarke
Nick and Ken could talk about what it feels like to be ignored at Cabinet meetings…
Chris “there is no room in the inn for gays” Grayling becomes Justice Secretary
Remember these comments:
“if you look at the case of ‘Should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from their hotel?’ I took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home”. The words of Chris Grayling MP.
In other words he suggested that a gay couple should allowed to be turned away if the B&B owner’s didn’t want these ‘gays’ in their house. Hmm…
Douglas Murray writing in the Telegraph highlights one problem with this assertion:
“A man owns a B&B. He is also a Christian. In common with many Christians he believes that the Bible is the inspiration for living, but not a textbook….He also recognises that an obsession with gays is something which a particularly intolerant, unchristian and backward sub-set of Christianity, largely comprising black Africans, holds dear. Therefore he decides it is against his religious beliefs to entertain black African Christians at his guesthouse because he does not like their beliefs, attitudes or practices. There is no reason, in Grayling’s analysis, why this should not happen”
Discrimination, as Murray goes to length to point out, can apply to sexuality, ethnicity, class or any other form of prejudice. If we let the standards slip on one there is little theoretical reason to protect the others.
Equally, Grayling’s comments also puts him on the wrong side of the law. Under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 no-one should be refused goods or services on the grounds of their sexuality. Grayling’s comments stand in stark contrast to this regulation.
It with just a little alarm then that Grayling has been appointed as the new Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice replacing Ken Clarke. Not only does he hold these discriminatory views but as Michael Crick points out:
A non-lawyer with a healthy dose of prejudice…was there really no one better? Apparently there was:
So, is there any good news in this reshuffle? Well, perhaps it is best summed up by the following tweet:
The full cabinet is:
Only two and half years until the general election…
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Filed under Politics
Tagged as Grayling B&B comments, Ken clarke, Reshuffle