Friday, 20 April 2012

A ramble about art, shops, same sex marriage local politics


My attempts to paint Whistler’s mother, she is the one who has just let go of the young James Abbott McNeill’s pram, are still not going well.
  
I did also take some photographs during my day off yesterday, see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop412/id14.htm

It was a shame to see the shop Time and Space has closed.

I guess like the others who didn’t attend the council meeting yesterday, I have tried to make some sense of it, on the one hand I received the ordinary press releases from the council, while on the other various reports are appearing on other blogs.

This is Thanet Life http://birchington.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/dark-and-unhappy-place.html it’s not far off two hysterical women have entered the chamber and want to stand as councillors. 

As far as I can make out there is some variance between the view on same sex marriage held by the national government and that held by some of our councillors.

I guess living in a first world country I have always expected it to be leading the way on equality issues and am frankly a bit nonplussed at the antics of these councillors. Obviously I can understand individuals of religious conviction who at some personal level view, see say women or homosexuals as inferior, and unsuitable to hold certain offices, but to bring this sort of prejudice forward as representative of their constituents is just frankly embarrassing.   

One wonders if one followed this through to a logical conclusion and the council were to debate other equal rites assumed in this country whether we would have councillors who would abstain or vote against them. I wonder where the line would be drawn, do we have councillors opposed or ambivalent to women voting, opposed to or ambivalent abolition of slavery, are there those who view homosexuality as a disease that needs curing or a crime requiring punishment?

The alternative to having equal marriage and we are talking here only about civil marriages, (the legislation proposed makes it illegal for religious organisations to be licensed for same sex marriages,) would be to have legal documentation that said civil partner or husband/wife on it. In other words we would have documentation, insurance forms, wills, employment documentation that specifically stated that people were homosexual or heterosexual.

I wonder how many of these individuals would want to live in a country where equality and human rights were behind ours and exactly how far historically they would wish to take this.

Considering that some people who enter politics of all parties have quite strong feelings about equality, I would think if the Conservative group continue along these lines there is a reasonable possibility that some of their number may cross the floor, the only thing I am really uncertain about is where they would cross to, because on this issue the only group that seem to be at odds with Conservative party policy is the Conservative group. Perhaps they will form the Conservative group, this rather begs the question, what would the existing Conservative group call themselves?    

I will ramble on as time affords.

26 comments:

  1. I really don't see how "Civil Partnerships" for gays (which NO cllrs & few other people seem opposed to) isn't already equality. It's just the wording they want changed. Let's keep the word "marriage" for male & female couples, just as the word "husband" means a male & the word "bride" means a female (though I'm sure the small minority of homosexuals with an inferiority complex, a chip on their shoulder and a militant tendency will oppose that next).

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    1. Peter I am happily married and fail to see why other couples who wish to get married shouldn’t be allowed to get married as well. Nor do I think that they should have a separate status, say when applying for a job that would reveal their sexual status.

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    2. Many job applications ask for people to state their race too, but as long as there's an option not to say then what's the problem?

      Those people who preach against intolerance should learn to be more tolerant of other people's beliefs too.

      I'm glad I'm not one of them (even though I'm "one of them", ie a bit of a wooly-woofter!).

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    3. Ah Peter you may be a bit of a woolly-woofter, but you aint married and if you eventually decide to marry another woolly-woofter there may be occasions when you don’t want woolly-woofter written all over your personal papers.

      There is also the alternate view here that at the moment I have heterosexual (I don’t think there is there any slang for it apart from, straight) written all over mine, but I have to say I find this sort of stereotyping unacceptable.

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  3. Now as a heterosexual male will I be allowed to enter into a civil partnership with a female ?

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    1. Symbolism, I think the fundamental here is about granting equality, going down the road of having two systems doesn’t make much sense, and anyone with a civil partnership will be able to convert it into a civil marriage, leaving a few who wish to label themselves as gay, labelled thus. The option to enter into a heterosexual partnership with the associated paperwork labelling you as gay won’t be open to you, although I guess you could decide on engaging in camp behaviour at job interviews and the like.

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  4. Whatever, this wooly-woofter will be voting for Roger Gale again in the next election. I don't 100% agree with his opinion on this, but it's pretty low on my priorities of what makes a good MP.

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  5. Interesting point about Conservatives crossing the floor to become Conservatives, but surely all political parties embrace a wide range of views and opinions. Any party that claimed all its members supported all its policies would be a dictatorship.

    I think much of the divide over same sex marriage follows religious rather than political belief and such is the case with me. It would not matter which political party I supported as, on this issue, I would go with my faith. Mind you, I accept that, even within religious groups, opinion is divided which is why, at this time, groups in the Church of England of a high church or Anglo-catholic persuassion are moving over to the Roman Catholic church.

    What seems to be overlooked in all this branding of the Conservatives as homophobes is that it is a Conservative led government that is introducing the proposal to lift the ban on same sex marriage. Labour never did in thirteen yhears in government. My gripe would be that it was not in their election manifesto, for had it been I would not have campainged for them, and it did not form part of the coalition agreement.

    Simply put, they have no public mandate for this proposal.

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  6. The loss of Time & Space is sad for it is a shop I visited often. Great for something different for the young (and old sometimes) male relatives. One has to wonder why for it had been in Broadstairs for some years, moved to larger premises a couple of years back and always seemed to have customers. It even had a gaming room downstairs and fairly regular visits from characters from Star Wars. Then, quite suddenly, it has gone without the usual weeks of closing down sales.

    Does anyone know if there is a story here?

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    1. Ren the story is end of lease, the equation is a simple one and relates to the difference in profit between say a Star Wars figure or a book and the profit on a cup of tea, selling a house or offering no claim no win legal services in a compensation culture. The shop rents have defaulted to being related to the latter group and the business will move online where there is no shop rent. The problem for those of us visiting Broadstairs will be what do you do with your compensation, on a dull day, after you have bought your house, eaten your lunch and had a cuppa?

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  7. Peter Tom

    I guess the last hundred years, give or take has seen three big equality issues, racial discrimination, discrimination against women and discrimination against homosexuals. As an example there were women who were against granting women the right to vote, perhaps when this was granted they didn’t vote, I would guess no one bothered to check.

    I think there is a considerable difference here between the views of one individual and the policy of a political party, now Peter over the last week or so, you have stated on several occasions that you are a practicing bisexual. You may have noticed that no one has beaten you up or arrested you. In the last general election you voted Conservative, in fact you voted for a party with a reasonable history on discrimination, woman prime minister and so on. You also voted for Roger Gale who is a reasonably good MP, suppose you had in fact been beaten up and then encountered homophobic police officers over the last couple of weeks because of publicising the fact you are a bisexual, how would you expect your MP to react? My guess is he would have taken up your case and fought it for you all the way to the top.

    Tom I agree with pretty much everything you say in your comment, however I don’t think this sort of basic equality issue features much in political manifestos, it is much more to do with the acceptable norm moving, rather in the way women were quietly given the vote after WW1, people had introspective moments, considered going down the road of inequality, looked at a few other countries where inequalities were the norm, considered the various other options and that was it.

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  8. You make some valid points, Michael, though I feel that on the so called equality issue the sensibilities and rights of majorities are often ignored. Perhaps the biggest rights issue in post WWII era has been the self determination of indigenous peoples in the former European empires, but that has often led to the total loss of rights for minorities within those emerging nations. Maybe in the progression towards equality there are winners, but it follows there must inevitably be losers as well.

    I do not agree with you that governments seemingly have the right to ignore the electorate under the guise of 'acceptable norm moving' whatever that means. The votes for women campaign prior to WWI was very high profile, but the role played by women in that war softened the stance of their opponents so that by the time it was introduced there was little opposition.

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  9. "You also voted for Roger Gale who is a reasonably good MP, suppose you had in fact been beaten up and then encountered homophobic police officers over the last couple of weeks because of publicising the fact you are a bisexual, how would you expect your MP to react? My guess is he would have taken up your case and fought it for you all the way to the top."

    Exactly Michael! I'm sick of all this rubbish about him being homophobic just because he doesn't believe it right for homosexuals to use the word "marriage" to define their partnerships.

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    1. Peter I think this is a difficult one to view from the point of view of homophobia because this is a current issue, but viewed from the stance of other equality issues, the statements: I am not racist but am opposed to racial equality and I am not sexist but am opposed to sexual equality, do have a certain mutual exclusiveness that could be interpreted by some people as bigoted. When you reach the point where a local political group is justifying their group policy and party whip based on the premise that they are not homophobic but are supporting voting against discussing homosexual equality, then it sort of follows that other political groups will take advantage of this.

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    2. I AM opposed to inequality, I just don't see why ONE WORD should be changed. What's bigoted about that? Homosexuals, gays, woofters or whatever we want to call them CAN get married in all but name.

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    3. Peter the intention isn’t I think to change the word, this would be renaming civil partnerships as marriage, the intention is to move to a situation where there is equality between opposite sex couples and same sex couples, with respect to civil marriage.

      As I have pointed out before this is difficult to resolve when it is going on and also difficult to resolve within a world context, with first world countries moving towards equality.

      Quite a few issues go away if we are among the countries leading the way on this issue, for instance the status of same sex married couples from other countries, is only an issue for those countries lagging behind.

      It is possible that you will have to generate some new slang to cover same sex marriage partners, trouble and trouble, strife and strife, come to mind.

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  10. Tom I don’t think resolving the issue with a war to end wars is an option here, nor do I think furthering equality legislation by tying to make it a vote winner would work. With the women’s vote example this leads you down the road of, how many men want to vote for giving women the right to vote.

    The religious issue is a complex one for Christianity where the hierarchy has a tendency to default to Pharisee like stances, instead of grasping the moral imperative, indeed I think the last time Christianity really grasped the moral imperative on sexual matters was when Christ recommended not stoning to death those who didn’t follow the sexual customs of his time.

    There is a sense where it is the nature of Christianity to expect Christians to resolve their own conundrums and this goes back to Adam. For example, one can reasonably assume that Adam and Eve loved each other, there is a sense in which they define sexual love, so had Adam refused the apple would it have been god’s intention to put Adam in heaven and Eve in hell? It sort of follows that if you don’t go to hell for original sin then what sort of sin would qualify.

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    1. Whilst on the subject of Roger Gale, I was dismayed at the mis-information trotted out by the BBC News the other evening. The Minister of Transport has taken an interest in using Manston as extra runway capacity. The BBC interviewed Roger Gale on the subject,requiring an upbeat interview and actually stated Manston was in his constituency, Roger Gale did not correct that. Unless boundary changes have taken place that I have not heard about, my understanding is that Manston comes in South Thanet, Laura Sandys constituency.

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    2. I think you will find that the Thanet villages, including Manston, lie in North Thanet whilst the villages on the Stour to the West, like Minster through to Ash are in South Thanet. Whilst the boundary is not absolutely clear from the on line map, it would appear to divide what was once RAF Manston, so I would imagine both our Thanet MPs have an interest.

      Strange that you seem to be rising to alarm bells at the suggestion of using the runway when just a few days ago. in a response to me, you said you were not opposed to a successful regional airport. Do you only support it if no planes use it?

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    3. Tom, any alarm bells I was raising was about the accuracy of the constituency boundaries, if you say part of the airport is in Roger Gale's area then I bow to your superior knowledge.

      As far as using Manston for extra capacity is concerned, I have no problem with daylight flights and in fact I take quite an interest when a jumbo skims the rooftops of Ramsgate. I still believe that night flights will be detrimental to the whole Thanet economy and Manston will never be the "treasure at the end of the rainbow" as advocated by some.

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  11. Michael, heaven forbid I should make such a suggestion, but I merely made the point that, arising out of the stirling work done by women in that war, the opposition to them getting the vote had melted away. Hence the government of the day did not act in defiance of public opinion.

    On the religious question, where is sex defined as a mortal sin. I think the difference may be somewhere between sex that has the prospect of procreaction and that which is simply indulging in the pleasures of the flesh, however bizarre or kinky. Christ, if you want to raise New Testament stories, stepped in to stop the stoning of a woman who had committed adultery. There is no evidence of him so protecting someone who had committed sodomy or buggary though, equally, that is not to say he would not have. God on the other hand has form for turning such sinners to stone and laying waste to their cities.

    Perhaps the point is not what we mere handful, in worldwide terms, of Christians think, but also the views of almost every other religious group. Like Dawkins and others, who love to question or even ridicule faith, you go for the soft Christian option. Try debating your support for same sex marriage in a Becton mosque or with Messrs. Hamza and Qatadar.

    I return to my point that where equality in law already exists, why inflame passions and feelings over the name of a union. Prior to this debate I would not have considered myself homophobic for I really could not care less what people do in the privacy of their homes and bedrooms. I also know and like a number of gay people, but as a result of the way Driver and Worrow have stirred up this issue in Thanet, I find I now intensely dislike both of them, though probably more for their mouths and egos than for their sexuality. If that makes me a homophobe then I wear the badge with pride (am I allowed to still use that word).

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  12. I'm so glad I grew up to experience the 70s, albeit only as a school kid, THE most permissive decade ever (post strict censorship of the 50s & 60s / pre AIDS and PC of the dreaded 80s). How I wish we still had Benny Hill and The Sweeney (both "sexist"), It Ain't Half Hot Mum and The Black & White Minstrel Show (both "racist"), Dick Emery and Larry Grayson (both "homophobic")... we'll never have that freedom of expression again, thanks to the likes of Driver and Worrow (aka Zippy and Bungle).

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    1. Peter, with you all the way on those programmes and the ability to laugh with and at each other as well as ourselves. Loved the Sweeney when cops still arrested and incarcerated villains with expressions like "You're nicked you scumbag" resurrected to some extent by the very popular 'Life on Mars' series. Mind you, life was not bad as a heterosexual young soldier in the sixties when females felt liberated by the pill and Peter Sarsted wanted to know where some totty went to when she was alone in ner bed. Happy days.

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  13. Tom I think we will keep to the issue in hand, which is the council meeting and same sex marriage debate as I don’t think we could move to civil governance based on the Old Testament because once all the candidates for stoning had been killed there wouldn’t be many people left. With other religions, in most cases the situation varies as it does in Christianity, so rules vary dependant more on sect than sex, fundamental operation rule – all ranks; some men in dresses are sects maniacs.
    I think the real issue here is our local Conservative group and their failure to function as a viable opposition, blundering into a situation where the held neither the moral imperative or current Conservative ideology. This is partly due to the layering of the local Conservative group, we have the old Sandy Roger cabinet firmly set in the 1960s, slowly infiltrated by the new men with a mindset of Conservative political thinking set in the mid 70s.
    On the issue of gays for example this would be moving from considering decriminalising homosexuality to Lord Arran's qualification "I ask those [homosexuals] to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity…
    Here we are 35 years later where most of their constituents will have at least one out gay in their family and the Conservative national government not on the threshold of Thatcher and a large majority, but working effectively as a minority government.
    What we need now in Thanet is a positive opposition at cabinet level the main cabinet issue at the moment is the deferred Royal Sands development agreement, theoretically the only people privy to the secret cabinet documents and secret cabinet meetings would be the cabinet and shadow cabinet.
    At the moment I am engaged in a fairly convoluted dialogue about this matter with cabinet members and the senior officer who prepared the agreement. So I asked the member of the shadow cabinet who is shadowing the cabinet member responsible for this issue asking if he would like me to send him the documents for comments, here is the reply.
    “Michael
    Looks like you will have the same success with Labour as you had with us. I prefer not to be drawn into this particular hobby of yours if possible
    Thanks”

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    1. On the Royal Sands saga I would be inclined to agree with the Shadow Cabinet member. On the issue of same sex marriage and whether it should have been debated at TDC level, I think we must agree to differ and I think you have a somewhat jaundiuced view of the Thanet Conservatives. Anyone who can feel any confidence in the alternative administration must also have some faith in miracles I might suggest.

      As to family, well mine have no gay members, so far, and most are in long term straight marriages. I actually do not know any gays amongst my neighbours, but there are a couple attend my church who seem like decent folk. I did know one once through a youth organisation and he was very lucky not to see the inside of a cell. We can only take as we find.

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