Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Illiberality of the Lib Dems


THE Liberal Democrats have attracted a considerable number to their party from Conservative and Labour ranks, dismayed either by the Conservative stance on Brexit since Boris Johnson took over the leadership or by the policies of Jeremy Corbyn, especially his tardiness to act over anti-Semitism by supporters.

One of the defectors from Labour was the little-known Rob Flello,  a former MP who lost his Stoke South seat to the Conservatives in 2017. 

Last Monday he was selected by his new party to stand again for Parliament in the same constituency, having joined the Lib Dems just two months earlier in September to a welcome which delighted him.

Mr Flello is a practising Roman Catholic and takes a traditional view on homosexuality and abortion. Perhaps he could be accused of naivety in thinking his new political home would really welcome him with open arms in view of the unease many Lib Dem members expressed about the Christian beliefs held by their former leader, Tim Farron, despite his voting for nearly all LGBT legislation measures. He should also have been minded that Dr Phillip Lee, the former Tory MP for Bracknell who also joined the Lib Dems in September, had to withstand hostility from certain quarters within his new party for supporting an amendment to the Immigration Bill, that immigrants with HIV should be refused entry to this country.

Thirty-six hours after Mr Flello’s nomination it was withdrawn by the Lib Dem hierarchy because of his socially conservative views which include his opposition to gay marriage, although it should be pointed out that four Lib Dem MPs also voted against this legislation and others abstained. In a statement the party said: ‘We do our best to screen candidates in our approval process. In this case it only really became clear over the past few hours how greatly his values diverge from ours.’

So this nice, tolerant party led by Jo Swinson brooks no dissent on LGBT orthodoxy even for those with a religious conscience.

Mr Flello said: ‘I am profoundly concerned that people of faith who adhere to their religious beliefs are not welcome in their party.’

The Labour Party has taken a similar line with Roger Godsiff, the MP for Birmingham Hall Green who stood up for his constituents’ complaints about cultural indoctrination of their children in the wake of protests in Birmingham over LGBT-inclusive education in primary schools. Mr Godsiff said: ‘I have concerns about the age appropriateness of children of four and five being introduced to these ideas.’ He has now been barred from standing as a Labour  candidate.

While there is more latitude for those with a social conscience in the Conservative Party, they do not seem to care enough about it either to make such assaults on freedom of conscience and expression, growing intolerance and dogmatism, a campaigning issue with which to attack their opponents – which says all you need to know about the state of mainstream politics today.

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