Well what a week this has been. Our Prime Minister has announced a snap election she promised we wouldn’t have, for a mandate which she doesn’t need, to move the country forward with something she never wanted to do.
That’s the long and short of the story which is dominating the news. And of course, the announcement of this election has catapulted the three main figures of British politics back into the limelight. Theresa May – the leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister incumbent. Tim Farron – the leader of the Liberal Democrats, who remains massively against the idea of Brexit altogether. And Jeremy Whatshisface – the leader of that other party, who is poorly skilled at locating seats on trains.
As I’m sure you guessed from the title, it’s not Corbyn who has kicked up the biggest of fusses of the three. It’s Farron. The limelight has brought to light some comments he made a while back, which in turn has sent the people of Twitter into an opinionated attention-seeking frenzy.
Tim Farron is a Christian. And he was queried a number of years ago about whether or not he thought homosexuality was a sin. In his textbook politician answer he told us… not a lot. Neither confirming, nor denying. In recent hours and days, speculation has once again gained momentum. Does he think homosexuality is a sin? If so, how can he call himself ‘liberal’?
His answer has now changed. From a less wish-washy “we are all sinners” to a more palatable “we need to do even more for LBGT rights”. However, what his answer actually is, is less interesting to me than both the reaction of the people of Twitter, and what his answer could have been.
“You can’t be liberal if you think homosexuality is a sin” is the gist of what most people think. And the strongest stream of my instinct certainly does resonate with that response. But the more evaluative side of me questions it. Is it not possible for both to be true?
Is it not possible for somebody to think a persons path in life is not right, a mistake, even – but also defend their right to walk that path and make that mistake? Isn’t that pretty much what liberalism is – a mentality of ‘live and let live’?
If you think that homosexual sex is a sin, then my response to you has always been “don’t have homosexual sex”. I don’t mind what you do, as long as it’s not bothering me – and the same should apply precisely the other way around.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that Farron has backtracked on his comments and has finally made his stance on the matter clear – regardless of his motivations behind doing so. But if any politician defends my right to dictate my own innocent behaviour, then that is a lot more important to me than whether or not they personally agree with it. And, wouldn’t you say, more liberal than forbidding me to do something, because they themselves disagree with it?
“The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment.”
– Bertrand Russell