Thursday, June 15, 2017

The evolution of Farron

I read today (with some surprise) that Tim Farron has quit the Liberal Democratic party. He left with a rather strange parting shot, "We are kidding ourselves if we think we live in a liberal and tolerant society,”. 

The underpinning of this comment, I think, comes from the idea that it's impossible to be a "Bible believing" Christian and a leader of a political party in today's UK. It's an interesting idea but is it true? I'm left wondering if the Liberals couldn't live with a Christian leader or whether they simply couldn't live with this particular Christian leader or even if this particular Christian leader couldn't sit comfortably in a secular society that is essentially"liberal"? It's not clear to me what specific aspects of Christianity Farron felt weren't compatible with being the leader of his political party, I wonder if it was the whole "is gay sex a sin" thing, probably, but then again no one was asking Farron to have gay sex (presumably?) so in what way does having a viewpoint on something that runs counter to the majority, or even just some other interest-group, count as a disqualification from holding high-office? 

The absence of detail is causing many in the media today to speculate on the "real" reason for this resignation. Some are saying that it's just a cover story for his failures to win more seats, whereas others are digging a bit deeper into the whole church-state separation issue. I have sympathies with both these points of view. I believe that it's quite right and proper for the public to be able to question, probe and criticise the personal beliefs of someone standing for public office, after all it's these beliefs that will understandably influence positions taken. Anyone in this position must understand that people are free to disagree, no one is telling Farron what to think but if he holds a view that runs seriously counter to most people then he needs to be prepared to defend it. Unfortunately defending a societal position based on the defence that "it's written in a 2000 year old magic-book" is only going to appeal to a small minority of the population. At what point does a belief in the Bible stop and theocracy begin? For example, I suspect that in this very picture he's wearing a tie made from multiple fabrics, should we be expected to hold Tim to his word?

No doubt we will find answers to these questions in his memoirs, available at fine bookshops everywhere of course! (I bet Karen Armstrong has cash-registers ringing in her ears right now)

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