Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday, 27 September 2009

The SNP and its pro-religioinist homophobic agenda

The SNP and its leadership are skilled political operators and even someone like me who opposes (vehemently) their basic policy objective of taking Scotland out of its partnership within the United Kingdom would have to accept that they play a good political game.

But do its supporters always understand those whom they support and the less-emphasised (at least in the mainstream press reports) policy issues which underlie much of the SNP agenda? Amongst the younger age-groups which the SNP seems to see as forming its natural support-base, specially in the future, one wonders if they understand fully just who it is they are supporting?

I've written about this matter before, although the comments provoked on that occasion from a pro-SNP political-activist (and now Westminster-candidate) have unfortunately been lost, because in the intervening 18 months I have changed my commenting system from Haloscan to the one offered by Google/Blogger for technical reasons, when I was obliged to alter radically my blog template toward the end of 2008 (I wrote about the then forthcoming change here).

In the latest issue of Scotsgay magazine, Issue 94, Garry Otton (of Scottish Media Monitor fame) takes a detailed look at the SNP and its associations with (and financial support from and to) various religious groups and on various issues - you'll need to scroll down to page 10 of the linked .PDF file to find the 'Badge of Shame' article. A few brief extracts from Gary Otton's article are instructive in illustrating some of the less well publicised aspects of SNP policy, despite earlier attempts in comments to my earlier article to pooh-pooh such concerns:


"Salmond confesses that religion is the driving force in his thinking and seeks to accommodate Catholic thinking on every level, supporting (.. [*]) more sectarian or 'faith' schools and lobbying Whitehall for Catholic adoption agencies to be given an 'indefinite' exemption on gay adoption."

"Since gaining power, Alex Salmond snubbed a debate on gay equality which was attended by all political parties, even the Tories.[*]"

"... a senior SNP councillor in the Borders and Nationalist constituency party chairman, Keith Gunn exposed his 'beliefs' during a BBC Radio Scotland phone-in when he was asked why non-believers should have to treat the Bible with reverence. He confessed, 'Well non-believers are damned to Hell anyway, so why should we bother?' Presenter Graham Stewart suggested he might 'live alongside other people and have respect', but he was having none of it, 'No, I don't think so' he gushed. 'When we all went to church on a Sunday morning and we all prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ every Sunday morning, this was a much better country. Look where it is going now. We have got so-called gays who are really very sad people and we have non-believers and heathens, you know, running the country and running down Christianity. .... The SNP were quick only to dismiss his ideas as 'personal'."

"Writing in the Scottish Catholic Observer, he [Salmond] went on to promise the Catholic Church he would do all he could to secure them exemptions from equality legislation - already passed by Parliament into law - that some Catholics saw as forcing them to treat gays equally in their quest to become prospective parents in publicly-funded, Catholic adoption agencies."

Just where is the SNP trying to take Scotland, riven as it seems to be (from top to bottom) with religious 'zealots'?! It takes great care not to talk too openly about its 'theocratic' agenda, but it is there to ferret out if one cares to look - thanks are due to Gary Otton for his efforts at exposing some of the 'wackier' ideas.

[*] PS/ I have been reading Gary Otton's writings for quite a few years now so am not unaware of his definite left-wing (and probably pro-Labour) biases and his seeming visceral dislike of Conservatism, so it is probably necessary to factor similar caution into an evaluation of his feelings about the SNP in relation to Scottish politics and its rivarly with Labour for influence.

20 comments:

  1. I stopped reading when I got to Labour's Gary Otten.

    Gary's hypocrisy is unbounded, where is his criticims of Bernie Ecklestone's donations to Labour, Parliamnetary sleaze and taking money from Russian plutocrats?

    Let's not even start with the criminal activities of the Liberal And Tory donors..

    At the end of the day people vote for policies, they have a choice.

    In Gary's rather totalitarian LGBT world, sexuality is a form of politics.

    In mine it's not and I support the SNP.

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  2. Hi Wardog

    Well it's good to learn you remain open-minded (not).

    As for the accusatioons you fling around about donors to others political parties, quite frankly the SNP as recipients of large quantities of Souter's dosh have no right to criticise anyone else in this regard.

    I don't care for Gary Otton either, but I will evaluate his writing on its content, not on blind prejudice. Totalitarianism comes in many forms, and the SNP has its own rather myopic version and vision of what it has in store for Scotland, Gawd help us!

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  3. "As for the accusations you fling around about donors to others political parties"

    Yes, a happen to disagree with souter's views but then again I'm an atheist. What I don't disgaree with is discriminating against others views.

    Gary has no problem doing that which I think any seasoned blogger will acknowledged if they have ever read his rantings. Indeed, one only needs to visit his site to see the full conspiracy theory ramblings of a man approaching madness.

    It's a bit rich for you to accuse me of closed mindedness but I'll let that go, your allegiance to the British State is laughable in that context.

    "I will evaluate his writing on its content"

    Really, or did you just latch on to the anti-snp rhetoric?

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  4. Hi Wardog

    OK, so I don't like the SNP agenda to break up the UK, big deal! However, apart from a few well-known homophobes I had not been aware of the religious agenda which seems to underlie many prominent SNP people's thoughts - possibly a strategic decision taken to allow it to break-out of it geographic limitations and make electoral progress in the Central Belt, which is where Scottish elections are decided.

    I will take lessons from no-one, you included, about 'prejudice' and 'closed-mindedness'. I am basically, as I have never made a secret of saying, a strong supporter of the Conservative Party, but that did not stop me denouncing it and resigning as a member some years ago because of its latent and not-so-latent anti-gay agenda and I have still not rejoined because although the Party has changed, it still contains (in my opinion) some of the same old faults and prejudices. No Party is however, immune from these.

    Above all I am a democrat - if the Scottish people truly want to break up one of the most successful political unions in history, then so be it. I may not like it, but that's how it will have to be and I will accept it, just as I have come to accept the Scottish Parliament as a fact of life.

    I note, finally, that you have not rebutted in any way any of what Gary Otton has written about the anti-gay policies being fostered by the SNP, either through conviction or for base electoral motives - the motive matters not to me frankly, it's actions and the climate being tolerated that counts.

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  5. Hi Bill,

    Could you please explain to me where in that article Otton flags up a policy that is designed specifically to be anti-LGBT?

    From what I can tell, the basic premise of the article is as follows:

    1. There are religious people in the SNP.

    2. There are people in those religions who don't like gay people.

    3. Therefore, the SNP must be homophobes.


    So John Mason is religious. He has to represent everyone in Glasgow East and he knows it.

    So Roseanna Cunningham tried to block gay adoption. She failed - thanks, in part, to the other SNP MSPs.

    So faith played a role in MacAskill's decision to release Megrahi. That's a better anchor than Libyan oil money.

    And Otten himself admits that the SNP is making an effort to reach out to all faiths and none. That's a good thing, because - get this - Scotland is not an atheist nation. It is not secular. It has more than one religion and more than one denomination. Civic bodies - especially the Government - need to reach out to everyone, or they fail. That's not a theocratic agenda - that's equality for as many people as possible rather than the "equality for some more than others" model which is serving only to harm the LGBT argument.

    As for the adoption exemption, I've argued in the past that if it's wrong for Catholics to impose their views on us, so it's wrong for us to impose our views on them - however stuck in the past they may be!

    Finally, on Cllr Gunn, I can only say this (and even this may be pushing it): fusses have been kicked up where they need to be and they are being taken very seriously at the top level of the SNP.

    Basically, this whole article is an attempt to put two and two together and get 5,782,301.935. It has a whiff of the Terry Kelly about it (i.e. "You're gay, so have to support Labour" - a stance that makes me sick) and you're right to be cautious. The reality is, Otton has nothing to offer here, save smear and innuendo.

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  6. Hi Will

    Obviously I take your comments [more] seriously than some others and whilst I do not wish to exaggerate my reaction when I read the Otton article (given my basic scepticism about the motives of the author), I think you too must read it with fresh eyes and not simply with your 'SNP' blinkered eyes. If you can do that, then I will perhaps devote a little more care and attention than I am prepared to do at present to responding to your comments. Did you actually read the quotes from the article that I included? I realise it is distressing to see one's political 'soul-mates' criticised - I have had to go through this with my general sympathy for the Conservatives except on similar (LGBT) issues over the years, but I quickly came to the conclusion that the negative criticisms were unanswerable.

    Rebut Gary Otton's comments about the views and actions on LGBT issues of various (some senior) SNP people and I will be glad and relieved to read them. In other words, argue on the facts, not on personalities and I will take your comments more seriously.

    (PS/ I shall have a guest here in Spain for the next week from tomorrow so will probably have little/no opportunity to respond further here after mid-afternoon Tuesday until next week.)

    Best regards
    Bill

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  7. Traditionally, a huge number of Roman Catholics in Scotland have voted Labour. The SNP would dearly love to attract this vote. Reading the Scottish press, I have the distinct impression that the SNP is going out of its way to cosy up to the Roman Catholic hierarchy, who are virulently anti-gay and, what is more, are given much greater attention by the Scottish media that the English media gives religious leaders: I recall that the lead story on STV when Civil Partnerships came in was a film of Cardinal O'Brien, not subject to interview, condemning what he falsely represented as the forthcoming damage to morality, the family, etc.

    Freedom for that artificial geo-political entity, Scotland, may not be freedom for the individual men and women who live in Scotland, as political leaders seek to curry favour with intolerant religious leaders who very much want the law to force religious teachings on the whole population.

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  8. Exactly the point I was making in my response to one of the earlier comments. I'd like to think that even if I were an SNP supporter (which of course I'm not and there's no point in pretending otherwise) I'd have the intellectual integrity to face up to the actions the SNP is seemingly taking, either through conviction or for reasons of political expediency, in order to cement its foothold in west central Scotland.

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  9. The SNP is pro-religion? Alex Salmond?

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  10. Hi Bill,

    Can I respectfully suggest that if you're going to reply to my comment, you'll show me the same courtesy I gave to your post and the Otton article and read it in the first place? If you do, you'll see that I go to great lengths to flag up the fact that not one single anti-gay proposal or comment has gained any form of traction in the SNP. Rather, any such comments have been slapped down (Roseanna Cunningham on adoption), been taken seriously and investigated (Cllr Gunn) or been overtaken completely by events (Soutar).

    You'll see me point out that being religious doesn't automatically make someone homophobic, or that having a Government Minister who goes to church makes that Government a vanguard of anti-gay policies (Otton cites the example of Kenny MacAskill's reference to a Higher Power - this would be the same Kenny MacAskill who supported Patrick Harvie's anti-hate crime Bill).

    You'll see me actually try and argue those points and the thinking behind SNP policy despite Otton's article - which I read in full - centring precisely on the point of personalities which you quite reasonably wish to move beyond. Unfortunately, personality is all Otton focuses on, name dropping Sturgeon, Mason, MacAskill, Cunningham, Soutar, Gunn and Saeed, in one massive chain of ad hominem attacks. The rebuttal on those is in my first comment: I have told you how far Cunningham's anti-gay diatribe got; I have told you that Cllr Gunn is under considerable scrutiny; I have outlined my wish to strike a balance between the rights and views of, well, everyone. What you're looking for is there already. If you have specific issues that you want me to address, then perhaps it would be better if you made a point of flagging them up, as I asked you to flag up clear, specific allegations in the Otton article.

    Of course I'm going to defend my Party - it makes sense, and I would remind you that if I got any sense of being unwelcome in it, I'd obviously have no choice but to head elsewhere - but that's because I don't recognise the picture that Otton paints, not because I have any zeal to defend anything indefensible. The SNP position is eminently defensible because 1) I'm defending it now and 2) the point of attack is not quite as effective as Otton thinks.

    If, however, that makes me 'blinkered', I will have to accept that charge. I might gently point out, however, that my blinkers are not the only pair on display: I accept that you are not going to be the SNP's greatest fan and will happily concede that Alex Salmond has something of the 'Marmite' about him - such is life. Further, I know that you are not a total fellow traveller of the Tory Party (whose anti-gay base was very real and led to concrete anti-gay policies like the Section 28 Soutar wanted to retain despite the SNP's support for repeal), but can't help but wonder whether or not a similar article by Otton (or others) regarding David Cameron, George Osborne and their supporters, would it find a home here, however nebulous and personality-driven it happened to be...

    I'm not seeking to 'have a go' here: the article is full of cheap, lazy swings at the SNP and that approach suits Otton's purpose as the author, and I'm realistic that the attack will find favour with your own perspective as a reader. That's understandable. I merely hope that you'll show the same realism when it comes to the obvious motivation behind my reply: to defend my party from an attack which I view as utterly unfair. I accept that if there were any substantive points (as it stands, I couldn't find any and you didn't raise any) on the matter, we might not see eye to eye, and the onus would be on me to square the circles, but all I can see is a series of petty ad hominems, which under other circumstances, you wouldn't entertain. That, I'm afraid, is how I see it.

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  11. As an LGBT member of the SNP (enough of the acronyms now!) I can quite conclusively say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have never experienced a single case of homophobia from within the ranks.

    Yes, there have been small hiccups along the way, such as Cllr Gunn's comments, but these are individuals' ideologies, and not the official party line. Cllr Gunn is being referred to the party's internal disciplinary procedures, and I'm sure the outcome will be well publicised when a decision is reached. Every party will have issues with individual members having extreme views, it is not a uniquely SNP problem.

    There is not a single Nationalist policy that can be described as homophobic; there are gay people at every level of the party - elected members and internal; there is always SNP support at events such as Pride.

    The entire article (and your analysis thereof) is completely and utterly disingenuous. What is the purpose of it - to throw enough mud in the hope that some will stick? I am sorry to be so harsh, but it is petty and immature.

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  12. Will & Grogipher

    Thanks for both your comments. I am very happy to accept what you write. All political parties have some rogue characters within them, but it is also true that political parties often make 'accommodations' with those holding views different from their own core beliefs if they thinnk it will advance their political agenda. That was the substance (or at any rate allegation) of the article from which I included quotes - I certainly hope there is no substance to these allegations, but your comments do not in fact make any concrete denial that some of the 'contacts' alleged may have taken place. I can certainly say that my article has been viewed on a number of occasions from the SNP web server, so someone in SNP HQ is presumably now aware of it and the referenced article in it and can rebut it or ignore it as they see fit.

    Sorry that you find comment on the SNP unwelcome and requiring somewhat hysterical and wounded intervention ;) Suffice to say that we have a difference of viewpoint; I am not obliged to accept at face value the good intentions of a political party I do not support, surprisingly enough, or even those that I might have more sympathy with. I take a somewhat cynical view of ALL political parties. What more is there to say?

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  13. Grogipher says he has never experienced homophobia from within the ranks of the SNP and that none of its policies is homophobic.

    That may be true. But it doesn't mean there isn't cause for concern in other ways. I have already mentioned the SNP's cosying up to the anti-gay Roman Catholic hierarchy, and I have heard it said that Alex Salmond has expressed the view that RC adoption agencies should be allowed to disrciminate against same-sex couples. The SNP also tends to look upon the notably homophobic Free Presbyterians of the Western Isles as its particular constituency. And it takes money from Brian Souter, who tried to impose a referendum in Scotland to stop the repeal of the Scottish equivalent of Clause 28. These are worrying points that are not answered by saying that individual SNP members and official SNP policies aren't homophobic.

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  14. But it doesn't mean there isn't cause for concern in other ways.

    Indeed it doesn't - particularly if some of the comments about alleged meetings by the Leader with certain religious personnel, and the alleged purpose/results of such meetings, have any substance.

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  15. "and I have heard it said that Alex Salmond has expressed the view that RC adoption agencies should be allowed to disrciminate against same-sex couples"

    And he said that she said that I said something or maybe... I don't like to make such serious accusations without some form of evidence.

    Some of you may be interested in this, however: http://www.labourlist.org/conservative-conference-is-lending-legitimacy-to-parties-whose-v

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  16. Grogipher calls me to account for not giving chapter and verse for Alex Salmond's cosying up to the RC hierarchy on gay adoption.

    Here's a link that appears to confirm what I said: http://www.christian.org.uk/news/salmond-seeks-lifeline-for-rc-adoption-groups/

    Unlike communion wafers, children are not the property of the RC Church, only to be given out to those whom it approves of.

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  17. Sadly Scotland & its People (inc.Ulster scots) have been at the front of Anti Homosexual Hate and the export of this violence to other parts of the World(America,Africa) since the British Empire to 2011

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  18. Scotland, its Churches & People (inc.Ulster Scots)
    have been among the most forceful when it comes to promoting & exporting Anti Homosexual Hate and Violence (esp. to America,Africa)...this has been the case since the British Empire to 2011(and beyond)
    Scotland /Ulster Scots Remain the most Anti Homosexual people within Europe...violence is just one part of this and the Scotlands History!

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  19. Well, the groups you mention may have been all you say, but it would be a gross exaggeration, in my view, to blame all the ills of the world on the activities of the British Empire. It was gratifying to see Salmond's recent video-message about advancing homosexual equality in Scotland - I am no fan of Salmond or the awful SNP, but credit where it is due.

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  20. Hi Jamie

    Because I'm a tolerant fellow, I've allowed both your comments on my article which is now two years old. However, don't try my patience.

    With special reference to your second comment, you evidently have not visited parts of Eastern Europe, for the most part strongly Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox historically - where blatant and often violent homophobia can certainly not be 'blamed' on the British. I have no idea who you are or where you are from, but I will not permit further comments from you here as they are verging on obsessive ranting. Good luck though.

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