Remember you’re a liberal

by Stephen Tall on November 4, 2006

Greg Barker, Tory MP for Bexhill and Battle, hit the headlines last week after it was revealed that his marriage has broken-up, and he is having a gay affair with his interior designer.

What should be the liberal response to such a story? Well, decide for yourselves…

One of the following quotes is from Mary Verrell, the Lib Dem candidate at the last general election; the other is from the Battle Observer, the local newspaper. See if you can guess which is which:

Quote 1:
“So who is this man, Gregory Barker, who Bexhill and Battle elected as their MP and who, whether we voted for him or not, is our representative in Parliament? Probably, not the one that many thought.

“His constituents have a right to know what sort of person he is, not as a matter of salacious gossip, but so that they have an honest picture of the man who represents Bexhill and Battle in the House, and who, we assume, will be asking for their vote again before very long. …

“As to the plea for privacy Gregory Barker has chosen a life in the public eye. Of the 46,834 who voted in 2005, 24,629 chose to trust this man to speak for them, largely on the basis of his political persuasion, but additionally on the information fed to them in his election address and in the media.”

Quote 2:
“Greg Barker is undoubtedly the talk of the town in Bexhill. … And why? Because of allegations about his private life. … His private life indeed should be private.

“How the people of Bexhill – and indeed the whole constituency – will react to this is another matter. Open-minded people will say ‘So what, who cares?’ Others may not take such a sympathetic view. … He obviously has problems in his personal life and he should be allowed to resolve them.

“How he decides to conduct his private life in future is his choice. If he has a homosexual relationship, then so be it. Equally, if he has a heterosexual relationship, then so be it.”

Sad to say: the sanctimonious and censorious Quote 1 is the Lib Dem; the tolerant and liberal Quote 2 is the local rag.

However alluring the bandwagon, however tempting the opportunity to be quoted, I’d like to think our aspirant MPs would resist the urge to utter such judgemental bollocks.