Author Archives: Chris Park

Ashers Bakery Verdict is Dodgy and Dangerous

The verdict of the Supreme Court in favour of Ashers bakery’s refusal to make a cake supporting same-sex marriage is dodgy and dangerous.

It is undoubtedly a complicated case. It makes sense, on the surface, because we all have freedom of speech and freedom of thought; yet it also makes sense that if you are running a business that is serving the public then you have to serve all the public, taking them as they are, whether you agree with their opinions or not.

The judgment was reached because the Supreme Court decided that it was the message, not the person that the Christian proprietors objected to. But how was this fact proved?

I don’t think it can be proved because prejudice is often hidden.

It seems to me that the judges have simply taken at face value what the owners of the bakery have said. How can it be proved that they weren’t using their beliefs as a pretext to conceal a hatred they have for gay people?

This question is important because it is at the core of homophobia and hatred against the LGBT+ community: this prejudice is legitimised and normalised because it is spun as an opinion, it’s just someone’s point of view – especially when it’s religious beliefs that are being weaponised.

It’s a slippery slope indeed.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 54 Comments

Second Referendum? When was the first one?

If there was a referendum asking voters to choose between continued membership of the EU under the current agreement, or with a settled deal between Britain and the EU after we’ve left, then I must have been on holiday when it took place!

On the 23rd of June 2016 there was a referendum and people voted for something – that much we know.

After a campaign that was described as having “glaring democratic deficiencies” by the Electoral Reform Society, people voted to leave the European Union.  They did so for a variety of reasons.  Some thought it would reduce immigration, others believed they would get more money for the NHS, and some did so based on vague and indefinable notions of sovereignty.

Everyone voted in good faith. It’s wrong to accuse Leave voters of not knowing what they were voting for, or not understanding what they were doing – everyone makes decisions based on how they interpret their own reality.

However nobody can possibly predict the consequences that will now ensue because of this decision.

A referendum on the final Brexit deal is essential.

This wouldn’t be a ‘second ‘referendum because there never was a first referendum on a negotiated deal.

In order for people to vote sensibly in a binary referendum then, surely – with an urgent appeal to common sense – you have to give them two options that can be directly compared and scrutinised against each other.  The 2016 vote failed to do this.  It was a campaign of sentiment not fact: a saga presented as zealous nationalism VS apocalyptic defeatism (‘Project Fear’), and zealous nationalism brought them out to princely turnout sum of 72.2% and won the day.

Brexit is likely but it is not inevitable.  Public opinion could change everything.

So far there is a growing trend where people think it was wrong to leave the EU. This is happening because as the negations proceed, it becomes apparent that untangling ourselves from the a union we’ve been a part of for decades is a lot more complicated than what was sold to us in the campaign.   

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 39 Comments

Rejoice for Australia! But referendums on social issues must not be the new normal

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The majority of Australians have backed equal marriage in a postal vote survey: 61.5% of Aussies endorsed the rights of LGBT+ citizens. It is now over to the Australian parliament to implement the will of the people.

LGBT+ Aussies and allies rejoice after a deserved victory. But it is sad that this referendum had to happen at all.

I realise that to most, holding the referendum was just sensible politics and a civilised means to settle a debate in a democracy. But this vote really was petty: someone’s private relationship is neither a political or democratic concern. It’s not something to be deliberated on by the masses; you’re dealing with people’s profound personal identities and relationships – things that are fundamental to their lives.  Someone’s basic right to exist as themselves in society is not another ‘issue of the day’.

It is completely mad that an anonymous same-sex couple living somewhere in Australia who want to get married had to consult the entire voting population of the country.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 11 Comments

Discovering Conference

Last Saturday, 11th November, the Scottish Liberal Democrat Autumn conference was held  in Dunfermline. It’s fitting our conference returns to this historic Scottish town as Scotland has always been a liberal country at heart: Braveheart, after all, was about freedom, more than nationalism.

This was my first party conference and I was immediately struck by how homely and welcoming the event was. The Scottish Liberal Democrats are a close-knit party – one advantage of being small in number (in comparison to other parties) – where old friends are reunited and strangers are simply undiscovered new friends.

The agenda was packed and diverse. One of the highlights included hearing from the WASPI women. They told us their personal experiences when they unexpectedly discovered they would not get their state pension when they thought they would after the age was raised to 65 to align with mens’. Many women are now struggling and having to take up part-time jobs or take out loans to get by until they can receive their pension. The conference rightfully voted for measures to put justice for the WASPI women on the Lib Dem agenda.

Willie Rennie, Jo Swinson, Alistair Carmichael, Christine Jardine and Alex-Cole Hamilton invigorated party members with articulate, powerful speeches – all of us returned to our constituencies with a renewed sense of purpose and belief in Liberal Democrat values.  

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 2 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 20th Apr - 1:59pm
    @Joseph Bourke Come on, man, where’s your sense of humour? You appear to be a lost sheep in this thread. We all need to lighten...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 20th Apr - 1:41pm
    My sister lived in Seaford for many years, so it is an area I know quite well. Seaford elects ten councillors and it is usually...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 20th Apr - 1:32pm
    Matt, as said before, please do think more of becoming a member, we need you amongst this fold. I agree with this to such an...
  • User AvatarDavid Becket 20th Apr - 1:32pm
    When you look at the Rees Mogg voting record (see link above) you see what you would expect to see from an over rich hard...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 20th Apr - 1:30pm
    @Michael1, "All this means that any expansion of the Eurozone is unlikely in most of our lifetimes" I'm not sure what your life expectancy might...
  • User Avatarmatt 20th Apr - 1:29pm
    @frankie I know we profoundly disagree on brexit and have clashed many times, however, this has nothing to do with Brexit. This is an issue...