Let’s focus on taking on the Tories in Sutton & Cheam

Last week, I had the honour of being selected by party members to be the Liberal Democrat candidate for Sutton and Cheam at the next general election, following a closely fought selection campaign.

Having previously worked as a BBC journalist for 30 years, I have now left this role to focus all my efforts on regaining this seat – which was stalwartly held for us by Paul Burstow until 2015. A win here would be a huge blow for the Conservatives and unseat Paul Scully, a senior Conservative minister who is part of this uncaring government that is taking local people for granted.

Since my selection was announced there has been some scrutiny about myself and my past. This is something I expected and indeed welcomed during the selection process, as it allowed me to explain my views and where I stand. However, more recently there have also been some unfounded claims about me by our political opponents on social media. I want to use this piece to reassure anyone who is worried and remind party members that I am always available to meet them to address any concerns.

Perhaps one issue is that having been a BBC journalist for the past thirty years, I have not been allowed to express political views in public, or on social media. So l’d like to set the record straight and address some of the issues raised. First, let me start with my history with the Liberal Democrats.

I started canvassing for the party as a student in 1982 and was first elected as an SDP-Liberal councillor in 1986 at the age of 22, winning my seat from the Tories with the biggest electoral swing that night anywhere in the country. I worked for the party in Parliament – helping Paddy Ashdown among others – and I am now the Vice Chair of Kingston Borough Liberal Democrats. I was the party’s candidate in Spelthorne in the 2019 general election and was shortlisted for several other target seats.

I have always worked for an inclusive society, supporting people regardless of sex, race, or sexual orientation. As NUJ chair at the BBC I led over a 1,000 journalists in our fight to improve racial diversity as well as equal pay for women. Here I worked closely with the first women news presenters to be successful in their fight against discrimination. And I went on to win more such claims.

I represented a series of BBC colleagues in the post Jimmy Savile investigation into bullying and harassment. Representing the NUJ at the TUC Conference, I spoke against right-wing attacks on the BBC and all public services. As a news producer, my ground breaking investigation into China’s genocide against Muslim Uyghurs has won or been nominated for a series of major television awards.

It is true that after eighteen years of voting for the Lib Dems, I left to chair the Christian Peoples Alliance. But I then quit the CPA almost a decade ago when it was infiltrated by extremists. I fully repudiate the offensive and divisive campaigns the people using the name now pursue.

It is also fair to say that like other politicians, my views have evolved. So Sutton party members heard me publicly state my support for the law on same sex marriage. After all, I stood on our 2019 General Election manifesto.

Others have pointed to how in 2019, I debated with a Hungarian MP at a student music festival. Back in the 1980s, when Fidesz was a Liberal party and Hungary was still behind the Iron curtain, I formed ties as others did within the Liberal Democrat family. Fidesz are a different party now, known best for rhetoric against asylum-seekers and increasing authoritarianism. I am on record as having used my platform at the festival as a liberal to call out their regressive views.

Perhaps the most ridiculous accusation was to somehow suggest I hosted a TV interview in the basement of my own home with Nick Griffin. There are only a few problems with this. I don’t have a basement, I have never met the odious Mr Griffin, and I am on record as condemning those who give the BNP a platform.

Through my reporting, I’ve seen what failing governments look like around the world. There is no doubt that Boris Johnson’s government is currently failing, and Liberal Democrats can play a critical role in bringing them down.

So my plea to fellow activists across the party is to be careful of those who float slurs on social media attacking our own candidates, and focus on taking on this uncaring and out of touch Conservative government.

 

* David Campanale is Vice-Chair of Kingston Liberal Democrats and the parliamentary spokesperson for the neighbouring constituency of Sutton and Cheam.

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147 Comments

  • Adam Lawless 11th Jan '22 - 9:03pm

    A number of things still remain unaddressed here. First, why exactly meet with highly influential Fidesz MPs (as recently as November 2021) when they clearly aren’t going to change their continual trend into democratic backsliding? Being willing to smile next to them is frankly disgraceful when real democrats are fighting authoritarianism there who rightfully see them as a force for evil. Secondly, an article claims that a panel you attended with a Fidesz MP was “united in the belief that secular liberalism threatens Europe”. Is this a fair characterisation of your views? Another article claims that at this same panel you “explained in a passionate speech: The example of Hungary and Poland, which adhere to faith and God, gives hope to the whole of Europe.” is this also accurate? Finally, can you go into detail about what you regret in your time as President of the CPA?

  • Mark Johnston 11th Jan '22 - 9:06pm

    Thank you for this partial explanation. However in my view it fails to account for appearing on the same platform as Hungarian PM Viktor Orban less than three years ago (for which several pictures are available online). It also in my view fails to deal adequately during the period you were active with the CPA. As a member is a neighbouring constituency I think it would be hard to send volunteers to support your campaign.

  • That looks like a helpful set of comments to me.

    Very best of luck David. You look like a creditable and credible candidate from what I’ve seen.

  • Thanks for this clarification David.

    I worry slightly about the specific wording of “support for the law on same sex marriage”, which screams of words that have been very, very, very carefully chosen.

    Let me then ask two more questions – the first has caused other Lib Dems to have issues: do you think gay sex is a sin? Secondly: do you reject conversion therapy for LGBT+ people?

  • John Marriott 11th Jan '22 - 9:17pm

    @David Capanale
    I reckon you worry too much. It just reinforces my view that social media, largely uncontrolled as I it is, represents a pernicious influence on our society. Just get on with your job. The kind of people to whom you refer aren’t worth a second thought!

  • Richard Coxon 11th Jan '22 - 9:39pm

    “I am on record as having used my platform at the festival as a liberal to call out their regressive views.”

    Given what it says here: https://www.christendom.edu/2020/02/25/professor-defends-christian-values-in-europe/
    “My panel was on defending Christian values in Europe and the Western world. The other participants were Hajnalka Juhász, ministerial commissioner for Hungary’s foreign aid; political scientist Miklós Bakk of the Transylvanian Hungarian University; Philip Blond, head of the British conservative think tank Res Publica; and BBC journalist David Campanale, who originally conceived the idea for the summer camp. We were united in the belief that secular liberalism threatens Europe because it cannot understand itself without reference to Christianity.”

    Where is that record please?

  • So questions in public because then everyone can see it in black and white and sunlight is a disinfectant. This is not at all intended as an attack but I believe in direct questions being the best way to allow someone to defend themselves rather than dancing around the issue.

    Why were you on stage with Orban in 2019?

    Given the CPA’s 2010 manifesto which you stood under sought to repeal the abortion act and end provision of the morning after pill where do you stand on access to abortion and the morning after pill now?

    Basement or not did you host or support Revelation TV in anyway at any point? Would you do so again (assuming money, time and space were no object)?

    How do you explain the fact you helped organise a conference that said secular liberalism was a threat to Europe and “The example of Hungary and Poland, which adhere to faith and God, gives hope to the whole of Europe.” what, exactly, was meant by that?

    If you were elected and amendments such as those submitted recently by Lord Blencathra and Baroness Ludford on trans prisoners and victims of crime had come before you would you have voted for or against them?

    I look forward to seeing your responses 🙂

  • Stephen Harte 11th Jan '22 - 10:07pm

    This piece by Campanale is not a reassuring as he thinks it is.

    Whatever view he may have had of Fidesz historically, by 2019, when Campanale was back in our Party, their toxic nature was clear…..the anti-Semitic dog whistles attacks on George Sorros, the driving out of the Central European Univeristy, attacks on LGBT folk, attacks on immigration, etc etc. And Campanale still chose to share platforms with them.

    If you look at the programme for the festival he spoke at, many of the titles of the sessions made me sick to my stomach.

    Campanale seeks to make a virtue of leaving the Christian Peoples’ Alliance when he claims
    It was taken over by extremists but was happy to sit along side Fidesz. The CPA was, from any liberal perspective, extreme enough in his tenure.

    Fidesz in Hungary and PIS in Poland are the greatest threat to the EU at the moment. Our brave sister parties in those countries are fighting hard to defeat them. And we are looking to elect someone under the liberal banner who chooses to cosy up to the ugly side of Central European politics.

  • Support for British law on gay marriage is one thing – but matters of LGBT+ equality and abortion (the second of which he is silent on) are a matter not of policy or law, but of core Lib Dem values. Does David agree with those?

  • Hi David,

    Have a few questions – firstly as William pointed out, I just wanted to clarify your thinking of LGBT rights – would you consider yourself an ally of the LGBT community?

    Would you for example, be comfortable, as others including Ed Davey and Caroline Pidgeon have done in the past, taking part in London Pride?

    In terms of your time in the CPA, I did feel you didn’t fully do justice to all the hard work you obviously put in to the party during your time there with just the short sentence on your involvement – just as one example here you are as president in 2010 imploring others to campaign for the party in Newham (https://archive.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/election-2010/christian-peoples-alliance-launches-election-campaign) – the man you were asking CPA members to campaign for “has strongly opposed plans for a large mosque in West Ham, claiming the religious group behind it is isolationist and sexist [and] also led fierce protests against the opening of an abortion clinic in Stratford.”

    Just wondering if you think it is still appropriate that you were promoting someone with these views in particular around the opening of this abortion and sexual health clinic: (https://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/protests-outside-stratford-abortion-clinic-2915728)

    Do you believe that all women should continue to have the legal right to access safe abortion services should they need too?

  • David Campanale 11th Jan '22 - 10:35pm

    Thank you for the comments. Let me answer and please do come back with more questions. The smiling photo of me with Zsolt Nemeth MP is because although on different sides of the political divide, we have been friends since he was a young Liberal, aged 22. He spoke at the Liberal Party Conference in 1989 and he is a respected member of the Council of Europe, as Chair of the cross-party Hungarian Foreign Affairs Committee. We founded the conference in the Revolution in 1989 – think Glastonbury – and although 80,000 young people go for the craic, I use the platform to revisit the founding liberal values. Christianity in Poland and Hungary can’t be captured by any one party. So the issue is how ‘Christian’ are the actions of their governments?

  • Adam Lawless 11th Jan '22 - 10:49pm

    You may be friends, but his government is actively undermining the rights that us Liberals value intensely. Take, for example, the referendum that will run alongside the elections in Hungary this year which seeks to dramatically cut back LGBT+ rights in the country. He is doing literally nothing to stop this, and yet by continually sharing a platform and not openly condemning this, you are passively accepting the actions. How can I trust someone who is willing to stand alongside a person like that?

  • Just a couple of questions, David, I hope you have good answers

    “The manifesto you wrote says “The dangers are stark; if the Liberal Democrats have their way, parental opt-out from SRE on grounds of conscience will go and the imposition of quotas on church schools will destroy both their ethos and character.”
    Do you still oppose Lib Dem education policy, and still believe parents should have the right to force their children to remain ignorant?

    Your manifesto also said “schools will be places where honesty, motivation, self-worth, moral values and a respect for God and neighbour are valued”
    Again, do you still oppose the longstanding Liberal belief in freedom of conscience, and support forcing schools to teach your religion?

  • David Campanale 11th Jan '22 - 10:55pm

    Just dealing with the Tusvanyos Festival – I appeared on stage on the 30th anniversary of an event I have only visited a few times, as the founders and organisers were publicly thanked. On George Soros, there is a paranoia towards him that is wrong. Also, putting pictures of anyone on the floor of trams for people to walk on is plain offensive. Your translation tells me that section of what I said wasn’t understood. Let’s be clear, any anti-semitism is abhorrent. I could not comment on the actions of the Hungarian government for reasons explained, but they say their issue with him is political.

  • Thanks David for your passionate and diligent work in the media, the community and in politics. I know that you will passionately represent the constituents of Cheam. Good luck in your efforts to regain the seat.

  • David Campanale 11th Jan '22 - 11:04pm

    Adam, my observation of the education law is this: Fidesz have said things which foster hate towards the LGBT community. And this is reprehensible. So the issue becomes is engaging on the issues even possible? I am hearing the thought that the answer is not to. The consequence of the UK leaving the EU is that we don’t have formal mechanisms to raise issues, so bilateral discussions are the way to go. If I’m heard as a liberal, then I will engage as a liberal.

  • Credit to you David for being so open to all these questions.
    I hope you can answer all of them, but there’s one that stands out that I don’t want you to miss, which is William’s question: Do you think gay sex is a sin?

    So, imagine you are asked this at a hustings, a week before the election. There are about 50 voters there, and a reporter from the local paper too. What do you say?

  • Adam Lawless 11th Jan '22 - 11:13pm

    I mean this is the utmost respectful manner but there’s a difference between diplomats meeting with government officials and a citizen without official backing. You aren’t going to get them to change their views (the proof is that you’ve mentioned raising liberalism at events with them in attendance and yet here we are, with nothingchanged), they’re hateful to minority communities and you simply can’t change that. Viktor Orban has pushed ahead with this referendum and no meeting with a friend will change that. Accepting this, why still smile next to people actively complicit in hate against minorities? Why should I trust someone like that to represent me as someone from the LGBT+ community?

  • David Campanale 11th Jan '22 - 11:19pm

    A question on schools. I don’t believe in coercion and I do believe in freedom of conscience. In Sutton and Cheam, my observation is that parents have indicated they prefer a mixed education system that includes schools with a variety of admissions policies. I hope to hear more on that from our councillors. But it was the Coalition who backed that level of autonomy. When I was a Lib Dem councillor, I favoured LEAs deciding the planning and provision of schools, according to democratic consultation and local decision-making. In 1986, that meant I joined our administration in voting to abolish Kingston’s 11+ exams. As a liberal, the idea that Whitehall knows best when it comes to new schools isn’t something I understand or agree with. Lastly, parents are also entitled under the UN Declaration of Human Rights to raise their children in the belief system of their choice. More parents will get that when a new Church of England secondary is opened soon by the Liberal Democrat administration in Kingston.

  • Mary Regnier-Wilson 11th Jan '22 - 11:21pm

    David – others have asked far more eloquently than I could about your commitment to fundamental values of the Liberal Democrats, and I do look forward to seeing your answers.

    But I’d like to focus on the part I agree with in your article about the need to beat the Tories.

    In Sutton and Cheam in 2019 the Labour Party got nearly 15% of the vote. In order to beat the Tories, we will have to not just persuade Tory voters to switch, but also squeeze Labour voters. Can you tell me how your campaign plans to do this, given that most Labour voters in London share socially liberal views and will be looking for the same reassurances that many LibDem members have asked for here? It will also involve persuading Labour activists across London to not campaign heavily in seats we can win. Many of those activists will associate you with the CPA, who they detest after it’s viscous campaign against Stella Creasy in 2019. Whilst I fully accept that you were no longer involved with the CPA at that point, we know that many Labour activists are not totally rational during election campaigns as we recently saw in North Shropshire. I’m sure you have a well thought out plan to ensure that the Sutton seat does not become the focus of West London labour campaign activity because of your candidature – could you share that with us and provide reassurance that your selection will not damage our squeeze message in a target seat?

  • David Campanale 11th Jan '22 - 11:30pm

    A question on a TV station in London whose audience is primarily among BAME communities, which now represent over half of all churchgoers in the capital. I visited a debate they held in their Kingston studios between a Labour MP, a Conservative, a Liberal Democrat representative and a few others. Participants wanted to get their message across to more diverse listeners. I thought Revelation TV managed it fairly and professionally. Where I didn’t agree – and said so — is when they went on to give a platform to Nick Griffin.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 11th Jan '22 - 11:33pm

    Dear All,

    It’s getting late, and the Editorial Team needs some sleep. Accordingly, comment moderation is suspended until the morning, when I thoroughly expect to have a lot of comments to review. Your patience is greatly appreciated.

  • David Campanale 11th Jan '22 - 11:38pm

    On Equal Marriage, I am asked if I can be more firm: I support it and would vote against any attempt to change the law. To the question of whether gay sex is a sin – my response is that it is not the business of politicians seeking office to make theological judgments on what consenting adults do in private. I am running to be the next Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam – not the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • David Campanale 11th Jan '22 - 11:53pm

    Mary, what happened to Stella Creasy is an example of what I could see coming with CPA. It was appalling and unacceptable and not exactly Christian peace-making, liberal or tolerant. It looked hateful to me. On winning Labour voters to the Liberal Democrats, I need to listen more on how residents in parts of Worcester Park and north Cheam view these issues? Some Labour activists believe audiences in these demographics are not as socially liberal as assumed. What will bring them to our party are campaigns we will run on the cost of living crisis, the tax grab on middle earners through freezes in tax allowances, the lifting of the cap on utilities and the cutting of the former 20 pound uplift in UC. But Vince Cable had an important comment on this a few weeks ago when he said that some issues our party likes to talk about don’t cut through with voters. So if we get the messaging disciplined nationally and locally, on the key issues, then Labour’s natural constituency will come over. I will not also hide the fact that I was part of the Britain Needs a Pay Rise presentation at the TUC Conference and took BBC workers out on strike in defence of our pay, pensions and conditions. I’m a trade unionist and want to see union organisation develop across industry and commerce, as wages rise as a result. Plus the Liberal idea of workers on the boards of companies.

  • David Campanale 12th Jan '22 - 12:19am

    John asks a question about abortion. He may not have heard about proceedings of the Sutton Hustings for party members, but Graham Tope explained to a 80+ audience of party members that Liberal Democrat MPs are permitted to exercise their consciences on ethical questions. Paddy Ashdown when Leader wrote to party members underlining this. Compelled speech and action are not liberal values I recognise. At the selection hustings, I expressed my convictions on an ethical issue which diverge from a party conference resolution – and still went on to win the selection. Maybe there are other local parties where there are members who embrace and accept diversity of thought on ethics? Is this a bad thing, or a genuinely liberal thing? In Sutton, the health issues I will be campaigning on are clear: workers at the local NHS Trust have told me of their concerns on staff retention, workload issues, pay and the unresolved issue of care funding. I will be holding the Tories to account on their appalling record on these. A national plan of action on staffing and to address the huge and growing backlog in elective operations has never been more urgent. These are my priorities.

  • David Campanale 12th Jan '22 - 12:49am

    Questions about the policies of a party I left almost a decade ago, which came through resolutions and were then pulled together: I fought the 2019 General Election election on the Liberal Democrat manifesto and its policies are what I support. The suggestion of a theocracy I reject. Ditto the wrong idea that the state should tell men and women how they should organise their child care. Or that fundamental rights to express religious belief can be limited in a free society. I’ve never believed these falsely attributed views. It is inaccurate to say so.

  • Hi again David,

    Thanks for your responses so far but there seems to be very little explanation from you on what you personally believe and how you fit that within the parties policies which is what a lot of people, including myself, are interested in.

    That’s not from any desire to vilify on my part but from a desire to understand who you are as a person and how you would vote on various conscience issues (especially given what you were standing for when you stood under the CPA’s banner).

    Discretion may be the better of valour but it does also rather give the impression of wanting to obfuscate on topics which isn’t going to reassure people and get them out campaigning for you.

    It’s OK to say ‘I profoundly disagree with abortion’ if you can follow it up with ‘but I would never vote in a way that would enforce my beliefs on others’ and/or ‘so I will campaign for evidence led SRE, free/cheap widely available access to birth control and increasing benefits and support packages for people with/expecting children so as to minimise the number of people who find themselves in a situation where they feel abortion is their only option.’ (Which is what many if not most of my profoundly and deeply Christian friends and relations sit on the subject).

  • Brad Barrows 12th Jan '22 - 7:35am

    Hi David, I am delighted that you have been selected to be the Liberal Democrat candidate in a seat that can be won – I trust you will win and become an MP in the near future. As a Christian myself, I think it is important that we do not allow people of faith to be driven out of politics by fear of being challenged on theological questions – the standard answer to any theological question should be “that is a theological question…ask me a policy question and I will tell you my position”.

  • Barry Smith 12th Jan '22 - 8:22am

    I think David has dealt with most issues, however he has fudged the issue of abortion in his replies. I agree it is a matter of conscience whether you personally agree with abortion, but if you don’t believe that people should have autonomy over their own bodies, and hence believe in safe, legal access to abortion then I really don’t see how you can call yourself a liberal.

    I’d like to see David state that he believes abortion should remain legal, and if he is unable to do that then he really should consider his position.

  • Graham Reilly 12th Jan '22 - 8:39am

    Hi David, can you please confirm that you sign-up to, support and will champion the Liberal Democrat accepted definitions of antisemitism, Islamophobia and transphobia. In particular, do you agree fully with the statements that (a) trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary people are non-binary and (b) trans rights are human rights?

  • I’m with Charley here: I don’t care if you believe abortion is wrong or gay sex is sinful, I care whether you would vote to restrict them, and thus impose your views on people who don’t share them. I’m sure that you would agree while freedom of conscience is good and Liberal, imposing unnecessary restrictions on others is not.

    In this sense your answers on gay marriage are slightly but not entirely comforting, and your answers on abortion are worrying.

  • David, thank you for asking my question about ‘sin’. Could you also answer my question on your position on conversion therapy for LGBT+ people?

  • David, you referred to questions about your time in the CPA as: “Questions about the policies of a party I left almost a decade ago, which came through resolutions and were then pulled together”. You then didn’t address any of the detail of those questions.

    Did you support that manifesto at the time you ran on it? Did you have any reservations about that support? Have you since changed your mind on any of the specific issues already asked about?

    You seem to have been a senior figure in the party for a significant stretch of time, so the fact that you left “almost a decade ago” doesn’t really reassure me unless you can talk about how you have changed since then, and do so more convincingly than you have so far.

  • Two further specific questions, not about your past political history, but about how you would conduct yourself as an MP:

    Do you support the principle that an abortion should be freely and safely available to women who choose to have one, and would you support any changes in existing abortion law?

    Have you followed discussions around transgender inclusivity and the so-called “gender critical” movement in recent years, and where would you place your views on this debate? Would you support moves in Parliament to make it easier for trans and non-binary people to self-identify their gender in law, and to expand the quality and availability of healthcare for trans and non-binary people?

  • James Belchamber 12th Jan '22 - 10:59am

    To be clear: the public largely believe that a Liberal position on abortion is that you only get to apply your conscience to your own. Any Liberal that won’t protect and defend this right to bodily autonomy will not be seen as a Liberal in the eyes of today’s public.

    So by taking on this candidate we’re either signing up to changing public opinion (why?) or hoping that nobody will really mind (..why).

    This also extends to the candidate’s position on sex and relationship education – which, again, is not going to be seen as a Liberal position. Regardless of my opinion (or any others in this thread), the public believe that a good and complete education is a core Liberal principle, and that allowing parents to exclude their children from education is illiberal.

    Journalists will be storing this up for the next election, just like they did with the “sin” narrative (and with our candidate in Hodge Hill) – because that’s when it’ll get the most bite (and make the most money). We will waste time and political capital defending these distracting beliefs, just as we’ve had to before. Activists will either be demoralised and not bother campaigning, or else actively campaign against the party.

    I am looking forward to the review of the selection process.

  • Francis Davis 12th Jan '22 - 11:05am

    If a party’s leadership attracts new members and members who have been active in other parties its what they do next that matters . David Campanale is a Liberal Democrat with wide international networks. A human rights campaigner. Crucially he is able to engage with those of all backgrounds and build common ground where ir exists whether in Hungary or London or Sutton. That’s what Luberals did to get the first ever anti homelessness , FOI and lead free petrol legislation. Its what Paddy Ashdown did in Yeovil. AND ITS SKILLS AND CAPABILITIES YHAT ANYONE STANDING IN A MARGINAL NEEDS.

  • David, thank you for engaging in this thread and responding to the questions posed.

    I’m sure you’ll have appreciated the strength of feeling around this. What I think lies at the heart of it is a matter of perception – and of course, in politics, how something looks (sadly) matters vastly more than how it actually is.

    What I and others I think are getting at is how the instinctive Liberalism which you profess, and indeed have shown in some areas, appears to be at tension with other views and values which you have expressed, or have appeared to express, in the past through other means. So rather than asking another specific question, I will ask a general one.

    We are seeing across society a general hardening of opinions on either side when it comes to the rights and protections afforded to minorities and disadvantaged groups, including groups which have been historically persecuted by religion or wider society (such as women, LGBT+ people including trans+ people, ethnic minorities, disabled people, and members of minority faiths or none).

    So, given everything, can you give assurance, through your actions as well as your words, that there are no such groups whose rights and protections you will seek to restrict or roll back? Can you equally give assurance that there are no such groups whose rights and protections you won’t seek to expand further?

  • Can you us tell the senior positions you held in the Christian People’s Alliance. What dates did you hold these positions? When did you resign from the CPA? When did you join The Liberal Democrats? Was your previous political affiliation disclosed when you applied to be an approved candidate and to local party members in Sutton and Cheam?

    I am still a little unclear as to the nature of the festival you attended in Hungary. Was it a youth camp, a political rally, a cultural event or some kind of religious festival? It must have been a pretty important gathering for Viktor Orban to be present.

  • Tristan Ward 12th Jan '22 - 11:50am

    @ Francis Davis

    What you say is true., But I and other Liberal Democrats may be called on to actively support David in his activities as a campaigner and (if elected) MP. We may be asked to defend his statements and actions. Clearly compromise is essential, but there are limits to what people can do and say .

  • The CPA was once a centre left and had well costed thought out policies, a distant memory. It’s crucial to clear the air, but to be elected in Sutton will mean taking Tory votes back. Focusing on a lot of these issues that may be important to some LibDem members, but most swing voters are unlikely to care much about old political views on fringe issues. After most people’s views are evolving all the time.

  • Hm. I thought I had joined a party that firmly believed that no-one should be enslaved by poverty, ignorance OR CONFORMITY.
    I did not think I had joined the exclusive brethren, where the slightest deviation from the faith leads to discipline or expulsion.
    Would all those vehemently protesting on this thread answer one simple question? Did they in the past hold views that they have since changed and which might be embarrassing if discovered? As someone brought up in the 1950s, I know I have. Are we to be a party of no forgiveness and no support for people who change their minds?
    I am a Quaker and a Christian. I am sure I’m not alone in feeling affronted that people, who state they are not Christian or indeed of any faith at all, presume to pontificate on what they think I believe or that their interpretation of scripture is correct and that I, as a Christian, must obviously believe it and then demand that I give them answers on very detailed aspects of their interpretation of my (private) religious beliefs.
    The history of our party is of fighting for tolerance and against prejudice. It seems to me that far too many in our party want to deny people freedom of conscience or the right to disagree with any aspects of party policy.
    Can I respectfully suggest that people think much more about defeating the Tories, instead of pontificating on minutiae of people’s pasts, much of which will have been put about by our enemies.

  • Michael Robinson 12th Jan '22 - 12:41pm

    The single greatest motivation for me to join the Liberal Democrats, and continue my activism with the party, is to fight to prevent what’s happened in Hungary from happening here.

    Orbán’s model is the single greatest threat to European liberal institutions. I find it odd that someone who has been such an outspoken advocate for the rights of Uyghurs on the far side of the world has been so relatively silent on the clear and present threat to human rights closer to home. Especially considering your close ties and moral authority to speak on the subject.

    Has there been any point in the evolution of Orbán and Fidesz which you found crossed the line beyond the pale of comfortable collegial bilateral engagement? If not, what would it take? If so, where has your voice been?

  • In 2010 Paul Burstow (it is generally thought) held Sutton and Cheam after a Sunday paper revealed the weekend before polling that his Tory opponent held some rather intolerant views regarding the gay community.
    I just hope we aren’t going down a similar path again, but this time our candidate is the one in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

  • Lib Dems are in danger of becoming a secular church with no room for diversity on the grounds of individual religious conscience. The constitution says ‘we aim… to foster diversity and to nurture creativity ..we reject all prejudice on the grounds of .. religion.’ The Liberal Party, when it was founded, had room for John Stuart Mill and Gladstone. It was also the party of non-conformist Christianity. I hope that is still the case in its successor.

    Having door knocked for the Party with David in 2019 General Election in Spelthorne, I know what a great campaigner he is and what an asset to the Lib Dems he will be as an MP.

  • Chris Moore 12th Jan '22 - 1:24pm

    David, your work is really cut out for you, if you intend to answer all the questions asked…. Good luck!

    I’m an atheist and I will certainly disagree with you very strongly about several of your stances.

    Christians are in a minority in society and the Party. But Christian liberals have played a very important role in this party and its predecessors. And I feel we should accept and respect diversity of liberal opinion: that means welcoming Christian liberals and eurosceptic liberals, however awkward and disagreeable their views may seem. The party will be larger for it.

  • Matt (Bristol) 12th Jan '22 - 1:32pm

    Mick Taylor: “I did not think I had joined the exclusive brethren, where the slightest deviation from the faith leads to discipline or expulsion.”

    I think you’ll find that there is an increasing consensus (not necessarily a majority one, but an influential one) that society at large is like that, and political parties more so. And huge emotional pressures on all institutions across civil society and the media to behave like that even if its not in the rules.

    If we had a more plural politics with more viable options for voters and activists, and less fear from party members and activists of entryism or institutional capture of the few parties we have, this would be less of a problem. I tend to think it would also be less of a problem if internal decisions in all the political parties particularly around issues like selection, were more transparent (but I may be being naieve).

  • Suzanne Fletcher 12th Jan '22 - 1:35pm

    First thank you to LDV for hosting this discussion. Valuable and I have learnt a lot.
    However only some Lib Dems will look at LDV, and fewer will bother to read what are 41 comments as I write.
    Could David please say how he thinks he is best able to put over his views, probably answering many of the questions put here, succinctly, to they can be read and understood by many.
    I say many of the questions, I think there is a big difference between “personally held” views, and how one would campaign and legislate. As David says, he is campaigning to become a Lib Dem MP not a position to espouse moral values.
    My personal views on abortion are not what I would vote on as an MP, and I (and other Lib Dems who have stood as candidates in GEs here) have lost many votes in not agreeing tot the SPUC agenda.
    The key to the “gay sex being a sin” q is knowing how to answer that question. Not one that I think Lib Dems should be hounding candidates either. Something Tim Farron did not do well, and it sounds as though David can deal with that well. It is what he would do an an MP that matters. Also note that it is not a question put in the approval process and I doubt it is one that would be allowed to be asked in the selection process. (to be continued in next posting – over the 250 word limit)

  • Congratulations, David, on your selection as PPC for Sutton and Cheam.

    I have been very uneasy at some of the comments that have been made following your selection, both in the comments to your article on Lib Dem Voice and, less courteously, in other fora. I have been pondering how to put my thoughts into words, but Mick Taylor has done this better than I could.

    Let us then respect the decision of the Members who took part on your selection, and move on to helping you to be elected.

  • Dr Mick Taylor, as a long standing Liberal and Liberal Democrat, makes some profound and serious points that should not be lightly dismissed.

  • Suzanne Fletcher 12th Jan '22 - 2:25pm

    @Mick Taylor wish I had written that, not that I am a quaker, but very well said.
    @Simon Pike yes, nobody has mentioned respecting decision of Sutton and Cheam members, who are not known (to my knowledge) as being not at all with it.

  • Excellent response from Mick Taylor. I wish the approved candidate all the very best. It is obvious from your piece that you know how to win. Your response to whether you think gay sex is a sin is spot on. Not that it will resonate with a small number of illiberal commentators. Stick to your guns and go and win the seat. Perhaps some on here need to carefully reread the preamble to our constitution.

  • Peter Watson 12th Jan '22 - 2:36pm

    @Matt McLaren “5. Do you agree that the lines in the Preamble quoted above would therefore encourage Liberal Democrat opposition to (a) taxpayer-funded faith schools, including CofE schools”
    This is something which the party seems surprisingly confused and/or reluctant to tell voters about, so there’s plenty of wriggle room here!
    In theory, I presume party policy is what Conference voted for in Spring 2017 (https://www.libdems.org.uk/conference-spring-17-f16-faith-schools) but (along with a previous vote to abandon selection by ability), this has failed to make it into a couple of manifestos or by-election campaigns. The Jewish Chronicle noted this “pragmatic” approach of not telling anybody about the policy (is it really a policy?) in the 2019 General Election campaign! (https://www.thejc.com/news/all/libdems-play-safe-on-faith-schools-ghghg-hghghgh-1.493736).
    And apparently, Scottish Lib Dems have taken a different view, rejecting a motion in 2018 that believed “state-funded schools should not have entry or placement criteria based on faith” and called for the Scottish Government to “pursue a single secular model of state-funded education” and “for the removal of religious belief as a placing criteria for state funded schools, the removal of faith as a criteria for the selection of teachers for employment or promotion, and the removal of ‘non-elected church positions from local authority education boards’” (https://rcpolitics.org/liberal-democrat-conference-rejects-motion-to-abolish-catholic-schools/).

  • Mary Regnier-Wilson 12th Jan '22 - 3:04pm

    Thank you for that answer David, but I very specifically did not ask how you would listen to Labour voters.

    I asked what your plan was to ensure Labour activists (who I think are socially liberal) do not make your seat the target of Labour campaign activity during the next election.

    But your answer brings up another question. If you believe you need to appeal to Labour voters who are not particularly socially liberal, that implies you will not yourself be campaigning on a socially liberal platform.

    Whilst I am absolutely aware of the need to focus our campaign literature and messages on the things our voters care about rather than then things our members care about, you seem to have forgotten that no winning campaign can be delivered without a huge cohort of Liberal Democrat members. And as you are seeing here, many of them are socially liberal. So how do you intend to inspire LibDem members to come and campaign for you and deliver your disciplined but not socially liberal messages?

  • Jack Worrall 12th Jan '22 - 3:06pm

    You have stated a few times that you stood on the 2019 manifesto – I wonder if you could answer whether or not you would vote for AND actively campaign gfor this part of it?:

    Complete reform of the Gender Recognition Act to remove the requirement for medical reports, scrap the fee and recognise non-binary gender identities.
    Introduce an ‘X’ gender option on passports and extend equality law to cover gender identity and expression.

  • Several people have suggested that they find David’s answer to “is gay sex a sin?” convincing. It is more or less exactly what Tim Farron used to say, and that did not work. The answer should be, in order of preference, “no, of course not”, or “yes, but…” – it’s a yes or no question, and journalists and opponents will seize on it if they sense that a straight answer isn’t forthcoming.

  • Graham Reilly 12th Jan '22 - 3:39pm

    Even broad churches have walls. A political party is defined above all by the values it holds, and the one thing I would expect from everybody in this party is that they are a liberal. Helpfully, we defined what liberal means for us, what our common value set is, when we voted at Autumn Conference last year to accept Policy Paper 142 What Liberal Democrats Believe.

    I mention this because I do not think that ‘freedom from conformity’ means a freedom to believe and practice whatever you like if you are a member of a liberal party. We need to have boundaries, otherwise what’s the point of being a political party. Our representatives and candidates, in particular, need to live our liberal values in everything they say and do.

    Freedom of religion? Yes, absolutely. Does that religion mean you say and do things that conflict with freedom of identity on gender or sexuality, or equality, or democracy? No, absolutely not, not in a liberal party.

    People are definitely allowed to change, but David needs to clearly and unambiguously answer the questions raised in this thread on whether he genuinely holds and will always act on the party’s liberal values.

  • Andrew Page 12th Jan '22 - 3:46pm

    Mick Taylor is broadly right in principle, but I am not calling for expulsion. Neither is this a theological issue. It’s a question of David providing answers so we can better understand his current views and to understand some recent activity, such as apparently speaking against “secular liberalism”.

    Mick asks whether any of us “in the past hold views that they have since changed”. Well, of course. I’m happy to admit it. What I’d like to see is David telling us that he’s changed his mind. I’d like to see him take responsibility for his time in the CPA (which, lest we forget, he founded – and he left in October 2014 at the earliest, not a decade ago), recognising that his campaigns caused hurt to LGBT people and many Christians, admitting that he was wrong and explaining what his current views are. This piece, while welcome, only goes so far. The CPA, during his time in it, was an extremist party that took positions that are the antithesis of both liberalism and my understanding of Christianity (as an elder in the United Reformed Church).

    David – thank you for engaging with supporters. I’d be grateful for some clarification on your recent speeches at Tusványos in 2016, 2017, 2019 (you seem like you’re still a regular attendee). They seem to follow a theme of opposition to “secular liberalism”, but my sources are Hungarian language websites. if you could explain what you said and why I would be very grateful.

  • Chris Moore 12th Jan '22 - 4:13pm

    I welcome a candidate who’s liberal and thinks differently to me on various important issues.

    Some on here need to be more tolerant of dissent and difference. That’s an important part of liberal tradition.

  • Some people need to read Popper.

    I’m happy to tolerate dissent and disagreement; I’m not happy to tolerate someone voting for my and my child to have our human rights removed. I don’t care if David is a Christian. I don’t even care if he believes I am a lesser human being, as his previous very publicly stated views would seem to demonstrate. I just want to know that he won’t vote to remove my or my child’s human rights. And the longer he does not say that he will not vote in such a way, the more qualms I have.

    I do not believe this is intolerant, and I resent those implying or outright stating that it is.

  • Lib Dems believe that power flows upwards from the people. As a practical application of this, to choose a parliamentary candidate the local shortlisting committee draws up a shortlist, and the members in the constituency choose from it by democratic ballot. Members who aren’t in Sutton & Cheam may disagree with the outcome, but the choice wasn’t up to them. The choice belongs to the grassroots members in each constituency as of right.
    These processes are what make us an organisation, rather than a random bunch of people. Our political opponents are organised; to win we must be organised too, and cohesive and focused.
    Charles Kennedy was right to contrast “a right, tight little party” with a more ambitious, bigger, more unpredictable one. We have got to think the bigger picture now.
    Not being required to agree with each other on everything (otherwise, there’d be no conference debates) enables us to grow and be ambitious.
    There’s a strong anti-Tory mood building. Labour and the Greens are aware that to oust this dreadful Conservative government, Sutton & Cheam is one of the seats the Tories need to lose. They’re aware of how First Past the Post works. The Lib Dem candidate is the clear challenger to the current MP. It’s about catching the mood. The question in Sutton & Cheam will be whether voters prefer to perpetuate Tory rule, or install a progressive, caring government.

  • @Graham Reilly The Policy Paper 142, to which you refer, includes the following statement:
    “Being liberal necessitates being open-minded, and understanding that there will always be a range of different views on most issues.”
    The paper does not address how the Lib Dems reconcile conflicts between different freedoms.

  • Mick Taylor 12th Jan '22 - 4:54pm

    Mary Regnier-Wilson. I have a lot of respect for your work in the party, but can I gently suggest that if we tried to deal with the actions of Labour activists on social media and elsewhere, then we would find that we had no time for campaigning against the Tories. We saw what Labour activists tried to do to help the Tories in N. Shropshire and were gratified at how little notice Labour voters took of them. In Sutton and Cheam, as in other target seats, we have to concentrate on getting the votes of soft Tories and in persuading Labour voters that only we can beat the Tories and that they should vote tactically. Quite honestly that’s a big enough task without trying to second guess and tackle anti Liberal Labour activists whose support we will never get.

  • Mick Taylor 12th Jan '22 - 4:56pm

    Nick Barlow. How little you understand the selection procedure. It isn’t perfect, but most non-Liberals are weeded out long before the get in front of a constituency selection panel.

  • Mary Regnier-Wilson 12th Jan '22 - 4:57pm

    I find it sad that Mick feels other liberals are making Christian’s feel unwelcome in our party. Liberalism does not mean secularism, and there absolutely should be respect for people of faith (any faith) in a liberal party.

    However I do agree with Graham that broad churches have walls – and whilst anyone in our party should be free to believe what they want I would argue that a person of faith who thinks others should be compelled by law to conform to their own faith based values can not claim to be a liberal.

  • Barry Smith 12th Jan '22 - 5:39pm

    I don’t think his views on gay sex are necessarily a problem. They were only so controversial for Tim because he was the leader (and I think they would certainly make David unsuitable as a future leader for the same reason). However, the mark of a liberal is that they accept actions by others which they may personally find wrong provided they are not causing anyone else harm. The only really important question is how David would vote on a bill to restrict the rights of homosexuals, those seeking abortions, etc. and I think he needs to clearly state his position on this.

  • Chris Moore 12th Jan '22 - 6:02pm

    A Christian liberal can argue for values and policies with which I, a mainstream left-wing liberal and atheist, will strongly disagree.

    The party will be better off to have both types of liberals in its ranks.

    There has got to be more tolerance within the party for different views on important issues. Tolerance is difficult. But it is a core liberal value.

    I think we should be cutting David some slack. He’s moved back to liberalism and clearly has a lot to offer.

  • Laurence Cox 12th Jan '22 - 6:17pm

    As a practising Anglican I have to say that I am very disappointed by attacks from secular people who call themselves liberals on people of faith. In my very diverse Borough, we have a Church of England school, several Roman Catholic schools, a Jewish school and two Hindu schools. I am proud that in my time as a Councillor I contributed to getting the Jewish school approved, the first non-Christian faith school in the Borough. As well as these faith schools, Muslim parents often send their daughters to the one single-sex girls High School in the Borough. We should be supporting parental choice as liberals, not dictating to them how their children should be educated. Teachers and school staff cannot be in loco parentis if politicians deny them the ability to follow parents’ wishes.

  • Adam Lawless 12th Jan '22 - 6:28pm

    I find it frankly disheartening that scrutiny of a candidate is somehow impossible to do if you want to be the Tories. The issues that I have concerns about are my passions, they’re what make me so enflamed to beat the Tories. When Conservative MPs take stage with far-right MPs across Europe, I want to beat them to show that their networks of hate can be beaten. When Conservative MPs are ideologically opposed to the liberation of minorities from oppressive constraints, I want to beat them to re-write those wrongs. But I want them replaced by someone who will actually represent a significant change in those issues. I feel as if David’s answers on meeting with Fidesz MPs (and having recently discovered, smiling in a photo with Viktor Orban) lackluster because liberals must recognise that there exists limits to who they can attempt to change, and when those opposing forces begin the process of a full frontal assault on freedoms, that we mustn’t passively endorse their campaigns by not being vocally against them. I’m going to put my campaigning elsewhere, to beat the Tories.

  • Peter Watson 12th Jan '22 - 6:29pm

    @Chris Moore “He’s moved back to liberalism”
    In this thread, people do seem, in good faith, to be trying to confirm that is definitely the case by asking specific questions about David Campanale’s current and previously stated positions on a number of issues. There would be no such good faith from political opponents (which could have an impact outside a single constituency) so this is probably an important test.
    Though given the party’s success in Chesham & Amersham by opposing its own policy on HS2, perhaps there is good reason to be concerned that it is keen to experiment with other policy areas! 😉

  • Adam Lawless 12th Jan '22 - 6:40pm

    *beat not be the Tories

  • Peter Watson 12th Jan '22 - 6:46pm

    @Laurence Cox “We should be supporting parental choice as liberals, not dictating to them how their children should be educated.”
    At the risk of widening the debate, how can this be squared with Lib Dem policy which notionally opposes selection based on academic ability (“notionally” because I often fear that I’m the only person who remembers that a Lib Dem conference voted on this issue :-() and more explicitly opposes expansion of the grammar school system, regardless of what parents might want.

  • Alex Macfie 12th Jan '22 - 6:56pm

    “To the question of whether gay sex is a sin – my response is that it is not the business of politicians seeking office to make theological judgments on what consenting adults do in private.”

    If only Tim Farron had given that answer back in 2015 when asked on Channel 4 News.

  • I’m a devout Catholic, openly genderqueer, and openly bisexual. I’m proud to represent the LGBT+ members of our party, along with other Christians and people of many other faiths. There is no party policy on social issues where I have substantial disagreement.

    I find it very odd when people suggest that forming political opinions on the basis of a conservative moral agenda is a “Christian” view. At best, it reveals a disturbingly misguided notion of what “Christianity” is. At worst, it is blasphemous.

    Recently, my secondary school (not in this country) refused admittance to a transgender boy on the basis that his views and his family’s views didn’t align with “Catholic belief”. This is an extraordinary lurch towards extremism compared to when I was there, twenty years ago. I am much more concerned about my fellow Christians excusing extremist views under the aegis of their faith, than I am about “free speech”.

    Christianity has always been at the heart of human rights in Europe, and people of all faiths and none who fight for human rights are the true allies of Christianity. People who try to legislate away human rights under the fake premise of Christian devotion are some of our worst enemies.

  • Chris Moore 12th Jan '22 - 7:00pm

    I can’t help feeling we should also be extremely grateful to the CPA for having an even worse policy on Europe than our home-brewed Revoke hooch: replace the EU with a theocracy.

  • Graham Reilly 12th Jan '22 - 7:29pm

    Can we please not let this discussion descend into religious vs secular Lib Dems, which is not what I think anybody is saying and both obfuscates and oversimplifies the issue. The question is not about David’s faith, it’s about what he has believed, what he has done, how he unambiguously accounts for his past, and the values he holds now and what he will do with them.

  • Chris Moore 12th Jan '22 - 8:00pm

    @Em Dean: Christians clearly disagree amongst themselves as to what is Christian and what is not. Perhaps, they too could be a little bit more tolerant and dismissive of other views.

    My sister is a practising evangelical, a party member and her understanding of what Christianity implies on issues of gender and sexual liberty is very similar to yours.

    My brother, a Catholic convert disagrees. (He is not a party member, though sometimes votes for us.)

    I’m merely a common and garden atheist with a cursory knowledge of the Bible which seems to have little specific to say about the mentioned issues.

  • “To the question of whether gay sex is a sin – my response is that it is not the business of politicians seeking office to make theological judgments on what consenting adults do in private.”

    To ordinary people that will sound like an evasive non-answer, and it won’t wash. People do care about the beliefs and values of the individuals seeking their vote.

  • Matt McLaren 12th Jan '22 - 8:16pm

    As Approvals Coordinator for my local party, I am currently in the process of interviewing all target seat Council candidates. One of the questions I ask them is: 𝘵𝘰 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘦𝘹𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘢𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘰𝘳 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘢𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘪𝘮𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘷𝘢𝘭𝘶𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘪𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘭 𝘋𝘦𝘮𝘰𝘤𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘴 𝘢𝘴 𝘴𝘦𝘵 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘺 𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘵𝘶𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯?

    The second paragraph of the Preamble begins thus:

  • Matt McLaren 12th Jan '22 - 8:16pm


    “𝑊𝑒 𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑘 𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑤𝑎𝑟𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑎 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑐ℎ 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑝𝑒𝑜𝑝𝑙𝑒 𝑠ℎ𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑎𝑚𝑒 𝑏𝑎𝑠𝑖𝑐 𝑟𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑠, 𝑖𝑛 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑐ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑡𝑜𝑔𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑖𝑛 𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑐𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑐ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 𝑑𝑖𝑓𝑓𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑐𝑢𝑙𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑏𝑒 𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑑𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑙𝑜𝑝 𝑓𝑟𝑒𝑒𝑙𝑦. 𝑈𝑝ℎ𝑜𝑙𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑠𝑒 𝑣𝑎𝑙𝑢𝑒𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑣𝑖𝑑𝑢𝑎𝑙 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑜𝑐𝑖𝑎𝑙 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑒, 𝑤𝑒 𝑟𝑒𝑗𝑒𝑐𝑡 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑝𝑟𝑒𝑗𝑢𝑑𝑖𝑐𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑐𝑟𝑖𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑏𝑎𝑠𝑒𝑑 𝑢𝑝𝑜𝑛 𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑒, 𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑛𝑖𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦, 𝑐𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑒, ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑎𝑔𝑒, 𝑐𝑙𝑎𝑠𝑠, 𝑟𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑔𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑟 𝑏𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑒𝑓, 𝑎𝑔𝑒, 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑎𝑏𝑖𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑦, 𝑠𝑒𝑥, 𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑟 𝑠𝑒𝑥𝑢𝑎𝑙 𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛’ 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑝𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑒 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑚𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑑 𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑣𝑖𝑙𝑒𝑔𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑞𝑢𝑎𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑦.”

  • Andrew Page 12th Jan '22 - 8:27pm

    Alex – Tim did give a very similar response when he said “I take the view though that as a political leader my job is not to pontificate on theological matters.” It wasn’t convincing then and it’s not convincing now. Theresa May gave the best response to the same question when she said “no”.

    I agree with Graham – the questions relating to David’s role within the CPA’s relate to that party’s policy – not his personal faith. It’s not a theoligical matter. But when somone joins us who has not only been a member but both the founder of, and a senior figure in, a party whose policies many liberals would find extreme, it’s reasonable to ask some questions.

    Also, to be pendantic, a conservative Christian with liberal political beliefs is not a Liberal Christian. As a Liberal Christian, I can assure you that is an issue of theology and has nothing to do with party affiliation!

    Can I give a shout out to the admins/editors on LDV who really have been outstanding today? I for one really appreciate their work.

  • Indeed, Graham Reilly.

    This is not and never has been about “secular” vs “religious” (and knowing some strongly secular Christians I’d question that categorisation anyway) and it’s very disappointing to see several attempts to erect that straw man.

  • Alex Macfie 12th Jan '22 - 8:58pm

    Andrew Page: Tim said it far too late. It’s not the answer he gave originally to Kathy Newman.

  • David Campanale 12th Jan '22 - 9:37pm

    Thank you everyone for engaging with my statement in a respectful way – apologies I could only look at comments now. I’ve been busy meeting activists, staff and Council colleagues in Sutton planning our campaign to defeat the Conservatives. I will return to address more issues when I can. But that’s my priority.

  • David Campanale 12th Jan '22 - 9:43pm

    One question that requires more detail is why I accepted invitations to speak about liberalism and Christianity at the Transylvanian festival that I founded. It seems obvious to me – persuading people that our values are worth adopting? Nobel-nominated researcher and writer, Ethan Gutmann, who spoke about Uyghur rights at a separate tent and came to hear me, says I did okay on that. Thanks Ethan! But people – who weren’t there – are still entitled to ask more questions about a talk they didn’t hear, but which he did.

    Let’s be clear – this wasn’t a conference? And it wasn’t even in Hungary! It was a music festival and it was in a different country – Romania – to which foreign guests other than me were also invited. So, there were Cornish nationalists present at the festival. And Catalans too. No doubt many other foreign guests I didn’t meet. As Ethan explained, imagine mountains, fields, tents and a big stage for rock concerts. And 10,000 brown bears in the forest. And Viktor Orban – as neighbouring PM – visiting for the final day of the event. (No one seems to have picked up that President Basescu of Romania also addressed attendees from the main stage, when I visited).

    In the small tents, students and academics talked everything from commerce, to farming techniques, to career advice. And politics. And I was not the organiser, as a comment in this thread claims! Ask the people who put on Glastonbury – a comparable event – it takes a lot to plan for 80,000 people in fields.

    I was constrained to talking about 1989 – and being the first western elected politician to address crowds in the Revolution. Yes, its a thing – but I was a Young Liberal Democrat from Kingston whose speeches were reported in the revolutionary newspapers. I also gave my personal observations about the biblical origins of the open society in Europe and the rule of law (Tom Holland the C4 historian says much of what I think on this, but better).

  • Thank you David for stepping up. To be a party that is in a position to govern there needs to be a range of opinion that appeals to a broad range of the electorate and I believe that you have that capacity to reach the required range of people to get us elected. All the best as you set out on this task.

  • David Campanale 12th Jan '22 - 9:53pm

    Clearly, there is much more interest than I’d imagined about what Liberals were doing in Eastern Europe up to the end of Communism. Can I recommend “Power to the People: Confessions of a Young Liberal Activist 1975-1987” by Felix Dodds – there is a whole section on our activism.

    Lastly, THAT GROUP PHOTO! Yes, its me at one end, some young people and Orban in the middle. At the conclusion of the final day, the main stage for rock concerts had a session where the volunteer organisers (they came from across the region’s church youth groups) and me as originator of the Summer University concept, were invited up to be acknowledged by Festival goers.

    I was happy to see so many young people having fun, talking politics and celebrating Transylvania’s multicultural and diverse community. I was glad after so many years of wondering how my idea had taken off, to see it and to be thanked publicly

  • Arun Kataria 12th Jan '22 - 10:23pm

    It matters less where we have come from than where we are headed: David left CPA behind him as it was moving away from his views. Let’s give him a chance and judge him on today not yesterday. It is essentially liberal to respect the right to hold different beliefs!

  • As a former member in Sutton and Cheam (albeit almost 20 years ago now) I am as desperate as anyone to see us regain the seat, squeezing that Labour vote again as we did in the late 90s under Paul Burstow.

    I do though have one direct question which have been touched on in the comments above and, if it’s possible, I’d like David to clarify.

    You have hinted that you are opposed to abortion as an action – and I’m actually OK with that. However, will you commit to retaining the Abortion Act as it currently exists, so that people who take a different view to yourself can access abortions safely and without hindrance?

  • Oliver Craven 13th Jan '22 - 2:05am

    David,

    What are your opinions on Hungary’s new section 28-like law?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 13th Jan '22 - 2:17am

    Good thread, all, thanks team LDV!

    We must realise the difference between tolerance and acceptance. Gay people do not want to be tolerated! Neither do members on issues. Therein lies conflict.

    I am a member in the centre ground on most issues. I cannot support the extremes on anything. I get fed up with members relaying how we are not a centre party, we must be radical! Ask for radical and you get radically differing views. Left wing members need to realse radical is right wing as well as left!

    David is entitled to his views. But some smack of tolerance rather than acceptance.

    So too do those of the radicals so called in our party.

    I favour legal abortion. But, like feminists in support of it, in Ireland, France, where the limit is twelve weeks, I want the limit reduced. I could accept eighteen weeks or twenty,the stage called, viability at least. Do radicals on the left think my views are to restrict human rights, to use the words of colleagues herein?

    My views, not based on religious faith, are in favour of the human rights of the unborn, viable at that point. Feminists in most countries apart from this and America, would aplaud me, especially my views in favour of a law outlawing abortion on the basis of gender, indeed, even in America there are groups such as Democrats for life, and Feminsts too, with such views, more than some think. One size rarely fits all!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 13th Jan '22 - 2:26am

    And to add, David, as with some who might take an opposite view to him, does seem to take a stance, that is not mainstream. That is fine, but, if we are to convince people, we do better if we can truly represent people.

    Opinion polls reveal seventy per cent plus, of women, favour legal abortion, reducing the weeks to eighteen or twenty maximum.

    Opinion polls show massive support for gay marriage.

    I would like to know if David differs, in his views, not merely that he would not like a change in the law. Many of us give ready answers that are liberal, with detail!

  • James Belchamber 13th Jan '22 - 8:39am

    I’m glad to see Liberal Christians in this thread pushing back against the “Liberalism Vs Christianity” narrative. Christians have a proud history of standing up for human rights and against cultural conservatism. While no longer a Christian myself, I don’t recognise this “Conservative Jesus” which the right have invented. My memories of church teachings were to find the good in people, to love them, and to build a heaven on earth.

    I’m confident no Christian I grew up with could condone imprisoning pregnant women and forcing them to give birth, for example (which is what happens in countries that do not protect abortion), and I’m confident most British Christians feel the same way.

    Christians are welcome in the Liberal Democrats.

  • Chris Moore 13th Jan '22 - 9:23am

    Yes, Christians add to the party: they bring a different range of experience and thinking on various important issues.

    That should be welcomed.

    David has done a good job in responding to the many varied questions. I hope to see him elected at the GE. And if I’m in the UK at the time, I’ll help out in Sutton and Cheam.

  • Andrew Page 13th Jan '22 - 9:35am

    As far as the “gay sex” question is concerned, it’s best not to look evasive. Although I agree that theoligically it can be complicated, depending on one’s position, from a political angle it really isn’t.

    If we can’t say “no” to it (as I could, or Theresa May did) then what about something like “it’s not for me to say what is and isn’t a sin, but I believe in the right of people to love whoever they want and I’m a supporter of same-sex marriage”. No waffling, just direct affirmation of LGBT people.

    Which would make the questioner look obsessed with the principle of sin (which means nothing to many non-Christians) while giving an answer that assures the public we’re on the side of LGBT people. It also avoids Paul’s “sanctimonious whirlpool” – it’s really not that hard.

  • Peter Watson 13th Jan '22 - 12:30pm

    @Andrew Page “As far as the “gay sex” question is concerned …”
    I think the problem is (and was for Tim Farron) that there are (at least!) two distinct audiences for the answer to any such question. There are those who are interested in it as the opinion of a Lib Dem politician and there are those who are interested in it as the opinion of someone who shares the same faith/denomination/church/fellowship etc. The answer that one group wants to hear might alienate the other. Essentially, I suppose a devoutly religious politician is a member of two clubs, their church and their party, both of which represent a world view that it will not always be easy or even possible to reconcile.
    And while the discussion has focussed, quite rightly, on a number of important liberal issues, I would have similar concerns about a devoutly religious politician’s views on something like creationism and evolution, especially in the context of faith schools which has been raised in this thread. Indeed, I wonder how tolerant liberals should be about the teaching of that.

  • Anthony Acton 13th Jan '22 - 12:48pm

    It should be possible for liberals to disagree on questions of personal morality. On the question whether gay sex is a sin, the Pope said “Who am I to judge?” and if that’s good enough for a Pope then surely it’s a sufficient answer for a politician. The law should have nothing to say about sex between consenting adults. On abortion the real issue is whether there is one life or two to be considered, and if two, at what stage the second life becomes entitled to legal protection. That is a matter on which a politician should have a view.

  • Peter Watson 13th Jan '22 - 1:01pm

    With all of the calls for respect, tolerance and understanding between those with different or no faith, despite strongly held views about where we’ve come from, how we live our lives and what, if anything comes after, which are often mutually exclusive (presumably many here must firmly believe that others have a completely wrong view of the world) I am struck by the contrasting lack of respect, tolerance and understanding shown to those who simply have a different opinion about whether or not to remain in the EU!
    As Bill Shankly might have put it, “Somebody said that Brexit’s a matter of life and death to Lib Dems, I said ‘listen, it’s more important than that’.” 🙂

  • Michael Robinson 13th Jan '22 - 1:05pm

    “I was happy to see so many young people having fun, talking politics and celebrating Transylvania’s multicultural and diverse community.”

    Yes. It sounds like a good time was had by all.

    You have had many opportunities to make a robust public condemnation of Orbán, Fidesz, and the ongoing threat of “illiberal democracy”, but do not appear to have yet done so.

    Is this something we can expect at any point in the future, or are you comfortable that no such condemnation is warranted?

  • @Paul Walter – if your answer to the question “is gay sex a sin” isn’t exactly the same as to “is straight sex a sin” then you are discriminating, and discrimination has no place in our Party.

    If you stand for election you are answering as a politician, not a priest, and you need to be able to give a clear, unequivocal answer. We all saw the result when Tim Farron attempted various non-answers, which just gave the issue more unwelcome publicity.

  • Mark Hamilton 13th Jan '22 - 2:31pm

    I was David’s election agent in Spelthorne for the 2019 election. The reason I chose to take on the role despite having not met David prior to August 2019 is that he impressed me with his integrity, honesty and sense of fairness. During the election process he campaigned vigorously and listened empathetically to voters and did his best to understand their concerns and consider how he could improve their lives should he win. I believe he is the best candidate for Sutton and Cheam and will no doubt continue to listen and consider how he can improve resident’s lives – rather than lining his own pockets and blindly supporting a failing PM as the current Tory MP appears to be doing. I highly recommend David Campanale.

  • @Paul Walter – I didn’t mean you specifically, so “one’s” if you prefer.

    But as I indicated in my previous post, “who am I to judge” might work for the Pope, but it won’t for a politician. People expect politicians to have opinions, and want to understand the values and principles of those seeking office.

    As can be seen on this thread and elsewhere, some Christians believe gay sex to be a sin, but many don’t. Yet they worship the same God, so it’s not God that’s the issue….

  • You’re certainly right that Fidesz was seen very differently in the past – I am old enough to remember when they were seen very positively in party circles, before Orban became obsessed with turning it into a personality-driven movement and swung to the right.

    I’d take more convincing, however, that someone who was so active in the CPA really has put such a blinkered and discriminatory world view behind them.

  • Andrew Page 13th Jan '22 - 6:24pm

    I don’t want to go off on too much of a tangent here, but as I’ve been “tagged” I should probably respond.

    Peter Watson says: “Essentially, I suppose a devoutly religious politician is a member of two clubs, their church and their party, both of which represent a world view that it will not always be easy or even possible to reconcile.” Yes, that’s true. I, too, am a member of “two clubs”, albeit a church that takes a very different view to same-sex relationships and what sin is. But I think the kind of answer I suggested could deal with that.

    Paul Walter suggests Theresa May was being disingenuous. Who knows? “Sin” is actually a complex concept that theologians have been arguing over for centuries. I know that I, being a Christian, could answer “no” with intellectual honesty, but I am aware that Conservative Christians with Liberal political beliefs may have more difficulty there – which is why I suggested our answers should focus on affirming LGBT people.

    But we’re going off topic a bit here – all I’m saying is that the “I’m not the Archbishop of Canterbury” line won’t work as well as some of us think it might.

  • Tristan Ward 13th Jan '22 - 7:50pm

    One answer to the “is gay sex a sin” question might be “it’s not for me, but if two people obtain happiness without hurting anyone else it seems mean and selfish to stop them”.

    It seems to combine personal honesty without evasion with impeccable Liberal pedigree without theological comment.

  • Sarah Teather was elected on a Lib Dem manifesto but was incapable of ignoring her religious opinions when it came to voting for same sex marriage. If we get David elected then we are setting ourselves up for the same situation all over again. We don’t need an MP to legislate on their religion.

    David has sought here to address specifics questions in highly specific terms to carefully make his candidacy sound acceptable but the simple fact remains:

    David founded and campaigned for a fundamentalist party. The CPA is the antithesis of liberal values. While we can all imagine a person changing their minds on a few specific policies or managing to explain some away, it is inconceivable that a person could change over nigh from being a theocrat to a secular liberal. If we get him elected, we will have no control over him and he can impose his religious beliefs on us all through the law.

  • @Paul Walter – as I’m sure you recall, the word “sin” was specifically used to question Tim Farron on the issue.

    Many people, including atheists, use the word generically for something that’s “wrong”.

    And the worst thing is to give an answer that sounds evasive. If there’s a hint that a politician thinks gay sex is wrong, journalists will keep pushing that button, and opponents will exploit it. Just like they did with Tim – the issue grew legs because he initially struggled to give a straight answer.

  • Tristan Ward 13th Jan '22 - 10:11pm

    @ Michael

    We are not (at least I am not) asking anyone to be a “secular” liberal. We are asking (requiring actually) those who stand under the Lib Dem label to be liberal.

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 14th Jan '22 - 2:41pm

    Thanks Nick. I agree that Tim cocked up his answer.

    I would just note that asking whether something is a “sin” in the Biblical sense and asking whether something is wrong are two entirely different questions for which one person could quite plausibly give two different answers.

  • Patricia Organ 15th Jan '22 - 3:23pm

    Thanks for the responses David. Of course, not many of us are familiar with the summer festival/university in Transylvania but I think on researching, it feels you may have helped to give birth to something unintended. And that your (and Orban/Zolst’s) original liberal fight against communism was more about religious liberty than anything else (present circumstances showing yet again that just because a certain population is oppressed doesn’t automatically mean they are virtuous (when they themselves gain power with the opportunity to oppress).

    https://www.davidalton.net/2017/01/19/hungarian-award-following-becket-week-and-work-on-freedom-of-religion-or-belief/

  • Rachel Bishop-Firth 15th Jan '22 - 4:08pm

    David, I’m genuinely delighted if you have changed your mind since your days with the CPA. We as a party will never grow unless we change minds.

    The people who make up the Lib Dems support science, evidence, liberal values and the rights of women and LGBT people. Given that the CPA very often does not support any of these, your past link with them is raising questions and reflects on us as a party in the eyes of the general public.

    I’m glad to see that you’ve changed your beliefs on same sex marriage. Very few people now actively oppose this and those who fought against it have largely moved onto attacking the rights of transgender people. In fact the CPA is currently campaigning to ban puberty blockers for British children. This is a campaign against internationally accepted medical best practice and is as dangerous as the fact that the CPA are also promoting ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as effective Covid treatments.

    Are you now prepared, as a liberal, to actively campaign and speak out as a liberal voice on issues which are currently topics of debate? Would you for example be prepared to champion the rights of transgender people and to push for improvements in transgender medical care, in line with internationally accepted medical best practice? Because this is the kind of action that members are hoping to see as proof that you really are no longer aligned to authoritarian CPA thinking.

  • I supported David’s election as I believed him to be the best candidate most likely to make a difference as a PPC and indeed MP under LibDem colours. As with any candidate or MP or party I do not have to agree with every personal or public statement, or indeed policy of the party. I don’t with David, nor every LibDem policy.

    But in my opinion he is still an excellent candidate, more so regarding some of the “do not just tolerate but accept” demands on the issues debated here. Life is a compromise and however strongly we feel on some issues, few boil down to a straight yes or no answer, even when we have made up our own minds. Hence the frequent need for caveats. This is not a weakness, but a rightful consideration of any topic in the many different contexts of every changing society.

    As a scientist I keep an open mind — and I seek and respond to additional information to help confirm or modify existing thoughts. This could well be the process underway in this thread. But expecting David to give such clear, unequivocal answers to multifaceted questions because he is now on the political track is a strange LibDem request in the current political climate when so many promises are proven to be either downright lies or so simply broken. I am looking for integrity, which is what I’m finding.

  • David Campanale 16th Jan '22 - 10:03pm

    Should anyone have further comment or questions on my selection in Sutton & Cheam, please contact me on [email protected] I’m happy to engage with Liberal Democrat members. By standing on the Lib Dem General Election manifesto in Spelthorne in 2019, they will know my commitments and values are reflected in that campaign. For me that question is settled.

    Details of the issues brilliantly fought by local Surrey activists in 2019 can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/DavidCampanale4MP I invite visitors to this post to find anything illiberal in the campaign I ran – and was proud to lead – for the Spelthorne Liberal Democrats against the incumbent Tory MP Kwasi Kwarteng, trebling our share of the vote in doing so.

    After all, there were other parliamentary candidates who fought the 2019 election as Liberal Democrats, who also had previous party histories? Several even managed to be in three different political parties over just a few months! Tories, Independent MPs, Labour MPs were welcomed with open arms that year at Lib Dem national conference. The Liberal Democrats are a broad church who welcome all who share our core values.

    A higher standard should not be set by Lib Dems for people of faith in the party, without breaching our obligations under equalities law not to be discriminatory. (And I’d ask all posting to this blog to answer the question that once Christian Lib Dems have been removed from the party, where would you go next? Would you remove members with beliefs shaped by their Islamic faith, or Jews or Hindus, Sikhs and others? Where would such a ‘purge’ end?).

  • David Campanale 16th Jan '22 - 10:04pm

    On my historic membership of CPA, I physically attended my last meeting end of 2012, when I resigned as Chair. Although re-elected at that meeting to the Council to steer a transition, I then resigned my membership of the party. I didn’t agree with its tone, priorities or policies. A cut and paste job of Council members from 2012-14 into an Electoral Commission report – by someone from a party I had left – was incorrect. (I’ve found my bank records). Although running in 2000 and 2004 for London, I didn’t stand again for the CPA above local level.

    Another inaccuracy in the thread relates to totally untrue claims about hate in a GE manifesto I edited. They are not in there? LGBT issues are not mentioned. The priorities during my membership of CPA were to tackle global warming, discrimination, to confront deepening social inequalities in Britain and address the consequences of Labour’s illegal war in Iraq.

    Keir Starmer faced similar questions about his membership of the Labour cabinet when under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. There were accusations of anti-semitism against Labour, but he fought inside. He prevailed. In my case, I gave up and moved on.

  • David Campanale 16th Jan '22 - 10:06pm

    When asked ‘what do I stand for?’, the answer can be found in what I have set out plainly in my blog. Over the past decade, I have championed public service broadcasting in Westminster and fought for BBC staff pay and conditions, through my role on the National Executive of the National Union of Journalists. I’ve marched against the Tories during public sector cuts. As chair of the NUJ in the BBC I campaigned for – and helped win – a series of battles for equal pay for women and for diverse and inclusive newsrooms. And yes, that includes personally fighting on behalf of gay colleagues dealing with management.

    Some individuals posting here have clearly been looking on social media and elsewhere for evidence of statements that breach party rules for candidates. But they have found none. And the reason for this is I do not share the alleged attitudes which some here seem determined to falsify. I didn’t hold them a decade ago. I do not hold them now.

    As a BBC staffer from 1991, the rules on impartiality meant that I could not make any comment – anywhere – on issues of public policy or controversy. This explains why you will struggle to find much from me online, other than when I fought the 2019 General Election as a Liberal Democrat, when I took furlough. Or when as an NUJ leader in BBC News, where reasonable comment was permitted relating to union issues.

  • David Campanale 16th Jan '22 - 10:08pm

    One extra point about the Tusvanyos festival founded by liberals in 1989 and which I have re-visited in recent years. I began in journalism freelancing for ITN and the BBC in Romania, Hungary and Ukraine. I was also an elected Lib Dem politician at that time. The claims in this thread about my presence are far-fetched.

    Appearances in Romania in a small tent in a massive musical festival were not political. My BBC employment meant I restricted what I said to theological reflections based on my religious convictions, engaging with others on the panel using the Bible and church teaching. For example, in one session, I was invited to talk on the anniversary of Luther’s role in the Reformation. The festival has been presented by some commentators in these posts here as some kind of grand meeting of the Ku Klux Klan. For the 80,000 young people and students who attend it, it is a literary and music gathering where they go to have fun and to think. As a journalist, maintaining links with people in the region also mattered – across a range of political persuasions. Exchanging views and hearing opinions is what open-minded people do, even with people you disagree with. You might even call it liberalism.

    As I now devote myself to winning Sutton & Cheam for the Liberal Democrats, one challenge goes back to those who seem to be plastic liberals – who only tolerate people they agree with. The fact is that for many Liberal Democrat members and councillors, faith matters.

    I hope the plastic liberals will come to see that when our party says it embraces diversity and people of all faiths and backgrounds, a deeper commitment to that principle has to be demonstrated. Party colleagues have told me they believe it hasn’t been in this thread. Some people seek to live Christian lives, or to follow the Jewish or Islamic faith. They do so with the common goal of bringing communities together, addressing poverty and making the world a better place. A sincere faith is what drives many people in modern, culturally diverse Britain. Let’s welcome it.

  • Andrew Tampion 17th Jan '22 - 7:43am

    “Thanks Nick. I agree that Tim cocked up his answer.”
    A good example of how to deal with this sort of question is Jacob Rees Mogg. Who seems to have suffered no adverse consequences for his religious views on abortion.

  • Chris Moore 17th Jan '22 - 9:42am

    Excellent follow up remarks, David. Game set and match to you.

    I’ve been dismayed at some of the innuendo and intolerance displayed by a few on this board.

    As a party, we have to be bigger and accept internal differences and varieties of liberalism.

  • Charley Hasted 17th Jan '22 - 9:03pm

    Referring to people who ask you questions because they want to understand your opinions and stances on issues they care about as plastic liberals is not how you win friends and influence people.

    Acting like you are the guardian of Christian values and that to challenge you is to challenge all Christians is, frankly, grossly arrogant. I used to be Christian (and not a Christmas and Easter one more a church 3 times on Sunday and 1/2 a week one) I spent 8 years in a profoundly Christian school so believe me I’m aware of the huge range of feeling and opinion on social issues and I’m also aware that everyone has opinions on those issues regardless of their faith. You aren’t being asked because you’re Christian. You are being asked because you were part of an organisation that had very very clear views on certain social issues and ran a manifesto that was deeply illiberal in the way it wished to enforce those views on others.

    I’ll not be campaigning for you David but at this point it’s very little to do with your views whatever they are and everything to do with how you’ve responded to people’s concerns about your past associations.

  • I see the new comment moderation policy is going well. If it wasn’t the author of the piece who had built the straw man accusing people asking him legitimate questions of attacking all Christians and calling them plastic liberals to boot, would that comment have got through, I wonder?

  • Graham Reilly 18th Jan '22 - 9:59am

    David, you seem to have pointedly not answered direct questions you have been asked about your current personal support for LGBT+ rights, and transgender rights in particular. Given they – and all human rights – are fundamental liberal values, can you please respond in detail on these points.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 18th Jan '22 - 10:41am

    Having seen the feedback from Charley and Jennie, I can see their point. The phrase “plastic liberals” was not ok. Nor was the suggestion that anyone is in favour of purging followers of any religion from the party.

    Nobody has suggested that these groups should be removed and therefore it is a straw man argument that we should have picked up. As they have now been there for a day and a half and have been responded to, we feel that we might as well leave those comments here but acknowledge that they were over the line.

    We aren’t going to get everything right when we moderate comments, but if something appears that you feel is not in keeping with the comments policy, the easiest way to attract our attention is by emailing us to [email protected].

  • Mary Regnier-Wilson 18th Jan '22 - 10:43am

    I have to agree with Charley.
    Calling those who have questioned whether your faith based beliefs go so far as to demand conformity of others with your faith based beliefs “plastic liberals” is not the way to engage and motivate activists to campaign for you. In fact as with some of those you mention who joined our party in 2019, it smacks of entrenched privilege. (And citing those failed experiments in standing people who don’t really agree with our fundamental values in your defence isn’t the win you think it is)

    You have still failed to answer any of the questions on whether you agree with the fundamental values of the party to not show prejudice towards people on the grounds of sex (in the form of denying abortions), sexual orientation (in the form of opposing same sex marriage) or gender identity (in the form of supporting conversion therapy or banning trans people from some spaces)

    Answering these questions would be a more successful use of your time than insulting those who are asking them

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Jan '22 - 1:14pm

    I, like Charley, others, was brought up with a religious background , one I liked and respected. It was moderate Catholic, in education, at primary, secondary , levels, even a year of very liberal, progressive, philosophy, theology, at the great, now alas, gone, Hethrop College, London University.

    I can see that the phrase “plastic liberals,” might sometimes work. There is too much , dare I say, pontificating, in politcs, often hypocrasy!

    Though I often disagree on these issues with Andrew, Jennie, and other members here, on a particular issue or two, they and others like Charley, here, are in the discussion we are involved in, above, a model of intelligent interaction. They are merely, asking questions and giving views. I disagree strongly with the notion some might worry about, on this site, of shutting out comments, unless they are racist or bigotted. I think David ought to be allowed to say “plastic liberals.” But he is wrong to think it applies in any way to colleagues, friends above!

    I think David needs to realise, as said here, there is not worry or fear of Christianity. There is worry and fear that in some, it leads to bigotry. Nobody thinks it of David, but they want to know it rather than merely think it!

  • Peter Watson 18th Jan '22 - 1:22pm

    @Mary Regnier-Wilson “the fundamental values of the party …”
    To be fair, I’ve seen liberals fall out over some of those issues without reference to any religious beliefs! 🙂
    Admittedly though, it’s usually in the grey area where one person’s freedom and rights butt up against those of another and is about trying to find a balance or compromise rather than taking positions based on prejudice (despite the accusations sometimes chucked around!).

  • I invite David Campanale, again, to tell us if there are any minority or disadvantaged groups whose legal rights and protections he would not seek to advance, or would seek to roll back, in law.

    His lack of a clear answer is, I fear, permitting certain conclusions to be drawn, as are his claims as to the composition of his fellow party members, and his refusal to confirm his stance on specific issues raised by others (LGBT+ rights, abortion, trans+ rights).

  • Chris Moore 18th Jan '22 - 3:36pm

    Two issues are being mixed up.

    1. Has David moved away from very illiberal positions held in the past when he was a leading light in CPA? The answer based on his replies is yes.

    2. Does David agree with a secular left-wing libertarian liberal like myself and most other party members on issues touching on sexuality? No, he does not.

    We should tolerate 2, in my view. There are legitimate differences of opinion on these issues.

  • John Buckeridge 18th Jan '22 - 6:50pm

    As a former Worcester Park resident (I moved away summer 2021) David Campanale strikes me as a great vote winner. Having trebled the vote in Spelthorpe at the last General Election through sheer hard work, enthusing existing and recruiting new volunteers to join him in leafleting and door knocking, and through savvy use of social media, he can do the same and win back Sutton & Cheam for the LibDems. For the sake of local people and to help end the rotten reign of the Tories, I hope we can get behind David rather than continue to scrutinise what he may or may not have said or done decades ago.

  • Enver Bughda 19th Jan '22 - 8:13am

    I too heard David speak at the Tusvanyos festival in Romania in 2019. I am a Uyghur and a former consultant oncologist working in a Chinese hospital. I now live in London, where David is known in my community for his work highlighting the genocide against Turkic Muslim speaking people in Xinjiang. I am surprised by some of the comments I have been reading and agree with Ethan. David used the session where he was speaking to talk about freedom of religious belief generally and his Christianity. He is one of the good guys! The Liberal Democrats should be proud to have him as a candidate. But I do wonder if this party can cope with religious believers as members. Some of the attacks against him are odd and not what I thought being a liberal is. But I do know he will be a great MP and I will go in campaign for him in Sutton if others here won’t.

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Recent Comments

  • David Evans
    Ronnie was a great liberal, a great man, and a great MP. He was probably a great Lord as well, but to those who knew him, the title Lord barely registered as i...
  • Gordon
    A lot to like here but some differences. For one, money emphatically IS fuel. (It’s also a lubricant but that’s less interesting.) For example, the ...
  • Judy Abel
    I remember Erlend from the time when I worked for Simon Hughes in his Constituency Office in Bermondsey. Erlend was managing the Lib Dems Campaigns Office downs...
  • Mick Taylor
    Bloody predictive text! 'supporter' should read 'support it or'...
  • Mick Taylor
    The responsibility for Johnson continuing in office is not ours. It is totally in the hands of Tory MPs. We know that it largely won't matter if we vote for or ...