In praise of Eric Pickles

We bet you never thought you’d see that title on Liberal Democrat Voice, eh?

We salute Eric Pickles for his comments today on LBC, reported byPoliticsHome:

The Communities Secretary said he had dropped his previous “narrow minded” view after visiting gay friends and seeing how happy they were.

Mr Pickles was asked about Domenico Dolce’s comments about children from IVF being “synthetic” as he appeared on LBC Radio.

He replied: “I find it beyond offensive. The idea that people that have got a stable relationship can’t adopt … seems to be utterly anathema to me.

“I have to say, a few years back, I had a different view. Originally, I voted against gay adoption, I think I voted against gay marriage.”

Asked what changed his mind, he said: “To tell you the truth, simply friends. Going to peoples’ houses, seeing a stable couple together, seeing constituents who wanted to have a proper legally-recognised relationship.

“I just thought ‘You can’t be so mean, you can’t be so narrow-minded, you can’t be so prejudiced’. So I did a complete 180 degree turn and I’ve never regretted it.”

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  • It would be good if we could make the same sort of comment about him in terms of his local government brief!

  • Paul In Wokingham 17th Mar '15 - 7:44pm

    What a fantastic comment by Eric Pickles. I’ll probably never say that again…

  • If I’m not mistaken a couple of years ago didn’t he vote strongly against same sex marriage? Now with a GE approaching he has a change of heart. Perhaps Nigel Farage will now say he’s always wanted open borders in europe and the SNP will say they don’t want to leave the union. How LDV can even entertain having an article in praise of this man is beyond me.

  • Eric Pickles used to be a member of The Communist Party of Great Britain.

    This is not the first 180 degree turn in his political career.

    Even as a Conservative he used to believe in local democracy when he was a local councillor.

    Now he believes in withdrawing government funding from local services on a scale unknown in the last 100 years.
    He believes in destroying library services, closing support facilities for the elderly, removing local councils from housing and education. He believes that everything should be sold off to his chums in the private sector.

    Shame he has not done a 180 degree turn on any of that.

  • I do believe in encouraging any change of heart like this. It’s not easy to admit you were mistaken, so let’s welcome it as it is.

  • Eddie Sammon 17th Mar '15 - 9:07pm

    I agree with Eric Pickles on this.

    Now we need to not let the gift that Rachel Reeves has provided us with go to waste. If Labour bash business and bash the unemployed then who do they represent? Pure toxic and a way to make Labour voters stay at home.


  • I think he seems genuine, so well
    done to him and also to LDV for reporting this.

  • A Social Liberal 18th Mar '15 - 12:14am

    I’m afraid Pickles’ Damascan conversion is just a little too pat for me, a little too close to the election for me not to doubt his sincerity.

    There is always the chance that he is on the level, but there is much more chance that this is a cynical ploy to make him seem more cuddly to the electorate.

  • It is of course better than the reverse, but it remains narrow-minded to only be ready to grant people their rights because you happen to have family or friends — that is, people who you think are “like you” — who would benefit from them. True political integrity and courage is being ready to legislate on behalf of people who are not “like you,” who are not in your social class and whom you never meet at your parties, people whom you can nonetheless connect with because you have the imagination and compassion to put yourself in their shoes without first counting them as members of your inner circle.

    And I’m afraid I’m not convinced that Mr Pickles has that integrity or that courage.

  • Mr Pickles’s is popping up in all sorts of unexpected places. I opened the website of ‘Electronic Initifada’ and there he was —

  • I agree with Mary Reid about welcoming changes of heart. I met an older couple of UKIP supporters the other day who cautiously but proudly told me about their son’s upcoming wedding to his gay partner. Until he announced his orientation the father had been totally hostile to gay people I told them I was a Lib Dem and equally welcomed their news! That made them stop and think.

  • David-1 18th Mar ’15 – 12:26am …It is of course better than the reverse, but it remains narrow-minded to only be ready to grant people their rights because you happen to have family or friends ….

    Exactly! I’m sure IDS loves his family and those of his friends; it’s just those families on benefits …….etc.

  • Simon McGrath 18th Mar '15 - 8:54am

    I see the haters are out in force.
    Anyone who thinks Pickles is doing this for electoral advantage is remarkably ignorant about politics given that support for gay marriage has lost the tories votes to UKIP.

    @John Tilley – not sure why you say Pickles was a member of the Communist party – can you give the evidence. He has said that when he was 14 he was ( nearly 50 years ago) communist inclined but stopped that when the USSR invaded Czechoslovakia and joined the young Conservatives.

  • Mr Pickles isn’t the first unexpected advocate of LGBT equality (e.g. Joey Barton, Norman Fowler), and it is largely a testament to the power of hundreds of thousands of LGBT people making the decision to live their ordinary lives openly.

    Politics is personal and Harvey Milk got it right when he said that knowing friends, family, workmates who are gay is what would drive the movement for equal rights.

    PS I think I would divorce anyone that got into the habit of praising Eric Pickles.

  • Eric Pickles is Secretary for Communities. He is on tape telling Teresa Cooper to “adjust your medication” after she asked him about the Kendall House scandal. This guy is currently mooted as part of the solution to problems in Rotherham. It’s all very well patting him on the back for no longer being homophobic, but his job is directly linked to community issues and this is what he said to an abuse campaigner..

  • Simon McGrath
    Eric Pickles is a week older than me so I know exactly how old he was when the Soviet tanks rolled into Prague. He was older than 14.
    I have watched Eric Pickles himself on TV talking openly about his communist past, indeed a quick google reveals quotes from him in The Daily Telegraph amd The Times.

    I find it revealing how in your comments in LDV you leap to defend tax dodgers, bankers, multi-national corporations, asset strippers, dodgy property developers and now Eric Pickles. It indicates an attitude far to the right of many decent Conservatives I know. Have you been recruited by UKIP ?

  • arnieg 18th Mar ’15 – 10:29am
    “….I think I would divorce anyone that got into the habit of praising Eric Pickles.”

    Me too. 🙂

  • Simon McGrath 18th Mar '15 - 3:34pm

    @John – your posts become increasingly odd ( and offensive).
    Pickles was a communist when he was 14 and left when he was 16 – he was born in 1952.
    More to the point you made a specific allegation “Eric Pickles used to be a member of The Communist Party of Great Britain.”
    Can you give us your evidence for that please ?

  • Paul In Wokingham 18th Mar '15 - 3:53pm

    @JohnTilley – that comment was aimed at me, I’m afraid 😉 I am Arnie’s husband.

  • Julian Dean 18th Mar '15 - 6:40pm

    @Simon McGrath – I must be a hater then as I detest every square yard of that man for the damage he has inflicted on Merseyside and the North for his targetted cuts.

  • Alex Sabine 19th Mar '15 - 3:28am

    Credit to Eric Pickles for his change of heart and for being so candid (and typically blunt) about it, rather than going for the weaselly, defensive approach that many politicians adopt when they change their positions in the light of experience. I may not like his centralising and populist instincts, but he has gone up in my estimation as a human being.

  • Paul In Wokingham 18th Mar ’15 – 3:53pm

    I knew that Paul, my comment echoing Arnie was aimed at Rosemary. 🙂

  • Simon McGrath

    I am not sure which part of my comment you found offensive.

    Were you offended because I did not mention that you also defend Netanyahu’s record in government as well as tax dodgers, bankers, multi-national corporations, asset strippers, dodgy property developers and Eric Pickles?

    None on that list are Liberal Democrats so I cannot understand why you would be offended to be associated with them.

    BTW – have you also had a 180 degree change of view on the subject of this thread just like Mr Pickles?

  • Richard Underhill 20th Mar '17 - 4:10pm

    Pickles said on the Daily Politics today that he provided £35,000 for studies of the Cornish language under pressure from Liberal Democrats in coalition. Someone (David Cameron? George Osborne?) said “What idiot authorised that?” so Pickles said “That’ll be me.” He does not claim to be fluent in Cornish.

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