UKIP MEP calls equal marriage supporters “equality Nazis” and defends UKIP’s collaboration with party whose leader praised Hitler

Six months ago, Scotland had an actual farmer as an MEP. George Lyon’s knowledge of farming and rural issues was a massive asset to Scotland’s representation in Europe.

Not that I’m bitter, well, maybe a bit, but his replacement, UKIP’s David Coburn, who lives in London, has been telling the Huffington Post hat equal marriage supporters are ‘Equality Nazis”:

Gay marriage supporters are “equality Nazis” who helped push through something that only matters to “some queen who wants to dress up in a bridal frock and dance up the aisle to the Village People”, a Ukip MEP has said.

In an wide-ranging interview with the Huffington Post UK, David Coburn, who is himself gay, said that same-sex marriage, which passed into law last year, was “false bollocks” that “makes a mockery of the holy sacrament of marriage”.

“What you’re doing with the gay marriage issue is you’re rubbing people’s noses in the dirt. Everyone had agreed and been quite happy with the idea of civil partnership, it was all bedded in and people were happy with it, they got used to the idea,” he said.

“But when you go across the road to pick a fight with someone of faith, that’s not got anything to do with it, that’s the equality Nazis trying to give Christianity a jolly good kicking. You know it, I know it, we all know it – it’s false bollocks, the lot of it.”

He went on to justify UKIP’s association in the European Parliament with a particularly unpleasant party from Poland:

He defended the party’s decision to keep its grouping together in the European Parliament by teaming with a Polish politician Robert Iwaszkiewicz, who joked about wife-beating and praised Adolf Hitler’s tax policy, explaining that it allowed party leader Nigel Farage more time to “have a pop at the Euro-aristocracy”.

“We will use whatever means possible to get ourselves out of the EU,” Coburn admitted, including “getting into bed with people who you might not want to take home to see Mum”.

The Ukip MEP played down his new Polish ally’s controversial “jolly-old-chaps-back-slapping” remarks, saying: “He was playing with the press, he didn’t mean it.”

It’s like it’s all a big game to them. The European Parliament takes decisions which affect all of our lives, but it’s all one great big boys’ backslapping day out to Coburn and his pals.

Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott had a fitting riposte:

The sooner that a power of recall is introduced for MEPs the better.

This is the salutary tale, to add to the many others, of what people get when they vote UKIP. It shows how desperately we need to develop winning arguments and strategies against them because they are a disaster in whatever Parliament or council chamber they end up in.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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32 Comments

  • Tsar Nicolas 31st Oct '14 - 9:41am

    Caron,

    You work hard at a thankless task, but given the hullabaloo over the Botswana thread, I am really surprised that you have posted this item.

    If someone disagrees with you and Tavish there will be calls for resignations, so I guess you are simply looking for affirmation.

  • robert sayer 31st Oct '14 - 10:01am

    if you are to expose ukip for what they are..one has to provide information…they are allowed to get away with some awful statements

  • In one respect I would agree with the UKIP MEP! Yes when you cut it to the bone “gay marriage” does only directly matter to gay people. However, the impact of this measure (of extending ‘marriage’ to gay people) goes much much wider and affects all members of our society and says something about our society. So my retort, would be to use (some of) UKIPs words and add a twist!

    Talking of which (and in damger of derailing this thread), I think many here would be pleased to see that Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, has felt able to publicly acknowledge his sexuality – an indication of just far we have travelled since the 1970’s.

  • Matthew Huntbach 31st Oct '14 - 1:51pm

    I agree with him on this point “Everyone had agreed and been quite happy with the idea of civil partnership, it was all bedded in and people were happy with it, they got used to the idea”. Colloquially, it was getting called “gay marriage” anyway, and it seemed to me the sensible approach would have been to make sure in practice it had the same economic protections which marriage gives. Up till this point, many Liberals seemed obsessed with the idea of removing any special legal privileges of marriage anyway. It did seem to me that suddenly reversing this position, and insisting that a gay partnership had to be given the exact same name as previously was used to mean a male-female one, and this was some wonderful thing all aspired to, was a somewhat tokenistic gesture, perhaps there was a bit of nose-rubbing behind it, perhaps too it was a cheapo way to say “look, despite having backed their right-wing economic policies, we aren’t Tories”. It ignored what was once quite a strong opinion among gay people against the idea that they could only be accepted as “normal” if they were forced to fit their lifestyle into a conventional heterosexual one, to the point of calling a gay relationship by a name which previously meant a man-woman one. Expression of that opinion might have been accompanied by remarks like the “bridal frock” one.

    Whatever, I also agree that any point he was trying to make was lost when he introduced the N-word. The casual use of that word to mean something a long way removed from its origin should always be avoided. A “Fascist” is someone who believes in the idea that it is better for political control to be in the hands of one charismatic figure than shared in a representative assembly. The mid-20th century form of this ideology which used the N-word added a strong racial element to that idea. We should use those words when only when we do mean that sort of thing by them.

  • @Roland
    I see it the other way. The fact that a public figure’s sexuality makes the news shows just how surprisingly little we’ve travelled since the 1970s, in some respects. We’ll know we really have full equality when the media stop treating it as a novelty.

  • Stevan Rose 31st Oct '14 - 8:28pm

    Not sure you could use a recall process to remove an obnoxious elected representative. Obnoxious people are allowed to stand for election and people are allowed to vote for obnoxious candidates and elect them. He’s entitled to his view on gay marriage and he’s hardly a homophobe. Nor should you be able to recall them for their associations now matter how vile that association. Recall should be for dishonesty and criminality only.

  • @Stuart,
    I get your point of view and broadly agree with your assessment of the news worthiness of a public figure’s sexuality. However with respect to how “little we’ve travelled”, I do particularly note the tone of the media reports contrasts markedly with the language used by numerous “Trolls, religious nuts and plain old homophobes from the four corners of the internet” who “immediately took to Twitter to attack Cook” (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/10/31/trolls_bombard_tim_cook_with_vile_homophobic_abuse/).

  • Helen Tedcastle 1st Nov '14 - 12:01pm

    I agree entirely with Matthew Huntbach’s comment.
    The issue became an hysterical, aggressive and emotional war of words across social media as it gained momentum and the media could see which way the political wind was blowing. There was definitely an element of anti-religious prejudice in some quarters and I lost track of how many people were comparing the issue to the abolition of slavery; and how opponents were called ‘bigots’, even though they were simply pointing out that a. parliament was redefining a religious term to describe a particular union without any mandate to do so and b. the important thing was to ensure civil partnerships covered all the economic/civil protections of a marriage – this was the most important thing.

    What was conveniently ignored by those advocating gay marriage on behalf of gay people were the growing number of gay men and women who spoke out that they were not in favour of the change of term. This got little coverage until the day after the vote. Coburn is not representative of feeling on this matter even if a small part of his straight-talking on the issue has some truth in it.

  • Andrew Colman 1st Nov '14 - 4:21pm

    UKIP try to blame our economic woes on immigrants, benefit claimants and public servants. This is a common feature with Nazis

    UKIP should remove the plank in its own eye before the spec in another’s eye

  • Edward Reach 2nd Nov '14 - 12:06pm

    Some thoroughly depressing comments on this thread. The arguments have been well and truly played out and don’t really need to be repeated again here – suffice it to sat that the majority of the public totally reject the sort of sentiment expressed by Coburn about same sex marriage. Thankfully, the Liberal Democrats led the way on this in Parliament.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Nov '14 - 10:39am

    Edward Read

    Some thoroughly depressing comments on this thread. The arguments have been well and truly played out and don’t really need to be repeated again here

    As a Liberal, I believe that both sides of an argument need to be heard. You seem to be depressed by that idea.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Nov '14 - 10:43am

    Andrew Colman

    UKIP try to blame our economic woes on immigrants, benefit claimants and public servants. This is a common feature with Nazi

    I’ve very much been trying to avoid spelling it out like that, because obnoxious though UKIP are, I don’t believe they are actual National Socialists of the 1930s German type.

    However, yes I do believe their raising of the EU as the cause of all our problems , and their whipping up of emotions against it IS very much like the way those people used the Jews. Very, very much.

  • David Allen 3rd Nov '14 - 10:51am

    This is what’s wrong with the recall idea.

    UKIP stand for election on a platform which includes alliance with Polish Nazi-sympathisers. UKIP win the election on that basis. Then UKIP MEP makes new and colourful publicity in support of the Polish Nazi sympathisers. Then the “recall” gang use this as an excuse to fight the election all over again.

    Next up: Lib Dems stand for election on a platform which includes support for gay marriage. Lib Dem win the election on that basis. Then Lib Dem MEP makes new and colourful publicity in support of gay marriage. Then the “recall” gang use this as an excuse to fight the election all over again.

    Unless done very carefully, recall is a mechanism to make mockery of democracy and bring it into disrepute. Is that what we want?

  • Edward Reach 3rd Nov '14 - 1:03pm

    Matthew Huntback – no, that’s not what I meant. Your first characteristically lengthy post contains a series of clichéd assumptions about the motivation behind the same sex marriage legislation and those of us who supported it. Now of course you’re perfectly entitled to express those views and but it’s not illiberal for me to describe the impact they had on me when I read yours and other people’s comments.

    Perhaps we should focus on the subject of this article – the inflammatory and ill-judged comments of a very low calibre ukip MEP? No?

  • Helen Tedcastle 3rd Nov '14 - 5:18pm

    Edward Reach

    I don’t think that it is fair to characterise Matthew Huntbach’s comment as rehearsing a series of cliched assumptions about why the gay marriage law was passed. It is perfectly legitimate to comment on the pragmatic motivations of politicians and political leaders who allowed this legislation to go through, even though it was not in anyone’s manifesto. Nor was there a mass grassroots movement agitating for it in 2010, as if it was in any way equal in mass participation to the anti-apartheid movement for example.

    On a Liberal Democrat-supporting site, you must expect that there will be dissent of some members from a majority-supported policy in the party. It should not be a problem for Liberals that these views are aired, even if you disagree strongly.

  • Edward Reach 3rd Nov '14 - 7:19pm

    Helen, steady on the straw men please. I have not said Matthew shouldn’t air his views. What I am calling out is the use of hackneyed old non-arguments which were played out at length during the progress of the legislation and wholeheartedly re-butted repeatedly.

    Out of interest, you refer to ‘countless’ people comparing the issue to slavery and a ‘growing number’ of lgbt people who opposed the legislation. Do you any citations for either of those claims?

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Nov '14 - 7:26pm

    Edward Reach, I support equal marriage, but I was put off some individuals by the aggressiveness and the out of proportion importance that they placed on the policy. People were making out that not to be married was some sort of great oppression and if you want links you can use Google.

    I temporarily withdraw my support for it after seeing mass protests around the world and a priest shoot himself dead over it. Anger can be inflicted on others as a form of bullying, but when it was inflicted on oneself then I think it is fair to see if the person had a point.

    If legal equality was granted with civil partnerships then it has to be asked what the big deal was. Yes there is a difference, but at the time Lib Dems were treating this like a bread and butter issue on par with the NHS.

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Nov '14 - 7:31pm

    I’ll say to others that religion pretty much needs to be kept out of politics. How can we criticise Sharia law or Zionist principles if we ourselves are going to vote along Christian lines? I know it is a terribly difficult issue, but tolerance needs to be granted to all.

  • Edward Reach 3rd Nov '14 - 8:31pm

    Eddie, glad to hear you supported same sex marriage and I agree religion should be kept out of schools.

  • Helen Tedcastle 3rd Nov '14 - 9:02pm

    Edward Reach
    ‘… the use of hackneyed old non-arguments which were played out at length during the progress of the legislation and wholeheartedly re-butted repeatedly.’

    Whether the arguments were non-arguments or hackneyed is a matter of opinion as is whether they were rebutted convincingly – it depends on the position you take and how strongly you believe your perspective to be true.

    ‘Do you any citations for either of those claims?’ Two examples off the top of my head: The interview with Brian Sewell on Channel Four News the day of the first gay wedding – who condemned the legislation. He is a gay man and he rebutted the arguments of a pro-equal marriage MP; Christopher Biggins (was a Lib Dem supporter I believe, at one time). I will defer to Matthew for further examples.

    Eddie Sammon
    ‘ I’ll say to others that religion pretty much needs to be kept out of politics’ I don’t see how this is done without forcing people to vote against their conscience. That is illiberal, surely.

    Parliament doesn’t force a three-line whip on sensitive and highly emotional issues, which this one was. We have to respect the conscience of those who go against either the run of the herd, or depending on your view, the ‘hand of history’.

  • Edward Reach 3rd Nov '14 - 9:13pm

    Helen, so ‘countless’ examples and a ‘growing number’ of lgbt people who oppose SSM = Brian Sewell and Chris Biggins and an unnamed Lib Dem?! Thanks for making my point for me.

  • Helen Tedcastle 3rd Nov '14 - 9:27pm

    Edward, I didn’t make your point for you. I never said there were countless examples but I know those examples were heard after the vote (I wrote off the top of my head). So for me, it was growing – I did not hear them before.
    I am not going to spend my time googling and trying to show you that there are those who dissent from the majority view – this article is about the issue for a start. It’s whether you can ever accept the fact of dissent. It’s called liberalism.

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Nov '14 - 9:30pm

    Hi people. Edward, sorry about my tone, I was in a rush. I don’t agree with taxpayer funded faith schools, but I don’t want to get into a big debate about it on this thread.

    Helen, I understand about conscience voting, but we have to look at the consequences if we vote heavily according to religious beliefs and see how that affects our consciences too.

    Best wishes all, try to keep it civil. From the master of civil debate (joke of course). 🙂

  • Helen Tedcastle 3rd Nov '14 - 9:40pm

    Eddie, ‘ …we have to look at the consequences if we vote heavily according to religious beliefs and see how that affects our consciences too.’

    The key word is ‘if.’ In the Commons, the conscience vote is over ethical issues such abortion, euthanasia , this issue, capital punishment etc…

  • Helen Tedcastle 3rd Nov '14 - 10:00pm

    Oh dear. it looks as if Edward Reach doesn’t want to engage on the issue of dissent on conscience issues. That’s a pity because it a pretty central principle to liberalism. Whether something is right or wrong is not just a contest of numbers.

  • Edward Reach 3rd Nov '14 - 10:34pm

    Helen, you’re right, you didn’t say countless, you said you’d ‘lost track’ of how many made the slavery comparison. Happy to correct that. Don’t you think it’s reasonable for me to ask you to corroborate your claims with actual examples? How do we objectively establish their credibility otherwise?

    This article is actually about the buffoon that is David Coburn. You’re thoughts about his words?

  • “Oh dear. it looks as if Edward Reach doesn’t want to engage on the issue of dissent on conscience issues.”

    You’re confusing “dissent on conscience issues” with “seeking to impose your religious beliefs on other people”.

    No doubt liberals are quite happy for you to believe what you like. But clearly no liberal will support you if you expect to interfere with other people’s liberties on the basis of religious beliefs that they don’t share.

  • @edward reach

    How is it possible to ‘correct’ someone by misrepresenting their words? There is a fundamental difference between ‘losing track’ which suggests many and ‘countless’ which is a synonym for something immeasurably large.

  • Helen Tedcastle 4th Nov '14 - 12:15am

    Edward Reach
    ‘Don’t you think it’s reasonable for me to ask you to corroborate your claims with actual examples?How do we objectively establish their credibility otherwise?’

    If we were in court…
    I was in a number of debates where the comparison/ claim was made – do you keep a count of the number claims made in debates on social media? I doubt it. If you don’t believe me, then I’ll live with that risk.

    It would be good if you would answer my points, especially as you have a bird logo next to your name – I’ve been a Lib Dem member (Liberal Party and successor party for nearly thirty years).

    One of the things I liked about this party when I joined, was the respect for conscience – not the case in Labour or Tory at the time.

    I’ve given my view on Coburn already. Are you able to countenance dissent on points of conscience or not?

  • Helen Tedcastle 4th Nov '14 - 12:21am

    Chris
    ‘ No doubt liberals are quite happy for you to believe what you like. But clearly no liberal will support you if you expect to interfere with other people’s liberties on the basis of religious beliefs that they don’t share.’

    Not sure if you are a party member but Liberalism is actually about respecting diversity of view ie: ‘no one shall be enslaved by conformity…’

    That includes people of faith – the right to freedom of belief and conscience – it’s a basic liberal value.

    Not sure where your assumption of interference comes from. I think you mean honest disagreement. In a democracy, we have to live with it.

  • Edward Reach 4th Nov '14 - 12:28am

    Steve, I was correcting *myself* – exactly for the reason you outline.

    Helen, thanks for your reply. I’m sorry you feel that being asked to expand upon what might otherwise appear to be rather hyperbolic claims is comparable to being in Court.

    As for whether I can countenance dissent on ‘points of conscience?” Of course, I haven’t said otherwise.

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