Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Philip Lardner and press misrepresentation

The BBC, the Times, the Independent, the Telegraph, the Scotsman - and, for all I know, several other news providers as well.

All, without exception, have printed a sub-headline which is not true - at least not according to the stories they printed underneath. All say that the Philip Lardner, the Conservative candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran was suspended by the party for describing gay people as "not normal". All then proceed to quote the remarks which Mr Lardner apparently made. Nowhere does he say that gay people are “not normal”.

He says “I will support the rights of parents and teachers to refuse to have their children taught that homosexuality is 'normal' behaviour or an equal lifestyle choice to traditional marriage.”

He says “I will not accept that their behaviour is “normal.'”

Notice the difference. Mr Lardner says he does not accept certain behaviour as normal; the newspapers and BBC all said that he described certain people as “not normal.” Those two things are not the same. There is a significant difference. I do various things which might well be described as “not normal” - but that is not the same thing as saying that I am not normal.

I'm curious about three things: 1) Do these people not see that their story isn't strictly accurate? 2) Was the inaccuracy a deliberate attempt to make Mr. Lardner look worse in the eyes of readers? And 3) Will they spot the inaccuracy and correct it?

There is also, of course, the matter of the Conservative Party. Mr Lardner does seem to be a rather accident prone candidate - a couple of years back he was in hot water for speaking enthusiastically about Ian Smith, the former Rhodesian Prime Minister. Why the Conservative Party allowed him to be nominated for North Ayrshire and Arran this time is beyond me.

But that is not the only thing that concerns me about the Conservative Party in Scotland. I am even less impressed with the way it has reacted to this incident. The Chairman of the Scottish Conservatives, Andrew Fulton, is reported as saying "These views have no place in the modern Conservative party."

These views? The view that homosexual behaviour is not normal has no place in the modern Conservative party? That seems remarkably close to saying that the view that homosexual behaviour is morally wrong has no place in the modern Conservative Party. And that, effectively means that traditional Christians have no place in the modern Conservative Party.

Edit: A key phrase in that post was "at least not according to the stories they printed underneath." I have now seen the Pink News report (thanks, Stewart) which includes the following words from Mr. Lardner:
Christians (and most of the population) believe homosexuality to be somewhere between 'unfortunate' and simply 'wrong' and they should not be penalised for politely saying so – good manners count too, of course.
So while Mr. Lardner does not actually say that "homosexual people are not normal" - he does, in that sentence, give the impression that he himself fails to distinguish between homosexual people and homosexual behaviour. Such a failure is unfortunate. And, dare I say it, 'wrong'.

5 comments:

indigomyth said...

It is most unfortunate that the Conservative Party are not being more forthright in defending Philip Lardner, Chris Grayling, and Julian Lewis, but at least Cameron has not fired Grayling or Lewis.

I do not understand why the CP does these thin-skinned gays with a simple lesson on the ethics of state-power and the use of violence. It is so disappointing.

Young Mr. Brown said...

It is most unfortunate that the Conservative Party are not being more forthright in defending Philip Lardner, Chris Grayling, and Julian Lewis.

Looking at it with from a historical perspective, I personally find it astonishing.

at least Cameron has not fired Grayling or Lewis.

Yes, we have to give credit where credit is due. The Conservative Party may not be enthusiastic about freedom, but they don't hate it with a passion. Unlike some parties I could mention.

Stewart Cowan said...

The final piece of Tory Party credibility has just gone.

Young Mr. Brown said...

The final piece of Tory Party credibility has just gone.

I think that says it very well, Stewart. Andrew Fulton's comments are actually (IMHO) far more shocking that Gordon Brown's remarks about Gillian Duffy.

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!