David Jones must be sacked

I've pondered for a while over whether to say something about David Jones' extraordinary comments on Face to Face earlier this week, and his subsequent explanation for them. Of course I have nothing particularly new to add that hasn't already been said by hundreds, if not thousands, of people; but I've decided that I need to add my voice because his comments are of a nature that cannot be ignored. We cannot turn a blind eye to bigotry and prejudice against any section of our society, especially when it comes from those who hold positions of power in government.

First, we need to be clear about exactly what he said. This is the relevant extract from the interview:

     

"Certainly, in constituency terms, I felt that overwhelmingly the constituents of Clwyd West were opposed to the change. But also I regard marriage as an institution that's developed over many centuries, essentially for the provision of a warm and safe environment for the upbringing of children, which is clearly something that two same-sex partners can't do. Which is not to say that I'm in any sense opposed to stable and committed same-sex partnerships."

Face to Face, ITV Wales, 14 February 2013

Although I disagree with his decision to vote against equal marriage, that in itself is no reason for him to be sacked. The reason David Cameron should remove him from his cabinet position is specifically because he said that same-sex partners cannot provide a warm and safe environment for the upbringing of children. He made a blanket statement—to use his own words from the same interview, we might call it a crude characterization—which is not only patently untrue, but grossly offensive to the many same-sex couples who do provide a warm and safe environment for the upbringing of children.

I would have hoped he might look again at what he said in the interview and apologize. In the stress of an interview it is all too easy not to express things as clearly as one would have liked. But instead of doing so, he tried to justify himself by making this statement:

"I was asked on the Face to Face programme why I voted against the same-sex marriage proposals. I replied that I had done so on the basis that I took the view that marriage is an institution that has developed over the centuries so as to provide a safe and warm environment for the upbringing of children. I made the point of stressing that I was fully supportive of committed same-sex relationships. I also strongly approve of civil partnerships.

"I did not say in the interview that same-sex partners should not adopt children and that is not my view. I simply sought to point out that, since same-sex partners could not biologically procreate children, the institution of marriage was one that, in my opinion, should be reserved to opposite-sex partners."

ITV Wales, 15 February 2013

This is a classic example of studiously missing the point. Nobody is in any doubt that a marriage between opposite-sex partners can provide a warm and safe environment for the upbringing of children. The point at issue is that David Jones made the blanket assertion that same-sex partners cannot provide that sort of environment. That is bigotry, pure and simple.

For me, the obvious question is why, if he really does believe that same-sex couples cannot provide that environment, he is in favour of same-sex partners being allowed to adopt children. In any adoption the well-being of the child is paramount, and no child should be adopted by any couple—whether gay or straight—which cannot provide a warm and safe environment for that child to grow up in. It is self-evident hypocrisy for David Jones to claim he is in favour of same-sex partners being allowed to adopt if he believes that same-sex partners are incapable of providing it.

Prejudice, offensiveness, bigotry and hypocrisy should not be tolerated from any politician of any political party. That is why he must be dismissed from his position as Secretary of State for Wales.

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3 comments:

welshnotbritish said...

I say let him keep his job. There can be no better ammunition for Plaid to urge voters to stop voting for the anti-Wales parties than by showing them no matter which colour Tory party they vote for we are at the mercy of whoever England votes for.

Do we want a free and progressive country? Or do we want to be run by colonnial bigots, at the moment it would appear to be the latter.


Owen said...

When people were lining up possible candidates for replacing Cheryl Gillan, I did say that the Welsh Tories had a problem in that many of their remaining MPs were "kooky". This is the sort of thing I meant.

I'm usually forgiving (ha!) when politicians make simple slips of the tongue, but I have to say you're spot on with this, MH. He might not be espousing rampant queer-bashing rhetoric, but it's sad that people in his position still hold such views. It's almost like certain sections of society want to retrain a right to take away the rights of others.

However, I'd guess this will - in realpolitik terms - count as a first "last chance". He'll have to watch himself from now on.

MH said...

This isn't a matter of being pro-Wales or anti-Wales, Stu. Nor is it a party political matter. If it were, then David Jones could legitimately claim that it is merely a difference of political opinion. This is something very different, and it should not be tolerated from any politician.

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It would have been easy and understandable for him to say that it was a slip of the tongue, Owen. I don't want to put words into his mouth, but I think he could say something like this with integrity:

"I was asked on the Face to Face programme why I voted against the same-sex marriage proposals. I replied that I had done so on the basis that I took the view that marriage is an institution that has developed over the centuries so as to provide a safe and warm environment for the upbringing of children.

"I meant to say that marriage developed as an institution for the procreation and upbringing of children. A same sex couple cannot procreate children, and for this reason I believe that they should not be entitled to marry, but should be able to commit themselves to a different formal relationship that provides an equivalent legal status to marriage instead. However I did not mean to say that a same sex couple cannot provide a suitable environment in which to raise children, in the same way as other couples who are not the biological parents of a child, or indeed single parents, are able to provide a such an environment."

"It is for the appropriate authorities to decide on matters of child welfare, and to take steps to protect children in any case where the environment in which they are being brought up is not safe, irrespective of the marital status, gender or sexual orientation of the adults concerned."


But somehow I don't think he would be able to say even this, for if he could, he would surely have done it already.

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