Another of those who stood for election under the banner of the Brexit Party at the recent European Parliament elections, and another subjected to no scrutiny whatsoever by our free and fearless press, was former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe. So when she appeared before the inquisition of Niall Paterson, standing in for Sophy Ridge on the Sky News politics show yesterday morning, some were taken aback by her comments.
Local politicians for local people
As the BBC has reported, “Ann Widdecombe has come under fire after she suggested science could ‘produce an answer’ to being gay … During the interview on the Ridge on Sunday programme, Ms Widdecombe, 71, was asked whether people would want to share a platform with her due to her views on homosexuality”. There was more.
“The MEP said she had ‘never claimed that such science already exists’ to change someone's sexuality … But she added: ‘If you simply rule out the possibility of it, you are denying people who are confused about their sexuality or discontented with it, the chances that you do give to people who want to change gender.’”
But no-one should have been surprised. She has previously opposed LGBT rights moves, and on the question of equalising the age of consent at 16, attacked the then Labour Government, sniping “one of the sundry horrors for which this Government is likely to be remembered will be that it gave its imprimatur to sodomy at 16 … there will be no protection for the vulnerable and confused against the predatory attentions of older men”.
She opposed the repeal of Section 28. She was firmly opposed to same-sex marriage, declaring “the state must have a preferred model" and "a union that is generally open to procreation”. And, the spark for yesterday’s questions from Paterson, “In 2012, Widdecombe voiced support in the Daily Express for the practise of conversion therapy, which claims to change the orientation of gay men and women”.
Never mind that so-called “Gay Conversion” therapy has been widely condemned. Yet so many pundits have either failed to put Ms Widdecombe on the spot, or have fallen back on the idea of her as some kind of loveable eccentric, which she most certainly is not.
She has repeatedly advocated for the return of the death penalty. She is opposed to abortion. She split with the Church of England over the ordination of women as priests. On climate change, her views have been summed up by comments such as “There is no climate change, hasn’t anybody looked out of their window recently?” and that “climate change money should go to [the] armed services”. She has supported homeopathy.
And, of course, when she was prisons minister, she “defended the Government's policy to shackle pregnant prisoners with handcuffs and chains when in hospital receiving ante-natal care”. She also once said of Michael Howard that “there was something of the night about him”, a remark which some considered to be anti-Semitic.
Yet until yesterday’s outburst, our free and fearless press either kept schtum, or laughed off her viciousness as “Widders” being a little eccentric. It’s not mere eccentricity. It’s ultra-conservative intolerance, it’s bigotry, and the favouring of ignorance over knowledge.
How many more horrors does the Brexit Party have to reveal? More on this subject later.
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