Thursday, 7 February 2013

A Call to arms: Progressivism is not dead

A simple statement, progressivism is not dead.

On Tuesday MPs voted emphatically in favour of legislating on equal marriage for same sex couples. Despite widespread criticism from the incumbant Conservative Party Backbenchers - some of which was truly vile - the Bill passed by a sizable majority. Nadine Dorries MP for example, citing faithfulness during her speech is simply ludicrous; the MP by all accounts is throwing stones from her glass house.

But, i digress, the Bill was passed. Perhaps a defining moment of this Parliament: legislation (that if it gets through the Lords of which there is no guarantee) that addresses one of the many areas of inequality in out society. A piece of legislation that is momentous in allowing same sex couples the share the joyous celebration of love in the form of Marriage. A Bill progressives and reformists can be proud of.

A Bill the Government laid before Parliament. A Bill laid down before Parliament by the Conservative and Liberal Coalition. A Bill passed by Labour.

The defining social Bill of this Parliament was passed by Her Majesty's Opposition, not the incumbent Coalition Government. Conservative members voting against, out numbered those voting in favour. All the Labour MPs voting in favour got this Bill through, and it is important to remember this momentous day as a day Labour took a step towards a fairer Britain.

There is a deep-rooted spine of small "c" conservatism running through the UK. It is by no means as defined as in, say, the American pysche, but we have a tendency to lean to the Right nonetheless. This is why moments such as these matter profoundly in the development of this country into a country with open opportunities for all.

We should not settle with what we have. Plato considered us all to be stuckfast into the castes we're dealt. The Right may well argue that those who "work hard" will be rewarded - a subtle jibe at the working classes aspiring to be middle class - but we all know it is not that simple. Mother has worked hard all of her life, working when she could, between being a single parent; she will always be middle class. We should be working towards bridging the gap that allows all of us to have the same chances the middle and upper classes have.

Michael Gove had a chance to define this Parliaments education policy programme. Rather than addressing the chronic differences between the budgets and by extension opportunities of State and Private Schools. Instead, he went too hard and too fast in trying to remould GCSE's seen as some as too easy. Too easy for whom? Certainly not inner-city schools who have a damaging low number of good teachers. Gove will forever now be branded with the embarrassment of the rejection of his plans by the Education Committee, and his subsequent U-Turn.

This was a characteristically unfair, ill-thought and ill judged Right-wing policy, that the Government should have abandoned far sooner in favour of a reforming policy, opening up the education system for all to do well to all, not adding another tier for the middle-classes to excel in.

If only the ruling few could recognise the minorities who need representing, support and help to at least have the chance to break the mould that Plato would have had them grounded into.

We should be straining every sinew, laboring every lobe of the brain to develop new policies that give everyone the chance to go to University, own their own house, get married to whomever they choose.....

Tuesdays result gives me hope that progressivism is not dead. Come 2015, i'll be voting Labour with the expectation that they are the party to open up the avenues for change and reform, not a party that is making things hard for the "hard working people" they claim to stand up for. I urge you to do the same at the ballot boxes in two and a halfs years time. .

An Open letter to Anne Main MP

Mrs Anne Main                                                                                                                   05/02/13
House of Commons

Dear Mrs Main

I write today with the second reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in mind. I have followed today’s debate with great intrigue, listening where I can to MPs speeches on the issue of equal marriage. Debates such as these make me proud of our Members of Parliament; typically the floor of the House is embarrassingly empty, however today the level of involvement on the floor of the House has made me proud of our democracy, for someone with a fondness of Parliament, it is nice to see MPs and indeed you involved in the debate.

However I am upset to see you voted against the Bill.

I understand the points you made during the debate; you are correct that it featured in neither of the coalition party’s election manifestos hence there is no mandate to legislate on this issue. This does not suggest however that you the elected legislature cannot govern on the issue. Indeed, this is a conscious issue where you the MP must uphold the Burkean (after statesman Edmund Burke) principle of voting in the best interests of your most loyal constitutes of whom you represent.

This is wrong. In entrusting you with the Burkean principles of representation, we the people of St Albans expect more than just a representation of St Albans interests. We expect you to be better, in standing up and arguing for what is fair and is what is right. I find it hard to believe that the UK can denounce countries who murder people for being gay, yet fail to recognise the right of man to love someone of the same sex in the act of marriage.

Indeed, during the debate I was moved by the words of David Lammy MP (Tottenham) who argues that we cannot be “separate and equal.” I refer you to the words of Salmon P. Chase, who in the aftermath of the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 said “There can be no Democracy which does not fully maintain the rights of man, as man.” While speaking on an issue of slavery (which has since been abolished in the US gladly) I wonder if his words can indeed be echoed today as well. How can we knowingly walk down the street, shoulder to shoulder, with homosexuals of whom we deny the joyous celebration of love that is marriage between two individuals?

While I respect your views to be your own, I urge you to clarify your position on this issue, and your reasons for voting against the Bill, by releasing a press-release on the issue and perhaps publishing your reasons in the local newspaper so your most loyal constituents can comprehend your reasons in obstructing this progressive piece of legislation. 

Yours Sincerely,

A St Albans constituent