I yield to no one in my admiraton of Dr
Evan Harris. No, seriously, he's a lovely chap with immaculate manners and there's something so adorable about the way he says, "evidence-based", y'know with real passion, as though this empiricism lark hasn't been around for centuries but is his own personal big idea. Supercute!
But I'm worried about him. Some of his online utterances have been passing strange of late. Indeed the fact that's he's taken the time to make online utterances is itself passing strange. Yes, I know there's a Lib Dem surge on and Nick Clegg is poised to get his hands on some red ministerial boxes but oughtn't Harris be out on the stump thrilling floating voters with radical talk about localism and drainpipes?
What the devil is he doing leaving rambling comments on Cristina Odone
and George Pitcher's
Take this moist-eyed moaning, for instance:
"I have met Christina on several occasions and she has always – at least to my face been polite and civil. How sad that she resorts to snide personal comments which she has publicly condemned in others. Why not just stick to the issues?"
I mean, please.
Then it's onto abortion 'n' euthanasia and this curious comment:
"I support -a s does 80% of the population and the Church of England – the right of women not to be forced to go through pregnancy and give birth against their will."
Never mind his 80% of the public assertion, which, I think, comes from this or that pro-choice group's push poll, or indeed the tendentious way he frames the issue - we Pro Lifers don't roam the streets armed with semen-filled turkey-basters looking for any woman of fertile age to impregnate - it's the way he claims the Church of England for his own position which should raise eyebrows.
This is the Church of England
which in 2005 said that "the abortion law needs to be applied more strictly and the number of abortion carried out strictly reduced" and is currently led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, one Rowan Williams. That is Rowan Williams, a longstanding member of that well-known radical-feminist organisation, SPUC.
"I have never said 'God is bad, his followers mad'",
he wailed plaintively, adding "You made that up again Christina!".
For some reason it doesn't occur to him that Odone didn't claim that he'd said that either, nor that there's the teeniest touch of humbug in his complaint given his extraordinary suggestion that the Church of England takes the same position on abortion that he does.
Then it's all the usual B-side stuff about respecting religion but objecting to religious "privilege", as he insists on calling believers' democratic rights, before concluding with yet another moan about Odone's "shallow, personalised approach" and a bitchy "not very Christian of her I would say."
There was much the same on Pitcher's comments box where he defended his, his party and his leader's policies. I found two of his remarks rather troubling, first this one:
"Why is ... seeking to end the unjustified discrimination against Catholics in our constitution to be viewed as 'a passing bandwagon' rather than say the consistent views of a conviction politician who believes in personal autonomy and seeking to end sectarian discrimination?"
Aside from the obvious self-aggrandisment in his description of himself - is Evan Harris getting just a little bit carried away by the antics of his fan club? - his supposedly consistent opposition to anti-Catholic discrimation is at variance with his position as honorary associate of the most anti-Catholic organisation in the British Isles, that purveyor of bigotry, the National Secular Society (NSS). Recall who another honorary associate of the NSS is: Mary Honeyball MEP
. Recall her wondering
"should devout Catholics such as Kelly, Browne and Murphy be allowed on the government front bench in the light of their predilection to favour the Pope's word above the government's?" Recall who
sprang to her defence and what he went on to say about David Kerr's membership of an entirely legal group.
Keeping that sort of company doesn't suggest that Harris is a conviction politician who opposes sectarian discrimination. Much more in character, I feel, is his parthian shot:
"By the way Mr Pitcher, was it deliberate irony of yours to note that the junior civil servant responsible 'has been moved to other duties' given the failure of the Catholic Church hierarchy in some cases to do anything about certain paedophile priests? If so, one cheer for you."
Despite the careful qualifying phrase, "in some cases" his implication is clear; it's a bitchy sectarian jibe. I think it also fails
the most scrupulous
, as it happens.
Dear, oh dear. I expected better of Evan Harris.
Right now I expect him to get the hell off Twitter and out campaigning as though there's a General Election a few days away. Like NOW, Evan!