Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Winter 2000-2001

William’s “Compassionate Conservatism” – Texas-style

by Andy Armitage

There’s nothing vague about William Hague when it comes to righting the wrongs of our depraved, dissolute, decadent and debauched society. The family, it seems, is the panacea.

And it’s emerged that many of his ideas are coming from a right-wing religious homophobe who will be helping to shape White House policies for the new President of the USA.

Hague addressed a Tory policy forum at the Emmanuel Centre in central London in November, which was attended by superstitionists from various cults: Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Jews among them.

The family, Hague declared confidently, was the “essential building block of a stable society” – conveniently forgetting a report earlier in the year from an organisation called Family Matters, which said family breakdown was costing the state £15 billion a year in welfare costs, extra costs to the criminal justice system, the £200 million for the Child Support Agency and lost productivity.

Religious groups, said the man who would be Prime Minister, would have their powers increased at the expense of the welfare state.

What he was calling for was a “denationalisation of compassion”, and he thought religious organisations could often be more effective than the state.

Given that religious groups are often charities, or perform charitable functions through subsets of themselves that have charitable status, it is reasonable to assume that people of religion often find themselves doing Good Deeds.

However, the unstated assumption here is that only religious groups are compassionate and can fulfil the role of nonstate carer when caring’s in a state; that those people doing Good Deeds through religious organisations would not do them if not aligned to such groups.

What is particularly frightening is that Hague wants these organisations to play a greater role in education. And he was quick to praise religious leaders who have backed the retention of Section 28.

“I would like to thank those religious leaders who are fighting to retain Section 28,” Hague slimed. “I am delighted that representatives of the Christian Institute and Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain are here with us today. Britain’s Muslims are standing tall in this campaign and millions of parents are grateful for that.”

Radio 4 listeners will remember that the same Iqbal Sacranie told Dr David Starkey in a programme about why people hate that homosexuality “brings harm to society and is the equivalent of murder”. Hague, now he has moved further to the right and espoused ever more a policy of hate, is probably wishing he had never spoken in favour of an equal age of consent for gays.

It’s not hard to see why some people may be cynical about Hague’s having “got religion” all of a sudden. In the past, when questioned about his religious beliefs, he’s either dodged the question somehow or said he’s a Christian but one who doesn’t attend church regularly.

Suddenly he’s evangelising for the most virulent of the frothies – all part of a strenuous campaign to win the religious vote.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that fourteen-pints-a-night Hague (does anyone really believe that?) has been sitting at the feet of a new guru who – according to the Labour Party – hates poofs and women, but whom the Tories see as someone with sound proposals for dealing with state bureaucracy.

And, while that’s not here but in the USA, we could soon begin to feel the influence of Professor Marvin Olasky.

Olasky is the Christian right-winger whose concept of “compassionate conservatism” has been espoused by the president-elect, George “Dubyuh” Bush. It’s thought the bearded professor will shape the future of White House policy on welfare.

(“Compassionate conservatism”, note, is what Dubyuh claims he has – and this is the guy who has signed a hundred and fifty-odd death warrants as Governor of Texas.)

Olasky, a professor of journalism at the University of Texas, thinks handing welfare over to religious charities is a good thing. He edits a magazine called World, which is “biblically directed”.

“When we do a news report we want to portray the position clearly but we do have a point of view,” he recently told the Daily Telegraph. “Our goal is to try to see the applications of the Bible to all aspects of life, then to try to write accordingly.” A recent piece of the magazine’s “journalism” averred: “Biblical objectivity means showing the evil of homosexuality – balancing such stories by giving equal time to gay activists is ungodly.”

Olasky clearly approves of Hague’s stance on the repeal of Section 28, saying that homosexuality is a “problem” that can be healed, that there are many “ex-homosexuals”.

Olasky is a born-again – the kind who make you wish they’d never been born in the first place. He became an atheist at the age of fourteen after reading HG Wells’s History of the World. He later joined the Communist Party as an act of rebellion.

He became a Christian again through reading Puritan sermons and watching Western movies, with their “strong sense of right and wrong”.

Now his influence is to be found in the policies on which William Hague will fight the next general election.

And, by the time G&LH hits your doormat again, the result of that may be known.

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Created : Sunday, 2001-04-15 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
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