Saturday, 25 April 2015

Kids are different today

When I was born, male homosexuality was illegal in Britain. So too was abortion, while hanging was still in use by our courts.

Happily, this situation has changed. And I wouldn't vote for a party that advocated turning the clock back. A group such as the Democratic Unionist Party, for example.

Even so, I find it disturbing when Owen Jones in the Guardian describes the DUP as 'bigoted throwbacks to several centuries ago'. Or, in another piece, when he calls them 'the political wing of the seventeenth century'.

Because that's simply not true; as someone with, say, a history degree from Oxford would be able to tell you. The opinions of the DUP - even the private opinions of individual members - were the basis of the law fifty years ago, and absolutely the norm much more recently. They're not entirely uncommon now.

That's why in the Parliament that has just ended, the DUP formed the fourth largest party. Admittedly the party only registered 168,000 votes in 2010 (fewer, remarkably, than Sinn Fein), but that's still a quarter of those who voted in Northern Ireland, and it's a fair number of people to denounce in such terms.

That share of the vote wouldn't translate to the rest of the United Kingdom. But if a party like Ukip - to take the most obvious choice - advocated the restoration of capital punishment, the introduction of new limits on abortion, and the freedom to override gay rights in the name of religious conscience, my guess is that they'd see a reduction in their vote share, but not by a huge amount. There is a sizeable (if dwindling) minority whose attitudes were shaped in the Britain that existed not in the seventeenth century, but in my lifetime.

It is surely possible to articulate the case against the DUP without resorting to such overblown rhetoric. Apart from anything else, it makes me feel so very old.

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