Sunday, May 02, 2010

An Easy Target?

When you get to the closing stages of election campaigns, political parties who are losing tend to do desperate things. We saw an example of it earlier today with Shaun Woodward. Newspapers happily lap up any kind of lurid allegation - especially when it concerns a Conservative candidate in a LibDem target seat. This morning, The Observer printed a story on its front page alleging that Conservative candidate Philippa Stroud had been involved in prayer sessions to "cure" people of homosexuality and believed homosexuality to be an illness. What a coincidence that this should appear four days before polling day. Amazing, eh?

You can imagine my joy at having to comment on this when I was doing the paper review last night on the Nolan Show.

Philippa is one of the kindest and compassionate people I have ever met. Her work with the Centre for Social Justice is brilliant and she has achieved more in that job than most people achieve in their whole lives. At the end of the programme Stephen Nolan read out a statement from her in which she absolutely denied believing that homosexuality was an illness.

“I make no apology for being a committed Christian. However, it is categorically untrue that I believe homosexuality to be an illness and I am deeply offended that The Observer has suggested otherwise. I have spent 20 years working with disturbed people who society have turned their back on and are not often supported by state agencies; drug addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill and the homeless that I and my charitable friends in the public sector have tried to help over the years. The idea that I am prejudiced against gay people is both false and insulting.”

Let me tell you a secret. Christians pray. Wow. Shock horror. They pray for all sorts of groups of people. Policemen. Teachers. They probably even pray for politicians. They pray for disabled people - not to cure them, but to help them cope with the difficulties life presents them with. Perhaps they might even pray for transsexuals or homosexuals - not to be "cured" but out of pure human compassion. Surely those who have been bombarding me on Twitter this morning aren't suggesting that prayer should now be considered a politically incorrect activity, because that's very much the implication.

Philippa Stroud categorically denies the Observer's implication that she believes homosexuality is an illness or can be cured.

And I believe her.

Mud sticks. Most of the people who have been bombarding me this morning will no doubt refuse to believe Philippa's categorical denials. They will continue to snigger about demons and exorcism. So well done to The Observer. They have traduced a fundamentally decent person whose daily work proves to me that she is a more compassionate person than many of the rest of us put together.

Even by writing this I suppose that by writing this I am keeping the story going, but I cannot sit back and watch a good woman be slagged off in this way.

I am not religious. I am agnostic. But I was brought up as a Christian and many of my values (but not all) would be considered Christian. I am quite happy if Christians want to pray for me. What harm can it do? Yes, I find evangelical, charismatic Christians slightly bizarre people as a group. Some of their rituals are equally bizarre, but then again so are many of the rituals associated with mainstream Islam, Catholicism or Anglicanism. Did Philippa Stroud take part in a rather bizarre prayer session twenty one years ago? I couldn't give a monkey's arse, frankly. I probably did things 21 years ago I wouldn't do today. I no doubt believed things 21 years ago which I don't today. And if you're honest, the same goes for you too.

In Britain we get uncomfortable when people wear their religion on the sleeves. I have always found it difficult to understand why otherwise perfectly logical and intelligent people think that some all-powerful being can have such power over us, but they clearly get something out of the whole religious experience. In some ways I have always been envious of that, but my inner logic tells me that there can be no such thing as a God. And until something or someone can prove the opposite to me, I won't be changing my view.

No doubt hell awaits. Well, it probably will if Labour wins on Thursday.... :).

At school they taught me how to be
So pure in thought and word and deed
They didn't quite succeed
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a sin
It's a sin

(It's a Sin, by the Pet Shop Boys)


Man in a Shed said...

So now the Guardian/Observer is supporting the Lib Dems they're adopting their dirty tactics also ?

Its amazing how often the Lib Dems play the man or woman rather than the ball.

Red Rag said...

That's right Iain laugh it off, strange how all these same kind of people are appearing from one party. You must be really proud.
A quote from her book ""We discovered further layers of the tangle when she admitted to previous lesbian relationships and to being on the receiving end of abuse from her family," Stroud writes, adding: "No wonder she was in such a mess!"2....DON'T BELIEVE ME...GO AND HAVE A LOOK.

Anyway, when are you going to shout to Brown you hope he falls under his car, it's all the rage amongst the Tories at the moment.

john in cheshire said...

I think this a good posting Iain. I agree with everything you say. Nice to see lies being exposed and good people being defended.

John said...

No Iain, you're not getting away with this.

[i]What a coincidence that this should appear four days before polling day. Amazing, eh?[/i]

Yeah, poor tories, this never happens to others. Especially not people like Nick Clegg, and especially not due to orchestrated smears from CCHQ, eh?

[i]At the end of the programme Stephen Nolan read out a statement from her in which she absolutely denied believing that homosexuality was an illness.[/i]

That was generous. Tell me, will everyone the subject to an allegation get their statement read out on air, or is that just reserved for Tories who you happen to like?

[i]Surely those who have been bombarding me on Twitter this morning aren't suggesting that prayer should now be considered a politically incorrect activity, because that's very much the implication.[/i]

Diversionary tactic. This story is about a teenage girl identified as "Abi" who was told by Stroud that the transsexual issues she was experiencing were actually "Demons" inside her, and that she could be "cured" by prayer, which Stroud then did.

Tell us Iain, are you alleging that this girl, "Abi" is lying?

Chris said...


I'm disappointed by your rather glib dismissal of this story.

The Observer article did not, as you say it did, suggest that Philippa Stroud believed homosexuality was an illness. It suggested that she believed it was caused by demonic possession, and that exorcism was an appropriate response.

Philippa Stroud has denied something that was not alleged, and - astoundingly - has failed to respond to the allegation that she believes homosexuality is caused by demonic possession.

Surely you must be concerned by this?

titus-aduxas said...

"Red Rag said...

That's right Iain laugh it off, strange how all these same kind of people are appearing from one party. You must be really proud."

You rather prove what Iain said about desperate people. You're of the same sick ilk as Shaun Woodward.

I'm not religious, but I'd take a bleeding-heart tree-hugger in preference to a cynical, lying t*rd of a politician, any day.

Red Rag.....wasn't that the brain-child of one Derek Draper? The one who revelled in smearing members of an opposition party? The one who thought dreaming up non-existent STDs would be funny?

The one who lied about his degrees and about his awards?

Seems that you are as sick as Draper.

Tom said...

Iain, your article has upset me so much. Here I am, a gay guy, until recently a Tory, and I comment on your blog from time to time because I think you are sane, and here you are, defending he worst sort of moralism and homophobia so long as it comes with a smile.

I've met Ms Stroud too, and I agree, she is a very nice person, and that she might recoil from horror at the reality of her hurtful and evil opinions does not surprise me.

But she should know better. And more importantly, the Conservatives should have known better before bringing her so close into the fold.

I'm lost for words.

Jae said...

I'm sure you are quite sincere in your affection for Philippa Stroud and in your faith that she is innocent of what she has been accused.

But you rather glib dismissal of what amounts to accusations of some form of "Ex Gay Therapy" is concerning. I'm not suggesting you "throw her under a car" and abandon her. However a less defensive and more sensitive piece might have been useful given how horrendous the consequences of such "therapy" can be.

Iain, are you truly saying that, without any evidence, you believe this "Abi" is lying whilst dismissing the criticism of Philippa Stroud completely?

I truly, truly hope you aren't.

RantinRab said...

Funny how Call Me Dave springs into action when their isn't much to lose. And the pink vote to gain.

Irene said...

Man in a Shed:

Couldn't agree more.

Labour and now the LibDems have the nerve to call the Tories the nasty party.

My God when you think what labour have been up to!

Benny said...

Well said Iain. I can't wait for this election to be over and these Labour folk can be brought back down to earth. A generation in opposition ought to do the trick.

They're analysing every word of her apology to make it appear as though she really is a homophobe. It's smear, nothing more than dirty political smears and it riles me.

I couldn't bring myself to be a part of a party as dirty as Labour.

norman said...

@John. Do myou want to see and hear Libdems smearing other parties? Come to our borough. Libdems will say/do anything as their policies are
pies in the sky.

Simon Gardner said...

Actually this (alleged tactic) is pro forma for the Tory Press which in the past has invariably made lurid allegations against its opponents in the last 24 hours - way too late in the old days for any rebuttal. I believe this is known in US politics as the 'October Surprise'.

For some reason the Tory Press decided to start heaping on the habitual lurid allegations about a week ago which is way too early. I wonder why?

liberalrevolution said...

Perhaps they might even pray for transsexuals or homosexuals - not to be "cured" but out of pure human compassion

What does that mean Iain?

Let's face it - if you're in the LGBT community you'd be mad not to directly ask the question of your Conservative candidate `do you support FULL equality for LGBT people` before voting for him/her.

If you're a floating voter who cares about these issues you'd think `why risk it?`

WriterPaulB said...

'... I have always found it difficult to understand why otherwise perfectly logical and intelligent people think that some all-powerful being can have such power over us...'

You are talking about Lord Mandleson i take it?

WriterPaulB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Halsall said...

The "easy targets" are young people who may be gay, lesbian, or transsexual who get preyed on by people like Ms. Stroud who try to persuade them they are demonic.

DespairingLiberal said...

Below is a witness statement from the article. I think you have a little bit more to explain than just saying she's a nice Christian.

I find it strange that you sometimes harshly condemn homophobes from all parties and then at other times, like this one, go the extra mile to defend. Is the difference here that Stroud is a key architect of party policy?

"Abi, a teenage girl with transsexual issues, was sent to the church by her parents, who were evangelical Christians. "Convinced I was demonically possessed, my parents made the decision to move to Bedford, because of this woman [Stroud] who had come back from Hong Kong and had the power to set me free," Abi told the Observer.

"She wanted me to know all my thinking was wrong, I was wrong and the so-called demons inside me were wrong. The session ended with her and others praying over me, calling out the demons. She really believed things like homosexuality, transsexualism and addiction could be fixed just by prayer, all in the name of Jesus."

Rebel Saint said...

Wow, "Christian believes in supernatural forces and that homosexual behaviour is sinful" shocker!!

By the same author: "Pope is Catholic", "Bear defecates in woods" & "Muslim candidate once attended mosque where anti-Semitic views were expressed".

My theology like my politics has evolved & matured over the course of 21 years. I suspect this ladies has too.

Sounds like a story to inflame the gay mafia. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to take much nowdays.

The Grim Reaper said...

The only surprise here is that anyone takes anything written in The Observer even remotely seriously.

Anyway, are you looking forward to covering election night, Iain?

DespairingLiberal said...

I expect you're right Rebel Saint - I'm sure your views are widely shared in the rump Tory Party that David Cameron must daily confront, which is presumably why he has this particular Christian backwoods zealot as a key policy advisor.

I think you might find though that Iain doesn't share your views. Much scratching of heads over here at DespairingLiberal HQ as to what is going on in Iain-land. It's all getting very Sarah Palin in Tory-UK-ville!

PR Guru said...

I'm sorry to say it Iain, but you have really lost credibility since the election campaign has begun. It seems you cant handle the pressure, and in comparison to before, your standards have really slipped. Its like watching Arsene Wenger when Arsenal are losing, frankly Iain, your posts are becoming deluded and pathetic.

I usually think you're a great commentator, but this is getting to the point where your opinions are the same as an average bias punter in a boozer.

This article is an absolute disgrace. You really should know better and put the rights of mankind above partisan politics.

Paddy Briggs said...

Religion has traditionally played little or no part in modern British politics (Northern Ireland apart). Nick Clegg said that he is not a “man of faith” in a TV debate and nobody of importance took any notice or probably cared. The Conservative Right here has been largely uninfluenced by the religious right – unlike their counterparts in the United States. Even the Reverent Blair “Didn’t do religion”.

Now we have the arrival of the bible bashers promoted by Alpha International and the likes of Michael Farmer who want to change all of our secular political principles and inject their version of Christianity into the heart of our political world. This includes creationist nutters (word chosen advisedly) like Peter Vardy who is a big Tory donor.

Ms Stroud is a fully paid up member of the religious right and her views seem very close to those of the same groups in America. That is her choice, of course, but I find it deeply worrying that she and other members of the “Conservative Christian Fellowship” are beginning to have such an influence on our politics.

The Observer articles ring true to me – with one exception. They say that Philippa Stroud “…is likely to win the Sutton and Cheam seat on Thursday”. I think that the good burghers of Sutton will have more sense that to do this…

norman said...

So many Libdems are here, the deluded buch of Clegg'sarmy. Go back to your constituencies and prepare for Clegg's failure!!

Chris said...

I'm sorry, but it's quite absurd to pretend that the alleged belief is in any sense representative of mainstream Christianity. By and large, mainstream Christians do not believe in demonic possession these days, let alone ascribing homosexuality to demonic influence and trying to get rid of it by driving out the demons.

There's all the difference in the world between praying for somebody and performing a service of exorcism to try to expel a demon!

Chris said...

BTW - not the same 'Chris' as at 5.42 ...

Philippa Stroud has profound and sincerely held religious views. Most of us don't agree with them. So what? You probably don't agree with the religious views of Islamic candidates either (including on homosexuality) but you would never dare say so. Even in this article Philippa is described as a positive person who genuinely cares about people. It seems she has done more good in the world to help disadvantaged people than most of us. I'm sure she will make a good MP - but I'm quite happy to trust the electors of Sutton and Cheam - who elected a Lib Dem last time - to decide.

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

There is a huge difference between a Christian who believes homosexuality is a sin and those that believe that it can be "cured" because its demonic possession.

People routinely die in Africa and at least one recently in the UK, because of people trying to "cure them" of this sort of "possession".

I find it very odd this blanket defence of the woman by you Iain. So is the entire article a lie?

DespairingLiberal said...

Maybe some kind reader has a copy of Stroud's book, God's Heart for the Poor, which according to the Observer, details her belief that homosexuality is caused by demonic possession. If you have a copy, please feel free to give quotes here.

I wonder if David Cameron will be asked about this?

Sunder Katwala said...


You seem to think the reporting was unethical. One would expect it to contain Stroud's account, and not only quotes from her 1999 book. However, the report states that Stroud "declined to talk to The Observer".

I was rather surprised by that decision, in blogging about this this morning.

Steve Tierney said...

It is absolutely typical of the majority of people who call themselves "liberals" to take action like this.

What they really mean by "liberal" is: "any behaviour of which I happen to approve."

So if people of faith express any sort of view it must be demonised, exaggerated and ridiculed. How very liberal of them.

In fact their ideal liberal utopia is just an authoritarian society where the opinions of a small group of self-apppointed moral guardians tell the rest of us what to think.

Not so different to the classical church after all, this "liberal" malarky. It's the new religion. No wonder they are so terrified of the old guard.

angry and despondent said...

I don't know the truth of this story but the more I hear of it the more it convinces me its origin lies in a "black operations" spin smear. So she's a Christian but surely psychiatrists and counsellors talk about "inner demons" when addressing a person's personal issues, e.g anger, alcoholism, drug dependency? It doesn't mean their God botherers does it? In that respect it means inner conflicts which someone of confused sexuality may suffer from.

I must also admit that it is becoming oh so tiresome to see the militant gay lobby accusing anyone who criticises them, however legitimately, as "homophobes" which they obviously see as a way of shutting down debate on the issue. Name calling and demonising been successful in the curbing debate on immigration and the same tactics are used here.

ny militants who reply to this post will probably use the same tactics with me. Do your worst.

I am a great believer in TRUE equality - everyone have the same chances in life. However, I am dubious about attempts to create SUPER-equals - groups having rights that supercede those of others.

Jonathan said...

Agreed Iain,
Philippa Stroud has worked hard for decades for people who are homeless or who have addictions. Although I'm not a Tory I'm delighted that someone who knows what it's like on the front line is having an influence on their social policy.

I don't know what Philippa Stroud's exact views are or were on homosexuality, but I do know that the dominant consequence of her faith that shines through is the respect and care that she shows for every person because all are created equal in the eyes of God.

Rebel Saint said...

Chris said... "I'm sorry, but it's quite absurd to pretend that the alleged belief is in any sense representative of mainstream Christianity. By and large, mainstream Christians do not believe in demonic possession these days"

FYI I think I'm 90% certain that every diocese - Roman Catholic & Anglican - has someone who has the ministry of exorcism. Belief in evil spirits/demons/malign forces/call them what you will is still part of orthodox Christianity.

And that's the major part of the problem - a press & general population that think that the central tenet of the Christian faith is "be a 'nice' person" and is devoid of anything supernatural.

Want to see some real weird stuff, look into the beliefs of the Mormon MP, or the Hindu/Sihk candidates or the neo-pagan beliefs of some of the Greens.

The gay mafia's stranglehold on the media it was too powerful now. And there's nothing they like better than crucifying a Christian.

Jah'sSword said...


This seems like a typically dirty attempt at a smear. A final broadside from the sinking HMS Brown. Best ignored. They are cornered and at bay and are trying to bite anything they can. A certain number of the metropolitan liberal-left elite may get exercised, but they 'aint going to be voting for the tories anyway. Frankly, they can believe what they wish and go down with the ship. Hopefully joining the quangocracy, the BBC and all of Brown's client state. And, as you are a gay man, I take your view before the Guardian readers on this issue. Every time.
Jah be with you.

killemallletgodsortemout said...

There you go again. Banging on about homosexuality.

Old Holborn said...

Good stuff this politics eh?

I'm having a whale of a time in Cambridge.

I'm storming the BBC on Tuesday

tory boys never grow up said...

Absolutely right about politicians making lurid allegations during the last days of the campaign. Unfortunately, you seem to have left a certain David Cameron off the list - who in his aricle in today's Telegraph commands Gordon Brown to "admit to what is Labour's last lie that a Conservative Government would cut tax credit for the very poor". However, it is Cameron's who is lying about waht LAbour says on the matter - if you look at the Party's website here - you will see that the reference is clearly to "families on middle and modest incomes" - that is not the very poor.

He than adds a little bit of personal insult by referring to Brown as "shrunken".

I'm more than happy to admit that what Woodward said about the peace process was stupid - have you the guts to same the same about Cameron Mr Dale??

johnmr said...

I have just read in utter disgust your article. How you can mop over it and use her Christianity, andthe fact you know her personally as an excuse is beyond me. to then crack a joke at the end shows how very little you regard an issue like this.

I use to look at you in some moral standing. It looks like my view of yourself and your party has been rushed.

Dave Cameron made out he had moved mountains for people like myself, when it is quite obvious he hasn't even pushed over an ant hill.

Every time someon like this is uncovered in your party your defence of them is nothing short of disgusting.

I only hope that all this forgiveness to such people as Phillipa Stroud works in your concerted effort to get higher up in your party. I also hope one day you will look back in shame and appreciate what you sacraficed to get where you are.

In a strange way, pass on my thanks to Chris Grayling. He started the mask slipping to reveal the true face of the Conservative Party, and people like myself who very nearly fell for it, now see your party for what it really is, we will never be fooled again

John M.

mtrcricket said...

The lies from both Brown and Clegg in their speeches today are quite horrifying. In 50 years of following election I have never heard the equal.
They are quite disgusting.

jbw said...

"Philippa Stroud categorically denies the Observer's implication that she believes homosexuality is an illness or can be cured."

I have always thought that we humans love to put things in neat boxes but nature just loves to experiment - hence the huge variety of peoples.

I think I read that somewhere on the back of a cornflake packet - but it has a nice ring of truth for me...

Iain Dale said...

Sorry John, but I'm not going to let you get away with that.

Moral standing? Would you prefer I stood back and allow someone I know to be a good person traduced like this? How moral would that be? Eh?

You clearly missed my condemnation of philip Lardner last week. If I think someone deserves criticism I make it. I condemned Chris Grayling, in case you have forgotten. How convenient for you, in your perfect little world.

My concerted efforts to get higher up in the party? What planet are you living on? I am not a candidate. I will now never be a candidate. I want nothing from the Tory Party and there's nothing they could give me, so do try better in attributing motices to me I do not have,

Iain Dale said...

Killemalletgod etc. Do go away. You bore me with your tired repetitions. I'll write what I like on my own blog without needing your approval, thanks for asking.

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

I do hope someone has the book, so we can see what she really believes. It might have been wise to get a copy before defending her Iain.

Although it is hardly a smear if that is what she believes. Its more like unfortunate timing for the party.

insert said...

Proof of the existence of God can be found by studying Jewish history

For example, is it really coincidence that a people claiming to be the messengers of God have been subject to constant oppression for thousands of years (something that has not happened to other groups making that claim) and are not only still around but have their own country which they have successfully defended several times despite being massively outnumbered and encircled

Craig Ranapia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nigel said...

I have no idea whether these allegations from a couple of decades ago are true or not.

What is interesting, and a little disgusting, is the desperate willingness of the politically motivated trolls to believe this woman guilty until proved innocent, despite her denials.

Oh, and Chris, if I allege that you're an utter w*nker, and you fail to deny it, can we draw the same conclusion that you do ?

Craig Ranapia said...

I'm frankly ashamed to see people trotting out the "you did it first, so STFU" justification for what sure looks to me like a disgraceful smear.

What are you people: Three years old? And I thought the Lib Dems where about "no more politics as usual, and we're going to be running a positive, issues-based campaign"? Clegg really should tell some of his supporters, judging from this thread.

Thatsnews said...

Good grief, Iain! How DARE you express your own opinions? What's wrong with you? Anyone would think that you owned this blog, or something!

Oh, wait... you do.

Some of the comments seem a little, canned, as it were?

Grendel said...

If its untrue she should sue, of course that will not save her. Cameron was quick to fire another PPC "within minutes of hearing" an allegation he was not pro gay , that is before he had any chance to check the facts or talk to the candidate ...of course she is a Cameron A lister wonder if that will make any difference

Jimmy said...

"They will continue to snigger about demons and exorcism."

Whereas we should take these views seriously because...?

Norfolk Blogger said...

Why did she delete her twitter account ?? Why close the facebook groups ??

If it was all innocent, why do these things ?

Anna said...

Very well done, Iain, to defend Philippa Stroud, and even more well done to defend freedom of speech... and prayer, even if you don't believe in it.

We need more of your kind.

The Observer is only the Guardian in tu-tu - small surprise it should be running a story ignored by other media.

wild said...

Let's have a "The Simpson's" style riot, storm Dale Towers, and get him to confess that Philippa Stroud is a witch.

Then again let's not. Grow up gentleman. The ersatz outrage on these pages is frankly nauseating.

Paul Wright said...

I doubt anyone would dispute Stroud's credentials as an advocate for the poor. Indeed, that's clear even from the Observer's article.

Cards on the table: I used to be an evangelical Christian (I'm now an atheist). Both your commenters and the Observer don't seem to get the subtleties here. It's true that many orthodox Christian denominations believe in a personal Devil and demons, and maintain exorcists and suchlike to deal with them. Nevertheless, these denominations differ greatly in how readily they will attribute something to demonic influence. I would expect a charismatic denomination like New Frontiers, where believers expect regular spiritual encounters with God, to be more ready to attribute something to demonic influence than, say, the Church of England.

Stroud's statement, as quoted by you, does not deny that homosexuality is related to demonic activity (unless you think she also holds the view that all illness is caused by demonic activity, a more extreme position than the Observer attributes to her), nor, in fact, does it deny that she thinks homosexuals' orientation can be changed. I'm sure we'd all be interested to see a clear statement of what a key figure in forming Tory social policy does think on these issues, but the statement you have quoted isn't one.

..Silicon Implant!! said...

Somebody who sincerely believes that homosexuality is a symptom of demonic possession may indeed be "nice" - religious gibbering nut-jobs don't all have the charmless public persona of the Reverend Ian Paisley. Such a person may even feel deep compassion for you and wish you no ill-will whatsoever, favouring a style of exorcism that doesn't involve burning you alive or even the comfy chair. But, if that _is_ a fair representation of her sincerely held beliefs, then even if I agreed with every other thing she believed and everything she said, and even if she was a paragon of virtue in every respect, and yes, even if me voting against her meant another 5 years of the Broon nightmare, wild horses wouldn't drag me to vote for her.

It's not a smear if it's true. If it isn't true, then she should be able to sue the paper back to the stone age and live very comfortably on the payout for some considerable time. However, I note she has angrily denied something other than what was alleged, and refused to answer the newspaper's questions, so I assume she won't be sueing any time soon...

Simon Patterson said...

Iain, I would have hoped for less political bias on what is a very serious issue and an issue regarding LGBT rights which is blighting the Tories at the moment. It's disappointing that you are shrugging the comments off so easily.

Philippa Stroud hasn't denied that she believes that homosexuality is caused by demons or is a sin, which is what the Observer is accusing her of. She has merely responded using specific words in an attempt to manipulate the situation in her favour.

No one is saying she isn't a good person, but her judgment is wrong on this if the reports are true.

The wider public have a right to know, as this follows Cameron's stuttering interview with Gay Times, Chris Grayling and Julian Lewis.

There are worrying signs that LGBT inequality continues to blight large sections of the Tory party. As Anastasia Beaumont-Bott said: "I became disillusioned after meeting one too many people in that party who were not like what the leader was saying the party was about. I like him, but the insides of his party are not what the people are led to believe." She has now joined Labour.

It's unsurprising that the Tories have lost the support of many of those concerned with LGBT rights.

Mick said...

I am not a supporter of the Conservatives, the Lib Dems or the Labour party. I am not gay, bisexual or transsexual.

Read Abi's story of how she was treated by Philippa Stroud and her fellow church members and you will realise that Stroud, far from being someone who cares for people, is a cruel and dangerous lunatic.

Fundamentalist religion, be it Christian, Moslem, or whatever, is a very real threat to the peace of the world. Fanatical Moslems will happily blow up themselves and thousand of others in order to achieve "paradise". In the USA there are 30 million Cristian Evangelicals who believe that we are in "the last days". These people are not, as Iain would have it, "slightly bizarre", they are raving nutcases who are looking for a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East so that they can be taken up in "the rapture" to sit at God's right hand.

One of the world's biggest problems is the hold that religion, a primitive hangover from prehistoric times, can have on people.

DespairingLiberal said...

Well, at least next time Iain gets in a state, we can blame it on his demons. (Joking Iain).

Janramzon said...

Doesn't your logic equate disability with homosexuality? I'm sure the article was rather overblown,and it's clear Ms Stroud has donated vast amounts of her life for the benefit of others, but I can't accept that gay people are a group that need to be set aside and prayed for. It's patronising at best and bonkers at worst...

Lady Finchley said...

Phillipa Stroud is a good, decent person who has done so much for the marginalised in society. Even if she had once had such misguided opinions as a younger person, people do change their vews - it is called evolving and growing up. When I was a teenager I was an anarchist so what? Get over it.

Lanre said...

This is absoloutely ridiculous, I thought the Liberals were the nice party. If you make an accusation, its up to you to prove it and so far no one has proven anything. I dont believe this angry young lady, maybe Im wrong but I would like a little more prrof like maybe a tape recording. The Liberal Democrats are really the least serious party in this election campaign, they stand for nothing and everything, sp ypu lot can smear all you like whilst accusing others of doing the same thing but just understand the more the public look at your policys the less they like you but not to worry Im sure you will just turn over the fag packet and scribble something else down.

waddell said...

It struck me that the article had very little to say about Philippa Stroud. She is muddied by association, and does not face much by way of direct accusation. What the Bible says about homosexuality is hardly news, but I've no doubt there are people in every church who take an extreme (and actually unbiblical) attitude to the issue. There's no suggestion that Philippa Stroud is one of those people.

DespairingLiberal said...

Is it "unbiblical" waddell? Isn't that the problem? The Bible surely has stuff in it about stoning to death of various people. It's all in the interpretation. However, this is what makes Fundamentalists of any religion so dangerous - once you've gone down a mental track of believing in the infallibility of the Bible, or any other religious text, it's only a short road to Holy Inquisitions, burnings at the stake and the massacres of entire peoples.

Even the modern "non-religious" fundamentalisms of the last 100 years like Nazism and Communism were essentially quasi-religious. For example, it is surely no coincidence that it was Germany, long riven by the bitterest religious wars, gave rise to a state religion advocating mass-murder of Jews, homosexuals, gypsies and outsiders - all traditional hate-objects for the feudal citizenry of the Holy Roman Empire. These are the same forces that motivate anti-semitic parties and individuals across Europe today, at least some of whom are presently in alliance with the Conservative Party in Europe.

Put that together with the sinister and scary fact that David Cameron, an apparently modern and rational person, draws on much of his social policy from a woman holding such views and you have quite something to contemplate.

We may all be getting more than we bargained for with an incoming Tory government. Looks like we are actually going to need a Balanced Parliament to introduce some calm rationality.

wild said...

I see a lot of hate and eagerness to persecute on these pages, and it is not coming from Philippa Stroud.

Does Philippa Stroud believe in a free society (in which people have the freedom to live their lives in their own way) or not?

If the answer is yes, then the baying mob of heterosexual Leftists should go away and reflect on their own conduct for a change.

AProlefrom1984 said...

There should be a limit to tribal politics. This should worry you. It should worry anyone who believes that people develop through the exercise of reason. I go to church. I'm from Africa. In the 1970s, many wealthy pentecostals like Gould and her American pals started to found churches in Africa. We started to hear about demonic activity. Suddenly, everything bad was down to demonic activity, not govt corruption or illiteracy. Educational standards dropped, poverty spiralled, crime and child abuse became common place. A naughty child would be taken to church for the demons to be cast out. A rebellious teenager would be called a victim of demonic activity. politics became a joke as wealthy people knew they could call on people's superstition instead of engaging in debate. Now that Cameron wishes to involve charities as a replacement for the state, how many of these would be run by these pentecostal christians? It'd be ironic that just as Africans are waking up to the danger of this demonic type of Christianity and abandoning these crazy churches, Britain, the land of John Hume, is about to import such crazy thoughts into the heart of the governing party. The effects of the likes of Gould would be felt in this country in about 3 decades, when the UK becomes the dunce of the developed world. I'm shocked you don't see the danger that this woman's dangerous beliefs pose to British society.

AProlefrom1984 said...

Stroud said a lady who was in an abusive relationship was in a mess because she indulged in demonic activity through her lesbian relationships. Surely, all are God's children and we don't choose how we're created. You don't choose to be gay any more than I choose for my skin to be brown. Other people in the Tory party should point out the danger in this sort of belief. It's dangerous to dismiss it as usual Christian belief. It isn't.

Chris said...

The simple fact is this.

We all know that if damaging false allegations are made against a politician in a national newspaper the normal response is an extremely swift and categorical rebuttal.

The article in the Observer was published yesterday morning. Philippa Stroud's response was to issue a statement denying an allegation which no one had actually made, and totally ignoring the allegation that _had_ been made, namely that she believed that homosexuality was the result of demonic possession and had herself participated in attempts at exorcism.

Her other response, apparently, was to delete her Twitter account and her Facebook supporters group.

Clearly her strategy is to cut off channels of communication in order to avoid making any meaningful comment on these allegations before polling day. If she were in a position to issue a straightforward denial, there is no way she would behave as she has done.

That's simple common sense, and her party colleagues must appreciate it as well as anyone else.

DespairingLiberal said...

Wild, no fundamentalist Christian believes in a "free society" as we know it. As can be seen from the US (and African - see above) examples, it is only a short step from their takeover of political institutions to the bombing of abortion clinics, the banning of minorities from schools until their "demons have been cast out" and the like.

It is really quite preposterous that a woman who holds such views has such a big part in the policy making of what is likely to be the largest party after the election. Frankly, I find the hand-wringing apologias going on in Tory blogland about this quite nauseating.

wild said...

Despairing Liberal,

If you can supply evidence that indicates that Philippa Stroud wants homosexual behaviour to be illegal you might have a point, but you haven't, so you don't.

A free society is not a society in which everybody has to agree on everything, it is a society in which people have the freedom to live as they choose.mulknac

macuser_e7 said...

What is genuinely worrying about this is the sign that the fundamentalist Christian right is mobilising politically and making inroads into one of our major parties at a senior level.

We've seen how that's worked out for political discourse in the US - no American candidate for high office could ever say what Clegg did in the 2nd debate, that he's not a man of faith.

If left unchallenged these people will drag the Tories further to the right on social issues. They will make the Daily Mail look like the Guardian!

Fundamentalist Christians are the Tory's Militant Tendency and Cameron needs to stand up to them. Does he have the courage?

..Silicon Implant!! said...

Further to my comments above, if the suggestions in this thread that fundie 'xtians are seen to be making or about to make a successful play to hijack the Tory party in Militant Tendency style, then that alone for me would make the Tory brand utterly toxic. I'd be looking at the least worst option to keep the religious loonies out of government. The march of Opus Dei into the heart of the Labour government scared the shit out of me, and judging by the war/body count under Blair, if religion was influencing his agenda, it was a lot more 'Crusades/Inquisition' than 'Love thy Neighbour/Turn the other cheek'.

Anyway, clandestine evangelical fundies setting Tory social policy leaves the choice for a right-of-centre libertarian as Lib-Dem or UKIP.

I'm not voting for any party where the social agenda is set by these kind of evil f******s, however much they have collectively worked out that not outraging the Tory party's 'tame homosexual' is a good idea for PR/Spin purposes. Post election, don't be surprised if the rhetoric changes and you get ignored a lot more or told what is good for you, Iain.

wild said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bibliotekari said...

" inner logic tells me that there can be no such thing as a God. And until something or someone can prove the opposite to me, I won't be changing my view."

Consider these photos:

wild said...

"What is genuinely worrying about this is the sign that the fundamentalist Christian right is...making inroads into one of our major parties at a senior level...They will make the Daily Mail look like the Guardian!"

Yeah right! Is that the best you can come up with?


Iain, what a very nice piece of writing. You are spot on.

Liam Thatcher said...

This is an encouraging post. Thanks for your well-balanced and reasoned thoughts. Thank you for not jumping on the bandwagon, but giving your honest opinion based on the insight of knowing Philippa personally!

evermorefilms said...

Everybody's up in arms, wanting to know why the story isn't reaching the news. Here's why: Stroud is not homophobic. So to go ahead with a story which heavily implies or indeeds states that she is homophobic is slander (or libellous.) The problem with this story is the whole 'curing homosexuality' issue. Rest assured, there is no van driving around with a big net hanging out of it, rounding up homosexuals and 'converting' or 'curing' them. People go to church for all kinds of prayer. They themselves make that decision. No one is EVER exposed or shamed into 'changing their ways'. You either want a relationship with God, or you don't. As simple as that. Understand the Father's heart, how much God loves you and wants your best. All this talk of 'dangerous practices', 'extremeist views'... its such twaddle. Yes, if you don't believe in God or belong to a church and have a real relationship with God, then of course any talk of spirituality is lost on you. You probably don't care and don't want to know - and that's fine, its your choice. God gives us all free will to make decisions for ourselves. Again, the issue here will never be clear, because you're dealing with a subject not of this world - spirituality. What people are essentially asking Stroud to do is explain her beliefs, therefore explain Christianity, Satan, and how the demonic works. If people want these answers then go to church and ask the leaders. I'm not a Conservative and never will be (probably!), but I am a Christian and I would emplore people to find out the truth for themselves, not what misinformed journalists have to say on the matter.