(c) The Belfast Telegraph
The 2015 UK general election – voting takes place tomorrow and then it’s all over, thankfully – has, even by the usual standards of British general elections, been a depressing experience. The current generation of mainstream party leaders, surely, are more blatant in their peddling of empty, meaningless platitudes, obfuscations and evasions than any generation of leaders that’ve gone before them. And they’ve been aided and abetted in making this election campaign as disillusioning and unappetising to voters as is humanly possible by an idiotic national press. Owned by half-a-dozen millionaire / billionaire tax-dodging Europhobic right-wing dingbats, the majority of Britain’s big newspapers have stuck unrelentingly to a simple formula – malign Ed Miliband and the Labour Party as far as you can go without ending up in the law-courts in England, and do the same to Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party in Scotland.
Actually, I thought that Ed Miliband wasn’t having that bad a campaign, despite everything – I even found myself warming to him during the leadership debates – but then he went and ruined everything. As a publicity stunt, he unveiled an eight-foot-high limestone plinth with six Labour Party promises carved on it. Carved in stone – get it? Cue a million cruel jokes about Ed fashioning his own tombstone, about Ed sinking like a stone, about Ed’s plinth not having planning permission, etc. It’s the sort of blunder you’d expect to see only in an episode of Armando Iannucci’s political sitcom The Thick of It.
At least, I thought, there’s one consolation amid all this. Despite its ludicrousness and its sneaking underlying dishonesty, British politics at least doesn’t have the God factor to deal with. It isn’t beset by the mentality that you get in the USA wherein certain politicians on the right have no compunctions about mixing their brand of cretinous hanging-and-shooting-and-nuking politics with God, Christianity and the Bible.
A good (or bad) example of this is former House of Representatives member and general all-round extreme-right Republican gob-shite Michele Bachmann, who has been recently predicting that the Rapture is about to happen, as a result of Barack Obama’s policies towards Iran and his espousal of same-sex marriage. That’s the Rapture in the Biblical sense, i.e. the claim that prior to the Second Coming true Christian believers will be raised into the clouds whilst hell breaks out on earth below. Not the Rapture who were a rather funky indie rock band from New York.
Yes, there seemed some consolation for me in the fact that you don’t get that bollocks in British politics. However, I then stumbled across, in the online edition of the Belfast Telegraph, an article about Susan-Anne White. Ms White is standing as an independent candidate in tomorrow’s election in the West Tyrone constituency of Northern Ireland and her campaign promises are ones you’d more expect to see carved in stone than Ed Miliband’s promises. They’d be promises carved on two tablets of stone brought down by Moses, after he’d conferred with God on top of Mount Sinai. That’s if God is really as much of a wrathful, blustering bigot as some people like to think He is.
Among the things in Ms White’s manifesto are opposition to the 1967 Abortion Act being extended to Northern Ireland; the banning of ‘amoral’ sex education from schools and the reintroduction of corporal punishment into them; the raising of the age of consent to 18; the banning of ‘gay pride parades’; opposition to ‘the LGBT agenda’ and the ‘redefinition of marriage’ and the upholding of ‘Biblical man / woman marriage’; the abolition of the Equality Commission Northern Ireland and the Human Rights Commission Northern Ireland; withdrawal from ‘money-wasting and decadent Europe’; opposition to the ‘Islamisation’ of Britain and the building of mosques; and restoration of the death penalty.
(c) The Huffington Post
Ms White is also an ardent opponent of ‘the global warming fanatics and their pseudo-science’. I assume such objectionable pseudo-science also includes practices like zoology, geology, astronomy and palaeontology – or as they’re sometimes known, science – that dispute the fact that God created the universe and everything in it during six very busy days about 6000 years ago, which Ms White and all other good, sensible people know is true because it says so in Genesis. That’s Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament. Not Genesis, the rather boring progressive rock band from the 1970s.
Talking of which, the Belfast Telegraph article stated that Ms White wanted to ban rock music for being vulgar and promoting ‘sexual anarchy’, although she has since denied this in her blog (https://thetruthshallsetyoufreeblog.wordpress.com/). Her main reason for disliking rock music, she claims, is because it’s bad for your ears.
As well as ‘global warming fanatics’, Ms White is also severely down on feminists. She regards feminism, in fact, as being “responsible for many of the social ills we see all around us.” This includes the dire state of the economy, because “they destroyed the whole concept of the family wage with the father as the bread-winner and the stay-at-home mother. They make women feel they have to be out in the workforce.”
Well, it’s a free country and I believe people have the right to believe any old claptrap they want as long as they don’t try to force it down other people’s throats – although I suspect this is what Ms White would be doing if she ever became MP for West Tyrone. (Even in Northern Ireland, the chances of this happening are thankfully very slim.) However, if she’s so hell-bent on opposing women leaving their homes and venturing out into the workforce, what on earth is she doing trying to win employment as West Tyrone’s elected representative in Westminster? Shouldn’t she be at home, vacuuming the carpets, washing the dishes, making the tea, etc., while her husband goes out and wins the bread? Tsk, tsk, Ms White. At least practise what you preach.
What I find particularly amusing / worrying is that Susan-Anne White comes from the County Tyrone village of Trillick, which is just three miles along the road from where I used to live in Northern Ireland. (In fact, my home was in the same parish as Trillick.) From what I remember of the area, there lived there a couple of gentlemen who, while they were very conscientious about showing their faces in church every Sunday, were also a little bit, shall we say, amorous with the ladies. Maybe that’s why Ms White is also advocating making adultery ‘a punishable offence’. Aye, good luck with that one.
The Belfast Telegraph article is followed by a thread full of comments poking fun at Ms White and her barmy views. It’s sobering to think, though, that some of those views are not far removed from those of Northern Ireland’s Free Presbyterian Church and its political wing, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), both of which, once upon a time, were headed by the Reverend Ian Paisley – a pulpit-thumping demagogue, close exposure to whom would do more damage to your ears than any amount of rock music.
For example, Iris Robinson, the former DUP Member of Parliament and former DUP Northern Irish Health Minister, famously described homosexuality as an ‘abomination’ that was worse than abusing children and called for gay people to receive psychiatric counselling. (However, Iris parted company from Susan-Anne White’s opinions when it came to committing adultery; because in the late noughties, very famously indeed, she had an extra-marital affair with a lad of 19, who was about a third of her age. This was much to the embarrassment of her husband, Northern Irish First Minister Peter Robinson, and much to the amusement of nearly everyone else in Northern Ireland.)
Mind you, though she shares some opinions with them, Ms White is not above offering the DUP criticism. On her blog, for example, I saw her having a go at Fiona Paisley, daughter-in-law of the late Reverend Ian Paisley and wife of his imaginatively-named son, Ian Paisley Junior. She’d been dismayed to see Fiona tweeting photographs taken of herself while she worked out in her local Crossfit gym. “However, as women are 40-50% weaker than men (generally speaking) women should not be lifting weights at all,” said a disapproving Ms White, “and Fiona Paisley is at risk of serious injury if she continues to place such unnatural and unnecessary strain on her body.”
Anyway, in the event of a hung parliament, which on Friday morning seems a likely outcome of this general election, David Cameron will no doubt go scuttling off to see Susan-Ann White’s fellow religious nut-jobs in the DUP about securing their support in a new right-wing coalition. Yes, having such people in positions of power in an administration of the United Kingdom as a whole – now that’s a prospect far more depressing than the election itself.