Bill's Archived Comments

for the week beginning: Monday, 14th October 2002

Contents of this page (scroll down the page to see the full text of the article which interests you)

- A day of mourning for those lost to terrorism in Bali (20 Oct 2002)

- Adoption and Children Bill goes to House of Lords (16 Oct 2002)

- Terrorist outrage in Bali may be the latest Islamic extremist attack (14 Oct 2002)

- The Conservative Party conference ends inconclusively (14 Oct 2002)

(If you wish to see other articles, please click on the 'Archives' link above to go there now)

A day of mourning for those lost to terrorism in Bali (20 Oct 2002)

Today has been designated an official day of mourning by the Australian government for its citizens, and those of other countries, murdered by terrorists in Bali, Indonesia. Flags on many public building in the UK will likewise be flown at half-mast today, in particular at Buckingham Palace in London.

Current advice to travellers by many governments (Australian, British, etc.) is for citizens not to travel to, or to expedite their departure from, Indonesia. It is to be hoped that this will be a temporary situation, albeit in the circumstances a necessary one, and that it will soon be deemed safe to travel there again. Terrorism must not be allowed to gain a victory - the deaths in Bali should only harden our determination.

Adoption and Children Bill goes to House of Lords (16 Oct 2002)

The House of Lords will today debate the Adoption and Children Bill; it has already passed through the House of Commons. At present, married couples and individuals, singly (irrespective of sexual orientation), may adopt a child - or at least are eligible to be considered as adoptive parents, provided they meet the adoption criteria, which are quite strict and complex.

One effect of the current bill, if adopted, will be to permit unmarried heterosexual couples and couples of the same sex (male or female), living in long-term committed relationships, to be considered as adoptive parents too, always provided of course that they meet the strict adoption criteria mentioned above.

Some believe, and I am one, that this change will correct an anomaly and allow more children to be placed in good, loving homes where they can be nurtured to grow into rounded adults. Others believe that such a move will undermine the value of marriage and potentially place children at risk - amongst the exponents of this viewpoint are 'The Christian Institute' (a right-wing, evangelical organisation which has fomented sinister activities in the US [think abortion, for example] and has begun to do the same thing here), through its stooges in the House of Lords - mainly members of what we are told is the new 'inclusive' and 'caring' Conservative Party.

One of the flaws in the 'anti-' argument is, I think, that whilst most people can readily agree (me amongst them) that in an ideal world it is better for a child to be brought up in a stable family comprising a father and a mother who share the commitment of marriage, they do not address the problem of what is to be done should such a 'stable' married relationship not prove so stable after all, and the couple separate or divorce. It seems bizarre to me that it is so difficult for seemingly suitable adoptive parents to adopt (and I am restricting this part of my discussion to childless, but married, heterosexual couples), whereas any pair of male and female can legally, provided they are both above 16 years old, go 'behind the bicycle shed' (so to say), have sexual intercourse and in due course produce a child which they are entitled to keep in most cases, unless there are over-riding and blatant reasons to deny them (jointly or singly) this right. Very little 'vetting' seems to go on to ensure that children produced as a result of such 'one-night stands' are in the care of individuals who have the maturity, resources and commitment to care for their child. To follow the logic of the so-called 'Christian Institute' (and their fellow-homophobes in the Conservative Party), no doubt one should propose that married parents of children who separate or divorce, whilst their children remain minors, should have their children taken into care automatically so that their continuing suitability to be their children's carers can be examined?

No, of course not  - that is not what they suggest.

When one reaches just a little below the surface of the 'anti-' argument it is clearly motivated solely by homophobia. They encourage unmarried but heterosexual couples to marry (they say that even long-term relationships of this kind can only show what they believe to be the requisite level of 'commitment' through marriage), but of course the one category of couple (same-sex, whether male or female) who cannot marry, are denied any possibility of complying with the insistence on showing 'commitment'.  Their similar insistence on opposing the 'Civil Partnerships Bill', which would have permitted unmarried couples (heterosexual or same-sex) to commit themselves to each other before the law, because it would 'undermine the institution of marriage' so they say, gives the lie (in my view) to their insistence that they are not 'homophobic'.

Those within the Conservative Party, who despite their pleas they now wish to be seen as 'inclusive' and that their 'war against the single mother is now over' (David Willetts at last week's Conservative Party conference), are really demonstrating that nothing has changed very much - and that it would be folly to allow them anywhere near government until they do 'get it'. It will be interesting to see whether the Bill passes its reading today in the House of Lords - there is still time for at least some of the Conservative members there to redeem themselves and show that they see the need for change and are willing to give this practical effect.

Terrorist outrage in Bali may be the latest Islamic extremist attack (14 Oct 2002)

In a bomb attack on a nightclub on the Indonesian island of Bali over the weekend, upwards of 180 people have been killed and many more appear to have been injured, some seriously.

Bali, a largely Hindu island in the world's most populous Moslem nation, has been popular for many years with western and other tourists as a holiday destination - an earthly vision of paradise, for many. That idyllic vision has been shattered now.

Many of those killed and injured are Australian as Bali, relatively close (or at least only a continent away), has been specially popular with pleasure-seekers from the main Australian cities looking for exoticism and warmth. This tied in particularly well with the friendly and welcoming Balinese people.

Speculation seems now to be hardening that this outrage is the latest example of extremist Islamic terrorism, heavily influenced, if not necessarily directly perpetrated, by people who follow the policies of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qa'ida organisation. It seems that there have rumours for some months that there were plans to carry out some terrorist atrocity in Indonesia, but it had been assumed that this would most likely occur in the capital, Jakarta, perhaps against an American target. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it now seems clear that seemingly safe, friendly and largely-Hindu Bali was the obvious target. What it really means, I think, is that no place can be considered 'safe' and that just because a place is considered an unlikely target , this is no guarantee of protection as the unexpected appears to be what the terrorists are after. Classic guerilla tactics, in other words.

The Conservative Party conference ends inconclusively (14 Oct 2002)

So far I've written nothing about last week's Conservative Party conference at Bournemouth as, frankly, it didn't seem to merit much attention, apart from possibly as a source of political satire for some of our better-known comedians and satirists.

However Matthew Parris, summing-up of the week in a column in The Times echoes my own long-standing views as a former party member - 'conservatism' will survive, there is a market for it, but those who run the Conservative Party at present, indeed the Conservative party itself, may well not survive politically to lead any future 'conservative' government. I have written often enough about the aging membership of the Conservative Party and of the need to attract new, younger members. Parris makes the point, though, which I speculated about many months ago, that those younger people they do attract as members are highly atypical of their generation, much more so than the older members tend to be of their own generations and often hold, in my experience, extremist views with regard to immigration, UK membership of the EU and social diversity. Whilst Theresa May's speech was good and seemed to be saying (in code, admittedly) a lot of things I would wish to hear, reactions from many members were much less than supportive. The keynote speech by the Leader, Iain Duncan Smith, defies parody - truly a speech that could have been improved only by being much quieter than the self-styled 'quiet man' who delivered it - as a cartoon in The Sunday Telegraph, parodying the 'Pop Idol' format, put it: ".. Don't call us ...".

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Copyright © 2002 William Cameron