No tolerance on display during Commons celebrations

25 October 2018

Following a debate on new legislation in the House of Commons about how government decisions are made in Northern Ireland, East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said,

Gregory Campbell MP

DUP Spokesman on International Development and Cabinet Office

Gregory Campbell

"This legislation is about getting government decisions made in the absence of SF ending its boycott of Stormont.  However, some MPs attempted to hijack the Bill’s passage to try and amend Northern Ireland’s laws on abortion.

There has been a much more visible campaign in recent years to liberalise our laws governing the ending of a child’s life in the womb. In Parliament on Wednesday evening, this was brought into sharp focus.A debate on enabling Permanent Secretaries to take some action on a limited number of matters was enlarged after Labour MP Stella Creasy tabled an amendment on the issues of abortion and marriage. The legislation governing both issues will not change as a result of the vote on Wednesday.

It must be noted that these issues are a matter for both the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives to decide.One element of the debate which I couldn’t help but notice was the degree of celebration and aggression on display particularly among Labour MPs speaking in support of liberalising our laws.

Imagine the howls of outrage and indignation if a “pro-life” legislative change were to be passed and MPs supporting the change were to behave in a similar unseemly and aggressive fashion, clapping and cheering as happened on this occasion.

These are sensitive issues but such is our democracy that we should be able to hold differing views whilst respectfully debating the matters. 

Being a tolerant society means we must be willing to tolerate arguments, views and opinions with which we do not agree. The reverse of that freedom is that our opponents must be prepared to show the same respect to views being expressed with which they do not agree.

A chill ran through my veins on Wednesday evening when supposed “liberal” and “tolerant” MPs spoke with incredible aggression, clapping and cheering at the result.

I am, like many in Northern Ireland, passionately pro-life. Those who disagree with us have the freedom to do so. But the many thousands who also hold my viewpoint must not be demonised or browbeaten”

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