A number of people have contacted me to ask why I suddenly parted company with Edmund Burke’s Club after having put so much time and effort into building and promoting the organization. One surprised correspondent said that I was the Club, given my extensive input into its activities. Indeed, over four years I wrote ninety-five percent of the meetings’ presentations and posts on the club’s website, something I am sure most people will excuse me for being proud of. During that time no one challenged me in any substantial way despite the opportunity during the meetings and the comment section on the website. To the contrary, I was often complimented on my presentations at the club’s meetings. I make this point in view of what precipitated the break.
The spark for the conflict that brought about the break was an email from Peter Janssen asking me what I thought of a report on news.com.au about Tony Abbott’s urging people to accept the outcome of the plebiscite on same-sex ‘marriage’, if it should go ahead. Peter also questioned the place of a plebiscite in our system of government. No doubt he had Burke’s famous Speech to the Electors of Bristol (1774) in mind. The question touched on what I believe to be crucial elements of Edmund Burke’s thought. Continue reading The break with Edmund Burke’s Club
Under the headline ‘Gay marriage vote must be accepted: Abbott’, 27 September 2016, the popular news website news.com.au informed its readers:
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has issued a message to politicians on all sides of parliament about a proposed national vote on same-sex marriage: whatever the people want must be accepted.
Despite his strong views against legalising same-sex marriage, he’s prepared to vote with the people should they say yes.
“This is a matter that is properly for the people and if the people vote for change, the parliament has to accept it,” he told 3AW on Tuesday.
“Individual members of parliament have to accept it.”
Equally, he hopes same-sex marriage supporters will do the same if the country votes no.
The proposed plebiscite won’t be binding and several coalition MPs have indicated they’ll vote no regardless of the result.
One wonders whether news.com.au has correctly paraphrased what Abbott said. If past media reports are any indication, Abbott is here talking about the politics of the issue of homosexual ‘marriage’ and not about its morality, his views of which have not changed, as the report indicates. It is not the first time that a media report has implied that Abbott has compromised his moral views. The report prompted friend Peter Janssen to comment: Continue reading ‘Gay marriage must be accepted’
In January 2013, an opinion piece by Tony Abbott, Leader of the Federal Opposition, appeared in the Herald-Sun, ‘For the record, I’m not opposed to IVF.’ This attempt to clarify his position did nothing to change the minds of Abbott’s critics. They simply went on warning women about his ingrained misogyny and the extreme danger he represents for their well-being and security should he be elected prime minister at the next Federal Election. Abbott would always be Captain Catholic for those shamelessly leading the sectarian campaign against him. The critical point here is that Abbott’s views on abortion and other such social matters, especially for his feminist critics, are in essence an issue of politics, and not of an exchange in which argument and counter argument are marshalled. I will come back to this.
On the other hand, just to show – again in the concrete circumstances – that often one cannot win in such hard-fought political matters, there were many conservatives who treated Abbott’s piece in the Herald-Sun as further evidence of Abbott’s (alleged) compromise on difficult moral issues, apparently to appease critics of his conservatism, outside and inside the Liberal Party. What had happened to the Tony Abbott who almost single-handedly took on the extreme left in student politics and came away with a famous victory, leaving his ideological opponents so decimated that they have not even today recovered and vent their frustrations by writing wimpy whingeing essays about Abbott’s brutal masculinity. There was a political brutality that Gillard’s John McTernan would be proud of. Continue reading Abortion, Same-Sex Marriage and the Exercise of Prudence