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Boris can’t keep a story straight Modern conservatives don't know how to be free

He doesn't know which way to jump (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

He doesn't know which way to jump (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)


June 11, 2022   7 mins

These days, with Partygate refusing to go quietly, there’s increasing attention paid to Boris Johnson’s incapacity to keep a story straight, not to mention his constant prevarication about what conservatism in practice should look like: lockdowns or wild parties? Or both? Yet the evidence has always been there. In particular, in the area of what are popularly known as LGBT+ rights, there’s been a degree of historical variation in his attitudes at which even his ex-wives might marvel. Over the course of his political trajectory, the symbolic gestures have been plentiful, but without any sense of coherence or underlying conviction.

For Home Counties reactionaries, there have been absences from key votes on gay equality and gay adoption, and scepticism expressed in print about gay marriage: “If gay marriage was ok — and I was uncertain on the issue — then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men; or indeed three men and a dog.” There are also suggestions that some in Johnson’s camp falsely represented a rival for his Henley seat as gay, in order to present Johnson as the more palatable candidate.

For the liberal metrosexual Londoner, meanwhile, there was eventual backing for gay marriage, highly publicised appearances at Stonewall award ceremony presentations, the return of the rainbow flag above the Foreign Office after a ban by Philip Hammond, and the frankly terrifying sight of Johnson in a pink Stetson at a Pride parade. And for the ever-present peanut gallery in Johnson’s head, there have been plenty of gags on the way to some other political target: “tank-topped bum boys” as a means of lampooning Peter Mandelson in 1998, or describing Polly Toynbee in 2007 as “the defender and friend of… every gay and lesbian outreach worker, every clipboard-toter and pen-pusher and form-filler whose function has been generated by mindless regulation”.

For most of his career, these lurches in attitude have occupied roughly distinct phases with occasional overlap, depending on who he was trying hardest to impress at the time. The inconsistency has perhaps been somewhat masked by Johnson’s capacity to induce selective amnesia in those susceptible to him. Recently, though, the wild haymaking on LGBT+ issues has become more obvious and more incoherent — forced into the light because of the surrounding political fuss about gender identity policies and their effects.

For when properly understood — as most MPs still do not — this controversy exposes a tension between, on the one hand, the goals of official organisations claiming to speak for gays and lesbians, and on the other the interests of many gays and lesbians as they themselves conceive of them. And clearly, Johnson — and perhaps the Tory party more generally — does not know which way to jump.

In this antagonistic context, the usual lazy progressive gestures from politicians are not going to get the crowd-pleasing results they once might have done. Put a rainbow flag up on a government building and the grassroots automatically see it as captured by Stonewall — as indeed, it often is. A politician may parrot what looks like a safe and indeed utterly vacuous tautology on Twitter — “trans rights are human rights”, say, or “love means love” — and yet the grassroots still will respond furiously, not because they disagree with the sentiment, but because they know exactly which organisation told the politician to express it and why.

Into this conflict, Johnson appears to have wandered either unaware or indifferent, banking on his usual strategy of being all things to all Tory voters and hoping that nobody notices the mismatch. For instance, at the beginning of October last year, he attended a Stonewall-organised event at the Conservative Party conference, listening to his wife give a supportive on-message speech in familiar Stonewall-approved jargon, and waxing expansively, if not entirely accurately, that “being LGBT+” is “still a crime in 71 countries” and in 11 countries is “punishable by death, just because of who you love” (er.. Carrie, I think you might mean homosexual people). A mere two weeks later he was publicly backing the LGB Alliance — an organisation of which I was then a trustee, whose aim is to protect the rights of same sex-attracted people, specifically. The fact that the aims of these two organisations are diametrically opposed to one another seemed to pass him by.

Since then, his government has lurched abruptly from, first, pushing for a Stonewall-favoured ban on “conversion therapy” for non-standard gender identities — a ban which, experts feared, would criminalise talking therapies for young people confused about their gender identity, including many gay and lesbian youths — to backtracking on the proposal, thereby pleasing practically nobody in the process, and precipitating the collapse of a flagship international LGBT+ conference the government was supposed to be hosting. And at no point during this turbulent period has Johnson indicated any real grasp on why any of this might matter, or moved much beyond spouting with great enthusiasm whatever script an adviser just hastily handed him.

And yet I think there is perhaps a deeper and more interesting problem here than the short-term priorities of career politicians, bad as that is for politics generally. For the cynical prevarication of their leader is at least partly facilitated by a genuine lack of clarity at the conceptual level about how modern conservatism should view gay and lesbian people, and their political interests.

On the one hand, there are the sexual libertarians in the Tory party, prioritising personal freedom above all else. In this, they take themselves to be broadly in line with liberalism generally, though perhaps unlike them, most sensible liberals are willing at least to have a conversation about what happens when the desired freedoms of particular individuals or groups clash. For sexual libertarians, there is a clear and simple line to be taken on sex and gender if at all possible: let the people be free, to sleep with who they want, wear what they want, do what they want to their bodies surgically or medically, and go where they want to in physical and social space.

Their stance seems well represented by MP Crispin Blunt, who recently wrote in favour of the conversion therapy ban for gender identity, and against his own government, by connecting the issue with freedom: “We have no choice but to work to sustain our personal freedoms, to continue to make the case that these freedoms are good for all, economically and socially, in our societies and help those who languish under discrimination and criminalisation win their freedom to the benefit of all”. The present iteration of Stonewall bureaucrats apparently agrees, broadly speaking, though they seem completely unwilling to examine how the constant drive to legislate to protect the freedoms of one particular group (e.g. trans people) might curtail freedoms for those in other groups (e.g. gays and lesbians, or women).

On the other hand, there are those conservatives more concerned with preserving social order and building a cohesive society than with pursuing personal freedom. Whether these self-describe as One Nation Conservatives or Red Tories or something else, they stress continuity with past traditions and the importance of producing laws and policies grounded in people’s existing values, rather than trying to impose certain elite values only from above.

They also tend to be concerned with preserving traditional family structures in the name of social stability. Though they may not admit it, for this kind of conservative, gays and lesbians — and indeed trans people too — pose a philosophical and political problem, because it’s unclear on what grounds their specific interests should be promoted, over and above the provision of basic human rights. Aside from liberal appeals to personal freedom, there is no pre-existing cultural norm in the UK that you might appeal to in order to justify two women marrying, or two men adopting a child.

On the contrary, what you will tend to find, and particularly in more cohesive traditional communities, is strong suspicion of any such arrangements, and even disgust and fear. And in fact, it’s worse than this, because from the perspective of the traditionalist, appealing to personal freedom in order to justify gay and lesbian rights is likely to open the door to the destruction of other traditional social values and norms in the name of freedom too. And in that, they in fact seem to be right. Put comically, this was presumably Johnson’s point when he discussed the perceived slippery slope from marrying two men to marrying three men and a dog.

This tension within conservatism is rarely confronted in this context — the temptation is often just to stick a rainbow on it and cross the fingers — but I think it is felt keenly by some lesbians and gays left in the middle, between crazy liberalising ambitions of others on their behalf, and the disapproving stares of traditionalists. The modern Left can’t help them either, because it too contains within itself a version of this tension — between the Left-liberals, focused on breaking down traditional cultural norms in the name of progress, and the older socialist Left, comfortable with traditional family structures and so uncomfortable with homosexuality.

At the grassroots, many gays and lesbians can see clearly what damage is being done by sexual libertarians in the name of freedom around sex and gender identity: medicalising gay children, ruining women’s sport, and bringing inappropriately sexualised materials into schools, for instance. But equally, gay people can’t take solace in pretending that they seamlessly fit into a mostly heterosexual society, even when they try very hard to do so — or that they don’t need a positive political argument to justify their place there. And since they do need an argument, the argument from personal freedom looks to many like the best they’ve got.

A different possibility is to mimic an idealised form of heterosexual lifestyle, differently filled out — that is, to go for the marriage and the kids in a stable home, but with same-sex parents. But equally, there’s no overcoming the difference homosexuality makes to the traditional possibilities of reproduction. And when gays and lesbians attempt to get what they need from the opposite sex in order to “fit in” in this way, whether via sperm donation or surrogacy or something else, they quickly run up against a confrontation with tradition once again. Here too, they need an argument to justify themselves, and here too, the appeal to personal freedom comes calling once again as an apparently compelling option.

Stuck between dangerously unconstrained freedom on the one hand, and dangerously hostile tradition on the other, what the situation of lesbians and gays arguably exposes is the deep ideological fault-lines within modern British conservatism — and even within modern politics generally — hiding within plain sight all along. No wonder the politicians stick to meaninglessly trite mantras. Trans rights are human rights. Love is love.


Kathleen Stock is an UnHerd columnist and a co-director of The Lesbian Project.
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Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

I enjoyed this essay, which sets out the the two positions well. Using Boris was a clever way of exposing the dilemma for actual policy makers.

What she misses is the real and valuable potential of ‘muddling through’ policies and the way activism has taken those options off the table.

Britain has always tolerated eccentricity fairly well and has, in my view, genuinely become a ‘nicer’ place over my lifetime. People will always have a go at other people, for one reason or another, but the social acceptability of that behaviour was waning. Neither my son nor grandson has ever had a fist fight, not something many of my generation can say.

Then came social media just as Critical Theory reached critical mass in America university’s.

I have had no problem with gay people, or people of a different colour, up to the point they start shoving their rights down my throat, brainwashing my children and censoring my books.

Now there is no possibility of a muddle through policy. One side has to win. It’s important that the Conservative party wakes up to that and starts fighting.

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

But is it really they who are doing the shoving? I suspect a more powerful force behind the scenes…

Rupert Carnegie
Rupert Carnegie
1 year ago

… meaning who or what?

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
1 year ago

Davos men, WEF, multiglobal companies who have more money than a country, the techi giants. People with a neo-marxist agenda, who have the power to infiltrate education and universities and can make mega donations to governing bodies. Check it out: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Davos-Man-Billionaires-Devoured-World/dp/0063078309

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

And the losing side is always the electorate.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Muddling through is the most reliable way of solving complex problems. I lean to believing the governments should do less – removing restrictions on people’s lives rather than create laws to try to help people.
The gay marriage law works like this, it removes a restriction from people’s lives. It’s a good think.
Hate crime laws, however, add restrictions. It is our social duty to express outrage at bigoted behaviour not the state’s duty to try to impose being nice on citizens.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Good points Martin, I’m a gay man and pretty much am in complete agreement. However, and I think many others also miss this point, the ‘Identitarian Left’ pushing ideology ‘down everyone’s throats’ isn’t predominantly a matter of individual members of ethnic or sexual minorities doing so. It is an organised ideology, and as often pointed out, those adhering to it very often consist of white straight males (thought they may say they are ‘genderqueer’ or some such meaningless rubbish). They nonetheless loudly subscribe to the achingly virtue signalling ‘progressive’ doctrine. No-one ever consulted me about the transmogrification of gay civic rights, now achieved in most western countries, into LGBTQAA+ or whatever ludicrous length that has now reached.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

It isn’t a philosophical confusion or anything deep rooted in conservatism. He just does not reqlly care, like most people, about a tiny and aggressively vocal minority group. He wants votes, and Brighton gays and Islington drag queens are a lost cause in that respect.

The real question is why the Tories ever pandered to this mob in the first place. Has a single homosexual ever thanked the Tories for implementing same sex marriage? I highly doubt it. By conceding on that, the ‘cuckservatives’ immediately allowed the liberal Forever War to move on to the next frontier: trans issues. As Boris himself suggests, once Stonewall has got its way on that crusade the next battle will presumably be over legalising beastiality, and then decriminalisation of ‘minor attracted persons’. The activist industry will grind on forever, until the NGOcracy has its wings clipped.

Laurence Hemming
Laurence Hemming
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

“Has a single homosexual ever thanked the Tories for implementing same sex marriage?”
Yes. Many have. Which I take it is essentially one of the points Stock is making.

Last edited 1 year ago by Laurence Hemming
John Dee
John Dee
1 year ago

Would that ‘thanks’ have extended to voting Tory, do you think? Or was it more emotional than performative?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

The real issue is that libertarian Conservatives believe that all people should have the inaliable right, enshrined in law, to lead their private lives as they wish, and hold the views ditto…. BUT others must also have the right to disagree, AND the freedom to express and debate those views…. and this must apply to LGBT, racism and global warming

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago

This is what’s missing; and we’re also seeing the blurring of private and work lives. Many people prefer to keep these separate.

Patrick Moore
Patrick Moore
1 year ago

There are less than 4% LBGT in the population. Why has this extreme minority been allowed to impact time tested social concepts like marriage? All it has done is to add to other small minority heckler demands to change accepted and developed society and create enormous divisions and rapidly increasing intolerance on both sides. Like millions I accept LBGT behavioural rights conducted in private, as applicable to heterosexual relationships, and the Civil Partnership with all other human rights being common to all. I do not accept the indoctrination attempts under the cover of reducing homophobia etc which is confusing many young minds and I have serious concerns that this is nothing more than protective human recruitment for the future by Stonewall etc.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago

I’m not sure Boris’s shopping trolley approach to these issues has much to do with a deep philosophical confusion. It is important to understand that Boris has a particular psychology: the World at any moment is what he says it is. All views and principles are highly provisional, and there is no reality anchoring them.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Kathleen’s foray into the political sphere sees her, in my opinion, on less sure ground than usual. I’m an admirer of her integrity and courage, as well as her obvious intellectual prowess but in presenting her arguments in the context of a seemingly contrived Boris-bashing exercise she does herself no favours. Easy targets, however topical, aren’t her usual erm…Stock in trade.

With her academic rigour, it appears to me that she doesn’t really ‘get’ the political sphere, where shape-shifting is often a necessary means to survival. Most thinking adults understand that, and if we all examine our own musings over time, would likely find ourselves wandering on a less than straight path (no pun intended there).

Not to mention using the word “site” when she meant “sight” when describing Boris’ pink hat!

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

In view of the photo of Boris raising his hat, perhaps he’s saying, “Howdy partner”.

Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Yes indeed. Johnson isn’t unique. Obama’s jarring shift from gay marriage opponent to gay marriage advocate is one example. Blair’s half-way House compromise of Civil Partnerships was an attempt to swing both ways at the same time.

Other forces come into play too apart from governments & NGOs like Stonewall. The sheer power of individuals coming out to family and friends. Almost everyone now will know a gay family member and this has softened the traditionalist boundaries on marriage. Even stuffy arch traditionalist Jacob Rees-Mogg would fall into this camp with his attendance at a gay union.

John Dee
John Dee
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

That may have been ‘grammar-lite’.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

A typically thought provoking essay from Stock but, untypically, she shies away from spelling out the conclusion to which her analysis leads. Which is that being gay is a minority pursuit and, as it is not the norm, cannot be considered normal.
Hence, while I’m certainly an advocate for live and let live, society’s laws and customs must not be framed so that instead of applying equally to everyone a special niche is carved out for gays, with the intention of enabling them to simulate being part of the mainstream. Stock seems to unconsciously acknowledge this with her reference to the awkwardness of gay procreation.
It’s also disconcerting to see a stout advocate for free speech using the phrase “more cohesive traditional communities”. We know what you mean, Kathleen, but it’s disappointing that you don’t feel able to say it.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
1 year ago

He’s not wrong about Polly Toynbee.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

The Conservatives better get their act together quickly or we will move further towards the BLM advocated break-up of the nuclear family. This will be done by getting the state to finance all the costs of raising children with the corresponding levels of taxation. We have already moved a long way down this road. However the final goal has not yet been enshrined as government policy. The result will be that the majority of men will walk away from paternal responsibility leaving it to the state to bring up their children. The levels of taxation will also mean that they walk away from employment that pre-tax might be considered well remunerated and requiring of education and the assumption of responsibility. Those who refuse to give up responsibility for raising their children will do so at great financial cost. They will also be stigmatised for showing that they care for their children, insulted and ignored when they show up at parents’ evenings at school or to visit their children when in hospital, derided for not recognising that their role is to be transitory sperm donors and to work as slaves to support the edifice of government funded childcare.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

It would be interesting to hear how a philosopher like Kathleen Stock would propose we square this circle. If we stick to the idea that heterosexual couples and reproduction is the norm, then gays can be tolerated, civil partnered, etc. but they will remain an outsider minority in a heterosexual society. If we try to change mores so that gays are part of the mainstream it is hard to see an alternative to, essentially ‘everybody is queer, just some people are in denial’.

Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Mores have changed because over time they just do. It was a little to do with the original Stonewall (but not it’s current iteration) and nothing to do with corporate or government support. Since the late 70s the stigma on homosexuality has incrementally lifted and more men and women came out to their families. Far from remaining outsiders the “queer” spell was broken. Gay life was now entirely compatible with full rather than semi-detached family membership. There’s clarity and justice in that.

More recently the re-queering of the territory with institutions & corporations taking their cue from gender ideology and ‘authoritative’ NGOs like Stonewall, has muddied the waters. Demands have been made on society – change the language, believe fundamental untruths about sex etc. In the past appeals for equality for gay people resonated with fair minded people. This has been replaced by a charivari of voices reflected in the alphabet soup of LGBTQIA+.

It was pretty much ‘job done’ for Stonewall. Pension rights, health care, equal marriage etc. were all sorted. They could’ve turned their attention to areas of the world where persecution and stigma remain or have packed up and gone home. Instead like many NGOs who have fulfilled their aims they chased the money.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Smith

Gay Equality is so monstrously absurd, that it inevitably opened the door to the even worse absurdities that you deplore.

Al M
Al M
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Your last sentence reflects where we actually are. This was the viewpoint espoused by some ghastly flatmates I had the misfortune to share with in my youth. They were always trying to convert you. The current trend for pronouns in the workplace, especially when it involves coercion masquerading as ‘encouragement’, could be seen as a public admission of not being queer.

Last edited 1 year ago by Al M
T. Lister
T. Lister
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

If reproduction is the only function of heterosexual marriage then what of those couples who can’t have or don’t want children? Do they qualify for civil unions only along w/ the LGs? What of the LGs who have children? If two people want the stability and commitment of marriage let them have it no matter if it is a same or opposite sex couple as it takes nothing away from anyone else.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago

Another very thoughtful and interesting piece, so clearly argued.
(Having seen Kathleen Stock interviewed I think I have fallen in love with her which is unfortunate as I am not gay.)

Last edited 1 year ago by Malcolm Knott
Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago

Have you noticed nobody ever explains what is wrong with being reactionary — that is opposing something or someone repulsive to one’s own point of view? Are we supposed to be doormats or bobbing heads on the dashboard to everything crazy or half-crazy minorities come up with? They demand and I react. Does the proposing somehow instill a higher moral value than on the declining? Sometimes and even often positive is bad and negative is good. You may have a dog in the fight, but maybe I do too.

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
1 year ago

Boris Johnson’s inability to keep a story straight isn’t just limited to LGBT. It extends to every aspect of modern society which is especially worrying considering that he is Prime Minister!

Last edited 1 year ago by Rob Britton
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

in my experience and observation, no one outside the ‘ meeja’ has the remotest interest in, nor cares a jot about LBGTQ etc?….

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
1 year ago

Boris is not emotionally attached to one opinion or another. He is a true liberal in that sense. Live and let live. Get votes from all and sundry, whatever it takes. But the cultural home of minority groups is a knotty problem. First you have to identify which culture we are dealing with. Conservatives, where the family is expected to pay for and raise their children – thus marriage is desirable – or the socialist way where the state largely takes over – in extreme cases the kibbutz, where the child does not even know who his parents are – the community raises him. Seeing as we swing from left to right in this country where should these groups aspire to belong? The fact is minorities will always be the ones that have to fit in. Assuming there are basic human rights established either way, it would seem natural for the LGBs to veer left. However, despite their non traditional proclivities they seem particularly attracted to the whole conservative religion and marriage scenario.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago

An excellent analysis, both of the issues facing society, and of the vacancy at the heart of modern politics in general and Boris Johnson in particular.

M. Jamieson
M. Jamieson
1 year ago

Individual freedom vs social structure does seem to be a significant tension both amongst the left and among conservatives. And the argument that this leavs gays and lesbians in an odd place seems reasonable.
That being said, the way Stock is saying that happens seems to presuppose the modern western vision of what gay rights means. Because the idea that it must mean things like SSM doesn’t seem to be actually obvious to me – there have been plenty of societies where homosexual activity was common and acceptable, but not seen as having anything to do with marriage. In some cases it was generally accepted that people would have a conventional marriage which was built around economic interdependence and reproductive function, while possibly also having homosexual relationships which did not include those things in th esame way.
It may not be so accidental that the social decision to treat homo- and heterosexual relationships as if they are functionally identical, and sometimes even use legal fictions and technology to make them in suface kind of way functionally the same, immediatly preceded our current issues around gender and the removal of the biological meaning of sex categories.

Harold Carter
Harold Carter
1 year ago

This is a general tension at the heart of British conservatism; liberal rights vs tradition/authority. It extends (for example) to free market vs paternalist economic policy. Historically it has been resolved by a background assumption that values are shared, so that free individuals will make lower-level choices that conform with traditional beliefs. But it is has been much harder to sustain this position since the value-pluralism of the mid 20th century took hold.
Oddly enough, the assumption of underlying value-sharing has echoes of the arguments of the (intellectually) arch-foe of conservative tradition, Rousseau; he assumes that we are free is so far as out wishes as individuals conform with the General Will (since isolated individuals cannot be free).

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
1 year ago
Reply to  Harold Carter

“liberal rights vs tradition/authority”

Both are traditions. Unfortunately they are utterly incompatible, and descend from two completely different philosophical traditions, one almost wholly British (negative rights – limited) and one continental-European (positive rights – practically illimitable**). Paradoxically the ‘positive rights’ tradition makes everyone less free, not more.
As Nietzsche pointed out: ‘Great obligations do not make people grateful, they make them resentful.’

**The presence of endless EU ‘directives’ derives from this contradiction, as does the ECHR.

Last edited 1 year ago by Arnold Grutt
Arild Brock
Arild Brock
1 year ago

LOVE VS. ENVY
Interesting dilemma. It seems that the author does not have an opinion, though.
On my part I would pose the dilemma more bluntly so: Do the conservative homosexuals now discover that their position is different from what they thought it was?
Douglas Murrey has used a train as an allegory. To his surprise the “train of liberty” (my name, Murrey has not named it, I believe) does not slow down and gently stop at (gay marriage?) the perceived end-station, but speeds up and races out into the wilderness (the latter again my word).
I am afraid the progressive liberty project has gone way beyond freedom. I suggest we distinguish between liberty, or perhaps better “liberalism”, and freedom. Freedom is when you feel free to unfold. Liberalism is the removal of hindrances and ultimately the abolishment. You are then no longer free, because you can only unfold within structures.
If you speak with one of the “libertarians” in this sense, you quickly discover how unfree they are. They are following the stream and the correctness even to the stage of mobbing. Mobbing can be done actively (say, by scolding or confining) or passively (by ignoring and by isolation).
Turning to sex, love and marriage, we now see better what a marriage basically is (and used to be). It starts with finding a partner. Then it is about having and raising children. A diffuse thought about having a child may be anticipated before you marry. But the correct question to ask is not “do I want a child?” The correct question is “do I want a child with this partner?”. Because that is what you get. Parenthood is life-long, and therefore it is a good idea to consider marriage to be life-long too.
Some couples cannot have children – they can then adopt, as a replacement. Since life is not perfect, replacements can be good, but it remains a replacement.
Marriage also contains some difficulties. In order to solve those difficulties, any couple needs some support. Literature, culture in general and tradition may provide some support. A sense of awe and some sanctions against carelessly breaking the marriage may also help.
For any institution a sense of membership is useful. Regarding homosexual love I think they should accept a position as a legal deviation. Marriage as an institution cannot take responsibility beyond normal, heterosexual love. (The homosexuals can build their own institutions, if they want to, instead of exploiting other’s.)
Returning to Murrey’s train, he may have misread the destination on the front. It may not have been “Heaven” but a shorter word starting with the same capital. He may also have been mistaken about the “fuel” powering the train. It may not have been love, but envy. 

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago

Boris is an idiot. I heard him talking about the right to by policy, He said he wanted to get people out of flats because they had to pay a fortune to have their front doors painted, and into houses. I imagine some of the people in the multi-million pound flats in London have a different view of flat living. Where is Boris going to build all the houses to replace the flats he thinks are not suitable for people to live in?

Hugh R
Hugh R
1 year ago

So

Ray Thomson
Ray Thomson
1 year ago

Since Johnson, there are no ‘deep ideological fault-lines within modern British conservatism’. It’s shallow and vile all the way through.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
1 year ago

We all have unique minds and sensibilities!

Let the people free!

Consider the objections, take them seriously, and try to avoid battles.

Edward V
Edward V
1 year ago

We are a gay couple, together in companionship, in all manners of companionship, for more the 40 years, in rural Virginia (USA). We know many such couples, some formerly married, and many not, some with children (from marriages, adoption) and many not. From work helping to save lives in the earliest years of HIV/AIDS, and work supporting projects to prevent and remedy the tragedies of violence (racism, sexual violence, hate violence, exploitation and abuse, etc) I affirm that there is something easily recognizable that the author neglects to see. The binary that Stock describes –
“Stuck between dangerously unconstrained freedom on the one hand, and dangerously hostile tradition on the other” – may be pertinent to an analysis of ‘British conservatism’ –
and may be pertinent to other arguments – but it is not apt for the argument that matter most: are we morally decent toward one another: respecting individuals – since that is what we are – ‘individuals’, but not in the current mode of thinking: without essential connections to others. Rather in a more ancient usage.
See etymology of ‘individual’:
early 15c., “one and indivisible, inseparable” (with reference to the Trinity), from Medieval Latin individualis, from Latin individuus “indivisible,” from in- “not, opposite of” (see in- (1)) + dividuus“divisible,” from dividere “divide” (see divide (v.)). Original sense now obsolete; the word was not common before c. 1600 and the 15c. example might be an outlier. Sense of “single, separate, of but one person or thing” is from 1610s; meaning “intended for one person” is from 1889.
Christian or other theologians or scholars or poets (try the English Metaphysical poets) will understand the mystery of shared individual persons of the ‘Trinity’. Neither unconstrained freedom nor dangerous traditional constraints are the way of living that we have found most successful for ourselves and for others. Sharing among individuals – time and effort, volunteering and supporting, worrying with and rejoicing with – is what is successful for human persons. It is modeled in the Trinity, nonetheless.
Politics – to be successful with preserving the planet, preserving common goods, reducing common problems – will need to think this way. Ain’t it?

Robin Blick
Robin Blick
1 year ago

‘go where they want to in physical and social space’? This is where feminists draw the line, and rightly so, because it infringes on their right to free from the threat of unwanted attentions of biological men claiming to be women in ‘physical and social spaces’ reserved only for biological women.

Joshua PV
Joshua PV
1 year ago

Awesome post. Thanks for sharing