November 22, 2019 - 11:49am

A political scandal broke earlier this week — though if you blinked you’d have missed it. Not so long ago, the story would have commanded column inches across the national press and extensive comment over the airwaves. Instead, however, there was next to nothing. Quite simply, the reason the story passed by virtually unnoticed is that our society has changed so fundamentally, and so quickly, that scandals of this type are just not considered major news anymore.

In a nutshell, the Liberal Democrats deselected an election candidate on the grounds that he is an orthodox Roman Catholic. You read that right. Rob Flello (right), the Lib Dem candidate for Stoke-on-Trent South — a constituency he represented as a Labour MP for twelve years before defecting — was suddenly dropped after party bigwigs became aware of his traditional views on same-sex marriage and abortion — views that happen to be entirely consistent with mainstream Catholic thought.

As a Labour MP, Flello voted according to the doctrines of his faith on both these issues. Upon discovering the fact, the Lib Dems sacked him and said in a statement:

We do our best to screen candidates in our approval process. In this case it only really became clear over the past few hours how greatly his values diverge from ours.
- Liberal Democrats

Anyone would think Flello had been unmasked as a secret member of the National Front.

We knew the Liberal Democrats were not democratic. And now we can be sure they aren’t particularly liberal either. The point here is that if a mainstream British political party — in this case one that sat in government as recently as five years ago — can get away with being so openly hostile to those with orthodox Christian opinions, we are in very dangerous waters.

It isn’t only the Lib Dems, of course, who are responsible for establishing the culture of illiberalism that now pervades our society. The modern Left generally has been a driving force behind this new repression, and near enough the entire political establishment is signed up to it – or at least too cowardly to voice opposition. Tolerance and diversity in everything but opinion seems to be their mantra. This sinister crackdown on freedom of conscience and expression will, if it remains unchallenged, drum yet more good people out of public life.

Flello, to his credit, has come out fighting. As he explained in a piece in yesterday’s Catholic Herald, he was guilty of no more than holding true to the precepts of his faith — a faith that forms a cornerstone of our civilisation and to which millions across our land still subscribe. That he should have been blacklisted in such a way — and that barely anyone raised an eyebrow when it happened — says much about the atmosphere of prejudice and intolerance that stalks our nation.

Paul Embery is a firefighter, trade union activist, pro-Brexit campaigner and ‘Blue Labour’ thinker