LETTER: UKIP fails to defend the indefensible

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I REALLY had no intention of adding to views I previously made sufficiently, even if “viscerally”, clear – although I do prefer the other term used by your correspondent in his implicit support of Mr Loebell: “robust”; no doubt Mr Crossley would regard Jesus as “intemperate” in the way he challenged the money-changers in the Jerusalem Temple.

He may not understand, but there are some evils which require criticism using the most uncompromising terms. Homophobia (the expression of contempt for, or hatred of, homosexuals, actually or potentially leading to discrimination and even violence i.e. Hitler’s policy) is one such.

Neither do I have any desire to trespass onto a spat between UKIP and the Conservative Party, however enlightening or entertaining that may be. But in his February 7th “As I See It” Mr Loebell raises an issue which, because of its significance in an increasingly corrupt and self-serving political system, merits analysis.

This is the alleged distinction between “private” and “public” opinions. How can he possibly claim it is reasonable to divorce private opinions, to which I would add private morality, from public positions? If people lie or are otherwise deceitful in their private lives (such as cheating on a spouse), why should we believe them to be honest and trustworthy in their public personas? Do our natures change as we change roles? Surely, a liar is a liar; a homophobe, a homophobe? Public/private is a transparently false distinction when it comes to character.

In my original letter, I deliberately desisted from making any connection between Mr Loebell’s views and those of the Party he had only recently ceased to represent. But surely he (and they) must recognise that if someone makes comments as extreme and unpleasant as he (and how can the Chairman of UKIP Ribble Valley deny that description?), then it inevitably raises the question as to how far those views are shared by those with whom he chooses to associate.

“Birds of a feather...” is an appalling cliché, but on this occasion may just be apposite, in that we find in that very poorly composed letter (or was it a deliberate attempt at obfuscation?) of Mr Kerins, proper censure rejected in favour of pathetic excuses. To claim “intolerance, sensitivity and importance are... in the eye of the beholder” is to say, in effect: “none of this really matters; it’s just opinions”.

Then to follow that with: “I am happy to... refute anything becoming of the correct definition of intolerance” is not only disingenuous and (I presume, from a self-designated “intelligent person of sound mind”) deliberately opaque, but a display of political double-talk at its worst. It says to me: “we are not homophobic, but we are nevertheless content to welcome homophobes into membership and, if necessary, defend them”. Such arrant nonsense certainly left this voter wondering just what kind of morality UKIP espouses.

I would have been more impressed and, indeed, reassured, to have read either an apology by Mr Loebell (who, on the contrary, actually seems proud of his offensive and – yes, Mr Crossley, disgraceful etc. etc. – letter), or of his expulsion from a Party which he has inevitably, and despite their many protestations, tainted by association. And it doesn’t require a political opponent to make that judgement!

Instead Chairman Kerins tries, and inevitably fails, to defend the indefensible. Nevertheless, in so doing, he helpfully confirms that he writes not only as “chairman of UKIP” but “as an individual”, thus undermining the argument of his erstwhile colleague. Mr X private citizen; Mr X UKIP (or whatever); Mr X homophobe. What’s the difference? It’s exactly the same person.

So let me offer my own (non-party political) challenge to UKIP Ribble Valley and, indeed, to the other Parties as well. Please re-read what Mr Loebell wrote on January 17th in “Valley Views”, then tell us: do you support his comments on homosexuality or do you find them abhorrent? For once, let the politicians give us a straight answer. We, like the people of Eastleigh, deceitfully assured that family life was “really important” to their MP, have the right to know the moral stature (or otherwise) of those seeking our votes.

PETER SHEPHERD,

Clitheroe