Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Sir Roger Replies

The Thanet North MP's comments in yesterday's equal marriage debate at Westminster, has caused some controvers. He will be appearing on BBC Radio 2, this lunchtime at 1pm, with Jeremy Vine, and Labour's Chris Bryant to clarify the remarks, on concerns surrounding siblings caring for each other in a partnership, that have led some observers to draw the wrong impression from his speech.

I saw Sir Roger Gale this morning and below, you will find a letter to the Daily Telegraph, which you will read here first:


At the risk of spoiling a good story, your reporter, Michael Deacon's idiotic report that I have put forward a suggestion that "would apply not only to gay people but incestuous relationships" demonstrates, yet again, the infinite capacity of the press to misconstrue a fact.

Anyone who is conversant with the provisions of the Civil Partnerships Act - and Mr Deacon clearly is not - is aware that that law specifically excludes heterosexuals and siblings ( i.e. and the important distinction of an unmarried or widowed brother and sister, - or two brothers or two sisters - , caring for each other) from the protections in law and property rights afforded to same-sex couples.

It is in that context that I have proposed the abolition of civil marriage (registry office weddings) and civil partnerships and their replacement with a Civil Union that would be all-embracing, that has nothing to do with incest or sex but would most certainly include siblings and other heterosexual partnerships. This would leave marriage, in its' understood form as between one man and one woman, to faith organisations and would separate state involvement from religious marriage and afford to all the "equality" that I understood to be the order of the day.

The response that I have received from those disadvantaged by the current exclusion from civil partnerships indicates that this is a proposal that is worthy of serious consideration.



Michael Child said...

Simon this is what Roger actually said:

“There is a way forward. It has been suggested but it has been ignored. I do not subscribe to it myself but I recognise the merit in the argument, and that is this; if the government is serious about this, take it away, abolish the civil partnerships bill, abolish civil marriage, and create a civil union bill that applies to all people, irrespective of their sexuality or their relationships, and that means brother and brothers, sisters and sisters and brothers and sisters as well. That would be a way forward. This is not.”

I know what he now says he meant and concede that it is possible that it was what he intended to convey at some level. I do not however concede that Roger naive enough to have missed the implied nuances, most especially with respect to incest nor the further implications related to incest being illegal. In view of that, I wonder do you have any idea of what he was trying to achieve?

Simon Moores said...


I believe the nuance was unfortunate and was seized upon by those somewhat pre-occupied with sexuality of one form or another. Having spoken with a rather annoyed Roger this morning, I'm satisfied that the reference to brothers and sisters was entirely innocent and supported his argument that such partnerships are not protected and should be.

Anonymous said...

I believe the label on the tin said "Can of Worms". It has now been opened and is doing exactly what it said on the tin.

I saw the extract of Sir Roger in the news and at first hearing my interpretation of what he said concerned me, but now I have had time to think, and have read other peoples' comments composed in the cold light of day I think I understand what he was saying. Unfortunately former men of the cloth, who choose to pose in their underpants, seize on his comments and seek their own interpretation. i.e. incest etc. Shame on them.

Anonymous said...

Why does he feel this helps the matter ! All he has managed to do is muddy the waters and cause an unwelcome distraction. I, for one, feel very strongly that this bill is wrong and, as a committed Christian, would not step foot inside a church that condoned this bill. This is just my opinion, and it is how I will deal with the matter. Roger Gale, as usual, has not thought through the nonsense he spouts, and yes, I was a supporter of his in the days when he wasn't so confused and contentious. It would have helped if he had made his argument clearly, but as usual, he's made a hash of it.

Anonymous said...

Out of touch, talking nonsense - why should a seasoned politician make such a hash of such a sensitive subject - and more worryingly, preaching about a subject - marriage - in which he has failed in twice.

Simon Moores said...

On the first part, it may be that Westminster is heavily populated by lawyers and those with an equivalent intellect to grasp the intrinsic meaning of Sir Roger's remarks without suspecting some implicit reference to incest, I certainly didn't.

On the second part, as he mentioned on Radio 2, he married young and went through a divorce with his first wife but his second died tragically of illness. I would hardly call that a failure on his part. Would you?

Tim Clark said...

Seems to me that if we follow this Bill through to its logical conclusion then incestuous marriages should be no more frowned upon then gay or "traditional" ones. Apart from Biblical objections, wherein lies the problem? (and no, I'm not married to my sister or brother, nor do I wish to be, nor do I advocate such a course.)

Chris Wells said...

To be fair to Sir Roger, if you go back and look at what he said when the Civil Prtnership debate was on, he objected then to the exclusion of brothers/sisters/carers from the legal protections of civil partnership. So, for example, an ability to be a civil partner of a brother/mother whom you care for could ensure tenancy rights which oitherwise die with the cared for. No ribald or manipulated reproach around incest was forthcoming then - funny how it is now. On this point Sir Roger has been consistent for five years. How many others in this debate who criticise can say that?

Anonymous said...

According to his wiki page he has been married 3times and divorced twice , maybe it needs correcting

Simon Moores said...

I see Louise Oldfield's blog, "Margate Architecture" also shares an analysis of Sir Roger's position on partnerships.

Gypsy Jack said...

Once upon a time Catholic priests could be married. But that gave the pesky wives property rights the church wanted kept in house. Leading to Catholic priests having to be single and celibate (how did that work out by the way ?)

Henry 8th had a tiff with the Catholic Church. They said "Now listen Kingy our lads stay single and you have to stay married"

Kingy started his own church and grabbed property off them.

Which is where Little Jack Horner got in on the act. He was emissary for a priest who was trying to buy Kingy off by sending him deeds to 12 church properties concealed in a pie.

Horner grassed up the priest and was rewarded with one of the 12 properties.

Kingy got the other 11 properties plus all the other property the priest was trying to hold on to.

Priest got hanged drawn and quartered.

Really the church is to be congratulated on its subsequent PR exercises. But it had PR experience of centuries before Henry 8th. Robin Hood arose through helping knights who were being dispossessed of property by the church.

You may be wondering what this has to do with the debate.

Hatch match despatch. Superstition and fear guised as "Faith"

Not surprisingly if things change a bit and adherents cannot get their fix of feeling special, then those adherents will spit out their dummies and stamp their feet (see above) and stop attending any church that stops feeding their special faith addiction.

In a way Gale has a point.

But with a name like Roger he is a bit of a gift opening up for the Mickey taking.

If Gale's ideas lead to the end of attention seeking behaviour (like church bells, bishops in house of lords, jehovahs witness door knockers and gay pride marches) gotta be good.

Anonymous said...

If you look Sir Roger up in Who's Who, he has, indeed, been married three times, divorced twice. The Editor of the tome can only print the information supplied by the person, so someone is maybe 'altering' history to suit the circumstances. The tragedy is that Sir Roger does not hail from an Etonian background, but merely managed a Grammer School education, putting him, more or less, on a par with John Prescott. This is where Sir Roger's inferiority complex (and might I add his reputation for being 'Mr. Angry`) stems from. Not having actually achieved much other than helping to run an illegal pirate station in the 60's. I've always thought of him as a sad, angry man. Once a brilliant constituency MP but now, more or less, grabbing his last chance at making a name for himself. Not so much as going out on a high, more of a sad whimper.

Simon Moores said...

You pays your money and you takes your choices but having worked closely with Sir Roger in his constituency surgeries I must defend him as a fine Member of Parliament who consistently goes the extra mile in helping people and frequently far beyond the call of duty. Many people I assure you can confirm this statement as fact even if it's not found in Wikipedia!

Anonymous said...

So is he twice divorced or once divorced and once widowrred? Either way, he is hardly in a position to preach from his bible about the sanctity of marriage?

Anonymous said...

BBC NEWS in 2001 also said his second marriage - to a Susan Sampson - was dissolved iin 1980, after 9 years. Are all these reference sites wrong, or are you/is he trying to airbrush his history to make his hypocritical stance on the sanctity of marriage look less awful? Did the good lady die after the divorce?

Anonymous said...

Re anonymous at 3:34 pm. If I remember rightly Lord Prescott failed his eleven plus. This was the chip on his shoulder. He worked for Cunard as a ship's steward before becoming a politician. He was also a bit of a boxer in his time, which probably helped when some right thinking Welshman threw an egg at him. He eventually became deputy PM???????????
I have not had much dealing with Sir Roger but he always replies to email messages, which is something some of our local councillors fail to do, especially the jack of all parties, Worrower. He also rushed down from London to address a meeting of the local branch of the Armed Forces Pension Group in 2010.AFPG are campaigning for pensions for ex servicemen who left the service before April 1975 with less than 22 years service. After that date 3 years service will get you a pension, before that date 21 years doesn't. Totally unfair. Sir Roger talked to us and offered advice. (He wasn't Sir then.)

I have read many comments on various blogs, and the more level headed show that what he said was entirely right, but was seized on by those who choose to do so to malign this hard working MP.

Simon Moores said...

I can't speak for Roger but as I understand what he said on Radio 2 is that he respects the institution of marriage and accepts that as a divorcee, he cannot marry in church.

No trace of hypocricy there.

Anonymous said...

No, Councillor. Anonymous of 7.49 referred to Gale "preaching about a subject - marriage - in which he has failed in twice.".

You replied at 7.58: "On the second part, as he mentioned on Radio 2, he married young and went through a divorce with his first wife but his second died tragically of illness. I would hardly call that a failure on his part. Would you?".

The unarguable impression he is - and now you are - trying to comvey is that his second marriage ended with the (sad) death of his wife, NOT in divorce.

What is the truth?

Simon Moores said...

Why don't you write an ask him?

Anonymous said...

I've done rather better than that. But it would appear that his second marriage ended in divorce before the sad death of his (then) former wife. Perhaps not quite the sort of personal history you would ideally want to be defending/promoting. So important to make sure that personal history is truthfully and accurately reported and presented.

Anonymous said...

I think that correc/truthful personal history is extremely important when in public office, otherwise one tends to eventually get caught out, dont you think? I have not been impressed with Gale's constituency record, he like the majority of MPs will only pop their heads up if there is either a photo opportunity, a microphone or something in it for them. Anyone seeking election does it for themselves not for what good they can do for others, they go through life constantly needing that pat on the back and applause. If they wanted to truly help people they would do charity work instead!

Anonymous said...

Do any of the comments about Sir Roger's marital history make his opinion any less valid, or his right to hold them, I think not.

Simon Moores said...

Same Sex Marriage – Local Press “Report”

North Thanet`s MP, Sir Roger Gale, has this (Friday) morning issued the following statement:

“I do not read or, with good reason, write for, The Isle of Thanet Gazette.

My attention has, however been drawn, by a local newsagent, to articles purporting to offer my view, and comment upon , same-sex marriage.

At the risk of spoiling “a good story” but in the interest of fact the basis of the report, which I was not invited to comment upon, suggesting that “Sir Roger Gale suggested that same-sex marriage would pave the way for incest” is what is known in journalism as “a lie”.

During the Commons debate, which I have to assume the author of the Gazette report has clearly not studied, I made the proposal that Civil marriages and the Civil Partnership should both be abolished to be replaced with a “Civil Union” open to all who did not want to enter into a faith marriage in church. This Union would, in addition to heterosexual and gay couples, certainly also include siblings (brothers and sisters for the benefit of the IOTG Editor) who are at present not afforded the protection in law and in property rights from Civil Partnership because the last Labour Government specifically excluded this small group of people from the provisions of the Act. This is called “equality”. It means that people who have lived together as, for example, spinster sisters for very many years would no longer face the fear of having to sell the roof from over their heads in order to pay inheritance tax when one “partner” dies. I appreciate that certain sections of the Press find this disappointing but it has nothing whatsoever to do with sex, or incest, at all.

My proposal for the separation of State and Church in the matter of civil union and what is generally understood as marriage as between one man and one woman would, I believe, remove government from an arena in which it ought not to seek to interfere while at the same time creating genuine equality as between all of those whose partnerships need to be properly registered and recorded in law.

A former Labour Minister, a member of the Civil Partnerships Bill Committee that I chaired, has sought to misrepresent my constructive proposals as “comparing gay marriage to incest”. The irony is that it was that Member of Parliament and his colleagues who denied the very equality to siblings that I am seeking, fairly to achieve – a fact that is slowly dawning upon those who have chosen to leap to incorrect conclusions while finding much favour with those whose lives have been blighted by exclusion from the Civil Partnershps Act and who got the message immediately.”