The Ukip councillor, David Silvester, who blamed the recent British floods on gay marriage, and who later said that gay people needed curing, is by anyone’s standards an opinionated man. And many people, most interestingly the Ukip leaders, who have suspended Mr Silvester from the party, clearly believe that such opinions are not conducive to a position as a councillor and should either not exist or should be kept firmly under his hat.
Is it wrong, though, to hold strong opinions about something? Being a Christian man in a gay relationship, desperately awaiting marriage and hoping that my church will bless our partnership, I am clearly at odds with Mr Silvester. I do not agree with the way he has conducted himself, nor do I agree with him using his public office to obtain a platform upon which to air these views. But I cannot criticise the man for having an opinion – it’s what he has done with that opinion that bothers me.
I am at the moment at serious odds with my blood relatives over some personal issues. The details are unimportant, suffice to say that I cannot at the moment see any chance of reconciliation as my opinions on the issues are fixed and immovable, and so, I suspect (though I haven’t had confirmation), are the opinions of the people with whom I am at odds. But neither myself, nor my opponents, are councillors or hold any public office. None of us have gone to the press. None of us have been interviewed. And although we all have shared our opinions and hurt feelings with our friends, they haven’t appeared on the BBC nor have they affected the world at large.
Mr Silvester has a right to hold these opinions. I, a self-confessed opinionated man myself, cannot deny him a right that I cherish so dearly. But it beggars belief to hear him express such opinions so publically and in the face of so much opposition. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if the next time his name appears on a ballot paper, he loses his seat and with it what little credibility he has left.
To hold opinions on a variety of subjects is a mark of a person. To hold opinions at odds with the people with whom you are closest is the mark of someone who thinks, feels, reads, studies, learns and decides for themselves what is important, valuable and necessary. To hold opinions at odds with the majority marks you either as a radical pioneer with a valuable message or as someone who is at best deluded.
I am an opinionated man. I hold opinions at odds with many of the people with whom I happen to share genes, at odds with many Dail Mail readers, at odds with many Tory voters, and at odds with many Roman Catholic priests. I also have vastly opposing opinions to those of Mr David Silvester, a councillor and former member of Ukip.
But do such views mark either me or Mr Silvester as a radical pioneer, or are either of us deluded? I’ll leave it for my readers to decide.