I don’t know how many of Cornwall’s recently elected UKIP councillors share the opinions of their former colleague, David Silvester, but I suspect we might soon be about to find out.
Mr Silvester, 73, of Henley-on-Thames, was chucked out of the party last week for blaming the floods on gay weddings. Mr Silvester believes the storms are God’s revenge for liberal and progressive legislation promoting homosexual equality.
Thursday sees a meeting of the council’s usually-ignored Health & Wellbeing Board, which has an agenda item recommending councillors to adopt a new policy offering “Best Practice Guidelines” on relationships and sexual health.
I’m sure you share my relief that council officials not only recognise that we are in urgent need of such guidelines, but that they have sought fit to print some of this 64-page document in Cornish. For some reason the chapter on Female Genital Mutilation is missing from my copy, but it’s good to know that someone at County Hall is slaving away to develop policy on this vital local issue.
Porthleven councillor Andrew Wallis, who is the council’s Cabinet member responsible for children’s services, has written the introduction to the document, making it clear that it is aimed at any professionals whose work might impact on child development and health.
As a major employer of people like teachers and social workers, I suspect that the council has a statutory duty to have a policy framework like this – but this is an area where commonsense quite often goes the same way Mr Silvester’s grasp of reality, and officials sometimes need to smuggle such policy past the politicians without too many people noticing.
The document says “We have purposefully not included a section on sexual orientation” – but later adds: “Young people will be supported as they explore their sexual orientation and develop their own sexual identity. Young people have the right to engage in same sex relationships , and for these relationships to be valued and accepted in the same way as heterosexual relationships.”
As I sit glued to my television, watching the figure skating gentlemen at the Winter Olympics and trying to spot those who might pass the Putin Test, I decide that life is actually far too short to do what any other lazy hack would do – and phone the Usual Suspects for an easy-quote, and make this into a story.