Skeptical Voter Questionnaire
1. Do you support the use of NHS money to provide unproven health products such as homeopathy? Got some reservations on this one - possibly, depends what they are. Do be really honest, I'm like any other voter out there - not a lot of knowledge here, but willing to listen.
2. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution? Depends where in the curriculum it comes. Within RE GCSE they have to look at this as part of the topic. It is an important aspect of Christianity in RE, when looking at environment and creation. It is also important to look at evolution as the majority of Christians would support evolutional theories. I am an RE teacher by profession and Christian by belief, who has no problem with evolution.
I don't think this should be taught in science on an equal par with evolution. Evolution is accepted scientific theory, creationism is not. As the teaching of science now also touches upon ethics, obviously creationism needs to raised, but in a balanced way.
3. Do you believe that religious belief should be legally protected from ridicule? No. As a catholic I was a tremendous fan of Dave Allan, Father Ted and Bless me Father. Humour is vitally important.
4. Should an independent government adviser whose views in their area of expertise conflict with government policy be able to express those views publicly? Absolutely, and Government ministers should then be called to account as to why they have decided in the way they have when it conflicts with the advice they have been given. If I am elected in Huntingdon, I will be asking voters to give me views regularly in forthcoming legislation. If I do vote otherwise, I will need to give very good transparent reasons why. I will also be out and about meeting the electorate to explain and debate.
5. Should religious courts such as Sharia and Beth Din be recognised as alternative systems within UK law? In matters of faith only. The law of the land must take precedence.
6. Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines? Yes at the moment. I have not been convinced of alternatives. Again I am fairly open minded on this, and should the arguments be compelling I am willing to review this opinion.
7. Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive? Not necessarily. All evidence needs looking at very carefully.
8. Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus? Not necessarily. I am concerned about the current limits we have at the moment, especially when we are looking at disability. When a hair lip is classed as a disability and a late abortion is carried out in such a case, I do have a problem with this.
9. Should religious leaders be entitled to vote in the House of Lords? One of the strengths of the House of Lords, is that many members are there who are not politicians, but have different life experiences. Part of that colour in our system is brought by the presence of the Anglican Bishops. However I do think that other religious leaders should be able to participate as well, such as the Chief Rabbi.
10. Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger 'public interest' defence? I do not know the answer to this, and would like to know more about this.
I would like to add in general, that although I come from a specific faith tradition, I see myself as representing the electorate as a whole, and that there are very many view and opinions. As an RE teacher in a secondary school I have always been exceedingly careful to strictly differenciate between my own personal views, and what I have taught and explored in the class room. I will always want to consider problems from different points of view. Many of these issues are difficult and emotive and need a great deal of thought and consideration. It is very important that we respect that and do not try to answer in soundbites as many of our politicians do. I am concerned that the House of Commons has been reduced to a rubberstamp office, and would want to encourage much more freedom in debate that we have at the moment. I work in Holocaust Education and reject totally the type of intollerant and dictatorial regimes that lead to that terribly event in our history, and the type of attitude that we can find in some of our more fundementalist religious leaders, as well as some of our political leaders.
Thank you very much for this opportunity.