Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oops, I said it again...

It seems our new MP, Owen Smith, has wasted no time in truly becoming Kim Howells' successor and saying something he shouldn't have.

The BBC website carries the story here. In short, Owen apparently described the coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats as "a Gretna-style tryst" which he said many of his Labour colleagues could not imagine lasting very long.

He added: "The Lib Dem dowry of a maybe-referendum on AV will seem neither adequate reward nor sufficient defence when the Tories confess their taste for domestic violence on our schools, hospitals and welfare provision. Surely, the Liberals will file for divorce as soon as the bruises start to show through the make-up?"

It's that last phrase that has caused the fuss. The BBC report a mixture of women's groups, Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru members finding his comments objectionable.

OK. First - I disagree with Owen's politics. I rather hope the Coalition lasts and proves that politicians of different hues can be grown up.

But second - here in Pontypridd we like our MP to be be outspoken and literate. A metaphor is a metaphor. I am quite sure that Plaid Cymru members have been saying far more colourful things about the Coalition without half the wit. Or without being able to be fully quoted on the vicar's blog.

To suggest that Owen is belittling the question of domestic abuse with such words is self-serving and sanctimonious drivel of the first order. I'm not a fan of all of Owen's politics, but he is a good man who cares about people, especially those in trouble, and if we are never allowed the occasional colourful metaphor in this life we have allowed the self-appointed censors and secularist moral guardians of the age to take away more freedoms than anyone has a right to steal from us.

I wouldn't edit the piece, Owen. I'd apologise for offense given unintentionally, visit a centre that helps people with abuse to highlight their plight, and if you feel that your words were right in the first place - say them again. An MPs job is to point out when people are in danger of being hurt, not to cow-tow to the politically correct. If you believe it, say it. Say it louder. Find a new metaphor and do it again.

Though if it was just a cheap shot, well, we look forwards to your face on the news - but we need you there on the key days, please. With that great turn of phrase. And passion.

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