The new focus on the Liberal Democrats sees the Daily Telegraph's Cristina Odone profiling Dr Evan Harris.
That's "profiling" in the sense that the FBI might profile a criminal. A criminal the papers are calling Dr Death.The Daily Telegraph
, the standard bearer of British conservatism and the best-selling broadsheet paper in the UK, has been caught, like the rest of the country, slightly on the hop by the strong showing of Nick Clegg in the first televised debate between the leaders of the three leading British political parties. Clegg has been elevated in the public eye over the Lib Dem's previous biggest gun, the highly respected Treasury Spokesman and ballroom dancer
[YT] Vince Cable
Cristina Odone, former editor of the Catholic Herald and deputy editor of the New Stateman, is now a columnist-slash-blogger for the Telegraph, and chose to focus on a relatively little-known character, the Shadow Science Minister Dr Evan Harris. And how.
Noting that his critics call him "Dr Death", Odone takes strong issue with Harris' position on voluntary euthanasia (for), the freer availability of abortion (for), God (anti) and abortion levels in the United Kingdom (indifferent). She warns that:
Labour still has a rump of Christian socialists. The Tories are relatively sympathetic to faith. The Lib Dems are now the most secular party in the Britain – and not in a good way. There’s something sinister about a movement that, in my view, doesn’t hold all life precious; that thinks that less than perfect lives can be dispensed with on grounds of “compassion”. Remember that creepy side of the Lib Dems next time you see Clegg bouncing with vitality.
It's interesting to see, post-Twitter, how the comments run. Up to 11am today, the comments universally support Odone and criticise Harris and the Liberal Democrats. After that, it's one-way traffic the other way.
Matters of policy and etiquette aside, Odone does raise an interesting question - to what extent should Britain expect its leaders to be religious? After all, the country still has an established church, although one to which neither Harris nor Odone belong. She has also drawn unexpected attention to Dr Harris. So, since this appears to be Liberal Democrat
week, Dr. Evan Harris:
- In 2000, he volunteered to be injected with a trial AIDS vaccine.
In 2003, he stepped down as Health Spokesman to care for his terminally ill partner.
- He appears not to be a huge fan of homeopathy - he took part in the symbolic mass overdose of homeopathic remedies outside Boots [YT]. Before that, he got quite snarky about the importance of shaking homeopathic remedies, on page 108 of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's Health Check on Homeopathy. Video of his questions here, in which he asks (at 6:45) why the waters in homeopathic remedies retain the memory of the medicine placed in them pre-dilution, but not the memory of poo.
- He was awarded a "Golden Ammonite" for his work to remove the crimes of blasphemy and blasphemous libel from the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. He is also a Vice President of the British Humanist Association.
- He wanted to reform the Act of Settlement, which bars the heir to the throne from marrying a Catholic.
Damien Thompson, then editor of the Catholic Herald, clearly preferred the idea to the proponent. Oh, and what do you know? He actually is called Dr Death.
He also has a blog
. All of which leaves me wondering - why do Liberal Democrats' resumés seem so much more colourful
than their counterparts in the major parties?