We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk

UK Politics

Andy McSmith's Diary: Listen children, the world really was created in seven days


A question thrown up while MPs were arguing over gay marriage is whether fundamentalist Christian teachers should have a legal right to propagate creationism in the classroom. This cropped up while opponents of gay marriage were fighting a rearguard action to ensure that any religious group or individual with a religious objection to gay marriage was protected from anti-discrimination law.

George Howarth, a Labour MP, wondered if they would demand the same protection for a science teacher  who taught creationism. The Tory MP Edward Leigh replied that it would be wrong for anyone to be “victimised in the workplace” for expressing a deeply held religious belief. Dr William McCrea, from the Democratic Unionist Party, chipped in to say that “quite a number of very eminent scientists believe in the scriptures and the creation”.

It is, in other words, the view of the part of the Tory right and of Ulster Unionists that a science teacher should be allowed to teach that the world was made in seven days without being disciplined.

At least Lord Tebbit was joking... I think

Norman Tebbit created a stir by telling the Big Issue that once gay marriage is made legal, we could be ruled by a lesbian queen who produces an heir to throne through artificial insemination. Lord Tebbit, 82, has lost none of his talent for drawing attention to himself, but this was not original.

Another Tory peer, Nicholas True, said as much when the Lords were debating the Succession to the Crown Bill, which says that if the first child of the Duke of Duchess of Cambridge is a girl, she will not be overtaken by a younger brother. The difference is that Lord True was being serious. Lord Tebbit, if I read him right, was having a laugh.

Now Humphrys points the finger at Superman

John Humphrys, scourge of politicians, has explained to Waitrose Weekend what drew him to journalism: “I blame Superman comics, which was about all I read in those post-war years. Superman’s alter ego was Clark Kent, and he was a reporter.” So, next time you’re interviewed by Humphrys, protect yourself with kryptonite.

Making a real mess of things

The Tory MP David Amess caused offence across the UK by suggesting that the towns shortlisted to be the next City of Culture were all “dumps”, apart from Southend, in Essex, which he represents. Today in the Commons, he was still pushing its case.

Southend has history, he claimed, because “Saxon remains have been found in Prittlewell. They are very valuable, being similar to finding Edward underneath the car park…” Er, no, Mr Amess, it was Richard III who was found under a car park. You know – kingdom, horse, winter of our discontent, and all that.

A change of heart, Mr Brown?

Presumably, there will have to be a leak inquiry into who was responsible for Beyoncé’s latest track, “Grown Woman”, turning up on the web this week.

It can only add to the build up for the huge event when Queen B steps on to the same stage as Gordon B. When Prime Minister, Brown was accused by one of his ministers, Caroline Flint, of treating women politicians as “female window dressing” – but on 1 June, he will take to the stage in Twickenham at a concert in aid of Chime for Change, a charity co-founded by Beyoncé that promotes the empowerment of women.