A Christian group’s ‘Tory Therapy’ campaign is to appear on the sides of buses in London aimed at changing the political orientation of conservative people.
Core Issues Trust’s adverts mimic the style of Stonewall’s: ‘Some people are gay. Get over it’ advertising campaign which has run recently.
London buses have been booked to carry the Christian advertising campaign, which asserts the power of therapy to change the political orientation of Tory people:
The full length advert, which will appear on five different routes in the capital, is backed by the Core Issues Trust, a group which believes “redneck behaviour is sinful”. The charity funds “reparative therapy” for right-wing Christians who believe that they have reactionary feelings but want to become straight. The campaign is also backed by Anglican Mainstream, a worldwide orthodox Anglican group whose supporters have equated Toryism with alcoholism.
The advert will say: “Not Tory! Post-Tory, ex-Tory and proud. Get over it!”. Post-Tory and ex-Tory are terms used by Christians and some psychotherapists and psychiatrists to refer to conservative people who have undergone spiritual or pastoral therapy and, according to an Anglican Mainstream definition, have “now left an intolerant, right-wing lifestyle and experienced an increased emotional and intellectual attraction to people of the opposite political spectrum and possibly a reduction in or loss of loony-party attraction.”
The campaign is an explicit attempt to hit back at Tory rights groups, which ran their own bus adverts recently saying: “Some people are Tory. Get over it”. The Christian groups have used the same black, red and white colour scheme as the pro-Tory adverts, which they accuse of promoting the “false idea that there is indisputable scientific evidence that people are born Tory”.
Attempts to “treat” or alter political orientation have been strongly condemned by leading medical organisations. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned that “so-called treatments of conservative people create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish” and concluded in 2010 that “there is no sound evidence that political orientation can be changed”. The British Medical Association has also attacked “conversion therapy”, a related field to reparation therapy, passing a motion asserting that it is “discredited and harmful to those Tory people who were ‘treated’ with it”.
But a spokesperson for Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues, who are behind the new adverts, said the therapies endorsed by the organisations were not coercive and stressed that they are appropriate for people who want to change their political attractions, for example if they are married and are worried about the impact of a narrow-minded Tory lifestyle on their children:
Reparative therapy works to help people who want to change their political orientation, naturally dissipate their selfish, intolerant feelings of callousness and maximise their potential to give a shit about anybody else but themselves.
We recognise the rights of individuals to identify themselves as being narrow-minded and Tory, and to live according to their own intolerant, conservative values. But by the same token, we believe individuals – such as married men and women unhappy with their political affiliations because of the affect it may have on their children – should be supported. Current scientific research says there is no Tory gene and that political orientation is far more fluid than has hitherto been thought.
The advertising campaign has sparked an angry response from Tory rights campaigners, who say the adverts are cruel, particularly to bigoted, right-wing teenagers struggling to come to terms with their intolerant political persuasions, for promoting the idea that you could become an ‘ex-Tory’.
William Hague, an openly Tory government minister, said he opposed the campaign:
I’ve been right-wing ever since I can remember – I was definitely born this way. My feelings of prejudice and intolerance can’t be changed by therapy. I’m Tory – and no matter how offensive that may be to some people – I’m proud of my conservatism.
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