The Tragedy of Mary Macleod, ex MP

mary_macleodIt has been the most dramatic general election for many years, and many famous heads have rolled as the electorate had their say – Vince Cable, Charles Kennedy, Ed Balls, Jim Murphy. But amongst them was an obscure backbencher: Mary Macleod, Conservative MP for Brentford & Isleworth, who lost her seat after just five years in the House of Commons.

I first heard of Mary Macleod when she stood in my native constituency, Ross, Skye and Inverness West, as Conservative candidate in 1997. Needless to say, she did not win. But she interested as someone active in politics with a strong Christian background, having grown up in the Free Presbyterian Manse of Dingwall.

No doubt, Mary got involved in Conservative politics for the best reasons. She believed, no doubt, in preserving traditional moral values, in cautious and responsible fiscal policies, in conservatism. Before her election, she worked as a PR advisor for Buckingham Palace.

But in 2010, she at last achieved her ambition, and was elected MP for her local constituency in Greater London. She served on the important Home Affairs Select Committee, and within months had secured an early appointment as a Parliamentary Private Secretary, the first stage of promotion into Government office.

Accepting this appointment required that she agree to work for an open homosexual, the Policing Minister, Nick Herbert. It was promotion – but if Mary still had Biblical views on the morality of homosexual conduct, she would have to keep them very quiet if she was to impress her new boss.

Worse was to come. In 2012, the Government began legislating for same sex marriage (SSM). All the momentum of a liberalizing political class was behind the move. If her career was to progress, Mary needed not only to vote for SSM, but to actively defend the legislation against its critics.

On 7 February 2013, Mary appeared on the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme Question Time, her highest-profile media appearance to date. When asked, she vigorously defended SSM on the basis of “equality”.

The result? Mary was given a further promotion: she would now work directly for a Cabinet minister, the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller. She now served in the department charged with implementing same sex marriage, against the concerted opposition of churches, concerned Christians, and the social conservatives worried by the sexual liberalization of society.

But in 2014, her career stalled. Maria Miller had become embroiled in a row over her expenses claims. She was forced to pay back a substantial sum, and ordered to apologise to the House of Commons. Her perfunctory 32-second apology did not impress public opinion, and calls for her resignation came from all sides. Mary defended her boss, but failed to keep her political antennae alert. As Mrs Miller’s position became untenable, and cannier colleagues became unavailable for interview, Mary was on the airways complaining at the “witch-hunt” against her boss. The next day, Mrs Miller, the minister responsible for SSM, resigned. Mary Macleod, having so publicly identified herself with her boss, was not offered another post, and also returned to the backbenches.

On election night, with a small local swing to Labour, Mary Macleod was defeated in Brentford & Isleworth, bringing her short-lived political career to an end. Although it is not impossible that she might secure selection for a winnable seat prior to the 2020 election, she will certainly be too old by then to have any realistic opportunity at a ministerial career, even if the Conservatives won another term in office.

Why is this story a tragedy? Because Mary Macleod began her political career as a conservative, sold out everything meaningful she believed in, succeeded only in promoting the aggressive liberalizing of sexual morality, and ended in defeat and failure. She may still call herself a Conservative, but she has helped introduce the worst legislative crime on the statute books since the 1967 Abortion Act. Her principal political achievement was helping to implement the institutionalisation of flagrant sin, grossly offensive to the Moral Law of God. And for compromising everything she once believed in, Mary has not even received the paltry bauble of Cabinet office.

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mar 8:36)

I hope and pray that in her enforced retirement, Mary Macleod remembers the values, and the Gospel, that she learned in her childhood home. I hope she repents, before it is too late.

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