Audrey Young writes:
Chris Auchinvole’s speech on gay marriage was widely hailed as one of the best given by a politician in the debate this week on the legislation.
MPs from across the House say it was the best speech of his parliamentary career.
But for thousands of people on social media, the question was: “Who is this Chris Auchinvole?”
He is a 68-year old West Coast-based list MP for National who, until this week, did not know what “trending” was – until he was told that his speech was a hit on Twitter.
His executive assistance printed off 40 pages of comments from Twitter on the speech and that was only 1 per cent of the feedback, he said. There wasn’t a single negative remark.
“Could you be my grandfather?” “Where have they been hiding him?” and “Chris Auchinvole for Emperor” were some of them.
You can see some of the comments here. It was a great speech, and I’m glad so many people got to see his sense of humour, and also his compassion.
Mr Auchinvole insists he had no position on gay marriage until he sat on the select committee considering Louisa Wall’s bill legalising it.
“Hand on heart. It would be quite wrong to say I have any particular sympathy for any particular group. I don’t think that would be honest.
“I know it’s a funny, old-fashioned way of approaching things but I think you have to go with an open mind and be persuaded by argument. That appeals to my Scottish nature. Even if I felt it were wrong, if it made good sense you have to go with it.”
He said there was a big generational difference in the submissions the select committee received, with generally the older submitters saying definitively, “You cannot do this”, and the younger submitters saying, “Why on Earth can’t you do this?”
Sums it up pretty well. But good to have an MP who listens to the submissions. It is very true that Chris went from luke-warm to ardently in favour on the basis of what he heard. It is a good message to submitters that they can make a difference.
Mr Auchinvole said he was sympathetic to the older submitters because they, like him, were taught that homosexuality was immoral, illegal, and criminal.
“People’s reputations could be lost on the basis that people thought they were homosexual, and I always thought that was an injustice.”
He said that at the boarding school he attended over five years, “we lost boys at school”.
Five of 120 boys committed suicide, invariably in the holidays, because, he believes, they were gay.
“They were good guys, and it was awful. We liked them all.”