Attack on Tony Abbott's personal views 'cancel culture at its worst,' argues journalist

5 September 2020, 10:59 | Updated: 5 September 2020, 11:01

By Seán Hickey

This journalist argued former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's personal views should not be a factor in whether he should have been appointed as UK trade advisor.

"I don't agree with some of his views but more than that I really disagree with this notion that there has to be a moral fitness test for people to enter public life," said Brendan O'Neill, editor of Spiked Online.

He told Andrew Castle that the storm surrounding Mr Abbott is "intolerant and that is cancel culture at its worst."

Andrew accepted Mr O'Neill's points, but wondered "do we want a bloke with those attitudes representing the UK government at this point?"

Mr Abbott has been under fire for comments he has made on abortion and same sex marriage in the past and they have played a part in the wider discussion over his appointment to the trade board.

"The broader point is whether or not this has anything to do with the task he's been given at the board of trade and as far as I can see, his views on abortion or same-sex marriage...have nothing to do with that role."

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been appointed as a Trade Advisor for the UK
Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been appointed as a Trade Advisor for the UK. Picture: PA

Mr O'Neill went on to reiterate that although he doesn't hold the same views as the former Australian PM "it's absolutely fine that he holds them," and they shouldn't reflect his ability to work in UK trade.

He added that the views of Mr Abbott are strongly linked to his Catholic religion. "Are we saying that traditional Catholics are not allowed in public life?"

He argued that "we're skating on thin ice," for challenging the religious views of people in public office.

"We don't want to go back to that kind of era," he warned.