OPINION: Stephen Braunias takes a look at the secret diary of Former United Future MP Gordon Copeland in May Contain Facts.
Not a day goes by in Wellington without someone coming up to me on the street, and saying, "Excuse me, but aren't you Gordon Copeland, a former MP with UnitedFuture from 2002-2008, currently aligned to the Conservative Party, a lifelong campaigner for family values, a committed Christian, a patriotic New Zealander and an unveering heterosexual?"
Day after day, the same thing, word for word.
It's nice to be remembered, even if it's always the same man, who I gather is homeless, drunk, and possibly insane.
I always tell him yes, I'm Gordon Copeland, and then he always asks if I have any spare change.
I must ask him for his name.
We could add him to the database of supporters of the Conservative Party.
Politics is all about having the numbers.
I often think back to 2000, when I convened the Celebrate Jesus 2000 event, and helped get 28,000 Christians to come to the Westpac Stadium to celebrate Christ's 2000th birthday.
If only I could get those 28,000 to back the Conservative Party.
There must be an issue which would mobilise these good people, but what?
An email arrives alerting me to a select committee which meets this week to hear submissions on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, which would allow same-sex marriage.
The tramp came up to me this morning, and said, "Excuse me Mr Copeland, but I can't help but notice you seem filled with a renewed sense of purpose. You no longer seem like yesterday's man, or just another ex-MP who no-one remembers except for mentally ill transients. What's got into you?"
He was right: I felt more alive than I had for a long time.
It's because, perhaps now, finally, thanks to the evils of same-sex marriage, the Christian masses will waken and bring some meaning to Parliament.
I think back to all the various attempts made over the years by Christian parties. UnitedFuture. Future New Zealand. The Kiwi Party. The Family Party. Destiny. Christian Heritage . . .
Oh well. But at least they tried.
Politics is all about diplomacy.
You have to tread carefully. You need to keep your enemies close, and read the signs.
I eyed the select committee members when I walked into the room this morning, and knew that I had to present a calm, reasoned argument.
I said, "One of the many common misconceptions that the public have of me is that I must hate homosexuals.
"Nothing could be further than the truth.
"Throughout my life, all I have ever felt for homosexuals is a deep, loving pity.
"Indeed I feel sorry for them that they cannot marry.
"In fact, they are full of pathetic longings to enjoy the same privileges as normal people.
"To my mind homosexuals are like parrots which can be taught to talk.
"They sound human," I concluded, "but they're clearly not."
I was confident that would show them the way.
Instead, they showed me the door.
The tramp came up to me this morning, and said, "Got any spare change?"
I said, "It's me, Gordon Copeland. You saw me on Wednesday and said I had renewed purpose. Don't you remember?"
He said, "A week's a long time in politics."
I gave him a $10 note.
I'd never really looked at his face before. A light shone from his eyes for an instant.
Why is it that I can see Christ in the poor who wander the streets, but not in the corridors of power?
» Stephen Braunias is an award-winning writer and author of four books.
- The Southland Times
What is your impression of Invercargill's teens?Related story: Letter: In praise of young people