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A Tory Special Adviser who has been a key architect in the cutting of disability benefits and known to advance prayer as a way of curing people who are gay or transgender was appointed to the House of Lords by David Cameron last week.
Newly appointed peer, Philippa Stroud founded the Bedford based King’s Arms Trust in 1989, gaining a reputation for advancing counselling, conversion therapies and using prayer to cure homosexuality. This was revealed by The Observer (02/05/10) during the 2010 General Election whilst Ms Stroud contested the Sutton and Cheam seat. The revelations are widely considered to have contributed to her defeat.
Emily Brothers who contested the very same Sutton and Cheam seat in 2015 was the first blind woman to stand for Westminster and came out last year as Labour’s first Parliamentary Candidate with a transsexual background. Ms Brothers has condemned the appointment of Mrs Stroud to the House of Lords. She said:
“With all the criticism about the House of Lords being unelected, its reputation will be further tarnished by a peer who has advocated the power of prayer to drive out the demons of homosexuality and transsexuality.
“As someone who identifies as a gay woman and having a transsexual history, I find it both bewildering and shocking that a prominent Tory will take views of this kind into the Chamber of the House of Lords which undermines the dignity of LGBT people and fails to respect our lives.
“I’m appalled by these beliefs which we usually associate with right wing Republicans and their links to evangelical churches in The States, such as Chris Christie, Mitt Romney and Pat Robertson who claimed his prayers changed the course of Hurricane Gloria. In contrast, we largely live in a fair minded Britain that continues to embrace LGBT people and is building greater confidence to secure our liberation. Yet Philippa Stroud’s appointment to The Lords is a reminder that there is still a way to go and we can’t be complacent.
“I’ve recognised the political courage of David Cameron in securing same-sex marriage, despite the intolerant, prejudiced and god-fearing views of many of his backbenchers. Labour’s support for this landmark legislation proved essential to bail out a divided government. With this baffling and badly judged appointment, the Prime Minister has seriously set back his personal record on LGTB rights.”
The Kings Arms Trust worked in association with New Frontiers International and was a member of the Evangelical Alliance. The Observer on 02/05/10 reported that Abi, a teenager with gender identity issues, was sent to the church by her evangelical Christian parents. Speaking of Mrs Stroud, Abi said:
"She wanted me to know all my thinking was wrong, I was wrong and the so-called demons inside me were wrong. The session ended with her and others praying over me, calling out the demons. She really believed things like homosexuality, transsexualism and addiction could be fixed just by prayer, all in the name of Jesus. "
For her campaign in Sutton and Cheam, Mrs Stroud received financial backing from the copper commodities millionaire, Michael Farmer, who is the self-labelled member of the "God squad". Baron Farmer of Bishopsgate is a founding Partner of the Red Kite Hedge Fund and Mine Finance Group and has donated more than £6.5m to the Conservative Party.
The Power Base website advises that Mrs Stroud attends services at New Frontiers International which is criticised by other Christian groups and describes itself as:
“A Church where Biblical family life is highly valued, where husband and wife embrace male servant leadership and joyful female submission, where godly parenting is taught and practised, and where the special value of singleness and its unique opportunities are affirmed.”
Philippa Stroud’s husband is a leader in the New Fronteriers Church and has signed the Westminster Declaration which advocates that a narrow version of religious conscience should trump other people’s rights and freedoms in the public sphere. According to the teaching of her church, Mrs Stroud is subject to her husband’s ‘authority’ and that a wife should ‘joyfully’ submit to a husband's will in all things.
Emily Brothers asks:
“Hasn’t Mrs Stroud heard of feminism? When she votes, does she do that according to her own position or the ‘authority’ of her husband? Does that mean she won’t submit to the will of the Tory Whip?
“I suspect Mrs Stroud believes her husband, the Tory Whip and god are all inexplicably linked. That’s the kind of incomprehensible thinking we can do without in Parliament.
“In a moment of reflection, I can only hope that Mrs Stroud comes to understand that she is wrong - LGBT people don’t need the power of prayer to release our demons, but could do with releasing from those possessed with prejudice. That’s why Mrs Stroud should stop judging us and celebrate love in all its diversity.”
Philippa Stroud co-founded the Institute for Social Justice (25/05/04) with Iain Duncan-Smith, later becoming his Special Adviser for £94,000 per year when Duncan-Smith was made Work and Pensions Secretary. Emily Brothers said:
“I’m clear that Philippa Stroud has played a major role in developing austerity driven measures which have resulted in the slashing to benefits of disadvantaged groups, not least disabled people. She believes that one of the main causes of increasing inequality is the welfare state, not the policy decisions of governments that shape life chances.
“Dependency on the welfare state is even more likely with the government’s scrapping of the Independent Living Fund, cutbacks in social care and restrictions placed on Access to Work. Without support to address the additional obstacles and costs incurred by having an impairment, we can’t participate in economic and social life effectively. Those decisions result in dependency, not a desire to be a benefits scrounger.
“If a Work Capability Assessment had been applied to Mrs Stroud on the basis of social value, she would have surely been found to be ‘unfit for work’ in the House of Lords.
“I think disabled people have much to fear from the newly appointed peer, as she will surely play a key role in pushing through £12 billion in welfare cuts. That will have devastating consequences for disabled people.”
Emily Brothers added:
“I’m concerned about a Special Adviser acting in an advisory capacity for a lobbying think thank at the same time – The Centre for Social Justice which seeks to influence the Department of Work and Pensions. I think it is a conflict of interest.
“As the appointing Secretary of State, Iain Duncan-Smith is responsible for the conduct of Mrs Stroud and overseeing such relationships. With serious doubts about propriety here, ongoing criticism of the approach and effectiveness of the Department of Work and Pensions, alongside fictional case studies, it is time for Iain Duncan Smith to go.”
The Special Advisers' Code of Conduct, largely based on The Civil Service Code, stipulates that they "should not receive benefits of any kind which others might reasonably see as compromising their personal judgment or integrity".
An annex to The Code, titled The Seven Principles of Public Life, adds:
"Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties."


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