I was asked to write a blog for LabourList with a Pride London theme. Here it is, but it’s also here.
David Cameron last week chose an exclusive central London venue, the Paramount Club, with a ticket price of 50 pounds for a two-hour cocktail party, to blow kisses at the LGBT community.
The lucky few who were present – in the main well-heeled metropolitan professionals – (by the way Dave, there are also gay people among the poor, ethnic minorities, who have families and don’t live in London) – were treated to a short speech by Mr Cameron followed by an even shorter Q&A session.
Apparently he had another very important fundraiser to attend (yes, I understand the vast majority of the money went to the Conservative Party, not to the Pride London charity which the event was advertised as celebrating).
Nowadays the Tories appear to accept that gay people, gay voters and gay politicians have a right to exist, even if there was a financial purpose behind this event. There have always been gay people right at the heart of all parties. But for the Conservatives it was never discussed. It was swept into a Central Office closet that remained firmly shut.
Cameron acknowledged that the Tories had “got it wrong” in the past, saying “sorry” for Section 28, with the slippery ‘explanation’ that “it was an emotional issue.” I suppose persecution is an emotional issue, for persecutor and persecuted.
There is more explanation required from Mr Cameron, though he will have been pleased that as ever the papers reported the event pretty much as he would have wanted them to. I think there are some on the Guardian staff for example, who would report him blowing his nose into a clean hankie as a decisive and dramatic act of modernisation.
When Dave is around, inconvenient facts tend to get airbrushed.
Not only did he use the opportunity to raise a tidy sum from wealthy Tories. Not only does he have an appalling personal record on gay rights. Most importantly a) he did not offer genuine contrition not just for getting it wrong, but over the years supporting every anti-gay measure (such as Section 28) and opposing almost every piece of equality legislation in the past decade, b) he did not offer any commitment on what the Tories would do on LGBT equality and anti-discrimination issues.
Cameron says his party has moved on but you can’t do that without confronting the past and acknowledging the true scale of the stigma inflicted on young people by Section 28 and the true happiness that civil partnerships have given people and their families, including members of his Shadow Cabinet.
In 2000, Mr Cameron said that the Blair government was obsessed with a “fringe agenda… including deeply unpopular moves like repealing Section 28 and allowing the promotion of homosexuality in schools”.
Two years later, he told a Guardian fringe meeting at a Tory conference that he backed the repeal of the legislation – only to vote for the Conservative motion to keep S28 a year later.
A little introspection on the impact of what he said and how he voted would not go amiss.
Cameron was asked in the Q & A about what should be done about homophobic bullying. His response was to reel out Tory policy about giving more powers to schools and teachers. How does that solve the problem?
There needs to be hard work, much of it already being done by Stonewall and supported by the Labour government, not only to educate pupils but to train teachers and punish any homophobic statements by teachers – which gay people still hear and have been deeply affected by as children. Giving more powers to schools “to crack down on this sort of behaviour” demonstrates a real lack of understanding and depth of knowledge about the complexity of the issue.
Finally, Cameron was lily-livered to say the least in his attempted justification for his MEPs’ plan to link up with a new group that includes the Polish Law & Justice Party. The president of Poland, who is a member of this party, is vehemently anti-gay and banned gay pride when he was mayor of Warsaw.
According to Amnesty International the party has been responsible for unacceptable homophobic statements.
Roman Giertych, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, said on Polish TV in 2006 that “LGBT organisations are sending transsexuals to kindergartens and asking children to change their sex.” He also dismissed the director of the National In-Service Teacher Training Centre, an institution subordinate to the Ministry of Education, because “a lot of books there were encouraging teachers to organise meetings with LGBT non-governmental organisations.”
Dave’s defence was that Poland is a very conservative and religious country. Well, Dave, so is Spain and the Spanish voted recently to recognise gay marriages.
So why link up with a party that is homophobic except to cobble together a new rabble of right-wingers in the European Parliament to satisfy his anti-EU MPs. Dave also said the Law and Justice Party has signed a pledge on equality and that it’s homophobia is in the past. Nonsense. It’s leader and president of the country has not changed. Would Dave accept a party with a racist platform in his new group of extremists if they signed a pledge? No. The Polish Law & Justice Party has been and continues to be deeply homophobic in its attitudes and its politics. Its politics should have no association with British politics and a British political party should not be in the business of embracing them.
Let’s hope by the time of the Election, there aren’t many people left who Dave hasn’t patronised, slighted or offended. He seems to be on a mission.
Humphrys made mince meat of DC this morning on quangos.
Polls show that American and Brits are more likely to be pro-gay than not but governments are lagging behind policy.
The US government filed a brief in a gay marriage case last month in which it compares homosexuality to incest, and Obama refuses to ask for a moratorium on “don’t ask, don’t tell” whilst scores of military careers are being destroyed as gay people in the military came out due to Obama’s election.
And now Cameron, who has a slight chance of becoming the next PM, is consorting with East European homophobes — not that the Tories have a great record with the LGBT community to begin with.
This is 2009. It’s time for high ranking politicians to side with the majority of voters and forsake the bigoted minority. There must be a handful of powerful campaign donors pressuring DC because the UK at large isn’t homophobic and he has so few votes to gain by refusing to promote equal rights for gays. In the US, 75% agreed for the repealing of “don’t ask, don’t tell”. Seems a move in the right direction would require little bravery and little political cost.
This is terrible to hear but not surprising. The Guardian appears to have rolled over and accepted the Conservatives are going to get in. I am very worried about this.
I have always been amazed by the paradox of policy priorities among average people: large numbers of people tend to be more involved politically (sign petitions, stage violent protests, organize, vote etc) against issues that have little, if any, real impact on their own lives. At the same time, serious matters with serious consequences rarely, if ever, are the object of such fervour. What your gay neighbours do in their bedroom doesn’t have any influence on you whatsoever. So the amount of effort and time that homophobic individuals allocate to this issue boggles the mind, given that nothing of substance or reasonably relevant to their lives will come out of it. At the same time, a food company’s decision to replace sugar with corn syrup will presumably have a significant long-term effect on your eating habits and health. But I have yet to see passions run high around this topic.
As for David Cameron… well, this is just another policy issue that reveals the flip-flopper that he really is. Thanks for exposing him again!
Interesting article, Alastair. As you well know, politics (and life in general) often involves doing deals with people whom one may not 100% agree. Just as one could ask why Roosevelt and Churchill did a deal with Stalin, one could also ask why Tony Blair stood shoulder to shoulder with such a determined “capital punisher” as George W. Bush. (He used to sign death warrants while playing video games as governor of Texas, according to his staff.)
The answer in all cases is “for the greater good” (the fact that Blair took Britain to war on misinformation is irrelevant here). Roman Giertych may be a misguided individual when it comes to homosexual issues, but perhaps he’s on the right track with regards to other things. Does *everybody* in the Labour party agree about gay adoption rights, I wonder.
Alastair … have you visited your Facebook page recently? Your blog has started a right old riot on there today! I sometimes wonder why these people don’t do their own blogs rather than rage away on yours
@Em – Dave’s grasp of quangos has made interesting reading. Here’s his comments today:
“They start having their own communications departments, their own press officers, they start making policy rather than just delivering policy and their bosses are paid vast amounts of money.”
It’s as if he just discovered a long lost Amazonian tribe. Their own press officers? Fancy.
Still, nice to see him mention the policy word for once.
Just to let you bloggers know that , in view of your blog re Bernie Ecclestone
I have cancelled my hospitality bookings at QPR. You may remember I joked if Burnley didn’t win the play offs I would be watching them at QPR next season.
This is my protest at Mr Ecclestone and QPR.
If Ofcom is a quango, then this is the name we give them in Canada: Crown corporations.
There was a man on Start the Week recently (hosted by Andrew Marr) about how the system in the UK lacks transparency compared to Canada and Australia. I couldn’t believe what Westminster can get away with doing behind closed doors.
Anyway, today I learned the word “quango” and DC learned to use the word “policy”. Surely tonight the world is a better place.
SIR: As a dedicated and passionate English Test Cricket lover, of long-standing, you’d be just as excited as I was, that Sir Ian Botham, your leukaemia fundraiser, suggested launching an ambitious project to improve children’s NHS hospital rehabilitation and physiotherapy services
Better still, with no less than the mighty Andrew Flintoff, and his wife Rachael, at the charity’s helm
And where better to begin than inside one of the largest children’s hospitals in all Europe? The physiotherapy department at Alder Hey NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool
Where the service of NHS departmental staff remains tireless, specialised, outstanding. But the basicness of the equipment they’re expected to make do with; hardly state-of-the-art. The children’s units need refurbishing, the whole environment modernising
Admittedly, you, of all gentlemen, will be first to concede that right now isn’t the ideal or easiest of climates for money-raisers
But with a black-tie, red-carpet, official Launch Party, scheduled to begin at 5:30pm on Tuesday, 21st July, at the Hurlington Club in Fulham, West London, I felt it was just the kind of VIP Charity Dinner the whole Campbell Family would really enjoy
As tickets start at £350 plus VAT, that gives plenty of time for us all to save up our pennies, too
Many of the existing patrons and supporters, being sportsmen themselves, and therefore perhaps more prone to niggling injuries, can vouch for the benefits of physiotherapy and rehabilitation themselves, from their own painful experiences
Those already include ” … there on the night” personalities, Steve Harmison, Shane Warne, Michael Vaughan, Sir Tim Rice, Rory Bremner, Jaimie Redknapp and his wife, Louise. And, hopefully, Kevin Pietersen and his wife, Jessica Taylor
Plus Foundation Patrons, Eric Clapton and Piers Morgan
As we speak, even the website is still “under construction” – as they say – but the URL will be …
… and any online donations will (eventually) be accepted and appreciated, thanks
I see no reason why, once the Alder Hey project proves its worth to the NHS, the same provision shouldn’t be rolled out countrywide. Children’s rehabilitation and physiotherapy facilities within the health service, are presently like NHS Mental Healthcare provision – a neglected, unglamorous and grossly underfunded resource
@Em Damn girl, I’m glad I am not the only one who was puzzled at the “quango” term…thanks for putting it into Canadian…but, before you start crowing about us, remember we have that plastic haired Conservative knob named Harper in power. We can’t be that bloody great if the likes of him have been elected, minority or no.
Well done for highlighting Alder Hey children’s hospital, my daughter has had two heart operations there.
Also on site is Mac House where parents of desperately ill children can stay for free in superb accomodation, a great bunch of dedicated people run it and I’ve always been grateful to them for the work they do.