Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Only Gay In the Village

Michael Child recently posed the question on his Thanetonline blog about whether Thanet District Council was homophobic. Then David Davis MP commented that he considered the Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition to be the “Brokeback Coalition”, referencing the iconic gay movie Brokeback Mountain. Alan Johnson MP commented on this that it was all a degree of trust, and that for some it was the “bareback coalition”.

Here in Kent the Conservative Party has a long tradition of homophobia. It took a hard line on Section 28 that made it the backwoodsmen’s backwoods. Enough of these outdoor allusions!

Things have got better. This has been due to the legislation and attitude of 13 years of Labour government. Some Thanet Conservative councillors such as Sandy Ezekiel, Chris Wells and Margaret Sheldrick have a strong record on gay rights. Others though remain uncomfortable with the idea of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGBT) equality. You’ll not find them racing to photo opportunities for Margate Pride.

This matters. Thanet District Council is unrepresentative of the community it serves. As far as I can find out, no out LGBT councillor has ever served Thanet. There are subtle and informal barriers to gaining selection and election. I am saddened to hear that a LGBT individual who wishes to become a Conservative councillor is encountering difficulties.

This individual has good press contacts and can attract media coverage. They have a record of serving their community and voluntary activity. They would be superior to several serving Conservative councillors. But they face a problem. A notable Conservative individual is uncomfortable of any idea of a civic partnership. Perhaps they misheard and are confusing civic with civil! A subtle campaign is being waged to make it harder for this candidate to become a councillor.

So I hope those Conservatives with a sincere commitment to equality will intervene. This individual deserves their support so they are judged on their political views and competence, not their sex life. I hope that the first out LGBT councillor is elected to Thanet District Council next May.

I will not post any comments that seek to identify any individual’s sexuality.

25 comments:

  1. however in the labour party you have to be either lesbian, gay, ethnic, or disabled to be selected!! Which are you?

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  2. "Positive Discrimination" is still discrimination...

    Who gives a damn what people's sexuality, race, gender, age, etc is? People should be judged by how good they can do the job, nothing else.

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  3. On a different note there was once a Conservative Councillor on TDC who was a prostitute and resigned once the media found out, which was a bit of a shame.

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  4. Indeed Peter. A medic in our unit (when it was illegal to be of a different sexual orientation) and had the protection of the lads, as he was the best medic we had...more importantly he saved lives.

    If this person is the best of the best,let him/her stand.

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  5. At least if anyone joined the Labour Party their race, sexuality or fitness wouldn't bar them from selection.

    How many politicians who have been forced to keep their sexuality secret have had their political careers destroyed by being 'outed?

    How many have had their careers blighted by rumour and innuendo? During the Thatcher era the London media circus heard regular tales of the private lives of some of her MPs but chose, rightly, to ignore them as it was all a private matter.

    David Laws who was expected to rise high in the Con-Dem government fell to earth when it was revealed he'd lied about his domestic arrangements rather than reveal, as a Lib. Dem., that he is gay.

    I watched the tv programme on the 'Black Tory' who was trying to get elected in a rural seat who was confronted by a Colonel Blimp character referring to him as a 'n*gger' and who said he'd shot 'better men than you'.

    Good luck to whoever Mark is referring to and I hope he/she gets selected.

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  6. Anon 16.39 I'm grateful to you for demonstrating the ongoing prejudiced nature of Kent Conservatives.
    Peter and anon 6.18 I'm not talking about positive discrimination. I'm talking about homophobic discrimination. An individual who would be an improvement on several Tory councillors is being campaigned against because of their sexuality.
    Tony I'm not going there...
    Anon 8.18 many people knew David Laws was gay before he came out and I think this individual would be surprised at how many people knew their "secret". Most people don't care whatsoever, it is sad that they may not have come out because it would affect their political preferment in the Conservative Party

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  7. Mark, prejudice is not the sole perogative of any one political party or organisation and shame on you for trying to make political capital out of such suggestion. True it has been a slow progression towards acceptance of people's differences, whatever they may be, but it has been quicker amongst what we might describe as the 'chattering classes' than amongst areas of working class Labour supporters. There, I am afraid, a 'nancy boy' is still that all too often.

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  8. Anon 11.39 You are in denial. Conservatives including David Cameron voted against and campaigned against gay rights. He formally apologised last year for his actions but still supports alliances in Europe with homophobic parties. There remains an institutional problem in the Conservative party on this issue, notwithstanding some recent progress.

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  9. Sorry, Mark, but it is you that is in denial if you think homophobia is unique to the Conservative Party. I agree with you things are getting better but there remains prejudice in all sections of community and from Right to Left.

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  10. Well I suppose as what I posted seems to be the catalyst for this post I ought to say something here.

    Not really sure about all of this, all the pointers I have been able to work out on this subject suggest that for most people sexual orientation is more a matter of degree than something one hundred percent. It also appears that those who have tried hardest either to suppress or deny such homosexual tendencies, that they have, seem to be the most homophobic. There is also the problem that many religions forbid any sort of homosexual activity.

    Our language structure and the underlying philosophy of our culture, or from another perspective the structure we use to think with, has strong influences from the ancient Greek culture and platonic logic. As in the ancient Greek culture homosexuality was the norm and Plato wrote The Symposium, add to this a long period where homosexuality was illegal and so you have a difficult and complex situation.

    As you probably realised I used this and the atmosphere of political correctness to pressure the council into publicising Thanet Pride on their website, I posted details of what I was up to here http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2010/07/stately-homo-of-england.html

    What really bothered me though was that the other event, in the other main Thanet town, Ramsgate Carnival that I also asked them to publicise in the same way and in the same place, they didn’t.

    Now if you apply the same principles to this candidate selection then what I conclude is that the selection of an – out - homosexual candidate would be the result in the case of two equally good candidates where one is and one isn’t.

    Not so much by positive discrimination but by taking the easiest road i.e. the one that avoids the risk if possibly being seen as discriminatory. It is a pretty murky road this, playing on people’s fears rather than encouraging them to make the best choices and unless you are going to say that Thanet Pride was a more important event than Ramsgate Carnival, evidently it’s an effective one.

    Now as far as I can see here Mark you seem to be trying to use what I will call the stately homo of England card, in the game of local politics to get a better candidate selected to a to stand for a local political party.

    Presumably you think that this candidate has a better chance of being elected, so what confuses me here is why you are trying to get this candidate selected to represent the party you oppose.

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  11. Isn't the point Mark is making that a candidate is finding it difficult to get selected simply because of his/her sexuality?

    Mark isn't saying, 'I support this person against candidate X' but 'I think it's wrong that a reasonable candidate isn't being selected due to sexuality'.

    It wouldn't matter what party the individual came from, it's the covert discrimination that is being shown.

    As a member of a party that is for total equality Mark is right to highlight this issue.

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  12. Fully and well scribed Michael but, in brief, it goes back to this nonsense of an assumption that the one legged, homosexual ethnic candidate must be prioritised over the athletic, straight Caucasian. What a shame we cannot treat people as people and get back to selecting horses for courses without fear or favour. Using difference for political purposes I find particularly abhorrent.

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  13. Bluenote. If you think about it in a fair minded way, you will see that this is almost what Mark is saying.


    Some of us think we know who this angry person is thats trying to persecute a candidate for their private life style. It has also been said that this candidate is one of Thanet's true politicians and a star of the future.

    This is a very serious issue, if the local conservatives do not speak to the bigot concerned and ask him to call the dogs off, they may live to regret it!

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  14. THE MORAL BANKRUPTCY OF NU LABOUR

    I have hesitated before commenting on this thread, but feel in the end, it is important to puncture the condescending high handed tone of moral superiority which infects this posting.

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of the gossip and tittle tattle which Mark has picked up, this posting above all demonstrates the dishonesty of the spin doctors art better than most.

    It is aimed at political opponents, stitching together some comments on the national scene, with some supposed 'information' from the local scene, which is unsubstantiated and unsourced - and is then made a credit to the poster as he 'wont name anybody and their sexual preference'.

    The author, however, is not above using this to smear political opponents, whilst skirting the obvious question about his own local party's failure to recruit anyone as described, even though the intention is worn clearly on the sleeve as a badge of credit.

    Perhaps we should put he/she, should they exist, up as a candidate in Northwood, when Mark's moral duty would appear to be to stand aside and allow them to win as a sign for the greater good.

    Or what really hurts is that like female Prime Ministers, the Conservative approach to selection on merit works better than the more dubious methods of positive discrimination.

    I could reiterate similar tittle tattle, of senior local labour members who have had restraining orders, or are said to be a little handy with their fists at home when they are frustrated and upset. On the national scene, there are the habits of badger hunting, and/or filming yourself in your underpants for perusal on dating websites,which show a little less credibility to the figures involved. I do not think that is what politics should be all about -and if Mark is serious about his intention to be non discriminatory, he should not sink to the depths of using sexual politics to anonymously attack opponents.

    Current Labour lies about the state of the economy should be enough to differentiate between us I would have thought.

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  15. It may seem picky, Anon 10.50, but sexuality is not a "lifestyle". Lifestyle indicates something over which an individual has choice. Sexuality, like gender, race and disability, is a natural state/condition over which there is no practical choice (usually). I am sure you did not mean anything by your reference, it is just that this particular term is one that has long been a significant bone of contention for those of us who are gay. It is often used by those who are hostile to those in the LGBT community.

    The bulk of this strand, including the original post by Mark, is something of a code for many of us, who are unaware of the specific issue, the players, and the likely outcome. It is entirely right that no-one should be outed via this, or any other, blog - unless they want to be or are behaving hypocritically - but without specific evidence of homophobia in the local Tory Party, there is little of substance here. Either fuller facts need to be presented - especially supporting the allegations made by Anon 10.50 - so that the issue can be tackled, or the strand should be "reviewed". At present, it looks as if sexuality is being used simply as a tool to score points between Parties. As an out gay man, ie someone with a direct and personal interest, I find that a bit disturbing and demeaning.

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  16. And then as if to prove a point, the other side - via Tory Chris Wells - comes in and perpetuates the politicisation of sexuality. What a shame.

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  17. Conveniently Cllr. Wells ignores the main point of the whole posting. It's about a potential candidate who is, apparently, being prevented for being selected by some old duffers in one of the wards who seem outraged to discover the said candidate is gay. It's an open secret who this person is and who is blocking the selection so eventually it'll get exposure in the press.

    The whole point is that a suitable Tory candidate who expected to get the nod for a seat finds that the way is blocked not because of any problem politically as this person is totally on message but because the private life, totally legal in this day and age, doesn't suit.

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  18. Nonsense, Anon 06:05, you either cannot read what Chris Wells has written or are deliberately misinterpreting it for your own purpose. The reality is that the Conservatives have taken an honest stance on issues of difference, with sometimes differing views exposed, whilst Labour has claimed the moral high ground though frequently failed to display it in practice. Perhaps the party may prove me wrong by electing Diane Abbott to the leadership post but I doubt it somehow!

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  19. 06:05 is being unrealistic here. If a Labour politician, Councillor Nottingham, makes an allegation of homophobia against the local Conservative party, it would seem not unreasonable that a Conservastive politician, Councillor Wells, should respond. The politicisation of secuality stems from the orignal allegation, not the response.

    It is with Councillor Nottingham that the shame lies.

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  20. Anon of 09.33 and Bluenote, I think it is a bit rich trying to present the Conservative Party as morally superior or righteous in matters relating to sexuality. I know nothing of this local candidacy issue - as I commented before - but you are stretching credibility to the limit with your line.

    Gays like me were totally demonised by the last Conservative Government, especially the one led by Thatcher. Section 28 was only the tip of a very big iceberg. The Party claims it has changed. I for one - and I am purely talking sexuality here - find it impossible to believe that. I believe they have tried to present themselves as having changed purely to court the "pink vote".

    Cameron opposed the repeal of Section 28 just a few short years ago. The Party opposed many of the measures introduced by the Labour Government to achieve legal and social equality for those in the LGBT community. The Party associates itself with homophobic right-wing organisations in Europe. Thanet North MP Gale opposed the Civil Partnership legislation and has opposed every other bit of progressive legislation (introduced by Labour on sexuality) even when some others in his Party were supportive. I see from local blogs that he opposes events such as Thanet Pride because they are simnply "people parading their sexuality in public". Epsom MP Grayling said during the Election campaign that christians (now that DOES represent a lifestyle choice) running B&Bs should be able to discriminate against gays - refusing them house room - if their conscience required it.

    I could go on, but that is enough. Without Labour, the LGBT community would not have any of the equality we now enjoy. At Thanet Pride, Chris Wells said that his son would soon be entering a civil partnership with his boyfriend. Without labour, that would not be possible.

    So no, there is no moral superiority for the Conservatives when it comes to sexuality. And no, on sexuality, I do not trust them an inch.

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  21. What if the candidate concerned has already been selected on their own merit?

    Could it be that the real problem is, that one of the current councillors in the ward concerned might be hidding an extremist agenda more suited to the BNP, than today's conservative party? I hope not!

    Once upon a time it was against the law to be anything other than straight in the army for example.

    *Having prejudice views is one thing, but acting on them, in order to destroy someones prospects is a total abuse of power!

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  22. The moral superiority is being claimed by Labour and all the Conservative response is dedicated to pointing out the hypocrisy of that stance. Brian, I understand and support the case for sexual equality. What I now abhor is the ongoing use of the issue as a political point scoring tool.

    As I have said before there are still bigots on the subject but they are no longer, if indeed they ever were, unique to one political party.

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  23. Alan Turing and Jack Nissenthal (Jack Nissen).

    Without their contribution to the war effort we would almost certainly have lost.

    Turing destroyed by male hormones forcibly administered under Court Order to "Treat" his homosexuality.

    The Marquis de Casa Maubry making anti semitic insults to Jack on the eve of his departure on the ill fated Dieppe raid, on which with tremendous technical skill, he was able to deduce Nazi radar secrets essential to the later success of D Day (our radar deceptions). The Marquis suggested to Jack he only volunteered (RAF radar expert who had trained with Watson Watt since a school boy) as typical of his Jewishness hoping to ingratiate himself. In fact Jack fought for Britain because it was here his family found safety from the Polish pogroms. He fought for the best of our country's characteristics but suffered the insults of the worst. But thank God he was on our side.

    I have to wonder if this country has advanced much since then.

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  24. Anon, 16.07, I agree with you that all political parties have had, and have, a share of homophobes. The distinction is that in the Conservative Party, they have been/are (?) in the majority and have dictated the Party's policy agenda over many years. The Labour Party, on the contrary, stonewalled the bigots and introduced fair, progressive, and long overdue equality legislation. That, combined with all the evidence and examples I offered is why no right-thinking person should trust or believe the Conservatives on the issue of sexual orientation.

    That is not using sexual orientation as a political point-scoring tool. The way that the apparent local candidacy issue has been covered is.

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  25. Brian

    There are morally compelling public interest questions locally. It is a fact that a former tory Cllr is facing charges for downloading child porn in the most serious category.

    It is also a fact that Margate Mayoralty (and now Colonel Roger Latchford) have refused so far to answer whether this ex cllr, now facing child porn charges, and Cllr Watt Ruffell voted (unsuccessfully) to try to sustain Charter Trustee sourced funding for the private pseudo military youth cadet group Kent Adventure Training Corps. This group lost its KCC Youth Affiliation status in 2003. My FOI application was responded to that there was no complainant but myself (concerning holocaust denial lectures at War and Peace Show 1999 and the arrest and MOD security breach history of their adult leadership. To be clear my complaints and calls for KCC Youth Affiliation inquiries did not question whether there was any unlawful sexual motive of those who ran or supported the pseudo cadet group.

    Should we be asking such questions ahead of the court hearing on the child porn download charges ?

    I say YES. Because what better time to ask questions than during the inquiry period.

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