Saturday, March 27, 2010

gotta make way for the homo inferior

The Conservatives are the party who, 20 years ago, brought us the infamous homophobic law Clause 28.

Now I'm not being an apologist for New Labour here. Nothing mitigates the Iraq war, nor the ticking financial timebomb of PFI public services that will turn the welfare state to rubble, and that's before we even start to talk about market capitalism, the elitist nature of centralised representative democracy or the literal insanity of basing your society on perpetual economic growth.

But all that said, one of the few areas where Labour distinguish themselves from the Tories is gay rights. They repealed Clause 28, they legalised civil partnerships, they equalised the age of consent, bam bam bam.

The House of Commons is still riddled with Conservatives who fought all three measures. Cameron himself was voting against the repeal of Clause 28 in 2003. But he's subsequently tried to court the gay vote, apologising last summer for the Clause.

This week he did an interview with Gay Times, and began it by agreeing that gay equality is 'a fundamental human right'. Hold on to that phrase as it will help you judge his integrity.

Asked why the Lords weren't having a whip to direct the way they vote on legalising civil partnerships in places of worship, he said that it was right that parliamentarians have a free vote on 'these kinds of issues'.

The interviewer pointed out that if something is about a fundamental human right, surely his party should have a clear policy and vote accordingly.

Cameron flusters and stumbles at this point in a way few politicians ever do, clearly caught out. He mumbles and then admits the inconsistency, saying, 'yes, you're right'.

Challenged about Conservative MEPs abstaining on a vote condemning a new homophobic law in Lithuania, he says

I barely ever issue instructions to my MEPs to vote in this way or in that way

But, again, if he actually felt that gay equality was a fundamental human right, this would be one of those cases.

He tries to wriggle out of it saying that it's not really the Conservatives per se in the European Parliament, but that

They have their own group

But it was a personal flagship policy of Cameron's leadership that decided to change which group they're with. He withdrew them from the mainstream centre-right European Democrats and set up the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, a group further right, united around strong feeling against European federalism. It's brimming with dubious xenophobes and homophobes, but human rights aren't as fundamental to them as Euroscepticism.

He later said the Tory MEPs abstained because they have 'a general approach of not voting on the internal matters of other countries'.

Again, if it were a fundamental human right, they surely would. And secondly, he's just wrong. They do vote about internal affairs of other countries.

Gay Times have stuck snippets up on Youtube, but the Channel 4 News report pulls it together best.

What is perhaps most extraordinary about all this is that he can be so easily caught out. High-level politicians don't go anywhere without a team of advisors. People will have spent weeks deciding what he should say to any given interviewer. They will be stood round the back of the camera, checking he delivers his lines right.

Even without that, his public schoolboy's articulate confidence, augmented by his years in PR, should carry him through. He knows how to trot out the 'well obviously that is an option we will seriously be considering' type stuff.

To be so readily rug-pulled suggests that he really has no grounding in the concept of gay equality as human rights at all, no belief, no grasp of issues or clear thought, just parroted lines and politicianese.

Once again they prove to us that they're the same Conservatives that they ever were.


Dunc said...

There is another interpretation: that he really does consider gay equality to be a fundamental human right, and that we should therefore take his performance on this matter as indicative of his attitude towards fundamental human rights in general.

There are few conundrums in politics that can't be resolved by being even more cynical about the bastards than you were already.

merrick said...

Bravo Dunc!

your clarity of thought and perception surpasses mine by quite some distance.