The Pink Vote
An interesting post on Jaymaster about the Civil Partnerships Bill which has now had the Royal Assent, in the course of which he says: "say what you like about New Labour, they have improved the lot for gay men and women."
Impossible to argue with that statement. And yet, and yet......it's not quite as simple as that. Here's why.
Despite a massive majority, it took them years to repeal Section 28 which was the most urgent reform because it affected vulnerable young people.
They spent millions of pounds of taxpayers' money fighting in the courts to retain the ban on gay people serving in the armed forces. This wasn't because they believed in this policy but so that they could present the eventual change in the law as something imposed on them by the European Convention of Human Rights.
Although Tony Blair is the first party leader to mention gay rights in conference speeches, he abstained in most if not all of the votes on gay law reform because he's always looking over his shoulder at The Sun and the Daily Mail.
The Tory Party - in Parliament, though not in the country - have been playing catch-up on gay rights so fast that they might even move ahead of Labour in some areas.
The interesting question is whether, given that there have been significant reforms, gay men and women should feel an obligation to reward Labour with their vote at the next election. The pragmatic answer is that they would have more reason to do so if there were any likelihood of the Tories repealing any of this legislation. But there's not. Everyone must make their own judgement but I shall not be voting Labour because I don't believe that narrow self-interest should over-ride my strong disagreement with other policies like the Iraq war, criminal justice policies and treatment of asylum seekers.
In a case that was barely reported in the press, a gay Iranian who had been sentenced to death in Iran managed to escape to Britain. The Home Office repeatedly refused his request for asylum and, when every avenue had been exhausted and he was due to be deported to certain execution, he doused himself with petrol and burned himself to death. I shall dedicate my refusal to vote Labour to his memory.
Discovered that Carlo has told Mrs Skidmore that he took a photo of my belly button which has been published on the internet. If I weren't a pacifist, I would have boxed his ears. I'm going round to Mrs Skidmore with some flowers and a box of Ferrero Rocher and to explain that, although the photo was for an innocuous purpose, it would be better to keep it to herself.
Despite this and against my better judgement, I said Lee could come round for a meal while I was out visiting my sister. As I got ready to leave there was a pungent aroma coming from the Aga in the kitchen and I thought I would show willing by putting my head round the door and making small talk about alternators and automatic transmissions. But Lee and Carlo had already disappeared to Carlo's room in the West Turret, apparently to listen to Lee's reggae albums. This brought to mind that old saying: 'You can't get quicker than a Kwik-Fit fitter.'