Sunday, June 28, 2009

5 Places Lower Than Alan Carr & 51 Higher Than Elton John

The Independent on Sunday has today published its annual Pink List, the top 100 most influential gay people in Britain. It rightly questions whether it should be publishing such a list at all. After all, no one would publish a Top 100 Straights list, would they? But since it has appeared, it would be remiss of me not to point out that they've promoted me 18 places this year to 26. Nick Boles is the top rated Tory at number 10, I'm second, Sir Simon Milton is 29, Alan Duncan 7, Dan Ritterband 39, Margot James 46, Greg Barker 65, Matthew Parris 69, Nick Herbert 70, Andrew Pierce 72, Richard Barnes 82.

Quite how I am more influential than many of those - or for that matter Peter Tatchell, Paul O'Grady, Will Young, Nick Brown, Chris Bryant (only 49, bless) or Ben Summerskill I really don't know.

Anyway, here is the text of an article I wrote for the Indy on Sunday today....

ON THURSDAY I spent an hour signing letters to Tory MPs inviting them to attend a late night "Pride Party" at a gay nightclub in Canal Street in Manchester during the Tory party conference in October. It's being organised by the Tories as yet another signal that the party is entirely at ease with sexual equality and diversity. Ten years ago the Tory Campaign for Homosexual Equality used to hold rather furtive fringe meetings in rather down-at-heel hotels, which 30 people – including a couple of MPs – might attend in a good year. Nowadays, it's rather different.

Sexuality isn't really an issue in the Tory party any longer. There are two gay members of the Shadow Cabinet, both of whom have entered civil partnerships in the last year. There are so many gay parliamentary candidates – both female and male – that no one bothers to keep count any more. And that's as it should be.

If you're a gay teacher, does it affect how you teach? If you're a gay electrician, does it affect your ability to rewire a house? Of course not. And at long last the Conservative Party has recognised that being gay should not be a bar to holding any position in politics. We have got to a point where it is quite possible to imagine Nick Herbert or Alan Duncan leading the Tory party with virtually no one raising an eyebrow. Remember, the Tories had the first Jewish-born Prime Minister and the first woman Prime Minister. I'd bet money they will also have the first gay and black PMs. Of course, not everything is perfect. There is the odd Tory MP who will no doubt rip up my letter in ill-disguised disgust, and there are no doubt a few Neanderthal types out there running local Tory associations. But you get this in all parties, not just the Tories. Homophobia certainly exists in politics, and probably always will. But the progress made over the last five years is astonishing, but our opponents have difficulty in recognising this and delight in trying to make the caricature of homophobic Tories stick.

This week the Tories set up a new group in the European Parliament which contains 15 members of the Polish Law and Justice Party. This party's record on equality issues is not exactly exemplary. Opposition politicians have been quick to accuse David Cameron of being only "skin deep" in his commitment to gay equality and ask how he can ally himself to homophobes. It's a fair question. The truth is that Labour and the LibDems also sit in Euro groupings with deeply suspect characters – some hold homophobic views, others are extreme Communists or worse. Law and Justice's lead MEP Adam Bielan responded to criticism by Denis MacShane last week by saying: "We are fully committed to human rights and equality under the law, and object to all forms of discrimination, whether on grounds of race, sex or sexual orientation." You can't get much clearer than that. But actions, of course, speak louder than words, and I will be looking at what Law & Justice do on the home front to stamp out the rampant homophobia that exists in much of Poland's society.

Bill Clinton invented the phrase "don't ask, don't tell" relating to gays in the US military. That used to be the maxim of gays in the Tory party. Nowadays it's different. The shock factor has disappeared and if anyone feels the need to announce they are gay, the declaration is treated with a massive shrug of the shoulders and a collective "so what?" As I say, that's exactly as it should be.

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

True conservatism is dead when even the Conservatives think the government should go around 'stamping out' social attitudes it disapproves of.

Anonymous said...

Iain, not of the slightest interest.

Anonymous said...

Nick Boles is the top rated Tory at number 10, I'm second, Sir Simon Milton is 29, Alan Duncan 7,

So, is Alan Duncan not a Tory?

Blue Eyes said...

I'd bet money they will also have the first gay and black PMs

How do you know we haven't already had a gay PM? We've certainly had gay monarchs...

Tim said...
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Anonymous said...

As someone else has already commented - how can Nick Boles @ 10th place be classed as the "Top rated Tory" when Alan Duncan a member of the Shadow Cabinet is @ 7th place ? Or is there likely to be a "shock announcement" soon ?

Paul said...

Iain - while I have no problem at all with the above, maybe you should mention Clause 61 of the Coroners and Justice Bill which removes the Free Speech Amendment in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.

As a Conservative, you would agree that there ought to be the right to discuss and criticise sexual behaviour, would you not? Including that of your own?

Little Black Sambo said...

What Paul said. There is a difference between tolerance and compulsory approval.

Anonymous said...

What IS Alan Duncan then?

I worry about Tory finance if members of their party who want to be MPs think that 7 is more than 10!

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

If as you say "It rightly questions whether it should be publishing such a list at all" and the answer is as you hint that it should not, why take any notice of this daft list at all?

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!

Would you not rather be "influential": why do you rejoice in being a "gay influential"?

ChikaBebe said...

Nice post here i might go back here and bookmark it :)

Iain Dale said...

Sorry, misprint. Alan duncan is 37. Can't edit as I am on the Blackberry.

Tim said...
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Macha Maguire said...

Law and Justice are never going to 'stamp out homophobia' in Poland... Joining with them is one major instance of actions speaking louder than words....

It's immensely hard to believe Cameron's anything other than deeply homophobic when he voluntarily joins with these people. (and taking your mark from the midden is the lowest form of excuse. Others do it so we can too? I don't think so...)

Anonymous said...

you know, one day I hope to wake up in the world when someone's sexual orientation, or colour, or religion SIMPLY DOESN'T MATTER.

All these stupid lists do is encourage seperatism.

Straight people don't make a big fuss of their sexuality, they just get on with it.

Ben Summerskill is one of the most repugnant individuals on the face of this planet - gay or straight.

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The day people stop asking my gender/colour/race/sexuality on official paperwork is the one that will mark true equality in this country, stop defining people by single aspects and start focusing on the person as a whole.

It was only a couple of months ago I learned Mandelson was gay, it made no difference to my opinion of him and I still fail to see what relevance it holds in his ability to do his job(s).

Today I learned that David Starkey, a personal hero of mine, is also gay and to be honest I'm more annoyed that some feel his sexual orientation is in any way relevant to his amazing ability to engage his listeners and bring history to life.

Ask any non-white politician how he or she feels when defined as a black/asian/coloured MP, a definition which completely ignores the person's character, skills, experience & intelligence but instead boxes then by a minor superficial aspect.

Or how about a disabled person, is the functionality of their bodies all we need to know to judge them as people?

Make a big deal, positive or negative, about any aspect of a person and you invite vehemently opposite viewpoints. Sexuality is just one aspect of a person and lets face it, its not something you can change.

On that basis, can we define people by eye colour next then produce a list of the top 100 green eyed people. Don't worry about defining a specific level of detail in green-ness, regardless of the fact that there is a massive range to choose from, we'll lump the lot together under one nice easy label.

Lets revel in the diversity of the eye colour people are genetically pre-disposed to have, by singling out just one and making a really big deal about it. On the other hand we could just ignore the whole eye colour thing as an irrelevant, superficial detail in a species of complex and wildly varying individuals. Sexuality is no more a matter of choice than the colouring of a body part, it is therefore immaterial.

While your at it, define me, I'll give you a clue, have several hundred definitions depending on who you are talking to and in being unaware of my definition you are left with no recourse but to judge my comment solely on its content.

Richard Dale said...

Surely the Tories have already had a gay Prime Minister. OK so Heath was barely Tory, but I thought it was considered beyond serious doubt that he is gay.

Macha Maguire said...

and...

we HAVE had at least one gay PM...

Edward Heath for sure

what we lack is an openly gay PM

or a lesbian in serious contention. Tho' this is the boy's world, so the rest of us don't count, clearly (not a woman in Ian's list. I don't get the Indie on Sundays, so don't know if there were any on theirs...)

Tim said...
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Anonymous said...

O/T You get a mention here: http://www.vote-2007.co.uk/index.php?topic=3211.msg109939#msg109939

On that topic: why is the by-election site not up and running? Ordinary memebrs want to be told whent o come up, but the emails runneth dry...

Macha Maguire said...

It would be good, I agree, not to have to define ourselves by sexuality, colour, race, spiritual path or anything else that separates us from the common weal.

But we're so very, very far from that just now that pretending we're integrated is simply yet another form of internalised homophobia. I can be quiet about my sexuality, or I can be open. Only by being open do we get past the straight fiction that 'nobody I know is gay,' which is still voiced too often and with too much false hope.

Anonymous said...

Ireland, what are you on about? I can't get the video off the BBC website, but how do you know the footage isn't spliced together, that those gawpers weren't gasping at something else?

And why does Iain Dale have to condemn it - he's not an MP, or a shadow frontbencher, or a Tory party representative - what have a pair at the 2006 conference have to do with him?

None of the above said...

yawn!

stop harping on about who's gay etc. No-one's bothered.

Besides, to be sandwiched between Elton John and Alan Carr would be a crushing blow to my self-esteem, though some of the gay persuasion may appreciate the situation...

hovedan said...

Respect Iain for getting on the list- well deserved. My only minor observation is that the list is light on business men and women - its great that journos and politicos are there - and dominate the top posts - but we must alo value our lesbian and gay colleagues in business (including mainstream business - not just gay companies)

carter said...

"We have got to a point where it is quite possible to imagine Nick Herbert or Alan Duncan leading the Tory party with virtually no one raising an eyebrow."

Oh, come off it Iain. Britain's more likely to submit to Islamic law than Alan Duncan persuade his colleagues in parliament that he should lead them. There's a difference between no-one raising an eyebrow about you being gay and you being regarded as incompetent and a nuisance by your colleagues.

davew said...

Unless he's lost a hell of a lot of hair in the last week, I'm pretty sure that this photo isn't of Alan Duncan...

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/the-iiosi-pink-list-2009-1721869.html?action=Popup&ino=37

(Subs please check!)

John of Enfield said...

This board is (usually) of interest to me because of its views on politics.

Please open another board if you want to address sexual politics - or I will vote with my feet.

Yes - you are quite right - I didn't even read the item.

RobertEve said...

Iain - can anything be less interesting?

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering where I rate in the top 100 hetero list.
Who cares?

ramp said...

John of enfield...said
Please open another board if you want to address sexual politics - or I will vote with my feet.

You dont seem to understand what a blog is.

Anonymous said...

Iain,

Best not take the 'Pink List' seriously; there's no way of checking the results. Humiliating individuals seems to be the media's main aim these days.

Man in a Shed said...

A political party is by definition an alliance of people willing to trade some issues in exchange for stronger support in others.

The Conservative party makes a lot of sense for many different people, it doesn't mean they are all the same or agree on everything.

The key is that personal conscience should be respected.

Anonymous said...

Macha Maquire,

Law and justice will not 'stamp out' the contents of the Bible, nor those who believe it's teachings.

'Judge not that thy are not judged' is applicable. David Cameron, along with countless others has the right to partake in and support 'family life' and procreation.

Anonymous said...

Iain,

Sad to see the Independent slump to gutter level press.

Anonymous said...

I do think it is somewhat odd Iain that this list is still produced. Beyond a few notables (Peter Mandelson, Ian McKellen, Elton John etc) I did not know that many of the names I recognise (and there are many many I don't)were gay e.g. Clare Balding, Fiona Shaw which shows how irrelevant it is.

Of the people for whom I have high regard who happen to be gay it is almost always irrelevant to their prominence - Martina Navratilova for example or Matthew Parris (who always seemed to me to be the ideal conservative.

The only people I can think of for whom it is part of their fame are people like Julian Clary for whom camping it up is an important part of his act.

The only time I can see that someone's sexual orientation is important is when they are influencing or attempting to influence public policy in this area.

Otherwise it is both unimportant and indeed none of our business

frankie said...

Oh Boring! I couldn't give a toss who's gay & who's not, and I object to these sorts of lists, because they encourage the differences between heteros and homos. As you say Iain - you don't have lists on the most influential heteros - do you? Seriously - who cares?

Johnny Norfolk said...

YAWN

Hugh said...

I though Elton John was dead.

Anonymous said...

I don't go around parading my sexual preferences in public.

Why should I be interested in yours, Iain?

Anonymous said...

This wheedling to justify a dodgy european deal flies in the stance taken on your Iris Robinson threads

Bird said...

I think Clinton was well advised in saying "don't ask", "don't tell" in the armed forces.
Try to imagine a young "straight" recruit having to share a cabin or barrack room with one or two openly gay colleagues.
Don't expect a young lad from Redruth or Barnsley to be confident or sophisticated enough to cope.

Changing the subject slightly:
The loony left National Union of Teachers is trying to ban BNP members from teaching posts.
Anyone with any experience of teaching knows that whatever you say to children goes straight back to parents at the end of the day.
There would be no chance of right wing brainwashing.
Even Trotskyite NUT members, of which there are many, have more sense to prosletise in school.
My experience is that teachers leave their political views at home. Otherwise they would be sacked.

Chris Paul said...

Let's hope the new intake of hard-line reactionaries don't drive people back into the closet. What's the line: juvenile experiment, now gotten over it?

Scary Mary said...

I always thought gays were meant to be sexy and fashionable? That list is munterville (you excluded of course Iain ;-) )

Guthrum said...

Not interested in you all parading your sexuality as if it conveyed anything of any note.

Are we going to have the S&M practitioners top 100 next year?

Bizarre

trevorsden said...

Why do people feel so insecure that they create these lists in the first place. when we see the end of the lists we will soo that we no take people as we find them.

Mandelson must be the most overrated and damaging gay in the country. Gives gays a bad name. Someone should have a word with him - perhaps he could take up dress designing.

And John of Enfield - this is not a message board it is a blog ('politics gossip humour commentary). And since the blogger IS gay - well you cannot expect him to talk about football can you?

Paul Halsall said...

@Guthrum

"Sexuality" does convey something of note. I.e. who one wants to love and/or f**k. That has quite significant social, financial, and sociological implications whether you like it or not.

Anonymous said...

I think I know 3 names from the ones Iain mentiones. Says it all really.

Anonymous said...

Bird

A few years ago the leader of one of the teaching unions was an avowed Maoist - to me this is at least on a par with the BNP's Nazism lite

Did we hear any mainstream politicians decrying this state of affairs - most certianly not.

There seems to be a tendency in the political arena to excuse far left ideology in a way that wouldn't happen with the right.

Both are equally offensive in my book.

Does anyone think Alistair Darling would be Chancellor if he was a neo-Nazi rather than a Communist in his student days.

Or Barroso the head of the EU if he'd been an admirer of Hitler rather than Mao in the 70s

Double standards all round.

Uncle Bob said...

Guthrum, I was going to have my photo taken for the S/M top 100 but Mistress wouldn't let me, now if you'll excuse me I've got to go back under the stairs.

Macha Maguire said...

ah.... yes... of course. Law and Justice are on a *biblical* swing. I'd forgotten the blood-drinking deity came into this.

If Cameron's going to remove the distinction between the blood-drinker's church and the state, I'm out of here.

English First said...

This is a perfect example of the controlled media deliberately and covertly "brain washing" the population by subversive manipulation. It happens all the time of course.

Here the normality of homosexuality is being rammed down our throats once again. Why, when clearly this condition is very abnormal? I am not suggesting that homosexuals should be villified at all, simply that their condition is clearly unnatural and abnormal and we should not be forced in any way of believing it is normal.

Hopefully, as medicine progresses, we can help these individuals to reverse their abnormality and all effort should be made to assist them to return to amore traditional and indeed acceptable (to some) lifestyle.

BTW, I think you will find that Heath was not only a traitor but also a homosxual.

The Grim Reaper said...

We already have an openly gay Prime Minister - he's called Peter Mandelson.

Scary Mary said "I always thought gays were meant to be sexy and fashionable?"

Iain's ties aren't that bad.

Alex said...

Anonymong said:
"All these stupid lists do is encourage seperatism."

Listen pal, I don't care whether you are gay, i, stright, pink, black, yellow, purple, atheist, muslim or carnivore, but....

... the word is sepAratism, from the word separate, not "seperate".

Go that? Good, because on spelling we have zero tolerance.

canvas said...

"Nowadays it's different. The shock factor has disappeared "

Is it, Iain, really?

Maybe that's the case for my generation, and DC's generation... But there are alot of old school 'closet case Tories' out there and quite frankly they are terrifying.


I don't actually believe DC can 'modernise' the Tory party until he gets rid of the old school conservatives. I know many people of my generation feel the same way - never trust a Tory. :))

ramp said...

canvas said.
I know many people of my generation feel the same way - never trust a Tory. :))


June 28, 2009 9:03 PM

are all these people you know as loony as you ?

Thatsnews said...

After all, no one would publish a Top 100 Straights list, would they?

Maybe they should? How about Total Politics organising such a list, Iain?

If it were published, it might show up so-called Pink Lists as being equally silly ideas.

Anonymous said...

I think you are being too optimistic Iain. Homophobic attitudes are still pervasive (just look at Bird's shock at the thought that a straight soldier might have to share barracks with gay colleagues; or trevorsden's lazy equation of homosequality with dress-making). Unfortunately, many of those views are still prevalent in the Conservative party. Ambitious MPs and aspirant MPs might have learned how to keep a lid on their views, but a significant number of Tory MPs come out with quite breathtakingly bigoted comments in private. I have worked in Parliament for almost a decade and I've heard them. One of the reasons Speaker Bercow is so detested by some members of his former party is because he's supported an equal age of consent and gay adoption.

Macha Maguire said...

Good point, Canvas

several old school tories on here - unless someone's got a huge, fat streak of irony that's gone beyond a joke.

one day, it won't matter. Today, it still does. And this is Pride Week. 40 years since the Stonewall riots. Without them, we'd still be languishing in the stone age and nobody would be printing any lists.

The Grim Reaper said...

The Grim Reaper said at 6.56pm today: "[this] will inevitably mean Iain appearing far more often on Sky News to talk about the newspapers."

Lord Iain of Dale said on Twitter around 10pm: "Just arrived at Sky News to do the paper review at 10.15 and 11.30pm. Sundays it's a solo shift..."

Amazing what The Grim Reaper's able to foresee...

steveal said...

"wrinkled as an old pear"

As an old pear of what?

Anonymous said...

I notice quite a few comments along the lines of 'why would I be interested in this?' (you obviously care enough to comment) and 'why do the gays parade their sexuality in public?'

In my experiance the latter comment is often made by people who have photo's of their (opposite sex) spouse and children on their desks!

I do question what this list is supposed to contribute though.

The Canal File said...

A new councillor "came out" after a generous slug of gin at a recent party c3am. The overwhelming response was "so what"? Our only concern was that he was probably too badly dressed for the news to be taken seriously.

The Tory party of 2009 is a differentand much better beast than the Tory Party I joined in 1978. Long may it continue.