Sunday, January 29, 2006

Andrew Rawnsley Sums it Up

"My estimate is that about a tenth of Members of Parliament swing the same way as Simon Hughes. Since his enforced outing in the Sun, accompanied by the gruesome tagline 'Another one bites the pillow', politicians of this persuasion will be even more reluctant to be honest about it. Some will worry how to tell their families. Others will be unsure how it will be treated by the media and received by the voters even in supposedly more enlightened times. After so many horrible headlines and cackling ridicule directed at politicians of this orientation, it will be a brave Member of Parliament who is prepared to declare himself glad to be Liberal Democrat."


Adrian said...

I tend to disgree with AR. Some commentators seem to think that all Sun-readers agree with everything the paper says, or that the paper is just echoing its readers' views. While that is often the case, a large number of its readers disagree with some or many of the sentiments expressed. The issue of gay MPs is a case in point. For many readers this is an issue of little or no importance.

What's more, the paper should be taken to task for pandering to base prejudices in this way, and complaints should be made to the editor and the PCC.

Curtis Hunter said...

I am also unconvinced that voters below the age of 50 give a toss about an MP's sexuality. They don't like being mislead or jerked around by MPs/ candidates who pretend to be something they are not however.

Aidan said...

Personally I felt that the Sun's headline of "Another limp-dem confesses" was just plain disgusting. The way that paper treated Hughes throughout the report was highly distasteful and I'd say that I'd not be keen to reveal my sexuality if I was gay or bisexual if that was the treatment that would be meted out to me.

barbara worth said...

Yes, I agree that the majority of under 50s don't have a problem with MPs' sexuality. However, those of us who are pretty close to the big 5-0 can remember a time when the sort of juvenile sniggering about gax sex which The Sun dished out to Simon Hughes last week was well nigh universal in many social and professional circles.

I don't have an axe to grind here-I'm female, straight and I don't know Simon Hughes. However, I can well see that if you set out on your political career 20 or 30 years ago you did so in a climate in which dissembling/lying about being gay was actively encouraged. People said things like "I don't mind what these people do behind closed doors as long as they don't shove it in our faces" (sic). At least that was the sort of comment made by older people about those who were thought to "dance on the other side of the ballroom" when I was a young woman.

I assume that gay/bi-sexual people therefore learned to dissemble or lie about their sexuality, unless they were particularly courageous/rash.

Having started out in politics with a lie or an obfuscation, there is then presumably no good time to come out without being accused of lying, hypocrisy or failing to be proud of who you are.

Simon Hughes has clearly dissembled about his sexuality but I find it quite difficult to feel that this was a particularly heinous offence in the circumstances. I don't think I would have rushed to come out if I were in his shoes. (Well, in fact I probably would have, as I am massively indiscreet but it would not have been sensible!)