Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Gay Row That Exposes Bradshaw's Hypocrisy

I get very frustrated when the likes of Ben Bradshaw try to play politics with gay issues and try to make out as if all Tories are latent homophobes. I gather tonight Little Ben was at it again after an interview David Cameron gave to Gay Times and which was picked up by Channel 4 News.

I've now seen the video footage, and I think the inherent problem with the interview was that Cameron didn't know if he was giving a print interview or a film interview. That was why in the end he asked to start again, and make it one or the other. Frankly, he should never have been put in that position.

But let's address the substance. He was asked by the interviewer, Martin Popplewell about a vote in the European Parliament on a Lithuanian law which is apparently homophobic. Cameron clearly hadn't got a clue about the vote, and I doubt whether many people reading this website - or indeed any gay website - would have heard of it either. He was asked why Tory MEPs abstained in the vote rather than be whipped to vote in favour. It was a classic trick question. Is a party leader really supposed to know the ins and outs of every single vote in the European Parliament? It turns out that there is a convention that Conservative MEPs do not vote on issues relating to the internal affairs of other member states.

But even if there weren't any such convention, isn't it trying to have it both ways when you criticise parties for imposing too many whipped votes, and then criticise them when they don't whip a vote of your choosing.

Popplewell then tried another tack, and asked him about the vote in the House of Lords today on allowing civil partnership ceremonies to take place on Quaker premises. Cameron made the point that one of the signatories to Lord Alli's amendments was a Tory peer, Baroness Nokes. He said Tory peers had a free vote on it, but that wasn't good enough for Mr Popplewell who clearly thought there should be a three line whip. If ever there were a good example of an issue which was a clear conscience issue, I'd have thought this was one. I should say that to vote against religious premises HAVING to allow civil partnerships on their premises does not make one homophobic. Civil partnerships are just that - civil contracts. They are not religious services. If churches of any denomination which to allow civil partnerships then that is a matter for them. I would certainly welcome it, but as a libertarian I could not in all conscience vote to force churches to allow them. Does that make me a homophobe? In Ben Bradshaw's eyes, I am sure it does. But on this, as on many other issues, he does not see clearly and only looks for division rather than consensus.

Anyway as usual, up popped Ben Bradshaw to accuse Cameron of something only just short of being a homophobe...
"I think it’s extraordinary that anyone should suggest that a matter of equality and fundamental human rights should be a free vote. It hasn’t been for years in, in the House of Commons and that is a major gaffe and I think what it displays about David Cameron is that he’s talked a good talk on some of these issues, his voting record hasn’t been very good. He’s learnt a script, but when he’s actually scrutinised on it and he forgets the script, he doesn’t have the fundamental core belief to support him in his argument."
Except that his comments are complete and utter toss and don't stand up to any scrutiny at all. Why? Bradshaw's own government allowed a free vote in the Lords on the civil partnerships/church vote AND asked Lord Alli to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Alli’s amendment to the Equality Bill was Amendment 53, debated in the House of Lords on 2 March. It was co-sponsored by Baroness Nokes (Con) and Dame Butler Sloss (Crossbench). The amendment was designed to allow religious premises to be used for the celebration of civil partnerships.

Baroness Royall, speaking for the Government allowed a free vote on this, stating ‘on this basis, as noble Lords will know, we have a free vote on this amendment’ (House of Lords Hansard, HL Deb, 2 March 2010, c1439). More than that – she urged Lord Alli to withdraw the amendment and said it raised a number of problems.

Baroness Royall...

"I understand what my noble friend and the noble Baronesses are seeking to achieve. Like many noble Lords, I have great sympathy with their aims and fully recognise that civil partnerships are about commitment and loving relationships. However, while my heart supports the intentions of my noble friend, my head knows that the amendment raises a number of problems. I fear that it would not work in practice. It breaks the important link that we have always maintained between civil partnership and civil marriage. It blurs the line between what is a civil partnership and something that has elements of a religious partnership. It introduces ambiguity into the role of registrars and it is unclear what, if any, religious language would be able to be used during any civil partnership ceremony conducted in religious premises’ (HL Deb, 2 March 2010, c1437). I have today raised our concerns about how this would work in practice. I have made it clear that we are committed to taking the time to consider any changes carefully, and I therefore urge my noble friend to withdraw his amendment.”

And yet the media - especially many in the gay media - lap up what Ben Bradshaw says and print it without question. One day, just one day, I hope that even Ben Bradshaw might come to acknowledge what the rest of us know - that David Cameron has done wonders to change the Conservative Party's attitudes and beliefs on these issues in a very short time. After the next election there will be around 20-25 gay Tory MPs, who are unafraid to be described as such. Anyone who believes that the Tory Party will ever go back to the days of Section 28 just needs to look at the ConservativeHome survey of PPCs. They may be economic Thatcherites, but they are very socially liberal. Bradshaw should rejoice in that fact. But he's too small minded to do so.

What a shame. Instead of throwing petty insults at a politician who is a friend of the gay rights agenda, why doesn't he spend his time dealing with a party of real homophobes, the BNP.

Tune in tomorrow morning to read another extract of my interview with Nick Griffin, in which I ask him about his views on gay issues - and indeed, whether he has ever had gay sex himself. Brace yourselves...


Jason Myers said...

I think these votes should be a free vote too. Ben Bradshaw is up there with Harriet - they don't want equality they want more than that. If Bradshaw had his way words like "camp" & "gay" would be outlawed because someone somewhere may feel offended. Get a life Bradshaw. Your government has ruined the economy & I hope the voters remember that come polling day. Arrogant. Out of touch. Deadwood. Limp Government. With added SLEAZE!

Chris said...

The reason we left-wingers love this is that it shows him up for what we believe he is. By this I DON'T mean anti-gay. I really don't believe he has any opinions on this issue one way or the other (although his past voting record speaks otherwise). It's just that he has no core principles and simply recites what he thinks will make him more popular. This was a classic case of him getting muddled up and losing his place in his "script".

Also equally bad was his excuse - instantly exposed as a lie by Channel 4 news. The fact he head to tell a blatant lie just proves what many of us already know - that the Tories haven't changed. It's like a parent uncomfortably lying to protect their disgraced child when they know that they've acted appallingly.

Bird said...

There is a definite Labour drive to damage Cameron, Hague and Osborne. They opine that if the leading lights of the Tories can be ridiculed, then they are brought down to Brown's level.
We are into a feverish phase now where every utterance on both sides is analysed for gaffes and inconsistancies.
Tories need to be particularly careful, because the BBC is on their case. Even straightforward announcements by Cameron are followed immediately with a rebuttle by a Labour figure and more often or not with a sneering putdown from the saintly Vince Cable.
Be careful Dave; not long to go.

Richard Manns said...

I agree that the Tory Party has changed a lot recently, at least in its outward face.

But I'd argue that the wholesale swing to socially liberal policies might be a generational one rather than some personal mission of Cameron; surely he's an example and leader of his generation, not the creator of it.

Graham said...

Ian Dales's defence of David Cameron is distinctly ill-informed. Had he bothered to view the Channel 4 report he would know that Tory MEPs have voted on matters relating to the internal affairs of another member state - so the claim that Tory MEPs abstained on the Lithuanian Section 28 vote because it was an internal matter of another state is simply wrong.

He also distorts the issue of Civil Partnership ceremonies taking place in religious premises. No-one is forcing those responsible for a place of worship to accept the right gays to get "married" there. Rather the issue is that the present law specifically forbids incorporating a religious element into a Civil Partnership ceremony.

The problem for David Cameron was not the format of the meeting with Gay Times. It was that having changed his own views on homosexuality, and sought to bring the Tory Party along with him, he is still faced with a solid block of activists who simply do not accept his analysis. Rather than confront these people, he has opted to fudge the problem, which is why is got himself into such a mess in the Gay Times interview.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Bradshaw says whatever he is told to. He's not averse to screwing his own kind in many areas when it suits his career.

I'm not overly up-to-speed on gay issues (my sister has never found anything particularly restrictive) but your account tends to confirm that Labour have no sense of compromise in any form.

It's comply or die, every time.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Your post was good for your health, of course, Iain. Blew all that anger away, didn't it? ;-)

Mark Butler said...

Cameron was unusually flustered in that interview. Bradshaw's response was irritating but his comments about Cameron's voting record are valid-didn't David vote to retain the dreaded Section 28 act? I believe David made that mistake because he was a new MP and just followed the-then-party line but it was a foolish mistake to do so.

Mikey said...

In my constituency, straight Tory activists are in the minority! Just go to any conference & walk into hotel bars full of openly gay Conservative party members. We really have moved on as a party. Whereas the Lib Dems & Labour party members print bollocks in every gay publication saying Gay people have no right to be in the Conservative party, & gay members are somehow betraying the 'Gay community'.

The main problem for the conservative party, is that it's Gay members are far more interested in the big issues, Economy, defense, NHS & local issues, than trying to constantly pick equality fights that have already been won. Sadly the whole Equality 'victim-hood' industry can't seem to accept that society has moved on, they're now no longer required.

golden_balls said...

Thats the worst interview given by DC that i've ever seen. I'm suprised by how poor his performance was.

No doubting he's changed the party policy regarding Gay issues but has he taken his party along with him !

If Brown had given such an interview it would be headline news and you'd blog it to death.

Cheap shot at Bradshaw iain DC made a mistake and looked bewildered during the interview.

take it on the chin and accept more work needs to be done by the tories on gay rights.

Jimmy said...

"I would certainly welcome it, but as a libertarian I could not in all conscience vote to force churches to allow them."

And someone is proposing this?

Magical_Mist said...

"This was a classic case of him getting muddled up and losing his place in his "script"".

I see you were listening to Ben Bradshaw with all ears open.

Magical_Mist said...

"The problem for David Cameron was not the format of the meeting with Gay Times. It was that having changed his own views on homosexuality, and sought to bring the Tory Party along with him, he is still faced with a solid block of activists who simply do not accept his analysis. Rather than confront these people, he has opted to fudge the problem, which is why is got himself into such a mess in the Gay Times interview."

And I would imagine a majority of the population are still 'anti-gay'/hostile to gays, too. I don't think it will have any lasting impact - although that is of course wishful thinking ;)

Andrew Reeves said...

Iain, while I agree with the sentiments about Ben Bradshaw, if that same interview had been Clegg or Brown the Tory blogosphere/tweets etc would have been non stop attacking them for all sorts so play fair!

The Lithuanian vote was a massive story within the LGBT and Euro community at they time and I don't agree no-one knew and Cameron should have been properly briefed.

The print/TV interview excuse is rubbish, those kind of interviews happen all of the time.

Cameron lost it tonight and deserves the criticism.

As for Bradshaw, well he will never change nor grow up.

JuliaM said...

"I really don't believe he has any opinions on this issue one way or the other (although his past voting record speaks otherwise). It's just that he has no core principles and simply recites what he thinks will make him more popular."

And that's so different from any other politician? Including those on the left?

Wally West said...

Umm, there's a difference between the Lords and the Commons (and indeed the European Parliament). One is appointed, the other is elected and is more controlled by party leaders. The two chambers are not directly comparable. This is simply equivocation on your part.

Lady Finchley said...

Everyone harking back to DC's vote on the wretched Section 28 needs to get a life - people can and do change their views in a lifetime.

David Cameron is certainly not afraid to nail his flag to the mast about this or any other issue:


This is just one of the many instances - the Stonewall Hustings, Student Pride in Brighton to name but a few. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Is Ben Bradshaw ex BBC.

Says it all. He is rubbish.

Anonymous said...

Iain, you have the wrong end of the stick the story is..

David Cameron is a shallow opportunist who does not have any depth to his views. He has learnt a script which he repeats parrot fashion.

The reason this is dangerous for minority communities is that he is the front for an essentially unreformed organisation which still contains extreme right wing elements which are trying to gain power. The interview is a perfect example of his deception.

Ben Bradshaw on the other hand is a model of moderation.

Sean said...

On hearg this news my thoughts were

a. Who is Ben Bradshaw? Yes, the political insiders may know, but nobody else cares except his constituents. (Yes, I googled him)

b. Cameron should have said "I'm not familiar with the details of that vote but will look into it" since, as you rightly point out, it's not possible for him to be utterly familiar with every detail of every vote in every level of government.

And (b) isn't a criticism of Cameron: we can't expect MPs to be word-perfect 24 hours a day. This was, at worst, a slip of the tongue, not a matter of policy or startling revelation.

Storm, teacup.

Unsworth said...

Cameron isn't going to get it absolutely right 24 hours a day.

Bradshaw isn't going to get it absolutely right for even one hour a day. He is a pompous, preening, self-obsessed clown. He's a junior version of Pound.

At least Cameron looks a bit more human. He's bound to make mistakes - as we all are.

Bradshaw's problem is his total denial of making any mistakes, ever. And that is his fundamental weakness. Still pride before fall, eh?

Moriarty said...

Incidentally and speaking of Labour hypocrisy did I really see Lord Mortgage on C4 News saying that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones?

No Peter, and nor should they use a catapult.

Bob said...

For a gay man, he in one giant c***

richard.blogger said...

Iain, the story wasn't Bradshaw. You should look at the video of Cameron, that was the story.

The story was that he was distracted and reciting from the wrong script. This is the first time that people have seen this from him. His cloak of infallibility seemed to fall away.

The reason why us on the Left are pleased about this is cause we have always known him to be a sham reading from Steve Hilton's script, and this is proof that if he does not have enough preparation he cannot deliver.

It also shows that the TV debates have the potential of Cameron crumbling under pressure when he gets flustered as he forgets his script.

As you and I know, anyone can give an hour's talk without notes, actors do it all the time. The problem with a politician living by the script rather than convictions, is that he has to learn so many scripted replies with the possibility that there will be a question is not on the script. That is what happened in the Gay Times interview, and it will happen in the TV debates. The only danger for Brown is not to appear bullying when Cam crumbles, but maybe he will leave it up to Clegg to do that.

Mark Taylor said...

"I should say that to vote against religious premises HAVING to allow civil partnerships on their premises does not make one homophobic."

Why should you say that when it's totally irrelevant? The amendment doesn't force religious organisations to do anything; it gives them the choice. Indeed, it was raised as a matter of religious freedom.

Roger Thornhill said...

What amazes me is that the law is getting into such detail. What a waste of time! What ARROGANCE!

How about: "The State now recognises that it no longer has (and never should have had?) control over where when or how and in combination with what a Civil Partnership is performed and nobody has the right to force a person, group or place to be party to it or to explain why they refuse".

No forcing on others. No limitations on who the two people could be or where.

If the Civil Partnership brings any legal or financial rights then I can see it is better to be witnessed and recorded by someone who is responsible for the validity of the resultant documentation, but little else.

Roger Thornhill said...

p.s. Cameron was a bit of a car-crash in the vid.

I do think this is significantly a result of Cameron appearing to have no fundamental ideological basis for his position on anything.

Unknown said...

Iain. Tory MEPs introduced a motion about press freedom in Italy - an internal matter. There is no such convention.

I don't think Cameron is homophobic. I don't really think he cares too much about these things. But the party seems very much at odds with him over equality, marriage, green issues. But they are so desperate for power they'll say anything these days.


Anonymous said...

It's like when they asked Boris Johnson if he had ever had gay sex and he replied "Not yet".

Unknown said...

Iain wrote: "...problem with the interview was that Cameron didn't know if he was giving a print interview or a film interview"

He was being filmed which was a bit of a giveaway!

I don't think Cameron will be asking you to be his next spin doctor...

Guppy said...

It was the Labour government in which Bradshaw was a member that inserted the prohibition on religious premises performing civil partnerships in the first place.

Does that make him a homophobic bigot?

Moriarty said...

"He's a junior version of Pound. "

Oh come on. Nobody's as bad as Stephen Pound MP (Ealing and Nearest Television Camera).

Graham said...

This isn't the first time that Tory MEPs have given tacit support to anti-gay legislation and utterances in other EU member states by abstaining. In the last EU parliament there was a similar vote which criticised the putative (now actual) allies of the Tory MEPs in Poland because of their attitude to homosexuality. The same argument was trotted out then by Tory MEPs to defend their action in abstaining on the motion. (In fact one Tory MEP John Bowis did support the motion but sadly he did not stand again in the recent elections.) So David Cameron should have known when agreeing to talk to Gay Times that the Tory MEPs have got form on the issue of gay rights.

Martin S said...

Let's see what the distilled criticism of Iain Dale's take on this is:

"Iain! You shouldn't think what YOU think! You should think what I think! How dare you have opinions that differ from mine? Anyweay, you can't be a 'real' gay because you are not a member of the Labour Party, like what I am! Blah, blah, blah, etc., etc., etc., cont. page 94...

OldSlaughter said...

"a matter of equality and fundamental human rights should be a free vote."

So whether or not two men can have the ceremony celebrating a change to their legal status on Quaker grounds is 'a fundamental human rights issue'!!!

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I never remebered seeing that on the Bill of Rights. If this is a 'fundamental' right that may explain why they take such a dim few to things like free speech and habeas corpus.

But then these jokers passing acts calling cancer care a 'right'.

God only knows which brush daft marxist cretin lectured him through university.

Unsworth said...

@ Moriarty

You're right, but we should remember that Pound has had a few years more of being a total prat than Bradshaw. Give the boy a little time - he's learning fast - and I'm sure he'll match or even exceed Pound's gross stupidity and self-regard.

SteveH103 said...

I live in Exeter and ben Bradshaw is actually a very good constituency MP, But i have been dismayed by his behaviour in the last 6 to 12 months. Whether hes been asked to or has taken it upon himself i dont know, but hes become Gordons attack poodle and its all rather pathetic.
Whenever you hear him speak now on whatever subject he uses it to launch an exaggerated and shrill attack on the Tories. Some of these attacks -if you can call them that-tell you more about this mans mental state than the state of the Tories. All rather grubby and sad, but isn`t that New Labour all over?

Anonymous said...

When will you realise that all labourites, gay or not are just a load of gobshites.

Pretty clear that the bloke interviewing Cameron had an agenda to stiff him. Just like the arsehole 'Chris' in all his ignorant bigotry.

The reason left-wingers love this Chris - is that some conniving lying bastard has twisted the truth to try to shaft Cameron. And some lyoing bastard conniving labour minister jumps in to do the same.

So just bog off Chris - I have had a bellyful of lying bastard socialists over the last 13 years. Its bad enough that once again they have ruined the country - without them insulting my intelligence.

OBC News said...

Mrs Thatcher certainly wouldn't have fallen to pieces like that. She would have made the same point that you did Iain - it is not right for our politicians to interfere with the laws of other democratic nations any more than it is for them to interfere in ours. And it would be most distasteful to enforce a top-down opinion on such matters. That Cameron failed to make such an obvious point is both surprising and worrying.

Braveheart said...

Not sure if all contributors have seen the interview: it's here


IMO Cameron choked when he couldn't answer the question of why his MEPs abstained on the Lithuanian "section 28" vote.

And the excuse that they don't interfere in other countries' business is not true: Tory MEPs tabled a motion on Italian TV censorship.