Pro Gay? Vote Conservative!
It’s that time of year again when we all cast out votes to decide who will run our communities for the year ahead. That’s right folks, across Britain local authorities, including County, Borough, District, Metropolitan, Unitary and Parish councils will be electing some, if not all of their members. So why mention this? Is there a gay vote to canvass?
No! And that’s precisely the point, there is no gay vote. Gay voters don’t vote en masse for the party that hands out the biggest gay rights bundle. Gay voters aren’t universally left wing. In fact, polls show quite the opposite, but also pose some contradictory answers.
For example, a poll of around 4000 gay men showed that 23% would vote conservative at the next election, compared to 21% labour, 21% undecided and 12% liberal democrat.
And yet a recent You Gov survey of around 1000 gays and lesbians showed that 90% expected to face discrimination if they were standing in an election for the conservative party.
So, gay people are prepared to vote for the party, but not work for it?
The problem here is perception. It will take some time for the Conservative party to rid itself of its image of being the party of hate. Combating this mistaken viewpoint is one of the principle aims of the Tory lobby group LGBTory co-founded by Anastasia Beaumont-Bott, who is also on the executive for Conservative Future.
This is the kind of conservatism that younger conservatives, modern conservatives are bringing to the part, and modernisation move championed by our beloved David Cameron. The facts of this progress speak for themselves. There may be more openly gay labour MPs, but the conservatives hierarchy of talent has still produced more gays in positions of power, including on the Tory Frontbench. Not to mention that the first openly gay MP to enter into a civil partnership will be Tory MP Alan Duncan.
But if the image remains that the Tories are gay hating why are the majority of gay people prepared to vote for them?
The simple answer is that gay people are the least single issue voting group around. Gay people are more likely to vote in a party that potentially sets back their position as a group in order to address other issues such as crime, security, economy etc.
As a result of this tendency among the gay community, the conservative party has attracted a lot of younger gays, and is doing so at an even greater rate now we have a modernising leader in the form of David Cameron. This in turn drives the pressures to change from within the party forcing it to adopt its policies.
Equally though, there is the political stance of our leaders to consider. David Cameron is a gay friendly party leader with a proven track record of gay rights. When talking about traditional conservative family policies, Cameron includes gay families in this as a matter of course.
Whereas Gordon Brown has the 2nd worse track record of gay rights support in the labour cabinet. 2nd only to Opus Dei member, Ruth Kelly, who tried to block implementation of numerous gay rights initiatives whilst being the Secretary of State responsibility for supporting the gay community!
Lets face it, who would you rather vote for?
But gay conservatives don’t simply exist here in the Sceptred Isle you know. Elections are coming up in that little insignificant place across the sea as well (no, I mean the USA not Belgium…). To a distant Britannic citizen, elections, and indeed politics as a whole have always appeared to be a far more polarised issue than they are here in the land of liberty. Not only that, but British Conservatism even prior to Cameron’s reforms is to centrist, to “liberal” (as if it were a horrible word) for our American cousins. Likewise American republicanism, being so far to the right of modern conservatism has often been likened to Britain’s BNP, a far right ultra nationalist (racist bigoted prejudiced) party.
Yet despite all the above, gay republicanism exists, and surprisingly grows. Even in America, with the republicans jumping up and down so hard on gay rights that gay people are being treated as 2nd class citizens, and with the democrats championing gay rights as they do the cause of all minority groups, there is no cohesive gay vote.
Perhaps that should serve as a message of warning to republicans. Just because you trash gays at every opportunity doesn’t mean we won’t vote for you, and join your party. That’s when you really need to fear us, when you find out the gays in your own caucus have successfully lobbied for a truly progressive republican candidate, an American version of David Cameron.
We can only hope.
But either way, no matter what party gets elected, they have a long way to go, not just in improving gay rights, but in enforcing them, and educating people about them.
Despite the various government agencies having rigid equal opportunities policies, and despite the numerous amount of equality legislation in force, people still have a perception of the government machine as being generally homophobic, either in its actions towards people in general, or in its treatment of gay people when they approach it. Equally, while there is a list of 100 British Employers that have been granted Stonewall’s recognition as a top gay employer, there has been a spate of recent criticism that these organisations gay policies on equality are simply being ignored at the lower levels.
The legislation may be in place nationally, but there is still a lot to be done to secure equality for gay people, and now we really need to take that fight to a local level to ensure that national legislation is given its proper effect by the people responsible for enforcing or implementing it.
So the local elections matter, and even if you’re not gay, its especially important to make use of your vote, to have your say. These elections may not effect national security, they may not effect foreign policy, or criminal justice, but they do effect how your council tax is spent, how clean your city is, and how well maintained your streets are. Little issues, local issues, but ones that directly impact on your every day life.
So mark it in your diary, May 1st, Local Elections.
the Black Prince