by Stephen Tall on July 3, 2009
2 Big Stories
Is homphobia still rife on the Tory benches?
That’s the allegation from Labour cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw:
Ben Bradshaw has said “a deep strain of homophobia still exists on the Conservative benches”. Mr Bradshaw, one of three gay men currently in the cabinet, made the comments as a new poll suggested more gay people were turning to the Tories. Chris Bryant, another gay minister, said: “If gays vote Tory they will rue the day very soon.”
For what it’s worth I suspect that equality for gay people is the one area where the Tories have genuinely changed over the years – though there have been recent allegations from prominent Tories themselves that perhaps attitudes haven’t changed as much as they might wish to believe. And of course it’s a very recent conversion. As recently as 2003, David Cameron voted for the retention of Margaret Thatcher’s infamous section 28, an action he apologised for just a couple of days ago.
Row over ex-Speaker Martin’s peerage
Michael Martin might have resigned as chair of the House of Commons, but controversy continues to dog him. First of all, there was the question of his pension pay-off, then whether he should be appointed to the House of Lords
, and now the allegation that the House of Lords vetting panel pointedly noted that candidates should “enhance rather than diminish” the second chamber. The claim has prompted a furious retort from ex-Speaker Martin’s ertswhile Labour colleagues:
Sixteen MPs are calling for chairman Lord Jay to withdraw the comments. They have signed a Commons motion saying they were “dismayed” to read about the comments in the Guardian newspaper – adding Mr Martin had “served this House so well as an elected member with great integrity, charm and good temper”.
There’s an easy way to avoid such problems with appointments to the Lords, as Lib Dem blogger ‘Costigan Quist’ observes:
Over the years, democracies have developed quite a good way of getting round this problem. It’s called voting. It’s a really clever idea where candidates stand for election, the people vote and the winners get elected. Perhaps we should give it a try.
2 must-read blog-posts
Iain Dale and political morailty (Jonathan Calder)
Noting the top Tory blogger’s double-standards as he tries to “position himself as an arbiter of political morality” for the Norwich North by-election.
Should Early Day Motions be scrapped? (Mark Thompson)
Whilst I can see that it could be argued that they are a waste of money, at the same time I know it is a good way for campaigns to get a foothold. I know that some electoral reform campaigns have used the “Lobby your MP to sign EDM …” to help gauge parliamentary support and give them more traction.