CommentIsLinked@LDV: Nick Clegg – While the Conservatives try to appear gay-friendly, they now stand shoulder with march-banning bigots

by Stephen Tall on July 4, 2009

Over at LabourList, Nick Clegg pens a powerful post in favour of the strides taken in recent years to enshrine equal rights for gay people. Here’s an excerpt:

Like many people, in 1997 I hoped that with the right cast into the political wilderness a permanent victory for gay rights was in sight. But discrimination still lingers in the statute book, and homophobia still festers in homes, offices and classrooms. Gay rights, like all minority rights, should by now have become unquestionable. But in practice they are still too often treated like privileges, falling in and out of favour with politicians. David Cameron’s recent apology over Section 28 is a prime example. Leadership is about speaking out on issues when they matter, not simply when you judge public opinion has moved. …

I am determined that the Liberal Democrats will remain outspoken and steadfast in our defence of gay rights, from backing same sex marriage to stopping the deportation of gay asylum seekers to countries were homosexuality is punishable by death. There has been much progress in recent years, and much to celebrate. But as long as homophobia still rears its ugly head in workplaces, in classrooms, and even in the home – politicians must continue to speak out in favour of the values of gay rights. For me, it is quite simply one of the touchstones of what a liberal society should be: open, tolerant and free of prejudice.

You can read the article in full HERE.

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Can Clegg explain why the Lib Dems are part of the Liberal grouping in Europe that includes known homophobic MEP’s?

Stones and glasshouses?

by john zims on July 4, 2009 at 11:18 am. Reply #

john – I’m not sure of the individuals you’re thinking of – perhaps you can supply names and instances – but ALDE (the liberal grouping in the European Parliament of which the Lib Dems are members) has taken specific stands in favour of equal gay rights. See for details. Let’s see if ALDE’s unequivocal stance is matched by the Tories’ new right-wing grouping.

by Stephen Tall on July 4, 2009 at 11:24 am. Reply #

Why the hell is Clegg posting this on LabourList?

by burkesworks on July 4, 2009 at 11:40 am. Reply #

burkesworks – why the hell not? Genuine question. After all, he’s more likely to reach non-Lib Dems there than here. And he’ll be writing an article for Lib Dem Voice in the next 10 days.

by Stephen Tall on July 4, 2009 at 11:45 am. Reply #

Stephen – he’d have been far better off posting it here and possibly crossposting to LL; as it stands by posting his (admittedly fine) article there he’s more likely to put the hardcore Labourites’ backs up rather than converting them over to us from The Dark Side. Imagine the effect if he were to try the same over at Mrs Dale’s Diary!

Also, of all the Labour sites he could have picked, why pick Draper’s? That whole project is thoroughly discredited, a total tarbaby of a site. If he was wanting to reach out to Labour supporters without annoying his own, why didn’t he post to LabourLiberalConspiracy instead, despite all its faults a much more acceptable platform?

by burkesworks on July 4, 2009 at 12:24 pm. Reply #

Bah. LDV’s software doesn’t support the “” tag.

by burkesworks on July 4, 2009 at 12:26 pm. Reply #

Because it’s LABOURLIST. It’s the official organ of the Labour party, with or without the involvement of Draper. Because the Torygraph have been trying to seed rumours of a Lib Lab coalition for months, and he’s just given them ammunition. Because it makes us look like the only way we can get anyone to pay attention to us is to get into bed with the frigging Labour party…

by Jennie on July 4, 2009 at 12:43 pm. Reply #

So talking to supporters is the same as getting into bed with them?

I’d better be careful on the doorsteps this weekend…

by Helen Duffett on July 4, 2009 at 12:47 pm. Reply #

That’s a little over-excitable, isn’t it, Ms R? Presumably you’re not saying we shouldn’t be reaching out to disaffected Labour supporters. How would you go about doing that without, you know, talking to Labour people?

Mind you, I have suggested that he’d have seen better results writing for LibCon. They’re a lot more likely to be disaffected.

I love the way the top comment is some long rant about how Nick is being dishonest because of the legislation banning violent porn images. Yeah, cos Lib Dems were right behind that and it was in no way forced through by Labour. These bozos don’t even know enough to become properly disaffected.

by Alix on July 4, 2009 at 12:50 pm. Reply #

Always practise safe canvassing, Helen.

by Alix on July 4, 2009 at 12:51 pm. Reply #

I’m not saying we shouldn’t reach out to disaffected Labour supporters AT ALL. I’m saying that writing for a partisan bruiser of a site is likely to be extremely counterproductive in all sorts of ways. Despite my resignation from it, I would have no complaints had this appeared on Lib Con. Because, for all it’s faults, Lib Con is NOT LabourList.

Helen: that sentence is as facile and fatuous in a comment as it is in a tweet. Talking to someone who belongs to the freemasons is not the same thing as putting on the garb and learning the funny handshake and addressing the Lodge, and you bloody know it.

by Jennie on July 4, 2009 at 12:57 pm. Reply #

I am with Jennie and Burkesworks on this. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a rare tactical misjudgement from Nick.

He is legitimising a discredited Labour site and I am really unchuffed with him for doing it.

Labour has made progress in terms of gay rights, but they have done some appalling things too – suggesting gay people should be discreet before deporting them back face almost certain persecution from their regimes.

However, what Nick says is absolutely spot on.

by Caron on July 4, 2009 at 1:04 pm. Reply #

Jennie, you don’t get to choose your voters and talking to non Lib Dems, via any channel, is more likely to increase votes than talking to a lot of Lib Dems.

I mean, I may not like the Daily Sport or what it stands for but Lembit’s column does reach out to voters who just aren’t going to pick up the Indy!

And as for him going on Labourlist and not LC – well, there’s nothing to stop him going on LC as well.

Good grief – I never imagined that a leader who seeks out diverse audiences would be a bad thing.

If he were selling out our principles etc then that would be a different thing but if we want to win more seats we’re going to have to get people who have always voted Labour and have always voted Tory to come and vote for us instead. That will mean going on all sorts of websites to get our voice heard and there’s everything right with that.

I really don’t know what the fuss is about unless it’s just all blogosphere partisanship getting a bit over excited.

by Jo Christie-Smith on July 4, 2009 at 1:14 pm. Reply #

Jennie: addressing the Lodge, being in bed, etc are generally private events. LabourList can be read by anyone, and Nick’s posting on there doesn’t imply any secret deals.

by Helen Duffett on July 4, 2009 at 1:15 pm. Reply #

It’s good to have the first mainstream party leader to come out in favour of equal marriage, and in such clear basic liberalism terms. If only he’d done it a day or two ago it would be in our London Pride leaflets!

Nick’s piece – perhaps due to where it is – does refrain from pointing out quite how hugely spun the “Labour” record of achievement on LGBT issues is. Whether rolling back trans employment rights (1999), throwing taxpayers money at defending the military ban, or stonewalling on other equality measures, the reforms of the last decade have happened despite Labour and thanks to the work of Lib Dems like Lord Lester and thanks to European rulings.

Writing elsewhere, he perhaps could be more upfront about that. Labour hugely over-state their record on LGBT matters and it seems we tend to under-state ours.

by Jen on July 4, 2009 at 1:18 pm. Reply #

Jo, it’s a knocking bet that nobody who buys the Daily Sport reads it for Lembit’s column!

by burkesworks on July 4, 2009 at 1:18 pm. Reply #

For sure, Burkesworks, but it’s still there and he writes rather well, I think. I had to do some research into when I was on SkyNews about how he couldn’t access his column online in the HoP becasue it was blocked by the firewall – which in a place of work – I htink is a good thing. I was ready to cringe but I was pleasantly surprised.

But the point about Nick writing for Labourlist is that it’s not about what we the Lib Dem blogosphere htink about it.

Put your self in the position of a Labourlist reader:

They don’t think of it as a ‘discredited’ site – they’re reading it!

They also don’t need Nick to come in all guns blazing and tell them everything that Labour has done wrong over the last 10 years (and that they may well have supported) – that would get them a little defensive, don’t you think?

But by reading something that Nick writes, that is true to Lib Dem values, but that they can also agree with might, might just get them to give a vote to us when they can’t countenance voting Labour any more than the Torys, the Greens or something equally weird like Respect etc.

So, we may not like the website – but it’s not about what we think of it – we’re not the people he’s trying to talk to – it’s about what your average Labourlist reader thinks of it – and they, are just different to us.

by Jo Christie-Smith on July 4, 2009 at 1:43 pm. Reply #

Maybe, Jo, but the only place I can see it making much of a difference is in the kind of Con/Lib Dem marginals where Labour absolutely cannot win under FPTP. Even then, the kind of folk that post regularly to LabourList tend to be Labour through and through and don’t countenance tactical voting; indeed there’s a certain strain of Labour supporter that hates us more than they do the Tories (think Luke Akehurst or some of the Harry’s Place gang), and that type is much in evidence on LL. They’d carp at Nick even if he were revealed to be the Archangel Gabriel!

by burkesworks on July 4, 2009 at 1:51 pm. Reply #

when i read nicks peice on ll i half expected some of their people to object because labor politics is tribal, based on identity not ideology. thats why they can go on being labor when they disagree with most of the policies & actually hate most of the leadership.
our politics is based on values & ideas & our leader should talk to people from other democratic parties any chance he gets. the only legitimacy nick has conferred is on the labor party itself, its a legitamate party with a right to exist.

by paul barker on July 4, 2009 at 2:07 pm. Reply #

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