The Conservative party and the gay vote
Next Monday's one-day summit for young gay men and lesbians called the Way Ahead, to be hosted by Charles Hendry, shadow minister for young people and Conservative party deputy chairman, is meant to be a practical demonstration that the Conservative party's attitude toward homosexuality is changing, and for the better. I certainly hope so, but as this pretty balanced Guardian article demonstrates there is some cynicism (which I share) that this change is possibly not one of conviction, but is simply a move to attract voters (gay and otherwise) who were put off voting for the Conservative party by its intolerant attitudes and policies toward gay people - I am certainly amongst those who chose, for the first time since I was able to vote, NOT to vote Conservative at the last elections here (Scottish parliamentary and local) in May 2003. I wrote about Charles Hendry in February 2002 (before I began this blog, so the article is in my main website's comment area), when he was apppinted to his youth role within the party, expressing my scepticism that he could be effective, but I am certainly willing to be convinced otherwise - I will await the results of Monday's conference, over coming months, with some interest.
UPDATE: (Sunday 28MAR03 10.15 BST) Unfortunately, I fear the comments made by the person who has commented on this post state nothing less than the unvarnished truth. With its blatantly homophobic record I am afraid it is very much up to the Conservative Party to demonstrate by concrete steps, not just fine words, that it really has changed - and for ever. So far as I am concerned it is definitely 'on probation' - a first step will be to see how its MPs and Peers actually vote when gay-relevant subjects come up in the Houses of Commons or Lords. For example, if the usual suspects mount rearguard actions to try and stop change, then I will expect instant withdrawal of the Party whip by Michael Howard - no pussy-footing around with anodyne comments! And the comments made about the Conservative 'Gay Group' are absolutely spot on - I haven't seen the latest attempt at George Orwellian 'Newspeak' by them, but its current leadership inspires me with no confidence at all, which is why I have refused to renew my membership for a couple of years - I cannot begin to understand what their motivation can be; it certainly does not seem to have ANYTHING to do with the advancement of equality in this country. (I better stop before I self-combust in a fit of rage ... sigh)