Now it is the turn of the Ford Motor Company. I read in today's Telegraph that an outfit called the American Family Association (AFA) is launching a boycott against Ford, with claims it has given thousands of dollars to gay rights groups, offers benefits to same-sex couples and actively recruits gay employees. In response, a spokesman for the company, vice president of human resources Joe Laymon, is quoted as saying:
|"Ford values all people, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural or physical differences."|
The thing is that Ford, along with fellow US car-maker General Motors, is currently struggling to increase sales, these having fallen 10.5 per cent in May to 283,994 units, with the year-to-date decline in sales a significant 4.1 per cent. Specially hit are sales of sports utility vehicles (SUVs, or 4x4s in British parlance) and trucks. This contrasts with rising sales trends for Japanese rivals Toyota and Nissan.
Who knows where this might lead? Outfits such as the AFA (and in the UK there are a couple of similar outfits - I won't name them here as these people thrive on publicity and I don't plan to add to it!) may potentially be able to influence the policies of major US corporations. Microsoft has, it seems, been able successfully to resist and thwart the efforts of the Christian-right to force it to change its generally even-handed policies toward all kinds of different employees, but Microsoft is a highly successful and profitable organisation even if, in business, nothing is certain for ever. Ford, on the other hand, is going through a very tough patch and whilst I don't doubt it will do its utmost to stay true to its similarly even-handed policies may perhaps eventually be forced to modify these, perhaps subtly in the short term. Where is this all leading? The pendulum-swing to the right in the US may not yet have run its course and, sooner or later, such trends often flow across the Atlantic to our shores. Already you can read the kind of thing that worries me in the blog of a young Conservative-supporter; amongst some decent (or at least semi-decent) analysis he does also express himself in ways that do make me wonder where this could lead, if people like him gained the ascendancy. One cannot comfort oneself by thinking complacently that it is only amongst the elderly that such notions are increasingly being spoken aloud, even if I don't necessarily believe that the Conservatives will head back to their recent right-wing stances with the aim of trying to increase their popular support. The conventional wisdom is that only Parties which occupy a broadly centre-left or centre-right position in the political spectrum can succeed in the UK, but some younger people with Conservative leanings seem to see things differently. The Labour Party has its own much more left-wing fringes too, of course, but these are more a threat to our economic well-being than to 'lifestyle minorities'. We live in interesting times - and not just in relation to the current traumas in the European Union.
UPDATE: (Monday 6JUN05 15.50 BST) Someone has sent me an interesting link about what are said to be 'gay' products (you are advised to make sure your irony alert monitor is in full working order before reading this or any other posting on that site) - I've never really thought of it like that before, although it is perfectly true that when I was replacing my car a couple of months ago I looked seriously at the Toyota Prius and even had a test drive in one - which I enjoyed a lot, so I suppose my 'gay credentials' are secure ... ho, ho; I finally decided to replace my existing Honda Accord with the updated version of the Accord - I've always liked Honda; they are comfortable and I never have any problem with them. I do not, however, own an iPod.