Have the Tories really embraced ‘equality’?


1:15 pm - April 21st 2010

by Unity    


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If you’ve looked in at Left Foot Forward at any time in the last 24 hours then you’ll already know that David Cameron has finally got around to repudiating Chris Grayling’s recent B&B gaffe.

Nevertheless, there is something in Cameron’s reported remarks that, frankly, sent the needle on my personal bullshit detector right off the end of the scale, and it’s this comment:

“I mean the truth is that, you know, the Conservative Party now accepts wholeheartedly the equality agenda for people, whether you’re black or white or straight or gay, man or woman, is really important. That’s the bedrock of our manifesto.”

Let’s take a look at the Tory’s manifesto and see if we can find where it mentions this particular bit of ‘bedrock’:

This vision demands a cultural change across the country. Our success will depend not just on the actions we take but on society’s response. By promoting equality and tackling discrimination, our policies, like recognising civil partnerships as well as marriage in the tax system and helping disabled people live independently, will give everybody the chance to play their part. This way, we can make Britain fairer and safer; a country where opportunity is more equal.

And that’s your lot…

Seriously, that is only paragraph in the Tory’s 131 page manifesto in which the words ‘equality’ or ‘discrimination’ appear.

‘Civil partnerships’ does make a second appearance, later on in the manifesto, but only as part of a one line statement about the Tories’ pitiful tax break for married couples, while ‘inequality’ appears a total of seven times but only ever in concert with a reference to poverty.

So, if it’s bedrock you’re after, it looks like you’ll have more luck with the Flintstones.

If you really want to see the bedrock on which the Tory manifesto is founded then you have to look beyond the manifesto at one or two other sources, the most important of which, as we’re talking here aboutsocial policy, is the output of Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘Centre of Social Justice’ and, in particular, the Conservative Social Policy Justice Group which produced the CSJ “Breakdown Britain” and “Breakthrough Britain” reports.

It’s here that we find a very different view of this ‘equality agenda’ being expressed:

Since the 1960’s there has been a constant flow of primary and secondary legislation affecting divorce, sexual freedom, abortion rights, homosexual lifestyles, tax & benefits and more. In combination these laws have undermined the value of marriage as an institution, mainly by elevating the value of other relationship structures now generally considered to lack the longevity and strength that marriage brings to the family unit.

‘Fractured Families’ (Dec 2006), Conservative Social Policy Justice Group/Centre for Social Justice, pp 92.

For once, we can skip over the ridiculous proposition that the long and rather tortuous road from legalising homosexuality to equalising the age of consent and putting civil partnerships in place has undermined marriage and focus rather more closely on the choice of language.

In truth, just about the only place you’ll ever encounter the phrase  ‘homosexual lifestyle’, at the present time, is within the rhetoric of the religious right – I doubt that its a phrase that even a bona fide gay lifestyle magazine would resort to. Just try searching Google and you’ll see exactly what I mean – the vast majority of the results that Google returns are condemnatory articles by religious groups/individuals, although there is a rather nice personal article on coming out at the top of the current list that’s well worth reading.

Although it may seem innocuous enough, the phrase ‘homosexual lifestyle’ is almost exclusively used in ‘popular culture’ in a pejorative sense  and only then by people who, for primarily religious reasons, cannot or will not accept that homosexuality is anything other than an aberration and/or a moral defect; an unnatural and disordered state of mind that must be either ‘cured’ or suppressed with the help of a big old dose of god, lashings of prejudice and emotional blackmail and, if all else fails, a couple of hundred volts across the temples.

This is nor the language of acceptance, nor even the language of mere tolerance.

This is the language of people who, in the United State, are happily shipping the kids off to religious re-education camps of the type that that are every bit as repressive as any Stalinist gulag, in order to have them effectively ‘straightened’ out…

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About the author
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Elections2010 ,Equality

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Reader comments


1. Flowerpower

Unity

If you take another look at the sentence in which the offending words occur, you’ll perhaps understand that primary and secondary legislation cannot have any effect on sexual orientation (a natural phenomenon, as you say), but they can have a big effect on lifestyle – for example, by legitimizing sexual acts previously unlawful.

On your wider point: Cameron does not need to demonstrate that every single Tory accepts the new orthodoxy, any more than Gordon Brown has to show that there isn’t a single homophobe or racist in Labour ranks. (Anyone who has spent a night out in a pub with a bunch of shop-stewards will probably be painfully aware that both prejudices are flourishing still in Labour’s rank and file).

Great stuff, although, surely no one around these parts has fallen for the myth of the Tories as bastions of equality and the rights of the LGBT community?

Good bit also on the use of language.

I note that Flowerpower is a on a real comment strafe today, eagerly missing the point on numerous threads now.

I do hope it stops soon.

@1 flowerpower

“On your wider point: Cameron does not need to demonstrate that every single Tory accepts the new orthodoxy, any more than Gordon Brown has to show that there isn’t a single homophobe or racist in Labour ranks.”

Perhaps not, but he does have to demonstrate that the Tories in parliament have sincerely repented of the previous attitudes, dragged themselves into the 21st century, and will not tolerate homophobic views. The tardy condemnation of Grayling, and the voting record of the Tory party as a whole, indicates plainly that they have not. Change… but let’s not go too far eh?

#2: “Great stuff, although, surely no one around these parts has fallen for the myth of the Tories as bastions of equality and the rights of the LGBT community?”

Unfortunately (until recently at least) the tories were ahead in some LGBT polls!

I think it’s mainly to do with the fact that other minorities (e.g. the black community) are more tangibly ‘communities’ in that they exist together as families and pass down knowledge through generations. Each new LGBT generation kind of has to rediscover everything for themselves… thus many young LGBT voters will not fully grasp the significance of past tory stances on LGBT issues.

#1 “Cameron does not need to demonstrate that every single Tory accepts the new orthodoxy, any more than Gordon Brown has to show that there isn’t a single homophobe or racist in Labour ranks”

Couldn’t disagree more… Labour has a 12 year past record that could be regarded as one of the fastest decades in history with regard to the advancement of gay rights. They have consistantly proven that they can be trusted with LGBT issues. Cameron, on the other hand was still voting against LGBT issues in 2008 and the tory voting record for gay rights is appalling. If he has changed then that’s commendable, but to accept his word at face value without seeing action to back it up, in the light of such a dubious past and weeks before an election, would be naieve to the extreme.

6. Golden Gordon

Tom
Good post
Wouldn’t it be turning point for politics if immigration and gay issues were not even on the political agenda.
The right need more Tim W’s and less flowerpot brains and cjcjc’s

7. the a&e charge nurse

The success/longevity of gay or straight relationships are entirely independent of each other, so their correlation is something of a on-sequitur?

In what way exactly do gay couples influence straight couples (or vice versa) – can someone cleverer than me please explain how this is meant to work?

I’m sure negative attitudes about gay men and women permeate all of the parties so I doubt if the tories are exempt from this kind of phenomena?
Perhaps the really important question is wether or not these attitudes will translate into legislation – or put another way, are the Tories willing to risk a latter day repetition of the infamous clause 28?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_28

Cameron seems to be trying to build a reputation based on being all things to all people – my guess is he won’t legislate in this area, at least not in the first term if things go his way on 6th May.

8. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

What you need to bear in mind is that the tory notion of equality starts with the notion that the WASP is hard done by, downtrodden by ‘political correctness’ the ‘race relations industry’ and all other manner of outgroups. Therefore in order to achieve ‘equality’ we must abandon whatever advances have been made over the past twenty years.


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