Ken Livingstone and gay rights – it just isn’t an issue


8:25 am - February 9th 2012

by Paul Cotterill    


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There was “outrage” in the expected quarters yesterday evening about this from a Jemima Khan interview with Ken Livingstone:

Well, the Labour ones have all come out . . . As soon as Blair got in, if you came out as lesbian or gay you immediately got a job. It was wonderful . . . you just knew the Tory party was riddled with it like everywhere else is.

Now “riddled” does jump out from the page as an odd word to use, with its connotation of disease. But the key point is that Livingstone didn’t put it in a page – he said it in an interview.

I suspect what is happening here – though it is impossible to know absolutely in the absence of a verbatim transcript/audio recording – is that Livingstone is trying, as a rhetorical device, to ”speak with the voice” of the type of hypocritical Tory that he has only just referred to in the interview, who “denounc[es] homosexuality while they are indulging in it”.<

This type of rhetorical device is very common amongst politicians, who most often use it to try and display empathy with the voting public, (though Livingstone here is using it as a means of scorn).

Indeed I pointed out recently how David Cameron used it to show how touch he is with real people, but suggested – given that he used it with a wholly inaccurate term – that he was probably telling a lie.

Now clearly Livingstone’s team is not going to get into this kind of linguistic defence, and sticks with a straight “look at my record” statement.

So as I’ve got a book on my shelves that not many others are sad enough to have, I’ll just help out by quoting from another Livingstone interview – this from 1984 – which provides documentary evidence of the ridiculousness of the “homophobe” barbs now being chucked his way:

The removal of empire, plus great achievements in the liberalisation of censorship, divorce and gay rights, meant that the issues that dominated the 1950s tended largely to be resolved in the 1960s. (Boddy M & Fudge C, Local Socialism, 1984, Basingstoke: Macmillan, p.262-3).

For Livingstone, the matter of gay rights was clearly sorted a very long time ago.

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About the author
Paul Cotterill is a regular contributor, and blogs more regularly at Though Cowards Flinch, an established leftwing blog and emergent think-tank. He currently has fingers in more pies than he has fingers, including disability caselaw, childcare social enterprise, and cricket.
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Reader comments


It was sorted for me a long time ago when he started hanging out with, supporting. embracing, raising funds for, campaigning with a generally giving credence and succour to people who WANT GAY MEN TO BE KILLED.

That kind of behaviour can seriously put a damper on one’s claim not to be a homophobe.

I took Livingstone’s words to refer to people who were living a lie, either to themselves or to others. Your interpretation makes more sense, I’ll admit.

Livingstone doesn’t talk straight (no pun intended) on this, or any other issue.

He’s a chancer and an equivocator.

@1 is right. His support for gay rights cannot be reconciled with hanging out with Qaradawi and other Islamist homophobes.

No one should believe anything he says, except the bit about being power-hungry.

4. Torquil Macneil

Yes, Awkward Silence makes good point, it’s not just that Livingstone seems to think that the Tory Party is ‘riddled’ with homosexuality, or that he assumes gay people were promoted by Blair just because they were gay and not for any personal merit (this is another version of the ‘gay mafia’ slur), but he has spent a lot of energy defending and promoting radical, militant homophobes, people who really do want to punish and kill gay men and women. We should look at the whole record, don’t you think?

5. Chaise Guevara

@ 4 Torquil

“it’s not just that Livingstone seems to think that the Tory Party is ‘riddled’ with homosexuality”

Article addressed that. I’m not saying you should bow down and accept its conclusions, but you could at least not act as if nothing’s been said on the matter.

“or that he assumes gay people were promoted by Blair just because they were gay and not for any personal merit (this is another version of the ‘gay mafia’ slur)”

But is it true? I’ve no idea. If it IS true, though, then it’s not a slur. I’m quite happy to believe that this is prejudice on Ken’s part, that he’s another annoying person who thinks it’s PC Gone Mad every time he sees a gay person in gainful employment, but you’d need evidence to show this. Especially as the article shows he’s on the record as supporting gay rights.

“but he has spent a lot of energy defending and promoting radical, militant homophobes, people who really do want to punish and kill gay men and women.”

Did he defend and promote their homophobic beliefs? If so: again, evidence please. If not, this is a non-sequitur. Agreeing with someone on one issue doesn’t mean you share their entire political philosophy.

6. Chaise Guevara

@ 3 Flowerpower

“His support for gay rights cannot be reconciled with hanging out with Qaradawi and other Islamist homophobes. ”

I’m a liberal socialist. I recently had a very enjoyable conversation with a friend who happens to be a Tory. For some reason, I don’t seem to have vanished in a puff of logic as a result.

You guys are actually using the same logic as those homophobes who say “If you hang out with queers, you must be a queer”, although admittedly you’re coming from a far less objectionable starting point.

Personally, I have no problem whatsoever with equating anti-gay closeted politicians as a disease.

I’m a liberal socialist. I recently had a very enjoyable conversation with a friend who happens to be a Tory. For some reason, I don’t seem to have vanished in a puff of logic as a result.

Did that Tory want Jews and gays killed?

Livingston’s support of gay rights is irrelevant. Oswald Mosely started off as a progressive.

I’m a liberal socialist. I recently had a very enjoyable conversation with a friend who happens to be a Tory. For some reason, I don’t seem to have vanished in a puff of logic as a result.

Did that Tory want Jews and gays killed?

Livingston’s previous support of gay rights is irrelevant. Oswald Mosely started off as a progressive.

Sorry for the almost duplicate post: missed out the word ‘previous’.

For many of us who supported Livingstone in the ’80s his recent alliance with clerical fascism is nauseating.

11. Torquil Macneil

“I’m a liberal socialist. I recently had a very enjoyable conversation with a friend who happens to be a Tory. For some reason, I don’t seem to have vanished in a puff of logic as a result.”

Would you continue to have enjoyable chats with this friend if he joined the BNP or he Ku Klux Klan? That would be a closer analogy in terms of the extremity of the political positions we are discussing.

But Ken did not just have an ‘enjoyable chat’ with Qaradwi, he promoted and defended him as a ‘moderate’. Taken together with his unfortunate references to parts of society being ‘riddled’ with homosexuality and his implication that being gay gets you preferential treatment in the Labour Party, it all looks a little whiffy. That doesn’t mean he should be hounded out of the Party or that he is himself a Qaradwi-style violent homophobe, but don’t see why he shouldn’t be called on it.

12. Chaise Guevara

@ 9 Shatterface

“Did that Tory want Jews and gays killed?”

No. So? The point is that it’s possible to talk to someone, work with them or even like them without sharing their entire outlook on life.

Now, I couldn’t like someone who wants Jews and gays to be killed. But I could probably work with them. There was a guy in my office during my first full-time job who talked about “bloody niggers”. I called him out on it but didn’t quit my job, or refuse to speak to him ever again.

13. Chaise Guevara

@ 11 Torquil

“Would you continue to have enjoyable chats with this friend if he joined the BNP or he Ku Klux Klan? That would be a closer analogy in terms of the extremity of the political positions we are discussing. ”

No. But I wouldn’t pretend to disagree with her on other areas, e.g. if we both supported the NHS. And I wouldn’t flat out refuse to work with her either, simply to save face and ensure that people couldn’t attack me using guilt by association.

Livingstone, it seems, refuses to descend to this five-year-old level of “you talk to bigots so that makes you a bigot”. All that says about him is that he’s not an idiot. Good for him.

“But Ken did not just have an ‘enjoyable chat’ with Qaradwi, he promoted and defended him as a ‘moderate’”

Now THAT sounds censurable. Give us a source.

The rest of your post reveals that you chose to ignore the rest of my post. So, well, quid pro quo.

Livingstone is trying, as a rhetorical device, to ”speak with the voice” of the type of hypocritical Tory………………….Now clearly Livingstone’s team is not going to get into this kind of linguistic defence

They’d certainly be well advised not to…………

15. Torquil Macneil

“Livingstone, it seems, refuses to descend to this five-year-old level of “you talk to bigots so that makes you a bigot”. All that says about him is that he’s not an idiot. Good for him.”

He didn’t just talk to him he defended him as a moderate. He chose him as an ally above others. I find the idea that disagreeing over whether or not gay people should be persecuted is similar in some way to disagreeing over how the NHS should be funded somewhat peculiar, and the notion that it is ‘childish’ not to work with racists and homophobes frankly peculiar.But I suspect you are being disingenuous. Would you really continue to work for an organisation (assuming that you had the freedom to choose) that, say, appointed Nick Griffin in a senior role, or which sponsored a tour of the UK by a well-known spokesman for the KKK?

16. Torquil Macneil

“Now THAT sounds censurable. Give us a source.”

A quick google will give you all you need.

17. Torquil Mcneil

“Now THAT sounds censurable. Give us a source.”

A quick Google will give you all you need.

I’d rather have Ken than Boris.

13 – here you go:

Addressing more than 250 European Muslim delegates, Mr Livingstone went on to say that his guest was a well-respected moderate “who preaches moderation and tolerance to all faiths throughout the world”.

He gave the cleric a bear hug and a handshake, and said it would be an “honour” if Sheikh Al-Qaradawi came back to London to attend the European Social Forum in October.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3888419.stm

For the record, Livingstone was vilified, literally, for most of his political career for sticking up for LGBT rights. And that was over a period when it was extremely unpopular to take that stance.

I don’t know who’s old enough to remember, but Ken was routinely called a “loony”, a “nutter”, stalked and threatened and ripped to pieces for being one of the very few senior MPs standing up against institutionalised homophobia.

Let’s make this clear. One thing Ken is not, is a homophobe. Just do your homework, stop acting all hysterical and take a look instead at Boris Johnson’s CONSISTENT record over Section 28, the age of consent and the rest.

Also, how hilarious to see the same pasdarans of “you’re over reacting”, “you’re reading it out of context” and “humourless illiberal leftists” when people a-la Jeremy Clarkson come up with proper offensive stuff…… the same people suddenly acting all “hurt” because of the semantics of a word that Livingstone used…!

If Ken deserves an award (and a vote) it’s for the way he can so fantastically wind up the humourless loonie rightists of this country!

It is ridiculous to suggest, at any level, that Ken is a homophobe – he’s been one of the strongest elected supporters of gay rights in the UK. Probably *the* strongest.

What people who complain about Ken being homophobic really mean is that he is not Islamophobic enough. It’s a tedious strategy.

22. Torquil Mcneil

“It is ridiculous to suggest, at any level, that Ken is a homophobe – he’s been one of the strongest elected supporters of gay rights in the UK. Probably *the* strongest.”

I think the criticism that stick is that he is a cynic more than a homophobe (although the terms in which he talks about gay issues in this interview do suggest a bit of sub-conscious hostility). He is for gay rights so long as it doesn’t damage him with any constituency, at which point he suddenly sees the persecution of homosexuals as a ‘moderate’ stance.

@22

Have you ever heard of the ‘loony left’ councils of the 80s, and their support – headed by Ken as leader of the GLC – for gay rights, which eventually led to the abolition of the GLC and the creation of section 28?

The idea that Ken only supports gay rights until it costs him something is absolute rubbish – he supported gay rights openly when it was extremely politically damaging to do so, and probably dented his support among many homophobic constituencies.

24. Chaise Guevara

@ 15 Torquil

“He didn’t just talk to him he defended him as a moderate. He chose him as an ally above others.”

Yes, well, I’m having trouble accepting your version of events here given your ongoing refusal to source your claims (and no, waving in the direction of Google is not citation). It suggests that you don’t have a source, or that you’re trying to misrepresent the situation.

“I find the idea that disagreeing over whether or not gay people should be persecuted is similar in some way to disagreeing over how the NHS should be funded somewhat peculiar and the notion that it is ‘childish’ not to work with racists and homophobes frankly peculiar.”

Me too. However, they’re both straw men, aren’t they?

I should tell you to just go back to my post and actually read it this time. However, for the sake of my own sanity, here’s a recap r.e. your straw men:

* I didn’t compare homophobia with anti- or pro-NHS sentiment. I said it was possible for two people to disagree on the former and agree on the latter. Do you dispute this?

* I didn’t say it was childish to refuse to work with bigots. I said it was childish to label people as bigots simply because they work with bigots.

“But I suspect you are being disingenuous. Would you really continue to work for an organisation (assuming that you had the freedom to choose) that, say, appointed Nick Griffin in a senior role, or which sponsored a tour of the UK by a well-known spokesman for the KKK?”

No, I wouldn’t. There are limits. I can’t tell if Ken crossed such limits due to your aforementioned sourcing difficulties.

Going forward, please source factual claims when asked, and try to address what I’ve written, not what some imaginary person said inside your head. Ta.

25. Torquil Mcneil

“I didn’t compare homophobia with anti- or pro-NHS sentiment. I said it was possible for two people to disagree on the former and agree on the latter. Do you dispute this?”

I think the idea that reasonable people can disagree over whether or not homosexuals should be murdered much like any other political issue extremely peculiar. If you cannot see that that is implied in your comment, I don’t suppose I am going to persuade you.

“Going forward, please source factual claims when asked, and try to address what I’ve written, not what some imaginary person said inside your head. Ta.”

Chaise, I am not your nanny. If you can’t be bothered to use Google I am not going to do it for you. The Qaradawi business did not happen all that long ago and can easily be found. There must be a statement by Ken condeming Qaradawi’s views on homosexuality, right?

26. Torquil Mcneil

“The idea that Ken only supports gay rights until it costs him something is absolute rubbish – he supported gay rights openly when it was extremely politically damaging to do so”

And what was the damage to him?

27. Chaise Guevara

@ 19 TimJ

“– here you go”

Cheers! Combining that with a cursory glance at Al-Qaradawi’s Wikipedia page, I agree that calling him a moderate sounds like a lie. Still doesn’t make Ken a bigot of course, just makes him self-serving and opportunistic.

Personally I find anyone who’s support for gay rights begins and ends with them being a useful tool with which to beat Muslims far far more repellant than anything Livingstone said on the matter. Plus I fail to see what the problem would have been with Blair using positive discrimination to promote newly openly gay members to positions, since eliminating the already existing animus toward lgb’s was one of New Labours aims. Let’s not pretend that a discriminated against group has been playing on a level playing field.

@26

Well, quite obviously he lost his seat as the chair of the GLC, but apart from that he was painted as a dangerous left-wing radical by the Tory party for years afterwards.

Did that do him harm? It’s hard to say – but it is extremely unlikely that he would have allowed the Tories to paint him as that for something he didn’t really believe in.

It’s not that Livingstone is a homophobe – I’m sure he’s not. It’s just that he’s an odious loudmouth with a natural affinity for authoritarian bullies.

31. Flowerpower

@ Chaise

Come on, be honest.

If Boris were to glad hand Jean-Marie Le Pen around London, hugging him, and saying what a fine moderate he was – then I’d expect you’d have something to say about.

But fair enough – I take your point that wouldn’t necessarily mean Boris was a racist too.

But say Boris then went on to say the Labour Party was “riddled with minority ethnics” and that all you had to do to get on under David Cameron was to be Black or Asian……

then you might well think so, no?

I’d say the above was a pretty fair parallel – except that Yusuf Al Qaradawi is MUCH worse than Le Pen.

Have you ever heard of the ‘loony left’ councils of the 80s, and their support – headed by Ken as leader of the GLC – for gay rights, which eventually led to the abolition of the GLC

The idea that it was Ken Livingstone’s attitude to gay rights that caused the abolition of the GLC is quite a stretch.

Ken Livingstone isn’t actually a homophobe, btw. He just counts them among his most electorally loyal friends.

@32

Is it? I’m pretty sure Thatcher specifically referenced ‘loony left’ councils in the reasons why the GLC had to go – and one of the biggest ‘loony left’ issues at the time was whether councils were trying to create a welcoming environment for gays and lesbians.

Gay rights may not have been the *only* cause of the disbanding of the GLC, but it was certainly a significant factor.

@31

I assume that you consider David Cameron homophobic for meeting the Saudi King then? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2086288/David-Cameron-PM-meets-Saudi-king-amid-concerns-British-arms-deal-Middle-Eastern-country.html

And William Hague homophobic for meeting the Pakistani Interior Minister: http://ukinpakistan.fco.gov.uk/en/news/press-centre1/media-library/ministerial-visits/FSvisitingpakistan/hague-met-malik

And Tony Blair homophobic for meeting Gadaffi: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14963200

And the Queen homophobic for meeting Hamid Karzai: http://mail.afghanmtv.com/viewtopic.asp?id=1091&t=Afghan%20President%20(Hamid%20Karzai)%20Meets%20Her%20Majesty%20Queen%20Elizabeth%20II

Because otherwise you’d be a bit of a hypocrite, wouldn’t you?

Paul (to concentrate on the original post, rather than the rather obvious conclusion that Mr Livingstone is clearly not that concerned about gay rights if he is happy to sponsor visits by people known to believe homosexuality should be punished),

I suspect what is happening here – though it is impossible to know absolutely in the absence of a verbatim transcript/audio recording – is that Livingstone is trying, as a rhetorical device, to ”speak with the voice” of the type of hypocritical Tory that he has only just referred to in the interview, who “denounc[es] homosexuality while they are indulging in it”.

Hmm. Nice try, but the printed extract in full is:

Well, the Labour ones have all come out . . . As soon as Blair got in, if you came out as lesbian or gay you immediately got a job. It was wonderful . . . you just knew the Tory party was riddled with it like everywhere else is.

So how is that, with the use of wonderful (unless you want to imply Mr Livingstone is using wonderful ironically there – which would not help his case) the words of a hypocritical Tory?

If Mr Livingstone, a fairly to the point speaker, was wanting to adopt the tone of a hypocritical Tory (in itself something the interviewer would surely note…) he would be likely to change all of his diction and adopt a faux-higher-register to sound ‘posher’ (or perhaps slightly more Yorkshire – I suspect he had a particular target in mind). You need to prove this has been done before you can claim it, as the easiest hypothesis is simply that Mr Livingstone (who is not the man from the 1980s remember – he is, like the rest of us, 25 years older and in a very different world) did not either mischoose a word or reveal his own attitude.

This type of rhetorical device is very common amongst politicians, who most often use it to try and display empathy with the voting public, (though Livingstone here is using it as a means of scorn).

Echoing someone to display empathy is normal enough. Echoing in scorn is not, as if you are scornful you do not empathise.

In all honesty Paul, this is a rather pointless and desperate attempt. Unless you can prove from an edited interview a clear change in Mr Livingstone’s speech patterns as a result of his adoption of a rhetorical device, then this is speculation; and since Mr Livingstone has not adopted this line of defence, I suspect it is speculation with no basis in truth.

Would it not be simpler to say that Mr Livingstone, who is almost certainly (as far as we can say this about anyone) not personally homophobic, just did the thing we all do sometimes and chose the wrong word? A lexical mistake is so much more likely than the adoption of a rhetorical device in a way it is not normally applied.

We could then move on to the real issues, such as Mr Livingstone’s tendency to associate with clearly homophobic types of a marked conservative bent.

37. Torquil Mcneil

Ciaran, the abolition of the GLC really was not anything to do with gay rights. If it had been, I think someone would have noticed. Ken’s support for gay rights was no different from mainstream Labour policy at the time. The ‘one legged lesbian dance troupe’ rhetoric was about wasting money, not supporting lesbians.

Is it? I’m pretty sure Thatcher specifically referenced ‘loony left’ councils in the reasons why the GLC had to go – and one of the biggest ‘loony left’ issues at the time was whether councils were trying to create a welcoming environment for gays and lesbians.

It was far more a spending thing. And Livingstone’s meetings with the IRA were pretty provocative as well – I’ve not seen anyone suggesting that it was Ken’s views on gay rights that made the difference.

39. Chaise Guevara

@ 25 Torquil

“I think the idea that reasonable people can disagree over whether or not homosexuals should be murdered much like any other political issue extremely peculiar.”

I’m not even sure what you mean by this. If someone else thinks that gays should be killed, obviously I am going to disagree with them. That’s not peculiar. Or do you mean that I shouldn’t disagree politely, or perhaps even that I should refuse to discuss it?

“If you cannot see that that is implied in your comment, I don’t suppose I am going to persuade you.”

I’d need to know what you’re implying first.

“Chaise, I am not your nanny. If you can’t be bothered to use Google I am not going to do it for you. The Qaradawi business did not happen all that long ago and can easily be found.”

That’s pretty fucking rich. Apparently I’m YOUR nanny to the point where I have to go and find stuff to back up YOUR point!

Leaving aside the fact that you seem to expect me to do your homework for you, the internet is full of people making dodgy claims then going “Google it!” when asked to substantiate them. It’s a form of trolling, and my policy is not to waste my time engaging with it beyond telling people that they have to provide their own sources.

“There must be a statement by Ken condeming Qaradawi’s views on homosexuality, right?”

Oh, it gets even better – you don’t have to source your claims, but I have to source claims I never made! Wonderful!

40. Torquil Mcneil

“Leaving aside the fact that you seem to expect me to do your homework for you, the internet is full of people making dodgy claims then going “Google it!” when asked to substantiate them. It’s a form of trolling, and my policy is not to waste my time engaging with it beyond telling people that they have to provide their own sources.”

Chaise, I didn’t and don’t expect you to do anything for me. If you don’t want to find the sources, I really couldn’t care less. But I am not going to do it for you. Engage or don’t engage as you see fit and good luck to you, but to dismiss as a ‘dodgy claim’ the assertion that Livingston defended Qaradawi as ‘moderate’ when he did it so publicly and so recently is daft.

41. Chaise Guevara

@ 31 Flowerpower

“Come on, be honest.

If Boris were to glad hand Jean-Marie Le Pen around London, hugging him, and saying what a fine moderate he was – then I’d expect you’d have something to say about.”

Once provided with evidence, yes. Don’t label me as dishonest simply because I ask that accusations be founded on something.

“But fair enough – I take your point that wouldn’t necessarily mean Boris was a racist too.

But say Boris then went on to say the Labour Party was “riddled with minority ethnics” and that all you had to do to get on under David Cameron was to be Black or Asian……

then you might well think so, no?

I’d say the above was a pretty fair parallel – except that Yusuf Al Qaradawi is MUCH worse than Le Pen.”

Regarding the “riddled” comment, it’s quite clearly not a fair parallel. Unless you’re suggesting that Labour takes an officially anti-minority stance, yet has loads of minority MPs pretending to be white British?

Regarding the other comment, it is a fair parallel. It looks shaky when Ken says it and it would look shaky if Boris said it. HOWEVER, if either of them could point to evidence that leader-in-question disproportionately favoured demographic-in-question, they’d be vindicated.

@37

You’re flat wrong – many people noticed, and they’ve written more than one book about it.

Just as a reminder of what Labour Party policy was at the time, here’s a quote from Kinnock, the Labour leader, about the victimisation of Peter Tatchell in the 1983 Bermondsey bi-election:

“I’m not in favour of witchhunts but I do not mistake bloody witches for fairies.”

Patricia Hewitt noticed:

“It is obvious from our own polling, as well as from the doorstep, that the “London effect” is now very noticeable. The “Loony Labour Left” is now taking its toll; the gays and lesbians issue is costing us dear amongst the pensioners and fear of extremism and higher taxes/rates is particularly prominent in the GLC area.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loony_left

You’re flat wrong – many people noticed, and they’ve written more than one book about it.

You’d need to be remarkably one-eyed on gay rights to attribute the abolition of the GLC to Ken’s policies on them. They may have contributed slightly to the ‘loony left’ image of the GLC, but the driving factor was always spending differences. Fare’s fair and all that.

the 1983 Bermondsey bi-election

A very appropriate spelling!

@44

The label ‘loony left’ was what made Thatcher able to abolish the GLC though.

Anyway, I suppose the semantics don’t make very much difference – I think it is pretty clear that Ken was willing to stick his neck out to support gay rights when it was a highly unpopular thing to do.

“A very appropriate spelling!”

Ha, oops!

46. Torquil Mcneil

Ciaran, you haven’t shown that gay issues contributed in any way to the abolition of the GLC and they certainly weren’t considered a factor at the time. Ken’s policies were mainstream in the Labour Party. It was his spending that wasn’t. None of this cost him anything: he wasn’t voted out. It is only recently that support for gay issues has become contentious within certain of Ken’s natural constituencies and what did he do? He immediately adopted a position of support for extreme homophobes in order to see it off. The most cynical and self-serving politician I can remember, and that is saying something.

47. Torquil Mcneil

And by the way Ciaran, that off-the-cuff remark of Kinnock’s says nothing about Labour policy, it just exposed an undercurrent of latent homophobia that was common then as it is now. It is amazing how often politicians expose their buried prejudices that way.

@46

“Ciaran, you haven’t shown that gay issues contributed in any way to the abolition of the GLC and they certainly weren’t considered a factor at the time. Ken’s policies were mainstream in the Labour Party.”

Yes I have – the quotes from Kinnock and Hewitt above should give you a starter for 5 at least, and if you read any 80s critiques of ‘loony left’ councils you will see the issue of gay rights sticking out like a sore thumb. The ‘loony left’ wikipedia page also makes 16 separate references to gays in a relative short entry.

Further, if you read any justifications for the abolition of the GLC you will hear frequent reference to the loony left – indeed it was a widely cited reason for the abolition of the GLC. If you’re just going to ignore all the points I make, then there really isn’t much point talking to you.

“None of this cost him anything: he wasn’t voted out.”

He wasn’t voted out, but his job was abolished – I’d say that was a cost.

“It is only recently that support for gay issues has become contentious within certain of Ken’s natural constituencies and what did he do? He immediately adopted a position of support for extreme homophobes in order to see it off.”

I can only assume that you either aren’t gay or have no conception of what living in the 80s and early 90s was like – the idea that gay rights only became contentious recently is utterly false, stupid and wilfully blind.

Ken meeting one radical Islamic cleric does not, in any way, translate to support for that cleric’s views on homosexuality. Unless you have proof otherwise of course – beyond a general description of Al-Qaradawi as being ‘moderate’ I mean. Something which specifically makes reference to Ken supporting Qaradawi’s views on homosexuality.

This is the harvest the left reaps from calling for the head of any right winger who said anything, in any context, that could be construed as anti gay, anti ethnic, etc., regardless whether that particular right winger had actually done anything wrong.

It is the left that wrote the rule book on this nonsense, you can’t now cry foul when it is more evenly applied.

Gay rights weren’t considered an issue during the 80’s?! What parallel universe is this Torquil Mcneil from? Hell, the whole issue of section 28 was entirely motivated by panic that ‘loony left’ councils were undermining the government by ‘promoting’ homosexuality.

51. Chaise Guevara

@ 28 Cylux

“Personally I find anyone who’s support for gay rights begins and ends with them being a useful tool with which to beat Muslims far far more repellant than anything Livingstone said on the matter.”

Agreed – although at this stage I’m not attributing that to anyone on the thread. It’s like people who happily eat battery eggs all their lives, then suddenly decide that they’re all about animal rights when they realise it gives them an excuse to whinge about halal butchery.

52. Torquil Mcneil

Ciaran, we are not going to agree, but here are my final replies to yours:

“Yes I have – the quotes from Kinnock and Hewitt above should give you a starter for 5 at least”

This was in response to a comment about th abolition of the GLC. Neither Hewitt nor Kinnock had anything to do with that and, in fat opposed it. Kinnock’s comment was not in any case about policy and Hewitt was remarking how the GLC policies on homosexuality (amongst other things) were damaging Labour electorally, not Ken personally, that was always the rift. And, of course, it suited Thatcher down to the ground.

“and if you read any 80s critiques of ‘loony left’ councils you will see the issue of gay rights sticking out like a sore thumb.”

See above. The ‘loony left’ badge did not arm Ken, it just damaged the Party. His indifference (or even hostility) towards the greater electoral good of the Party was why certain factions within it hated him so vehemently.

Further, if you read any justifications for the abolition of the GLC you will hear frequent reference to the loony left”

That was the rhetoric and it encompassed a whole ass of ‘loony policies. Have you got a single citation from the Conservative Party claiming that it wanted to abolish the GLC because of its policies on homosexuality?

“He wasn’t voted out, but his job was abolished – I’d say that was a cost.”

But not a cost paid for his support of homosexuality. Te ‘loony left’ stuff was GOOD for the Tories, as you can surely see. They benefited from it massively. And Ken would not have had a job at all without forming that hard left clique. He was out-manouevred eventually that’s all. If there ad been any electoral advantage in taking homophobic positions it is very likely he would have done. How do I know? Beause that is what he is doing now.

“I can only assume that you either aren’t gay or have no conception of what living in the 80s and early 90s was like – the idea that gay rights only became contentious recently is utterly false, stupid and wilfully blind.”

I said something different: it has only recently become contentious within a natural constituency of Ken’s. In other words, it is only now that it costs him anything. And what does he do?

“Ken meeting one radical Islamic cleric does not, in any way, translate to support for that cleric’s views on homosexuality.”

It is a very clear signal given his refusal criticise those views even mildly and to insist that they represent a ‘moderate’ position (remember we are talking about killing gay men and women for being gay). But I am not claiming that he is a homophobe (except perhaps that he feels some deep level of disgust typical of many of his generation which he decently suppresses), merely that he is a cynic and manipulator.

“Something which specifically makes reference to Ken supporting Qaradawi’s views on homosexuality.”

Is that the standard now?

@Torquil

You’ve clearly made up your mind, and you have no interest in hearing alternative opinions, I’ll leave you to your frothing.

If there is one thing I’d like a reply to though, can you see my post @35 above? If so, I’d be interested in knowing whether you think all those people are cynical manipulators because they didn’t explicitly condemn the homophobia of the people they met when they met them.

“But Ken did not just have an ‘enjoyable chat’ with Qaradwi, he promoted and defended him as a ‘moderate.”

And went on to smear Peter Tatchell when he understandably critcised the Qaradawi love-in.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/apr/07/

We (gays) were useful to Livingstone in the 80’s.
Less so now.

“But Ken did not just have an ‘enjoyable chat’ with Qaradwi, he promoted and defended him as a ‘moderate.”

And went on to smear Peter Tatchell when he understandably critcised the Qaradawi love-in.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/apr/07/kenapologisessortof

We (gays) were useful to Livingstone in the 80’s.
Less so now.

57. Torquil Mcneil

“Gay rights weren’t considered an issue during the 80?s?! What parallel universe is this Torquil Mcneil from?”

Cylux, I didn’t say what you think I said. See my reply to Ciaran above.

Oh for sure. If you’re at all interested in gay rights and live in London, obviously you have to vote for Ken Livingstone.

Ken is far too hypocritical to take seriously, his hands too dirtied by his indulgence of ultra-conservative Islamists and the associated betrayal of gay and lesbian Londoners. And I cannot be alone in suspecting that he considers every Jew in London a Zionist -and thus the wrong kind of Jew – unless they explicitly state otherwise and do all they can to help him bring about the end of Israel.

It’s a disaster for Labour that they haven’t got a principled candidate of intelligence and integrity to stand for what should be, in the light of unease with the Tory agenda, a relatively straightforward victory. Why on earth not? Where is there a candidate of say, 45-55, man or woman, of whatever ethnicity, willing to stand against Boris, who is, apparently, a ‘buffoon’? Why is Labour so lacking in talent?

That Labour has to trudge back to this facile dinosaur to represent London is damning. He has only ever looked a decent bet when compared with Thatcher or Blair.

Right-wing political correctness gone mad

61. paul barker

Can I suggest interested people go back to the long-running dispute between Mayor Livingstone & The Green Party on this very issue ?
More generally Ken is a joke but Labour are stuck with him.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/im-a-polymorphous-pervert-boris-and-his-mayoral-rivals-make-their-case-for-the-gay-vote-802355.html

But I pepper him with questions about very specific issues affecting gay Londoners, he always responds – without notes – with a battery of statistics and facts. I ask about the rise in HIV infections among gay men, and he knows the figures off the top of his head. He talks me through the practical problems: at the moment, in most of London’s STD clinics, if you go and ask for a test, they give you an appointment in two weeks’ time. “A lot of young people just aren’t going to say, ‘I’m not going to have sex for two weeks,’” he says. “The research shows that’s when you see a lot of STD transmission.” He then lists how he is lobbying the local health authorities to close this waiting gap, and what they need to do now – before going on to list other practical problems, and his solutions.

He knows the names of STD clinics all over London, and I don’t think it’s because he’s coming down with ghonnorhea: he offers this level of detail on every question I ask.

But there is one issue where gay Londoners – who have seen Ken as a defender and champion for thirty years – were shocked by the mayor. In 2004, Ken Livingstone invited an Islamic fundamentalist called Yusuf al-Qaradawi as an “honoured guest” to City Hall. This Egyptian cleric has been quoted calling for the murder of gay men and lesbians – yet when Peter Tatchell challenged Ken over it, he announced Tatchell was “Islamophobic.”

Ken backs down, a little. He says he didn’t know much about Qaradawi before this scandal broke out: he just knew that he had been praised by everyone from the Guardian to the Sun as the voice of moderate Islam. He says he “probably shouldn’t” have slammed Tatchell (damn right) but he is reluctant to believe what he has read in the papers about Qaradawi because he has read “so many lies” about himself.

“In politics you engage with people which you have profound disagreements with,” he says. “When the Mayor of Moscow comes here, I talk to him too, and he bans gay pride marches. It didn’t stop me lobbying him for his three votes on the Olympics, internationally. If it had gone the other way, well, then Paris would be holding the Olympics.” He stresses that on every act of practical policy, he has sided with gay rights against religious rights. For example, when the Blair government said religious groups don’t have to follow the law banning discrimination on the basis of sexuality, Ken used the mayor’s office to lobby hard against it.

Clearly a homophobic Islamophile…

There are candidates other than Livingstone and Johnson.

Cylux, @62, Johann Hari wrote that article.

@63 Well from what I can gather from the Hari flap, the main danger is that Livingstone may well have actually said all that to Arthur Scargill, or someone else who wasn’t Hari.

Fair enough!

And went on to smear Peter Tatchell when he understandably critcised the Qaradawi love-in.
And so Peter Tatchell is laying in to Ken over this, right?

“Ken Livingstone is not homophobic. His use of the word riddled has to be judged in context. It was clearly not used with any homophobic intent. All parties have lots of gay and bisexual MPs, as Ken noted. He is right to state that there were many gay MPs in the Tory party, from the backbenches to the cabinet,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who has helped spearhead campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality since the early 1970s…In the early 1980s, as leader of the Greater London Council, he pioneered gay rights policies that most MPs opposed at the time. It took many of them another 20 years to embrace gay equality. Ken supported the lesbian and gay community at a time when most other politicians did not. He deserves great credit,” said Mr Tatchell.

http://www.petertatchell.net/politics/ken-livingstone-is-not-homophobic.htm

“Well, the Labour ones have all come out . . . As soon as Blair got in, if you came out as lesbian or gay you immediately got a job. ”

That’s actually a pretty interesting statement in and of itself, and we also have pretty good evidence that it’s disingenuous and naive to the point that it’s flat-out not true.

We know for instance that Peter Mandelson was most certainly *not* out, at least not beyond his close friends and colleagues when he was publicly outed by Matthew Paris on Newsnight. While that revelation might not have come as any particular shock and it wouldn’t make sense to conclude that Mandelson was in any sense ashamed of his sexuality (just merely guarded and private), he certainly wasn’t in any sense visibly out and proud, especially once he began appearing regularly on television and quickly ditched the awful Freddie Mercury / Peter Tatchell mustache… His reasons for not breaking cover are his own of course, but knowing his Machiavellian tendencies, it’s tempting to speculate that his successful campaign to be elected to a safe Labour seat in a Northern working class constituency like Hartlepool with his posh, plumby Southern accent may have had something to do with it.

Of course, in the case of Ron Davis, his closeted sexuality was the indirect proximal cause of his *loosing* a job in Blair’s government…. Had he been out and proud, his cabinet career may have bloomed (regardless of his actual personal merit, Ken implicitly suggests), and his marriage almost certainty would have collapsed as a consequence.

As it transpired, his efforts to keep his sexual leanings private and illicit backfired and his nocturnal indescretions became an embarrassment to both the Government as well as him personally and cost him both his job and career.

So Ken’s remarks are spot on insofar as the sentiment goes, but the record shows the reality was somewhat less gilded and sunny as his rememberance of it would suggest.

@ 7 Cylux

“Personally, I have no problem whatsoever with equating anti-gay closeted politicians as a disease.”

You should track down and watch Kirby Dick’s excellent documentary on this same issue in American politics, Outrage!

The most consistent “defenders” of “traditional family values” waging a war against gay rights and other related issues like sex education in schools and AIDS research are married, usually right-wing Republican politicians who either are or have been compellingly alleged to be, closeted gay men or bisexuals living in sham marriages.

The medical profession used to consider homosexuality to be a mental disorder before 1974 – it seems pretty clear now that it’s the repression, denial of oneself, guilt and self-loathing that produces the symptoms of illness, not the homosexuality itself. It’s not healthy to be closeted.

That’s actually a pretty interesting statement in and of itself, and we also have pretty good evidence that it’s disingenuous and naive to the point that it’s flat-out not true.

To be honest Ken does have a well recorded track record of saying things, then engaging his brain much, much later. I’ll defend the man as not being homophobic, I won’t defend him as not being gaffe prone.

@69

That’s certainly true – I remember a few years back when confronted leaving a private Christmas party whilst pissed a few years back by a rude and impertinent photojournalist sent by the Standard, who he accused of being “Almost as bad as being a concentration camp guard”, to which the hack complained explaining that he was Jewish (which Ken couldn’t have known and as if that can have been expected to make a difference in any case) and found that highly offensive, to which Ken replied that then made it worse on his part.

The Standard ran it heavily and solidly for about a week. The guy was clearly a prick and the circumstances were hardly covered under lobby rules, but Ken did give indeed give him the quote and they ran with it.

Did Ken Livingstone make another Nazi comparison: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/ken-livingstone-hitler/ ?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Ken Livingstone and gay rights – it just isn't an issue http://t.co/7fsuqCFn

  2. dsugg

    Ken Livingstone and gay rights – it just isn't an issue http://t.co/7fsuqCFn

  3. kevinrye

    Ken Livingstone and gay rights – it just isn't an issue http://t.co/7fsuqCFn

  4. Padraig Reidy

    Oh well that's that sorted then http://t.co/PsUvU2bN

  5. nicky clark

    Oh well that's that sorted then http://t.co/PsUvU2bN

  6. Jason Brickley

    Ken Livingstone and gay rights – it just isn’t an issue http://t.co/WmNhLc84

  7. Patron Press - #P2

    #UK : Ken Livingstone and gay rights – it just isn ’t an issue http://t.co/QwZVB0tB

  8. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Ken Livingstone and gay rights – it just isn’t an issue http://t.co/UsIIgZ8l

  9. Steve Hilditch

    Ken Livingstone and gay rights – it just isn't an issue http://t.co/7fsuqCFn

  10. punkscience

    @ianabrooks Bollocks. This analysis is even more reasonable than my own: http://t.co/VDNegN5o Neither's an endorsement, you twat.

  11. Lambeth NUT

    Ken Livingstone and gay rights – it just isn't an issue http://t.co/7fsuqCFn

  12. Iain Simpson

    Ken Livingstone and gay rights – it just isn't an issue http://t.co/7fsuqCFn

  13. DaveHill

    Ken Livingstone and gay rights – it just isn’t an issue | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Sz7tJ5N1 via @libcon At last, a voice of reason.

  14. North Briton

    And some coherent examination of Ken's record from #libcon http://t.co/1rjZc6dk

  15. Pat Raven

    Ken Livingstone and gay rights – it just isn’t an issue | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/h16cQS1i via @libcon

  16. Bruce Reed

    Apparently Ken supported Gay rights in '84- who he was working for ( USSR) oddly not mentioned! http://t.co/QBUPKfzx via @libcon





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