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19
Mar

Review: Pre-election hustings

voteWith the next election widely acknowledged as being too close to call, our major political parties are determined to court every potential vote from all sorts of interest groups. Last night it was the turn of the LGB community to be schmoozed at an LGB political hustings event organised by Village Drinks in association with Stonewall and the Diversity Careers Show.
 

The four-way bout was moderated by noted wit and Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill, and featured Chris Bryant MP for the Government, Lynne Featherstone MP for the Liberal Democrats, Nick Herbert MP for the Conservatives, and Chris Smith for the Green Party. Each speaker was allocated a six minute slot and, when all four had spoken, the discussion was opened up to the floor.

So, how did they all fare?  Those of us looking for argument based on diametrically opposed political philosophies would have been disappointed in that, when it came to LGB issues, everyone was pretty much in agreement. Pro-civil partnerships, anti homophobic bullying in schools, pro putting pressure on countries with illiberal equality legislation. Yes, there are some differences in emphasis although it's worth noting that the Lib Dem's policy of extending CP rights to full marriage did not receive the support of either the Tory or Labour speakers, both of whom have recently entered into civil partnerships themselves. And while none of the speakers could resist a bit of political yah-boo point scoring, those of us who remember section 28 but who are also not so naive as to believe that homophobia has only ever been the preserve of the right, it is heartening to see that the equality agenda is, by and large, accepted by all mainstream parties as the Right Thing to Do.

A show of hands among the audience confirmed what many of us have long suspected: gay, lesbian and bisexual people tend to vote not on isolated LGB matters, but on those issues affecting everyone else: the NHS, the war and, lest we forget, the economy.

For more information about the main political parties' stance on the issues affecting you, visit
www.labour.org
www.conservatives.com
www.libdems.org.uk
www.greenparty.org.uk

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