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Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Morality or nastiness?

In a posting last Wednesday on the US elections, I predicted that some British Conservatives would draw the wrong lesson and advocate a 'values'-based campaign strategy.

Sure enough, the right-wing Tory MP Edward Leigh has come up trumps. On Monday, he
claimed (also here) that the Conservatives could gain an electoral boost by aping George W. Bush and promoting "old-fashioned family values".

Yesterday, Leigh put his theory into practice, when he led a
failed attempt to wreck the government's Civil Partnerships Bill (which will give gay and lesbian people the right to form legally binding civil partnerships, and thus avoid financial hardship when one partner dies).

Strip away the cant about 'family values' and you quickly get to the simple truth: right-wing Tories hate gay people. It's pure bigotry. Its only practical effect is to make more people miserable. The Tories' own Theresa May famously warned her colleagues that they were seen as the 'nasty party'. It seems that some of them just don't get it.

I'm all for morality in politics. But, as Polly Toynbee points out in her
column today, the things that deserve our moral outrage are poverty, war and injustice. Mind you, her appeal is directed at the Labour Party, so it will probably fall on deaf ears.

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