Sunday, April 04, 2010

Secret tape reveals Tory backing for ban on gays.

I have been saying for what seems like an age that the Tories have repackaged themselves but that they remain the same people they were before. And this only seems to confirm that.

The Tories were embroiled in a furious row over lesbian and gay rightson Saturday after the shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, was secretly taped suggesting that people who ran bed and breakfasts in their homes should "have the right" to turn away homosexual couples.

The comments, made by Grayling last week to a leading centre-right thinktank, drew an angry response from gay groups and other parties, which said they were evidence that senior figures in David Cameron's party still tolerate prejudice.

In a recording of the meeting of the Centre for Policy Studies, obtained by the Observer, Grayling makes clear he has always believed that those who run B&Bs should be free to turn away guests.

"I think we need to allow people to have their own consciences," he said. "I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it's a question of somebody who's doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn't come into their own home."

It honestly doesn't surprise me for a second that this kind of prejudice remains at the heart of the conservative party. That's who they always were, so how can anyone pretend to be shocked when they reveal that, underneath Cameron's applied gloss, they remain essentially the same?

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights group Stonewall, said the comments would be "very alarming to a lot of gay people who may have been thinking of voting Conservative".

He added: "The legal position is perfectly clear. If you are going to offer the public a commercial service – and B&Bs are a commercial service – then people cannot be refused that service on the grounds of sexuality. No one is obliged to run a B&B, but people who do so have to obey the law. "I don't think anyone, including the Tories, wants to go back to the days where there is a sign outside saying: 'No gays, no blacks, no Irish.'"

Mr Summerskill has obviously never read the Daily Mail if he thinks no-one wants to go back to those days. What does he think that constant glorification of the 1950's is all about if not a hankering to go back to a time when we all knew our place?

To those lovely days when the middle class didn't have to pay for private education because they could send their kids to grammar schools. And, when the time came for the kids to leave school, the grammar school kids went to work in the banks and the offices and the kids from the comprehensives went to work in the factories. There were no vulgar Essex boys in the city in those days. Everyone knew their place and everyone kept to their place. That's why the Tories keep hankering back to that time.
Chris Bryant, the Europe minister, who last weekend became the first gay MP to be married in the Commons, said from his honeymoon in Edinburgh: "Anybody who thinks that the Tory party has changed should think what it would be like to have Chris Grayling as home secretary.
The party which introduced Clause 28 into law have not changed. Cameron has applied a mask. Nothing more. And, once again, it is slipping.

But, anyone who has been paying attention to Cameron's voting record on this issue, would realise that his own views have changed dramatically only as he sought to make his party re-electable.

Underneath the surface sheen, the old nasty party remains.

Click here for full article.

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