Labour is getting desperate to portray the Conservatives as inherently nasty, deeply worrying and a danger to the UK. This is dangerously out of step with the general public’s thinking on the parties, and is a throwback to the time before the 1997 General Election.
One particularly striking example is the utterly wrongfooted attempt by Ben Bradshaw and Chris Bryant, two ministers who also happen to be gay. They have been playing a peculiar game, in the run-up to Pride, of making vague and therefore somewhat incontestible assertions about conservative thinking on homosexuality.
Bradshaw stated a “deep strain of homophobia still exists on the Conservative benches”.
He’s probably entirely wrong on that, though there are certainly some old-school tories who might consider themselves homosceptic. In my meetings with Conservative MPs, the overwhelming feeling is that the state, in general, should never seek to legislate on matters between adults; on everything that does need legislation, in general the party is content to be led by the leader.
This is where the Bradshaw and Bryant assault fails miserably. This is the week that David Cameron apologised for Section 28, the piece of legislation which made it unlawful to promote homosexuality in schools. It’s the week that a big part of the lineup for the Conservative Party’s Conference Pride event was announced. It’s the year when David Cameron, famously utterly opposed to discrimination in its myriad forms, made sure the conservatives were diversity-ready and entirely comfortable in the new Britain.
It’s curious that the party unsure and uncomfortable with the UK’s direction today is the one in the scowling red corner; we’re quite comfortable with the rainbow banner where it’s appropriate.