It’s hardly news to discover that a prospective Tory prime minister is a terrible human being, but even by their usual standards the current crop have revealed themselves to be particularly unpleasant.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Esther McVey followed in the footsteps of Andrea Leadsom by taking the side of the homophobic protestors outside the Birmingham primary school: when it comes to equality, “parents know best”. Meanwhile Dominic Raab announced that he didn’t want to “make it easier” for trans kids to be themselves.
The kind of people who scream at five year olds vote in significant numbers, so McVey will happily throw the vulnerable minority of LGBT parents and children under the bus to get those votes. Trans kids don’t vote at all and their parents aren’t a significant electoral force, so Raab is happy to dog-whistle to the anti-trans and religious brigade about the invented spectre of children transitioning. Once more for those at the back: trans children don’t get hormones or surgery in the UK; that isn’t under review.
I’m no fan of the Conservatives, but some of them deserve some credit for their approach to LGBT rights in recent years: David Cameron ignored the majority of his own MPs to get equal marriage passed in 2013, and the Conservatives have also attempted to bring gender recognition in line with international best practice (an attempt that was done badly and turned into a disaster for trans people, but that’s for another post). Penny Mordaunt in particular has been a positive voice in government for LGBT people.
But the Conservatives were also the party of Section 28.
As the equal marriage vote demonstrated, the majority of Conservative MPs are not in favour of equal rights for LGBT people.
Nadine Dorries claimed equal marriage was “a policy which has been pursued by the metro elite gay activists”. Liam Fox said it was “a form of social engineering” and voted against extending equal marriage to Forces personnel stationed abroad. David Davies is a vocal anti-trans activist with a truly appalling voting record on LGBT issues (and inevitably, on women’s rights too). Of the 21 MPs who voted to oppose inclusive relationship in schools this year, 12 were Tory (plus 7 of their DUP allies and 1 independent. Just one Labour MP joined them).
Their friends in the press aren’t exactly LGBT-friendly either, and the most vocally anti-trans newspapers are the ones most read by Conservative voters and the hard core of Conservative party members who will select the next Prime Minister.
Most politicians would happily sell their own mothers for power, and looking across the Atlantic it’s clear that pandering to bigots and Murdoch is an effective way of gaining that power. Who cares if that means making a vulnerable minority’s lives worse? Given the choice between protecting people and gaining power, they’ll choose power every time.
For too many Conservatives, LGBT people’s lives simply don’t matter.