Thursday, January 26, 2006

Simon Hughes's sexuality

(Getty Images)

I suppose everyone else is blogging about this right now, although I do think it's worth commenting on.
It's not that I am surprised, it's been rumoured for a while. The first I heard of anything about it was two years ago, when I went to see The Passion of the Christ with Tammy and a mutual friend of ours, who had recently defected to Labour from the Lib Dems.
He mentioned Simon Hughes, and hinted at him having a hotel room, ajoining that of a male researchers at one of the Lib Dem conferences. I just put this down to tittle tattle, because as far as I was concerned, Hughes mentioned his regrets at marrying, and hinted at a couple of long-term heterosexual relationships. Which, okay, a lot of gay people have made those sort of comments (Particually when life was a lot more difficult for gays than it is now), but Hughes struck me as someone who had integrity, and what's more he said that he was a devout Christian (which I still don't doubt, but in my mind that meant he wouldn't be publicly deceitful about his private life!)
Okay, hands in the air, I took a naive viewpoint on all this, but C'est la vie.
Of course, has time went on, you heard more and more rumourmongering to the point where one felt that this was true. Even a few days ago, after a CSM Youth meeting, Hughes's private life was mentioned and I clearly believed it by then, because I found myself saying, 'Why doesn't he just come out and have done with it!'
Which, to his credit, he has. But that said, I am not impressed!
Which begs the question why! Well it's very simple. Hughes has denied he is homosexual in the past, and whilst he has gone the long way round in saying that he is bisexual, and therefore hasn't lied as such, he has at the very least (to quote my paternal grandad), been 'unkind to the truth'. What's more, it's been over something not that important in the grand scheme of civic politics and public life. Plus it's hardly as if he has had a family and decieved them, whilst carrying on with rent-boys doing unspeakable things!
Then there is the matter of the 1983 by-election in Bermondsley, when there were accusations of a smear campaign against Peter Tatchell. There were the Liberal Party leaflets for a start (Hughes being the winning Liberal candidate), which wasn't impressive, (and hat tip to Antonia Bance for pointing it out) and which was part of an unfair and cruel campaign against Tatchell (Now I am no fan at all of Peter Tatchell, but, looking at the Bermondsley by-election in detail for the first time recently, I think there was an unfair and cruel campaign against him). Hughes has apparently apologised for anything he may have done wrong in that campaign and all credit to him for that, but it all just strikes me as being unfair and wrong!
I am one of these people who thinks that, with blindingly obvious exceptions, one should divorce personalities from politics, and Simon Hughes has been someone from across the political divide who I have had time and respect for (And in some respect I still do). I have admired the way he has seemed to live out his faith in his civic life, as well as the way he stands up for his political beliefs, even when I don't agree with them. But he seems to have just about lied about his sexuality (at the very least he could have said; 'My private life is my own concern and does not affect my work in politics', and he would have come out of this with some dignity) and when he was young and foolish, turned against those who were more open in a way that demeaned Tatchell's opponents. If he was frightened of the reaction of Conservative-minded Christians, then I can understand, but he needn't have worried about that in the grand scheme of things!
And he needn't have been evasive as to be prone to lying!

3 comments:

Bloggers4Labour said...

I'm not at all convinced by this line that the Bermondsey "straight choice" slogan was intended to maliciously raise the issue of Tatchell's sexuality, even if T seems to think it did. Now I don't know what else the Alliance got up to during the campaign, and Hughes is on safe ground by apologising for *anything* negative that might have taken place, but compared to the hostility from Labour Party people (unfortunately), I think Hughes comes out fairly clean.

Louisa Willoughby said...

Yes I am very disappointed. I don't know, I guess I expected more of him, and liked him because he was a credible Christian figure with integrity.
But then, all people in politics are fallible.

Paul Burgin said...

Bloggers4Labour wrote:

I'm not at all convinced by this line that the Bermondsey "straight choice" slogan was intended to maliciously raise the issue of Tatchell's sexuality, even if T seems to think it did. Now I don't know what else the Alliance got up to during the campaign, and Hughes is on safe ground by apologising for *anything* negative that might have taken place, but compared to the hostility from Labour Party people (unfortunately), I think Hughes comes out fairly clean.

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Well I did hesitate about mentioning Bermondsley, and even then about phrasing it. As I said I am not a particular fan of Tatchell and therefore am cautious about his comments, but some dodgy politicking went on there, and the 'Straight' slogan, whilst innocent in itself, seems a bit too coincidental for me. Even if it was a genuine mistake, which is possible, it was a very naive mistake.

Louisa wrote:

Yes I am very disappointed. I don't know, I guess I expected more of him, and liked him because he was a credible Christian figure with integrity.
But then, all people in politics are fallible.
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Everyone is failible. I have to remind myself that when I don't approve of someone's opinions/behaviour and/or lifestyle. 'But for the grace of God...' as it were.