Friday, June 10, 2005

Those Gay Tories Again

In the immediate aftermath of the British election last month, I wrote about openly gay Conservative candidates for Parliament.

Now one of those successful candidates, Alan Duncan, who serves as the shadow transport secretary, has announced his intention to seek the leadership of the Conservative party.

An article in the Daily Telegraph reports:

The Conservative Party would, [Duncan] argued, benefit from having an openly gay leader because that would be a visible demonstration that it had become more tolerant.

"If it were me [who became leader] everyone would know the party had changed and I don't think anyone would have an excuse to vote Liberal Democrat," he said. Mr Duncan, who will give a speech on the future of the party to pupils at the City of London School today, is the second senior Tory to give a firm indication of his intentions.
The article continues:

His supporters say he is a good media performer who is untainted by having been a minister in unpopular former Conservative governments. At 48, he is also younger than Sir Malcolm and Mr Clarke.

Mr Duncan, a social and economic liberal, warned that the Tory Party could die if it did not realise the scale of the transformation it required. "If we don't get this right we risk being in terminal decline," he said.

"Marks & Spencer was a fantastic brand in good times but if you have a lousy CEO and lousy knickers you don't do well. Like M & S we need both a good CEO and better frilly knickers."

In his speech today, which will be seen as a pitch for the top job, he will say that a leader "has to be good on TV. He needs endless stamina. He needs a track record of clearly held, and clearly understood, views and he needs to be able to appeal far beyond the core support we currently attract".

The United States has seen a number of openly-gay Republicans elected to public office (former Congressman Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin and Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona are the two most prominent examples). We have not yet reached the stage of seeing the possibility of an openly-gay Republican party chairman or presidential candidate. But who would have thought of that possibility in Britain 20 years ago?

By the way, Alan Duncan is the author of Saturn's Children: How the State Devours Liberty, Prosperity & Virtue, which I have not read (yet), but I can tell just by the title that I would like it. I simply must add that book to my Amazon wish-list.

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