Socialist Worker

It’s principles, not prejudice, that wins support at the Stonewall London mayoral hustings

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2098

For the Tories, some people are more equal than others

For the Tories, some people are more equal than others

All of the main candidates for London mayor went head to head at a 400-strong hustings organised by the Stonewall LGBT rights group last Saturday.

Left List candidate Lindsey German’s commitment to LGBT rights and opposition to all discrimination impressed many.

That Tory Boris Johnson was less comfortable with his audience became clear as he fumbled his way through the letters LGBT. “I did get that right, didn’t I?” he asked.

Further embarrassment came as it emerged that Johnson was also the only candidate never to have been on a Gay Pride march.

With the Tory toff wobbling it was expected that Ken Livingstone would deliver a knockout blow. But it was not to be.

The one-time “Red Ken” seemed engrossed with the need to appear respectable. Instead of lashing the Conservative Party for its hypocrisy, Livingstone was preoccupied with trying to steal some of his right wing opponent’s policies.

It was left to Lindsey to expose the Tories’ double standards. To loud applause she said, “The Tories talk as if they have reinvented themselves, but we should remember their bigotry.

“We face the major problem of homophobic bullying in our schools. And we are still living with the consequences of the then Tory government’s Section 28 anti-gay law.”

And instead of recognising the main enemy, Green candidate Sian Berry laid into Livingstone for inviting Muslim cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi to City Hall. al‑Qaradawi has been critcised for his views on women and gays.

Lindsey was the only candidate, other than Livingstone himself, to defend the mayor’s engagement with al‑Qaradawi.

She pointed to the duplicitous way religion is often dealt with, saying, “The leaders of the Catholic, Protestant and Jewish religions will have the same anti-women and anti-gay views as al-Qaradawi and no one is attacking them.

“I work with Muslims in the anti-war movement, and many don’t agree with al-Qaradawi. Unless we engage with the Muslim community it will become hermetically sealed.”

Her position won loud applause and showed that sticking to your principles is often more popular than seeking refuge in prejudice.

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