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Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Tories' mask slips again

The by-now widely reported remarks of the Conservative's Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling that Bed and breakfasts run by Christians should be allowed to turn away gay couples because of their sexuality should come as no surprise to those familiar with the Tory Party's record on equality issues.

However, what is more significant about the remark is the way it sdemonstrates how skin deep Cameron's so-called reforms really are. In effect, the mask has slipped from the cuddly Conservative Party, which the Notting Hill set have so carefully constructed and what has been revealed is that it is dominated by the same old backwoodsmen who have run the party for over a century. Is it true after all that if they win power the Tory right-wing will force Cameron to retreat on most of his liberalish agenda?

What is most shocking about this episode is that a potential Home Secretary can take such a stance in apparent ignorance of the law, a law he voted for. Alix Mortimer sums it up best in another outstanding post:

That is all very well. But what we cannot do is invent some legally and physically nonsensical distinction between B&Bs and hotels in order to bend the rules for a certain group of people. This is the absolute antithesis of good law, and of the principles of liberalism. Either Chris Grayling was effectively calling for a review of the entire purpose of anti-discrimination law, or he is a numpty of zero understanding. There is no middle ground (and the answer, by the way, is (b), because Grayling actually voted in favour of the current position, and there’s just no way a Conservative government is going to try to get elected on a platform of repealing the anti-discrimination laws).

And, for goodness’ sake, we knew these laws existed before, right? Why is everyone reacting as if we’ve just uncovered the most heinous, oppressive instrument of state control yet devised by man? Why all the shrieking about “slavery” and suchlike? I’ll tell you what, I’m all in favour of restoring our civil liberties, and I’m also in favour of easing regulation on small businesses, but my impression is that there are one or two slightly more pertinent places to start those processes? You know, just possibly?

The question for David Cameron now is, can he seriously go to the electorate with this man pencilled in as his potential Home Secretary? Does he have the balls to stand up to the Tory reactionaries and sack Chris Grayling from his Shadow Cabinet?
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