The Leicester City Alternative End of Season Awards 2014–15

The Claridge Shin ‘Scenes of the Season’ Award

Magic…Cambiasso draws City level

Until the last few weeks of the season, the winner of this award looked like it would go the distance completely unchallenged. While several contenders in our run of six wins in seven eventually received some passive contemplation, the 5-3 humbling of Manchester United could simply not be beaten. That game in September has already gone down as one of the Foxes’ most famous ever matches, coming from 3-1 down to win 5-3 against arguably the world’s biggest club in just over twenty minutes is mesmerising enough but when you list the talent the opponents had on the pitch and in the dugout; Falcao, Rooney, Van Persie, Mata, Di Maria, Van Gaal and Giggs – it’s simply spectacular. It’s hard to say whether Cambiasso’s inaugural strike or Jamie Vardy’s classy winner were better moments, but it’s not hard to say that this is the most scenic football moment I have ever witnessed.

The Dennis Wise ‘Twunt of the Year’ Award

Tw*t… Alan Hutton’s mentally deficient anger reflects the club he represents

The Dennis Wise gong really is one of great shame, while Leicester have had their share of villains throughout this season with honourable mentions to Pat Murphy for his pathetically uncomfortable lecture to Nigel Pearson that was merely a sick ploy to provoke the City boss. And, Mike Jones must receive a huge slice of disdain for his inability to differentiate between a face and a hand; robbing the Foxes of yet another scalp at Anfield. But the award goes elsewhere despite their best arsehole-esque efforts neither did enough to trump Aston Villa’s Alan Hutton. This poisonous thug is a real tosser, hacking City players like Piers Morgan does childrens’ phones – he should have seen red in all three of Leicester and Villa’s clashes. However, not everything he inflicted on Foxes fans was bad, he did give us a reason to like Paul Konchesky.

The Filbert Fox ‘Foxiest Fox Of The Year’ Award

Retention… Kaspy beats Jam-Jar to remain LCFC’s pin-up boy

I’ll be honest, I had gone off Kaspy a bit this season; and when he was out injured and last year’s runner-up Matty James got an extended run in the side, I was sincerely prepared to unseat the Great Dane in favour of Filbert Way’s resident Lancashire lothario, then this picture happened and Kasper did what he does best – pulled off an unlikely save.

The Frank Sinclair ‘Comedy Goal of the Year’ Award

Head’s gone… Morgan gives Cambiasso the indignity of a Foxes own-goal

Last year, I had the pleasure of giving this award for a goal that counted in our favour, this year I can do no such thing. Despite his usual wizardry, Estebae was on the end of a pretty diabolical own-goal at home to West Brom. The Argentine raced back in to the box to help clear a cross from the Baggies but Wes Morgan got there first, nodding the ball on to the obscenely muscular thighs of Cambiasso and in to the back of the net. Thankfully, City would have the last laugh at the Baggies’ expense a few months later.

The Yann Kermorgant ‘Stupid Decision of the Year’ Award

Embarrassment… City were dumped out by a poor Villa side that reached the final

While we could focus on individual errors such as Schmeichel decided to award Ross Wallace with roughly 30 miles worth of empty net to aim at in stoppage time against Burnley or Paul Konchesky’s inadvertently superb assist to Andy Carroll against West Ham. However we’re not going to – meaning this award goes to a man who has by all means been forgiven for his mid-season shortcomings but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been forgotten. Pearson’s tactics in the cup at Villa scoop the dong. City, away at Aston Villa in the FA Cup, the giants all dropping like flies and a real chance for the Foxes to really go for the trophy that has so famously eluded them. But Big Nige opted to line the Foxes up in an unfamiliar 5-4-1 formation…in a cup match…a local derby… away at a side who had scored 0.5 goals all season. Not only that but with the Foxes being obviously outplayed and trailing the hapless Villans, Nige decided to use just one of our three available substitutes – erm why?!

The Neil Danns ‘Fraud of the Year’ Award

Brute…You put your Big Pole in…

This award is not for the Dan Turner school of frauds but rather an affectionate look at one of our own’s ability to get away with (attempted) murder. The debut recipient of this award is terrace hero Marcin Wasilewski. I commented during pre-season in The Observer that Wasyl’s elbows would be no match for a pacier defender – but I never should have underestimated his multi-purpose arm-joints, the fact Wasilewski has never been sent off for Leicester City means he’s thoroughly earned it – keep the unsporting subterfuge up, Was!

The Zoumana Bakayogo ‘Signing of the Season’ Award

Saviours… Cambiasso and Huth are City’s key players

This is the toughest call of them all… by far. While, I have to give the optimum credit to Robert Huth, whose loan signing has transformed both Leicester’s defensive capabilites and in my opinion, fate at the bottom of the table, I simply can’t not give this award to the legendary Esteban Cambiasso. From the moment he took to the field at the Britannia in mid-August, Estebae has been the puppet-master in the midfield for the Foxes and as the season, and with it his fitness, has progressed he has become more and more mesmerising. I genuinely feel fortunate to have seen this man play for and care so much about my club and I pray Estebae (and Robert Huth) for that matter stay with us for next season – we rely on them more than they know.

The Alan Birchenall & Tony Currie ‘Romantic Moment of the Season’ Award

Shithouse… Vardy nabs City a crucial breakaway winner

In a season where City fans have been able to cherish their Premier League status, a nostalgic throwback to the Championship anguish that preceded it scoops this year’s romantic moment award. In the middle of Leicester’s remarkable surge to survival, the Foxes notched up a 1-0 win away at Burnley, replicating an immediate response to avoiding conceding a penalty going up the other end and scoring the winner seconds later, as we saw at Watford. We also left the bitter and frankly deluded Sean Dyche with no doubts as to who the better side were, even without the ‘many, many pound notes’ he thinks we’ve flashed – the result effectively relegated Burnley and put the Clarets in their place.

The Nigel Pearson ‘Pearson-ism of the Year’ Award

Boss… He can handle himself, you know?

‘He says what he wants, he says what he wants! You’re an ostrich, so f**k off and die!’ *chokes player*. Relaying that chant is the best way of detailing all of the nominations for this new award. What was best? Well, choke-gate was odd and not really funny, ‘f**k off and die!’ was funny and probably deserved but given how left-field Pearson’s ostrich quip was, there was no way it would be beaten. Having just lost 3-1 at home to champs Chelsea, Leicester fans online were reflecting and speculating what else needed to be done to secure survival when news that Pearson had compared a journalist to a flightless bird with his head in the sand – he later apologised but the worldwide social media reaction has cemented it in Foxes folklore. Come on you Foxstritches!

Students, Green and Labour Ain’t Your Flavour

The Liberal Democrats, The Greens and Labour are often grouped together in British politics as the three largest country-wide socially progressive parties. Since the tuition fee debacle of 2010, the Lib Dems have seen their youth support abandon ship and float over to the Green surge or the Millifandom, and why I totally understand and sympathise with those who abandoned my party in 2010, I think it’s time to consider hopping back on board.

It’s probably best to address that gigantic elephant in the room, tuition fees. I can wholeheartedly understand the anger with the Lib Dems over tuition fees, as a student I’m not removed from the situation myself. While many Lib Dem MPs kept their pledge of voting against rises in tuition fees, others decided to forfeit that pledge on the understanding our coalition partners would vote in favour of some of our better policies. Remember, nobody in the Lib Dems wanted to raise fees, it just became undeliverable – but I concede, the pledges should not have been made. However, the Lib Dems have made it fairer to repay and this may blow your mind, but we actually pay less back now at £9,000 a year than we did under Labour at £3,000 a year. Mind-boggling, I know. When it comes to tuition fees, it’s worth remembering the Labour party have broken three times as many pledges, and in majority governments too! But I’m not supposed to tell you that because it certainly wouldn’t suit Labour Youth’s the NUS’ agenda.  Julia Hartley-Brewer summed my feelings up best on BBC’s Question Time saying “Who introduced tuition fees? Labour. Who raised them? Labour. Who raised them again? The Conservatives. Who got punished? The Lib Dems”.

Clangers... Labour aren't student policy champs

Clangers… Labour aren’t student policy champs

Moving on from this, it is pretty clear that students generally tend to favour the socially progressive policies these three parties offer. A particular area of interest for young voters is the legalisation of cannabis, and while there are genuine claims from the Greens to do just that, they’re not as pro-drug reform as they seem, they certainly haven’t adopted the Lib Dems’ plans to decriminalise possession of most drugs and move drugs from an issue of crime to an issue of health. When talking to Labour about drug policy they are relatively silent, in fact the best former leader Ed Milliband could come up with was ‘I haven’t taken them…but I have read about cannabis’. Insightful.

LGBT+ issues are also of particular interest to youth as there is generally a greater visibility, tolerance and confidence in young LGBT+ people. In the 2015 manifestos, the Lib Dems boasted more pro-LGBT+ policies than both Green or Labour. The Greens to their credit pushed Clegg and co. close but couldn’t feasibly claim to be the best party for non-heterosexuals. Like on drugs, Labour were too fairly silent on these issues as well, with barely a tenth of the polices the Lib Dems pledging making their manifesto. In fact, it’s worth noting that the Labour party and the Green party both released separate LGBT+ manifestos as after thoughts – it’s hardly progressive to separate people by sexuality. Separate but equal is never equal. In fact, speaking of ‘equal’, let’s discuss ‘equal marriage’. While the Greens were the first party to make same-sex marriage party policy it was the Liberal Democrats who delivered it in government in 2012, at a time where British politics was obsessed with the economy alone. The Labour party, while they did vote in favour of passing the policy didn’t actually include marriage equality in any of their manifestos, nor did they try and implement it in 13 years of majority government.

Pioneers... Lib Dems lead the way on LGBT+ policy

Pioneers… Lib Dems lead the way on LGBT+ policy

Another focal point of concern for students and young people is the treatment of mental health which is a much more visible issue than it used to be. As of the 2015 election, both Labour and nor the Greens relegated mental health policy to passing inference while the Lib Dems made treating mental health on a par with physical health a front page policy, aiming to donated an extra £250m a year in to mental health treatments. On immigration, Labour have been lurching so far to the right they’re almost eskimo-kissing Nigel Farage. The party’s decision to pander to the xenophobic disdain for migrants in this country reeks of pseudo-nationalism, and shows them for the mugs they are (pun definitely intended). To their credit, the Green party joined the Lib Dems in abstaining from that practice but only the latter directly took the fight to UKIP and the Conservatives. In fact, Labour’s disgraceful treatment of immigrants isn’t a recent phenomenon, in the last government the Liberal Democrats ended the disgraceful Labour policy of detaining child asylum seekers in adult detention centres, in some instances, for weeks and months.

If none of this is enough to get you to entertain the idea of defecting to the Lib Dems then consider that our economic policy was voted the most transparent by the IFS (Institue for Fiscal Studies) while the Greens want a 60p tax rate, and a ‘Beyoncé tax’. If you want a sort of socially progressive party incapable of basic economics who possess the lowest satisfaction rate of any party-run council in the country. If you want to put the Queen in a council house and to follow a leader who turns the most friendly of interviews in to a Comedy Central roast then vote for the Greens. If you want a formerly progressive party intent on emulating the Tories to better their electoral fortunes. If you want a party who has no plans to descale trident, and leads Britain in to illegal wars so we can help the US pillar oil then vote for Labour.

Misrepresented... Despite Caroline Lucas' protestations, Liberals are anti-Tory

Misrepresented… Despite Caroline Lucas’ protestations, Liberals are anti-Tory

However, I suspect you would rather have a socially progressive party who champions a Rent-to-Own scheme where first time buyers will be able to buy their home by building up shares in it through rent, without needing to rustle for a deposit.  A party who had the guts to align itself with its fiercest ideological rival to save the economy from collapse and still deliver 70% of its manifesto pledges with just 8% of the seats. If you want social progression and economic sensibility the only choice is the Liberal Democrats. Obviously, each young person has their own political acumen and agency. I don’t necessarily want to proselytise you in to joining the Lib Dem fightback, but you don’t have to default to the Labour party to find a socially progressive mandate that goes against the Tories – in fact, you would be looking in the wrong place entirely.

What Next For The Lib Dems?

After a frankly devastatingly damaging result on Thursday, the Liberal Democrats like UKIP and Labour need a change in direction. Nick Clegg, who showed just how popular the Lib Dems would be given parity of coverage in 2010, packed in his Cleggmania and sacrificed himself once more, this time for the good of the party. The question is, who follows him?

The Survivors

Favourite… Former party president Tim Farron

The remaining 8 Liberal Democrat MPs are widely and rightly considered the most appropriate successors. Former party-president Tim Farron is many’s first choice, including the bookmakers’ who have installed him as an early 1/6 favourite to land the position. While Farron is credited with being able to inject immense amounts of passion, his credentials when it comes to social liberalism are questioned due to his hesitant support of Lynne Featherstone’s Marriage Equality bill. Regardless, he DID vote in favour of the bill and has experience at the top of the party, having already served as party president. As well as this Farron rebelled against that tuition fee vote which could be useful in establishing a new direction for the party. As well as this Farron’s roots lie in the North of England, which would help distinguish him from the Westminster bubble. However, perhaps the most staunch tuition fee rebel is Greg Mulholland who retained his Leeds NW seat on Thursday. Mulholland is perhaps most notable for retaining traditionally social liberal values but not being afraid of turning against the party line when he sees fit, while this has its downsides, it could be a huge bonus in establishing a new direction for the Liberal Democrats, making us a more radical option to the electorate. While Norman Lamb did remarkably well to survive the Lib Dem purge of Norfolk, he is almost at the opposite side of the party, towing closer to the party line and perhaps less radical – a more conservative choice for the party’s future. Finally, we must credit Alistair Carmichael for holding on to his Orkney & Shetland seat, a better retention rate in Scotland than the Scottish Conservatives combined, but again Carmichael is closer to the Cleggite era from which we’ve just emerged and with less emphasis on radical social justice and a below average debate contribution record, he might not be strong enough to lead the party.

The Outsiders

By George!… Welsh Liberals have had great success before

Of course with so many major losses to the party our options from Parliament are somewhat diluted. It would be a big risk for the party to elect a leader that isn’t currently an MP – we saw that it doesn’t guarantee victory with Natalie Bennett and Nigel Farage of the Greens and UKIP losing out in their constituencies. However, if we did decided to go down that road there are a few worthy candidates. Former MP for Dunbartonshire East Jo Swinson was charging her way up the party before she was an unfortunate casualty of the rise of Scottish nationalism. As a strong voice for democratic and constitutional reform as well as an effective, compassionate and truly liberal Junior Equalities Minister. She was heading on her way to the top of the party, the loss of her seat to the SNP is the single biggest strike against her. Hornsey & Wood Green’s former MP Lynne Featherstone is my personal favourite Lib Dem, she almost single-handedly brought marriage equality to the country at a time when politics was entirely distracted by the poor state of the economy. Her loss is perhaps the biggest felt to the social liberals of the party, her record as a parliamentarian is among the very best but does she have the natural command of a leader? Maybe not. Then we could consider those already in other senior positions of the party. Party president Baroness Sal Brinton is already high-up in the party and the current de facto leader, as a pioneer of Liberal values in Parliament’s upper house, Brinton can also claim to be one of the most active Lords in the country. However, her title and unelected status could be a massive turn-off to voters. It would too be a good idea to consider Welsh Lib Dems leader Kirsty Williams, who has retained her AM position ever since the Welsh Assembly was founded and was in 2012 voted AM of the year despite the political landscape of Wales favouring three other parties before the Lib Dems. She also has a great reputation in health campaigning, a key issue in her country. Being a Welsh woman could too prove a progressive bonus, differentiating her from the Westminster men that dominate the main parties’ leadership.

The Wildcards

Don’t Mention The Coalition… John Cleese may be a Fawlty choice

And now, just because I think us Lib Dems could do with something a bit more light-hearted let’s briefly entertain the idea of some off-the-wall contenders. Firstly, the Lib Dems most famous and popular celebrity supporter John Cleese has shown that he’s a die-hard party supporter even when it wasn’t exactly en vogue. Just imagine how brilliant he would be in 2020’s leadership debates, he would certainly unseat Boris Johnson, who is surely the next Tory leader in waiting, as the biggest comedy character in politics. Then again, how excellent is the Liberal Democrat Yoda that is Paddy Ashdown, able to command the respect and attention of anyone in UK politics, he is a true credit to the party and given his advancing years clearly would never want to be leader again but I would like to see him as a prominent part of our fightback – arguably my favourite British politician of all-time. Finally, I think we should consider myself, Chris Whiting (I needed the bold bit), I’ve seriously been waiting for years to get my teeth stuck in to UKIP and apparently I’m 98% on message with the party, I pledge to bring sass to the Liberal Democrats – okay, it’s probably not the best plan but let’s not rule anything out.

CON-demned : The Day After The Night Before

I could not have imagined a more devastating result from the 2015 General Election than the one we were delivered last night; disunity, fear and class warfare are the prevailing tastes of a vote which delivered a Tory majority, a swell of UKIP votes and a Scottish nationalist revolution.

Of course, the other unsavoury residue left by yesterday’s ballot bashing was a lingering since of electoral redundancy, once more the concentrated 36% of Conservative voters have manged to reward their party with 100% of Westminster’s powers. It’s hard to be rational at a time like this, especially when my party, the Liberal Democrats, took the most brutal thrashing imaginable – to think our worst estimates had us at 19 seats is merely a painful embarrassment now.

I will always make the case that the Lib Dems did not deserve to be punished in this election. In a climate of political cynicism which constantly seeks to question the intentions of politicians, who are perceived to tight-rope their party line to perfection; why were the Lib Dems punished for doing the opposite and forming an alliance with our traditional nemeses, the Conservatives, at a time where the British economy was on the brink of a Greek-style collapse? In truth, I could hurtle hundreds and hundreds of rhetorical questions at you, in an attempt to understand this baffling destruction of liberalism. Why has a party, who only won 8% of MPs, who was the far smaller party in government been so heavily punished for failing to deliver on their promises? 70% of the Lib Dem manifesto became coalition policy – pretty good going really.

Without the Lib Dems in government to temper the Conservatives’ hard-right economics and social politics, the country could well become a very ugly place. We’re only in day one of this new government and fox-hunting, cutting disability benefits and the Snooper’s Charter are back at the top of the agenda, straight from Cameron’s little black of book of Tory policies blocked by the Lib Dems. The anti-Tory vote has driven the electorate in to the divisive arms of the SNP, who will seize the opportunity to blame all of their ills on the divergent Southern English vote, thus making a stronger case for independence. More depressingly perhaps, UKIP’s popular vote held strong and returned them three million votes. I won’t pull any punches here, we’ve all seen enough evidence to show what a nasty, divisive and intrinsically intolerant party they are. The only solace can be found that their odious ex-fascist, Putin adoring leader was humiliated on the back of his complacency and belief in his cult of personality. The BNP vote collapsed and we all know where that core support has emigrated to. What is worse on a personal level is the sympathy afforded to this not so secretly far-right party in my hometown of Leicester. In all three of the city’s constituencies, which hosts two universities and one of the most diverse populations in the country, UKIP returned an average of 11.5% of the vote, just shy of their national result. This swing to UKIP is in my mind a demoralising blow to the unity of my usually so tolerant, seamlessly integrated city that ranked UKIP above both the Lib Dems and the Greens across the board.

Electoral reform may as well be put down, now the Tories have attained the unlikeliest of majorities, they will be able to credibly argue that the main benefit of FPTP, a stable majority government, is still a feasible outcome. It certainly won’t serve any cause to reform, and there’s no fair-minded progressive party alongside them to say otherwise. In fact, it will probably get even more unfair. Ironically, proportional representation would have returned more MPs for us in this election than FPTP did with 23% of the vote in 2010 – work that one out.  The Lib Dems were unable to get the Lords reformed due to Tory opposition, though they did stop the redistributing of rural constituency boundaries, which is sure to firm up more Tory seats in 2020.

No matter the majority the Tories have won, these issues all need to be addressed, so too do unfair party donations and media influence. Rupert Murdoch’s Conservative alignment is well-known, the fact he can control so much of the UK’s media from a party political stance is dangerous and damaging to true democracy. On top of this, a policy of capping donations made to parties at £10,000 would have stopped other parties having their message steamrolled, it will only reinforce the status quo, it is electoral capitalism at its ugliest, undemocratic and a habit that’s harder to break the longer we persist with it.

Despite all of these negatives, this election has been fascinating, seemingly enshrouded in uncertainty, we’ve given the party who were the least explicit on their specific economic strategy the unhinged mandate to implement it at their leisure. Like I said, hundreds of rhetorical questions cannot solve the confusion I’m facing. Of course, it could have been slightly worse – but only slightly. The only positive of a Tory majority is that being propped up by the DUP or UKIP is no longer a requirement, meaning social politics won’t be as damaged as they could have been. In turn, the situation on this front could too be far far better. For instance, we now live in a nation where Lynne Featherstone, who almost single-handedly drove the policy of marriage equality through the Commons lost her seat to a Labour candidate found guilty of spreading untrue lies about her stoking xenophobic tensions. Meanwhile, in Loughborough, Nicky Morgan who herself declared that marriage equality was not a ‘smart law’ increased her majority by 10.5%. A widespread demand for greater focus on foreign policy issues in the General Election campaign like the rise of the so-called Islamic State were met with the passive disregard of Maajid Nawaz in Hampstead & Kilburn, whose expertise in Islamism would have been vital in a Parliament, that is seemingly in denial over how prevalent an issue this will be in the next five years.

Of course, I could simply attribute these defeats to anti-Lib Dem sentiment and nothing else but I don’t believe that’s true. I know social progression is a value shared by millions nationwide, and the concern of radical Islam is a concern of millions here too – so why weren’t these candidates successful? Because the Lib Dems were steamrolled in the media? Probably. Channel Four’s satire Ballot Monkeys, made a joke about it but it rings true. The Conservatives and to a much lesser extent the Labour party, are the only ones really given the time of day. The protestations of Lib Dems around the country that income tax cuts are all down to Clegg and co., and were called undeliverable by the Conservatives are going to be ignored when half the press is printing the opposite. The Lib Dems don’t have the unbridled support of corporations or trade unions to meaningfully rebut Labour’s lies that the Lib Dems screwed over students, and Labour never have. In fact, this isn’t a Lib Dem only problem – I’m sure members of the Greens, Plaid Cymru and others feel similarly today too.

Do you know what the Lib Dems achieved in coalition, with just 8% of MPs? We introduced same-sex marriage – we did, not the Tories, not Labour. We ended Labour’s abhorrent child detention schemes, we delivered free school meals for all school children, we stopped the Tories allowing bosses to sack workers on any ground they deem necessary be they motivated by racism, sexism or otherwise. We stopped Tories slashing funding for childcare, schools, the NHS – yes, it could have been worse. We stopped Cameron giving tax cuts to the wealthiest in society. We, yes, again it was, that introduced the income tax threshold raise that took many low-to-middle earners out of paying income tax altogether. And tuition fees? Yes, they increased – they trebled, and it wasn’t ideal and it was seemingly a betrayal, and none of us were happy about it. But we still made repayment fairer so that you pay less back until you earn enough that you can afford to repay your loan, and if you still can’t – it gets written off. A lovely ‘betrayal’, in my mind.

It’s not just us, the decimation of our party has been greeted largely with sympathisers on both sides of the political centre. The Labour supporters are bemoaning the absence of our influence in government while the Tories have finally acknowledged that most of the good stuff the coalition achieved was down to us. The newspapers all came out in support of the party a week before the election, pleading with the electorate for a Lib Dem coalition of some sort – but where have they been the last five years when the anti-Liberal tirade has been all too prevalent? No coverage of our achievements, they were all tactically and disingenuously attributed to the larger Conservative party. Maybe, it really does all come back to tuition fees – and if it does then that makes me incredibly sad because again, I don’t think the wider electorate have been given the parity of information to decide whether it was a betrayal or the best possible compromise from a junior party in government saddled with no money to spend. Julia Hartley-Brewer summed my feelings up best on BBC’s Question Time “Who introduced tuition fees? Labour. Who raised them? Labour. Who raised them again? The Conservatives. Who got punished? The Lib Dems”. It would be the first, and likely the last time I ever afford her applause for her comments. If only people like her had been more vocal about the last five years, maybe Liberalism wouldn’t have taken an undeserved pasting.

Of course, this election in general was a bit farcical, even more farcical than my party’s result. For now we must rebuild, and encouragingly members are already flocking back to the Liberal Democrats in their thousands. There are great, wonderful, compassionate driven people in the Liberal Democrats who have sadly lost the opportunity to make 49 constituencies better places to live, but we will come back – if there is one thing the Liberals can do well it’s a fightback. After all, this election wasn’t necessarily about punishing us. Maybe our overtly centrist policy just wasn’t as effective as expected and a greater emphasis on our radical social justice views will win back our defected Lib Dems. Regardless, this election shouldn’t be remembered as an election lost by the Lib Dems and cake-walked by the Tories. It was an election corrupted. An election corrupted by nationalism on two fronts, the increasingly disproportionate power balance in the press, and most depressingly of all, a fucking bacon sandwich.

General Election 2015 : Power Rankings

There is absolutely no real need for this post, my list of the seven main UK parties ranked based on how worthy I think they are of voting for.

7. UKIP

Wooden spoon… Made in Europe probably – bloody EU! >:(

Manifesto: http://www.ukip.org/manifesto2015
Strength:
 Ale drinking 

Weakness: Foreign policy
Party trick: Making casual racism acceptable to 15% of the electorate

Potential Coalition Partners: The ConLabDUP

Where to start with Nigel Farage’s pestiferous cult “people’s army”? On a policy basis, believe it or not, UKIP aren’t totally repugnant – they are mostly but some policies do make sense, although it’s hard to believe a single word, given that populism is at the heart of the party’s ideology. Several gaffes from its members, PPCs, MEPs and leader alike simply make UKIP a no-go. Their divisive aim to ethnically separate the nation may be slightly well hidden by Nigel Farage, who was accused of being a racist fascist by a teacher at his expensive private school but the dwindling support of the BNP is no coincidence. The high rate of absenteeism as well as the fugacious nature of their policies does nothing to reassure those who doubt the party’s competence. Their leader may be among the most charismatic in British politics but being literally the worst human in the world lets him down. Let’s hope UKIP’s steady decline in the opinion polls picks up.

 Score: 14 /100

6. SNP

In the driving seat… Ed’s probably tied up in the back

Manifesto: http://votesnp.com/docs/manifesto.pdf
Strength:
 Social policy

Weakness: Domestic policy
Party trick: Ironically giving the Tories the best chance of sneaking back in to government

Potential Coalition Partners: The LabPCGreens

Again, the SNP aren’t that deplorable when you look at everything they stand for. Though their lack of real commitment to LGBT+ issues this year was seriously poor for a socially left party, a lot of other things they profess to stand for are very agreeable indeed. Unfortunately, the SNP are bunny boilers in a political sense, though hesitant to admit it, the SNP are desperate for another Indy Ref and to pull Scotland out of the union – or to at least demand more disproportionate funds and electoral sway to the north by simply being noisy. Arguably, Nicola Sturgeon has been the most impressive leader in the build up to this election, she has portrayed herself as calm, powerful and together (ironic I know). However, for all of her popularity, there is a dissatisfaction with the SNP’s hypocrisy as head of the Scottish Parliament with many feeling the SNP fundamentally are under-performing in key areas of their ideology.

 Score: 42 /100

5. Conservatives

Forever blowing bubbles…Cameron prepares for his club’s derby against West Bromwich Hotspur

Manifesto: https://www.conservatives.com/manifesto
Strength: They’re not Labour
Weakness: Domestic policy
Party trick: Retaining over 30% in the opinion polls despite accruing the support of Katie Hopkins
Potential Coalition Partners: The LibUKIPDUP

What to say about the Tories? Let’s just say on a policy basis, I’m never likely to be onside. Fundamentally opposite to me on the social spectrum, the Conservatives are just a bit far too nasty for me. While, I certainly view them as more competent than the Labour party, their ideological drive to punish those at the bottom and preserve a select few at the top of the spectrum does not sit well with me. You could also make the point that David Cameron carries himself in a more statesmanlike manner than the other potential Prime Minister – but to be honest, I’m not sure why that’s preferable – policy is certainly more important than personality. I’m genuinely fearful of a ‘Blukip’ coalition of the Tories, UKIP and DUP, I really don’t fancy a single ticket trip to the 1950s.

Score: 45 /100

4. Labour

Let Me Tell You… Ed’s public speaking courses are hilariously apparent

Manifesto: http://www.labour.org.uk/manifesto
Strength: They’re not Tories (but they’re getting there)
Weakness: Economic incompetence
Party trick: Retaining over 30% in the opinion polls despite accruing the support of Russell Brand
Potential Coalition Partners: The LibUKIPGreensPC

Dissimilarly, I don’t agree with Labour on a personal basis. While their manifesto is mostly quite nice, championing some really good social policy, the party has decided to scooch further and further right in some areas too. Who can forget mug-gate and Harriet Harman’s patronising pink bus? Saying that, Labour are too incompetent – powerfully purporting their disdain for zero hour contracts and love for students despite the fact they did nothing about either in 13 years of majority government – in fact they screwed the latter over thrice as much as the Lib Dems! Yes, Milliband has come on stronger as a leader recently but that really isn’t enough to convince me Labour’s left-wing veil is anything but that.

Score: 47 /100

3. Greens

WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE VERTEBRATES?!

Manifesto: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/we-stand-for/2015-manifesto.html
Strength:
 They’re lovely
Weakness: Failing to understand that 3% to 5% does not constitute a ‘surge’
Party trick: Making people think their manifesto is genuinely fully costed
Potential Coalition Partners: The LibLabSNPPC

If this election was solely about social policy then the Greens would be jostling for top spot. Seriously, they have some genuinely fluffy, lovely ideas but they’re so vapid it’s unreal. As much as the most prominent politicians in the Green party, leader Natalie Bennett and Caroline Lucas are lovely people they are just a bit out of touch with reality. I’m sure all parties left-of-centre would love to implement those in the Greens manifesto but being realistic it just isn’t going to happen. Their economic policy would be a disaster, it’s no coincidence that the only council in the UK that they control has one of the lowest satisfaction rates. It also probably irks those in poverty that Bennett routinely claims how bad ‘we’ have got it while riding to Question Time in a first class train carriage. On top of all of this, environmental experts have even claimed the party isn’t that eco-friendly – ouch! Perhaps, the Greens should put the green down and embrace the real world. Bless them, they are lovely though.

Score: 48 /100

2. Plaid Cymru

Fy ffrind gorau Nicola i fod yn onest

Manifesto: https://www.partyof.wales/2015-manifesto/?force=1
Strength: A quiet but deadly leader
Weakness: Civic nationalism
Party trick: Being a far more likeable SNP
Potential Coalition Partners: The LibLabSNPGreens

Again, on the side of nationalism I deplore Plaid Cymru’s stance and if there were as big a demand for Welsh Independence as there is Scottish Independence, they would be further down the list – thankfully there is not. I always feel that the Welsh get a poor deal in comparison with the Scots and Plaid Cymru (obviously) have rectifying that at the heart of their agenda. Socially the party is truly a champion of the left showing a remarkable commitment to the LGBT+ community that is only matched and indeed surpassed by one other party, while their economics may be idealistic and of the breed of the Green party and the SNP, Plaid Cymru carry slightly higher levels of competency starting with a remarkably quiet yet sassy leader in Leanne Wood who is ready to take Nigel Farage to task and then some at any given opportunity.

Score: 66 /100

1. Liberal Democrats

The Last Clegg… Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry

Manifesto: http://www.libdems.org.uk/read-the-full-manifesto
Strength:
 Centrism

Weakness: The immovable bastard that is tuition fee-gate
Party trick: Best 404 pages ever
Potential Coalition Partners: The ConLabPCGreens

In a time of economic uncertainty and social complacency, the Lib Dems are managing to once again strike the best balance in their manifesto. Although, not perfect – having made some mistakes in the last coalition government while diluting the Tories hardcore right-wing whims, the Lib Dems have managed to put together a sensible centrist economic policy that aims to wipe out the deficit while making sure those at the bottom aren’t pressed to make up the difference. The IFS and several other leading economists have praised the Lib Dems’ plans as the most credible. Social policy has too been by far the most forward thinking with substantial plans to improve humanist recognition, LGBT+ issues and champion youth and students too. I’d even go as far as to say that the Lib Dems are what a lot of Labour voters think Labour are. While their campaign message hasn’t been the strongest, Nick Clegg has shown glimpses of the Cleggmania that engulfed the electorate in 2010. However, the biggest challenge for the Lib Dems is to set the record straight on previous errors and perhaps fight a little harder for more Liberal values in any future coalition in order to tempt anyone back on side – it really is time to get over that one. Hear that, NUS?

Score: 92 /100

Electoral Reform Is British Politics Next Big Challenge

The single worst response I hear when asking people who they’re planning to vote for is “Labour to keep the Tories out” or whichever two parties it may be. In a democratic sense, it is genuinely sad that people feel the need to vote tactically in a general election that will affect them in most areas of their lives. There are huge issues in politics both in Britain and abroad and while overseas problems may prove to be trickier, a lot of the domestic dissatisfaction can be resolved by an overhaul of our unfair electoral system.

In the last General Election, the Liberal Democrats tallied a massive six million votes, which was nearly a quarter of all votes cast but they only won a paltry 58 seats – a quarter of what they actually deserved. Ironically, with the Lib Dems slumming it down at around 9% in the polls in the lead-up to the current election, they would actually obtain more seats under a system of proportional representation right now than they did in 2010 under First-Past-The-Post (FTPT), telling you all you need to know about how flawed and unrepresentative the current system is.

Not only has the current FPTP voting system proven to be irreflective of the British electorate’s views time and time again, those ‘chosen’ Members of Parliament then have to have their decision making ratified by a house of privileged Lords in the government’s upper house. To think that an entitled few can actually be given a genetic claim to government in 2015 in Britain is frankly obscene.

Unrepresentative… Parliament does not accommodate all of the nation’s views

An overhaul of Britain’s electoral system would not only deliver a more legitimate representative democracy, it would also address several key issues that plague British politics in the process. Firstly, there would be no majority governments – that might sound like an odd thing to list as a positive but hear me out. In a two-party system, which we currently abide by, we are usually dealt a majority Labour or Conservative government, and subsequently permission for either to implement their undiluted reckless ideologies. And when it doesn’t satisfy us, we elect the other one to do the exact same five years later. Doesn’t this sound like Einstein’s definition of insanity; repeating the same behaviour over and over again and expecting different results? The two main parties are now only commanding two-thirds of the popular vote, and I would bet a fair portion of that support comes from the fact they’re the only two that could feasibly form a government in this system. We, in the UK, have now embraced a more plural attitude to politics and our electoral system needs to evolve in tandem.

As a result, people will feel that their vote actually counts for something – because it will. In the current system, votes effectively count differently due to the simple accident of where you live. For instance, those in a safe seat have a far less valuable electoral opinion than those in a marginal seat – and nobody seems bothered by it. If we were, for argument’s sake, to switch to proportional representation the votes of each person would actually carry equal clout, voter apathy would decrease and the rise in drives for Scottish and Welsh independence would be lessened as more people would see their opinions manifested in parliament rather than a fleeting pressure in a capricious opinion poll.

Fair…How better systems would have changed 2010’s votes

In turn we would see the end of ‘tactical voting’. Democracy should never be about picking the lesser of two evils. Now the parties, and indeed the electorate, lack their former rigidity and don’t abide to a strict ideological conservative, liberal or socialist regime and rather diverge in to many political areas, there is less reason for a two party system that basically encourages people to champion who they dislike least.

We also need to focus on not allowing a duopoly of politics like we see in the United States, lack of pluralism in politics simply diminishes democracy. One of the best ways to achieve this is to set a cap on party donations. Is it really a coincidence that The Sun, the UK’s largest newspaper has backed the winning party of every election for over twenty years? Is it right that one of the world’s wealthiest and most influential men in Rupert Murdoch can berate his staff from the very same publication for not doing enough to turn the British electorate off of Ed Miliband? This influence is poisonous and manipulative and far from conducive to true democracy. Thankfully, the Liberal Democrats at least have committed to addressing this in their 2015 manifesto.

In reality, British politics is sick. And at this rate it will only be a few years before it is lying prostrate on its deathbed waiting for the plug to be pulled. Robotic politicians towing to party lines have certainly contributed but they are too victims of a system that makes it easy for the established parties to be complacent and retain power yet impossible for the smaller parties to do the same. Yes, the AV referendum was defeated in 2011 – but it was incredibly sketchy and in as short a time as four years, politics in this country has changed dramatically. I would personally rather we didn’t keep subjecting the nation to the unrestrained force of Labour’s reckless economics or the Tories’ callous social policy on the whim of a third of the voting public. Politics in this country is becoming increasingly opaque, in a time where transparency is the key to defeating political dispiritedness. Ironically, a change in system won’t benefit either the Conservatives or Labour, and they are realistically the only ones able to enforce it – and just as with everything in this tired, almost laughably archaic procedure, until either the Tories or Labour have an appetite for it, genuine democracy will merely remain a pipe dream.

Who Should LGBT+ People Vote For?

General Election fever is in full-swing. Different areas of society are being urged, swayed and pleaded with to vote a certain why. With that in mind, who should the LGBT+ citizens of the United Kingdom be voting for next month? Labour? The Lib Dems? The Greens? The major seven UK parties are all very different on their vision for the next steps in LGBT+ equality and here’s why;

The en vogue parties in the LGBT+ community right now are without a doubt the Labour party and the Green party, with the latter soaring in support from gay, bisexual and transgender people. In fact, just this week Peter Tatchell called out for us to vote Green next month to further the agenda of equality. Now, I have looked at the Green party manifesto and everything they want to do for the LGBT+ community is nice, fluffy and genuinely quite lovely, but too typically of them – vapid. There is very little substance to what they specifically would do to help those in the LGBT+ community. Bar misleading claims that Caroline Lucas was the one that drove the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act through the last parliament, the Greens actually have a weak case for the gay vote.

The Labour party are also being touted as champions of LGBT+ rights, despite failing to place Marriage Equality in their 2010 manifesto and even this year their offer is very slim too, only outlining an LGBT Rights Envoy to promote human rights internationally – a good idea but ultimately, it’s not a lot. Plaid Cymru make a positive contribution in their manifesto and are probably the second best choice in this election – with a clear strategy to tackle specific acts of LGBT+ discrimination in many different areas. Their nationalist counterparts the SNP are surprisingly quiet on the subject. In spite of being on the social left; they offer nothing more than an a mirror of Labour’s international ambassador plan. Unsurprisingly, the Conservatives, who probably think the work for LGBT+ equality is done with the passing of same-sex marriage under Cameron’s premiership, offer absolutely nothing specific in their manifesto. UKIP are similarly mute, they haven’t even pledged to increase homosexual activity during drought season. Apparently Farage’s “people’s army” is “not driven by the needs of differing special interests groups”. I guess his is a heterosexual people’s army instead.

Hero… Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone (left) was the biggest LGBT+ advocate in the last Parliament

Is this meagre choice really the best LGBT+ citizens can hope for from the next election? In my view, the answer is no. The real party for LGBT+ people is still plugging away and providing sound basis for a progression in equal rights – and they are the Liberal Democrats. We’re told we’re not allowed to trust my party – we’re simply poisonous in the media realms – not to be entertained on the back of one broken pledge, a mistake no other party has ever made. But just hear me out. In the Coalition government, the Lib Dems succeeded in implementing marriage equality, almost solely on the back of the pluck from former MP Lynne Featherstone. And this is just one example in a long, long history of the Lib Dems catering for LGBT+ needs. The preceding Liberal party was the first to introduce a gay rights section for policy, while the Lib Dems have actively supported drives to make the age of consent equivalent, protect LGBT+ asylum seekers from unjust criminal charges abroad and oppose the ban on teachers being allowed to disclose their sexuality.

Thankfully, the Liberal Democrats haven’t stopped there and the party has pledged even more for LGBT+ citizens in their 2015 manifesto. The Lib Dems want to extend the rights of co-habiting heterosexual couples to homosexual ones, include all relationships in qualification for Civil Partnerships, crack down on homophobic bullying in schools, make homophobic football chanting a criminal offence like racist chanting is, permit humanist weddings, seek to end the disgraceful  and unnecessary bans on blood donation for MSM, pardon those convicted of historical homosexual ‘offences’, and they even match the SNP and Labour’s pledge for an appointed international  gay rights advocate – and in greater detail too.  For gender non-confirming people, the party have pledged to introduce “X” gender markers on passports and eliminate the need for a gender dysphoria diagnosis to acquire legal gender recognition.

Equal rights for LGBT+ citizens is one of, if not my biggest passion in politics and the Liberal Democrats are simply streets ahead in this vicinity and have been for a long long time. I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t mean it and I wouldn’t have joined a party that didn’t put the drive for LGBT+ equality at the heart of their policy making. If you really want a conscious, caring, allied voice for non-heterosexuals in government for the next five years then don’t vote Green, don’t vote Labour, vote Liberal Democrat.

Manifesto Check

Where the parties stand on LGBT+ issues in their 2015 manifestos

LGBT2015

Student Disunion

#TrollTheNUS – https://www.facebook.com/events/1028359820527087/

Recently the National Union of Students (NUS) released their pre-general election campaign for 2015, a tradition that is supposed to mobilise the youth vote and champion student politics on a national stage – however this year’s campaign is less remarkable for the promotion of student involvement in the democratic process and more for partisan alienation of those who don’t subscribe to a very specific ideology.

The not so subtle smear drive against the Liberal Democrats for what is perceived as a betrayal over the issue of tuition fees in the 2010 coalition agreement is the focal point of their campaign. Seemingly angry at a perceived dent to student finances, the union has spent £40,000 of student money to whinge about it five years later – that costs more than your degree. The NUS is supposed to be an independent body that encompasses, reflects and supports the variant, diverse political views of student bodies up and down the country – and with that in mind, this campaign is disgraceful.

Truth... Tuition fee repayment under Labour and the Lib Dems

Truth… Tuition fee repayment under Labour and the Lib Dems

Firstly, let’s clear up any discrepancies over the Lib Dems controversial U-turn on tuition fees. I, even as a Liberal Democrat member myself have a major issue with the party’s failure to deliver the policy that was one of the focal points of our 2010 manifesto. It’s frustrating but concessions had to be made to form a stable government in a time where the economy was anything but. The less publicised version of events is that both the Conservatives and the apparently supreme student guardians Labour both opposed the abolition of tuition fees, so the policy was undeliverable unless the Liberal Democrats won an outright majority. After all, it’s probably a little silly to expect a party that was awarded just 57 out of 650 seats to enact their full manifesto as the junior party in a coalition government, but I guess that’s a discussion for another time.

Regardless of this shortcoming – which has been persistently apologised for by both the party and Nick Clegg by the way – the Lib Dems are still championing rights for students such as the delivery of the Pupil Premium and commitments to slash public transport costs for students dependent on the service. The point I’m making is a sense of Lib Dem abandonment of the student population is so far wide of the mark.

Clangers... Labour aren't student policy champs

Clangers… Labour aren’t student policy champs

The big issue of this campaign by the NUS is its blatant subterfuge. The union carries very cosy links with the Labour party. Does anyone else find it convenient that the SEVERAL broken pledges by Labour on tuition fees are ignored in this ‘student retribution’ campaign? They pledged to not introduce them, and then did so in 1998. By 2001 they were promising not to raise fees but went right ahead in 2003. Ten years later, the party want to reduce the fees to £6000, which will only benefit those students with more disposable income – just when you thought Labour couldn’t slink any further to the right.  Perhaps, the most staggering fact of all is that students are now paying back less in loans under the Lib Dems than they were under Labour, despite the heightened fees. Surely the NUS’ decision to turn a blind eye to all of these clangers by Labour on student politics has nothing to do with the fact that each NUS leader has been a Labour party member for the last thirty years running, and that the Lib Dems are traditionally their biggest competitor for youth support?

Look for yourself, the party’s each have their own ideas for student politics – some more than others. The NUS should place the impetus on students to explore their own political opinions and form an identity for themselves. They should not pigeonhole a group of people they’re supposed to represent in to a parochial parable that only serves their interests. The so-called National Union of Students has done nothing but disunite the student population by propagating votes for their chosen political ends on the back of a false pretence whilst typecasting 10% of the student population as supporters of poisonous liars.

Accurate... How the campaign should have looked

Accurate… How the campaign should have looked

Thankfully, an anti-campaign aiming to troll these biased perjurers is in place, you can donate money to the Liberal Democrats, if you’re that way inclined and not let the NUS manipulate you with senseless propaganda. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that this campaign is a disgusting betrayal of the student population, something they’re purportedly against. The only liars here are the NUS, they haven’t failed to deliver on a promise, they’ve tried to exploit student to further the power of their UKIP-lite overlords, they should serve the student population – not manipulate them.

#TrollTheNUS – https://www.facebook.com/events/1028359820527087/

Are You Being Persecuted?

This past week the governor of Indiana passed legislation that effectively allows gay men and women to be rejected by businesses due to their sexuality in the name of protecting ‘religious freedom’.  No, you’re not reading The Onion and no, you haven’t stumbled in to the Tardis in a drunken stupor and found yourself back in the 1920s – this has actually happened.

Let’s say two women out on a date somewhere in the heart of Gary, Indiana fancy some ice cream on their way home, they stumble in to their local ice cream parlour and order two scoops of mint choc-chip. The vendor spots a romantic glance between the two, confiscates their food and shoves them out of the door. Now, the most decent of people can see a major issue with that behaviour but now it’s perfectly legal in one of America’s fifty states – well, as long as he says it’s in the name of God.

The United States has many more theists than the United Kingdom; devout Christians are much more vocal across the pond than they are here. But why is the autonomy to choose a religion more important than the freedom to simply be? I’m not a religious person but I acknowledge and advocate the right for each individual to pick their own faith and spirituality. If you want to be a Christian, be a Christian. If you want to be a Sikh, be a Sikh.

Homophobic…A courthouse in Tipton, Indiana

The problem forms when people exploit this unassailable freedom for a sinister motive like we’ve seen stateside this week. There is no requirement in Christianity, the predominant religion of Indiana, to reject, banish or scorn homosexuals. The Bible is pretty clear in its condemnation of homosexual activity but it doesn’t call for gay men and women to be outcast.

Again, we arrive back at this question; why is religious freedom considered more imperative than sexual freedom? It’s widely and correctly believed that a person’s sexuality is not a choice – but a person’s religion is. Why are we giving legal clout to the need of some to discriminate against those with an inoffensive innate characteristic in the name of their chosen beliefs? Would I, as a gay man be allowed to turn away a theist who I felt was immoral? No, I wouldn’t and that shouldn’t be the case either. This is not a motion to protect religious freedom, its legislative homophobia and nothing else.

Just a few weeks ago, Antony Sher, a rich gay actor, said “life is good for gay people in this country now”. That is simply not true, gay people still face discrimination every single day both socially and lawfully. If this case in Indiana isn’t enough to attest to this then we only have to look to the Republic of Ireland where gay men and women are facing a referendum to determine whether or not they’re allowed to get married. That to me is simply absurd, millions of people who will be entirely unaffected by the legal union of two people of the same gender can spitefully vote to keep it illegal. That’s similar to me surveying my entire street on my preferred choice of dinner every night to see if my eating habits suit them – of course, it doesn’t affect them or the enjoyment of their own meal in any way, but they deserve to have their say on my life, right?

Unjust… “Religious freedom” campaigners

You would think that in 2015, we would have moved past this thinly veiled odium. It’s high time we stopped trying to lawfully isolate people as social lepers in the name of religion. I imagine there are countless theists in Indiana and elsewhere that have found the passing of this new law as abhorrent as the LGBT community has. I for one am not sorry for being romantically and sexually attracted to the same-sex, I’m just not and I shouldn’t have to be every time I fancy a cupcake.

The people of Indiana are being short-changed by a discriminative movement guised in the name of faith. There is no requirement in any religion that necessitates refusal of service to gay men or women. Homophobia is alive and well and unfortunately is rearing its head in pseudo-clever yet imaginative ways. This law should be overturned immediately – imagine the stain on the so-called “Land of the Free” when this bill goes in to the history books. Finally, as for those Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists or atheists for that matter, who feel they cannot serve people of a certain disposition – get your arses out of public service, you’re doing it wrong.

 

Isolation Through Stereotypes

Stereotyping any type of person is problematic. The LGBT+ community, like many others, is rife with preconceived false notions of what ‘should’ constitute an LGBT man or woman. A prevalent stereotype of gay men is that we love pop divas and their music, think Cher, Madonna, Kylie – and while that is true of plenty of gay men around the world, the sheer scope of exposure afforded to this cross-section of gay culture is somewhat isolating to the rest of us.

Obviously gay periodicals and news channels like HuffPostGay, Gay Times and Attitude will commercially benefit from covering news stories pertaining to the aforementioned artists, and I’m sure many gay men have a vested interest in these people but that doesn’t mean that their excursions constitute ‘gay news’.

Irrelevant… Dannii Minogue’s return to music made headlines among gay publications

There are many gay men who are interested in sport, politics and other types of music, to name just a few examples. Shouldn’t gay news outlets publish gay features on a plethora of interests or more simply just cover gay and LGBT issues, rather than paying disproportionate attention to stereotypical music tastes? Printed versions may have to restrict the range of news covered due to lack of space but online, where many of these outlets operate, there is no such excuse.

Of course, these celebrities can largely attribute their popularity among the gay community to their do-gooding, and it remains imperative for rights activists in the media to be reported on when they are active in that process. However, it isn’t factual to suggest that Kylie and Madonna, to stick with earlier examples, are only reported on for equality campaigning. In contrast, Maroon 5 front-man Adam Levine and pop band Fun get nowhere near the same level of coverage despite similar if not excelling levels of activism themselves. Well, Adam Levine does get coverage, but a different kind. In recent years Levine has persistently and vocally championed equal rights and Fun have co-founded the Ally Coalition that encourages the idea of straight allies.

The point I’m trying to make is that the release of Madonna’s album is not ‘gay news’. Liza Minnelli going back to rehab, though sad and upsetting for some, is not ‘gay news’. In fact, just yesterday Attitude published an article listing all the instances of self-reference on Madonna’s latest release, Rebel Heart. I mean really? For the record, I think Attitude is an excellent publication but why are certain gay men’s interests more important than others? I’m sure many consider these stories important or interesting but it isn’t gay-specific news and the sole focus on trivial topics like these only propagates stereotypes of gay men and isolates those who don’t fit in to these conventional interests.

Overlooked… LGBT+ issues in sports are often not given the same importance as pop music

There are a couple of ways that gay news carriers could correct this, and to be honest, it’s surprising it hasn’t already happened. They could either stick to LGBT specific news or feature a wide variety of interests remarked on from a gay angle. Let’s be fair, a certain genre of pop music is not under the ownership of all in the gay community. In modern times, we are told repeatedly that gay men are a diverse group with a wide range of interests, views and beliefs – and rightly so. But why is it that in 2015, we still assume that disco pop is the only thing that gay men are interested in outside of being gay? Obviously, I don’t expect a horse racing pull-out and a motorsports section but why are, for example, potential features on homosexuality in football or even the LGBT policy proposals of political parties being displaced by Britney Spears’ latest robotic effort?

While I concede that it makes financial sense to include these stories in gay magazines, it doesn’t make much sense to exclude other interests held by gay people that may transcend other spheres. This, remember is a community that added a ‘+’ on to the LGBT acronym to be wholly inclusive – it’s time to walk the walk. LGBT men and women should be able to purchase, follow and read gay news and have their other interests covered if the stereotypically common interests of other LGBT people are. Let’s not isolate gay people via the media because they don’t conform to traditional typecasts. It may seem like an over-the-top reaction to a seemingly minor issue but pigeon-holing people is never a good idea, particularly when these outlets are supposed to be representative. Let’s not give others the chance to stereotype those in the LGBT community and embrace the wide variety of interests we share – that’s the right attitude.