Duncan: Labour stirring up hatred

By Alice Cannet and Ian Dunt

Alan Duncan, an openly-gay shadow cabinet minister, has accused Labour “stirring up hatred and division” ahead of this year’s Gay Pride.

His comments followed claims by the culture secretary, Ben Bradshaw, that the Tories stil have “a deep strain of homophobia”.

Mr Duncan said: “This is the last gasp of Labour’s desperation. Bradshaw and Bryant are simply trying to stir up hatred and division from the last century and it’s both unwarranted and unworthy.

“It’s simply untrue. I believed we had reached the happy point where politics had been taken out of this altogether. But these remarks show that Labour is actually the nasty party.”

He continued: “I have publicly paid tribute to Tony Blair for his achievements, particularly on introducing civil partnerships. David Cameron this week said that on section 28 we had to admit we got it wrong.

“The party has changed. I bet in Labour backwaters there are plenty of people who don’t like the fact that Ben Bradshaw is gay.”

At a debate on gay rights chaired by Stonewall organized by gay networking group Jack, Tory prospective parliamentary candidate, Nick Boles admitted that his party had “made it impossible for gay people to vote for them” in the past.

However, shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert said he was the prime example of the shift of Tory mentality towards equality.

“I am exhibit A,” he said. But he admitted his party’s mistakes in their position to the gay issue and recognised Tony Blair’s efforts to promote gay rights.

Chris Byrant, foreign office minister, also praised Labour’s record on gay rights.

He cited the equality bill as proof of his party’s commitment and insisted that the Foreign Office under Labour had paved the way to promoting gay rights abroad.

As for the Lib Dems, frontbench spokesman Stephen Williams said his party had initiated the battle for equality for gay people in 1979 in what he called a “special act of bravery.”

While praising Labour’s gay rights record, he added that Lib Dems were ahead of the curve on civil liberties, climate change and economic policies.

The event was picketed by fundamentalist Christians but Amnesty International staged a counter protest.

A poll by Jake revealed that 44.8 per cent of its members thought Labour was the most gay-friendly party, followed by Lib Dems with 44 per cent. Only 5.7 per cent said Tories.