Jamie Kinlochan says Theresa May’s deal with the DUP will be met with staunch opposition by a brilliant new group of LGBT Labour MPs.
Hope is a funny thing.
Sometimes we find it in the obvious. Sometimes we have to look hard for it. And sometimes, it was there all along; we just didn’t feel it.
I feel so hopeful after the general election. A majority of people in the UK could not bring themselves to support five more years of austerity. In the space of two years, the Labour vote share has increased by ten percent. And in Scotland, we are sending more Labour MPs to Westminster. I’ve got a real sense of us, the Labour family, coming together to bring more people in and create the kind of country we want to live in. There’s something bigger out there for us and I think it is going to come soon.
I was especially hopeful on Thursday because people went to the polls and in 19 constituencies they decided to elect an LGBT Labour Party member as their MP. They bring the total number of LGBT Members of Parliament to 45 overall, a record for our Parliament.
That is something that was unimaginable when I was younger.
Margaret Thatcher did everything that she could to make sure I grew up in a world where I knew I wasn’t equal. She said that I was being cheated of a sound start in life and shouldn’t be made to think that I had “an inalienable right to be gay.” She banned teachers from talking to me about being gay and from tackling homophobic bullying in school. The idea that as a gay person I could get married, or become a parent, was a million miles away.
All of this has, of course, changed for the better. Labour’s stance as the party of equality has paved the way for me to be more equal in my living room, in the classroom and in the board room. But as Theresa May attempts to embark on a government propped up by Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, we remember our history. The DUP is a party of Thatcher just as much as the Tories are.
Arlene Foster, current leader of the DUP, has already spoken of her great admiration for Margaret Thatcher. Ian Paisley Junior, who meets Donald Trump every year, has said he is “pretty repulsed” by gay people.
And on other issues? Sammy Wilson doesn’t care about CO2 emissions. Gregory Campbell supports the death penalty. And they all want to remove women’s rights on abortion. This government will be known as Theresa May’s regressive alliance.
The marked difference in this election is that a group of LGBT MPs will be in the House of Commons to challenge those views. We must ensure that they do it knowing that they have our full support. In Scotland the new MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Ged Killen, is about to inspire LGBT people in his constituency and beyond. He has been a committed, determined and passionate councillor for the area. Ged is exactly the kind of person I needed to see when I was younger. In fact, he’s exactly the kind of person I need to see now.
LGBT Labour works throughout the year to ensure that we return our existing LGBT MPs and build a new generation of LGBT representatives along the way. I’m encouraging you to lend your support as we fight to retain the rights that we have and advance the rights that our other family members don’t yet have.
To join, support or affiliate your CLP with LGBT Labour – visit http://www.lgbtlabour.org.uk/join