Conservatives

Oh, that election

Well, folks. Five years came around quickly and we have another general election. It is fast becoming a hallmark of British discourse that we identify who is with us and who is against us.

Each time round, the conversation is different. Two years ago, the Tories got their majority, on the proviso that we have a conversation about “Brexit”. One year ago, we had that conversation about Brexit (and lost). This year, the main talking point is Brexit.

And yet, we have triggered that Article 50 thing; triggering two years of negotiations that decides the direction (i.e. just how acute the angle downwards we should point) of our separation from the European Union.

Now, it would be incredibly daft to start the negotiating window and immediately take leave to have a national conversation about everything to do with the country. It is akin to waiting until you arrive at the front of the queue at McDonald’s and then asking the cashier to wait a moment while you plan your entire diet regimen.

The last general election was a complete failure. The result of that election was to reinstate a prime minister that was doomed to abandon his post; the country ended up splitting fairly evenly (though intrinsically polemically) over a complex amalgamation of issues, many of which were not discussed in great length; and the term of the government was actually two years, not the five enshrined in law.

Of course, the law allows a new “snap” election if two-thirds of the representatives in the House of Commons voted accordingly, which they did so in this case. This election is styled as giving the people a second referendum to decide who should lead the negotiations. What a terrible lie.

But what of LGBT+ rights? And where does asexuality fit into all of this? In the wake of the terrible things happening in Chechnya, and sexual violence used against asexual people the world over, what the major parties doing to ensure that we are protected?

Well, the Tories want to “see attitudes to disability shift as they have for race, gender and sexuality in recent years: it should be completely unacceptable for people with disabilities to be treated negatively” (p. 57 from their manifesto). Aside from the lack of commitment — that’s what they want to see with no detail as to how they would do it — it’s quite a telling statement. Attitudes towards LGBT+ people are patchy, inconsistent and, in asexuality’s case, completely overlooked. So that would seem the Tories’ are happy to see some disabled people treated more fairly and positively, but that rather depends on their disability.

Labour have committed to addressing the Equality Act 2010, though this is mostly to remove outdated terminology used to refer to transgender people. They also wish to reinforce hate crime legislation to ensure that hate crimes against “LGBT” people are treated the same as those based on race and faith. A commitment to “ensure that the new guidance for relationships and sex education is LGBT inclusive” (p. 111) limits children’s awareness to a select few sexual orientations, it seems.

The Lib Dems use the acronym “LGBT+”, which is encouraging in terms of its commitment to ensure that school children receive a broader range of sexual orientations. However, it does not suggest a change in the Equality Act 2010; neither does it refer to asexuality, specifically.

The Green Party refers to “LGBTQIA+” and “action to tackle … real equality for LGBTIQA+ people” (p. 21) — they do not elaborate on what this means in their manifesto.

UKIP want to end sex and relationship education in primary schools. Their manifesto refers to LGBT+ rights in passing; they are presented as a necessary weapon for the battle against immigration.

It doesn’t feel like we’ve got very far in the past two years.

Doom and Gloom: A brief response to the general election

By |May 8th, 2015|Essays|0 Comments

As we all digest and reflect upon the election results, which put the Conservatives firmly into the seat of power, I reflect upon my experiences with the parties in the run up to the election.

Conservatives

They outlined in detail what they would do, whether we would like it or not. Acknowledged my letter to them about asexuality, and nothing more. Did not expect a response and they delivered on that promise. Did not contact me any further beyond that point: they did not want my vote (and did not need it, either). They’ve made it very clear that they’re not my party and I’m not going to be served by them. No disappointments, then. Offering Scotland their referendum was a master-stroke. Their lesson: apathy suits them.

Labour

Talked the big game but didn’t engage properly. Gave generic answers to every question posed to them and refused to give specifics. Exactly the same for my letter: they gave a response that did not address my concern at all (but plenty of demands for money). They did not provide a viable alternative to the Tories and there’s nothing more off-putting. Their lesson: don’t just listen to the people, follow them.

Liberal Democrats

Declared that they’d lost before they started. I think they launched a manifesto, but referred little to it. Talked a lot about tethering the Tories in the coalition and how they would do the same in this government. Never said sorry for the broken promises. Did not respond to my letter and sent requests for money. Seemed more concerned about attracting money (to pay for lost deposits?) by arranging celebrity prize draws than talking about their policies. Their lesson: they need to redefine what they’re about and remember what helped them win gains in 2010.

UK Independence Party

Had a much increased share of the vote but one measly seat. They revelled in their negativity, which is why it wasn’t converted into more seats. They did not respond to my letter: they focussed on a few issues to win hearts but didn’t offer much by way of a vision for the bigger picture. Their lesson: be more positive, share your vision (if you dare).

Scottish National Party

Huge gains in Scotland. The Scottish are generally happy by what they’ve achieved through devolution but still feel they are being tethered by Westminster. Their socialist approach is largely at odds with what comes out of the Houses of Parliament and even more at odds with the Tory approach. Tellingly, it took many seats from Scottish Labour, which ought to have been socialist, too — but Labour isn’t socialist enough. SNP promises to look after its own and Scottish Labour doesn’t seem to have the remit to promise that. Their lesson: if you promise to protect the interests of your people, you really must. Else you’ll be gone in 2020.

Green Party

I feel sorry for the Greens. They produced a great manifesto with good, detailed ideas. However, they are fighting against established powers. The SNP made big gains because of the referendum: they had a captive audience for months, which the Greens couldn’t ever realistically gain. They didn’t respond to my letter directly; however, they did address my query in their manifesto. Their lesson: their hard work needs to start now; they need to stay relevant and inform the electorate of how things could have been.

Email sent to major political parties

Forgive me, I grew impatient. It has been more than two weeks since I sent letters to the political parties and received a reply (nay, an acknowledgement) from only the Conservative Party. I thought, perhaps, there were more appropriate places to send the request for more policy information than to the campaign headquarters. Indeed, for some of the parties, there appear to be such places.

I have just sent emails (or completed web forms) to the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the United Kingdom Independence Party and the Green Party. The Conservatives advised me to contact the Government Equalities Office, so I shall await their reply. The email contained an almost-carbon-copy of the original letter, save for a note at the start of the message noting that I have already sent a letter (dated 16th September).

Hopefully I should get some responses soon.

Addendum
I should add that I may have, in haste and carelessness, asked UKIP for the Green Party’s policy. I apologise openly for that oversight. However, I hope they can understand that this is my greatest concern and my alliances may be forged by an appropriate response and that I am not contacting them in isolation because of this.

A reply from The Conservative Party

This morning I received my first reply to the letters I sent to some political parties. The Conservatives win for speed in sending me a response. However, the good news rather ends there. Having asked the Conservatives what their policy towards promoting and protecting asexuals, this was their response.

Dear Mr Broughton,

I am writing on behalf of the Party Chairman, The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, who has asked me to thank you for your letter of 16th September.

It is good of you to get in touch and make us aware of your thoughts.

It is most appropriate for correspondence regarding specific issues such as this to be directed to the Government, rather than the Conservative Party. In light of this, I would encourage you to contact the Department for Women and Equalities directly by writing to 100 Parliament Street, London, SW1A 2BQ.

Thank you, once again, for taking the time and trouble to get in touch.

Yours sincerely,
Oliver Wells
Office of the Party Chairmen
Conservative Campaign Headquarters

Now, this seems to me a bit peculiar. Why would a question about a party’s policy towards asexuality be better addressed to the Government? I can only infer from this that the Conservative Party have no such policy and no intention to introduce a policy. However, you can read for yourselves the letter that I sent to the Conservative Party Headquarters and their reply in full and allow you to reach your own conclusions.

In the meantime, I will work on a letter to the Department for Women and Equalities (to whom I had planned on sending a letter anyway) to ask for the Conservative Party’s policy on asexual equality.

Letter to major political parties

Since the letter I received from my local MP concentrated on the Equality Act 2010, I decided that I will concentrate on that, for now. So I’ve written another letter.

Well, letters. Seeing as there is going to be a General Election next year, I am writing to five political parties to establish their views and policies on asexuality protection. It is quite vague and does not make any demands at this stage. I want to get as rounded a picture of their stances as possible before seeking to push for promises.

So the following letter will be sent to the Conservative Party, the Green Party, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the United Kingdom Independence Party. They will all receive the following letter.

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you with regard to the issue of the recognition of asexuality as a sexual orientation within the protective laws of the United Kingdom. Since I identify myself as being asexual, I am concerned that current plans that aim to promote and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people do not appear to extend naturally to asexual people.

I have recently been in touch with my current local Member of Parliament, The Rt. Hon. Mr Ronnie Campbell MP for Blyth Valley. His response to my letter, with confirmation from the House of Commons Library confirms that asexuals are not included in the definition for a sexual orientation in the Equality Act 2010 (EA 2010), Section 12. Therefore, the laws that protect individuals on the basis of sexual orientation do not apply to asexual people.

It is my concern that, as more individuals recognise asexuality in themselves and others, discrimination and hate crime towards asexuals will become more frequent. As someone that has endured prejudice of this nature, I find it intolerable that EA 2010 does not offer the same protection as it does to other sexual orientations. An oft-heard refrain from such-prejudiced individuals is that asexuals are weird and not human-like; that EA 2010 does not include asexuals only supports their prejudice.

As a community, asexuals do not wish for this discrimination to become prevalent. Now is the opportune time to act. The United Kingdom could become the first country to pass protective legislation to protect asexuals and, as a leading, progressive nation, I believe that is something that we should strive for.

I am keen, therefore, to be informed of the <insert party name>’s policy towards the protection of asexuals and the commitments it intends to make following the forthcoming General Election. I look forward to your reply.

Yours faithfully,
Stephen Broughton.