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Exeter MP attacks Tory gay credentials

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: July 04, 2009

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw

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EXETER MP Ben Bradshaw says there remains a "deep strain of homophobia" in the Conservatives.

Speaking ahead of London's Gay Pride march, the Culture Secretary argued that the Conservative party has failed to move on from its past, and that party leader David Cameron "talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk".

Mr Bradshaw, one of three openly gay men in the Cabinet, made the comments as a new poll suggested more gay people were turning to the Tories.

His comments were backed by Chris Bryant, another gay minister, who said: "If gays vote Tory they will rue the day very soon."

The Conservatives have reacted angrily to the accusations of homophobia.

Opposition frontbencher Alan Duncan said their comments showed Labour was "actually the nasty party".

Conservative leader David Cameron recently assured the gay community that his party had learned its lesson since passing anti-gay legislation such as Section 28.

Mr Cameron also said he regretted having voted to uphold the law as recently as 2003. But Mr Bradshaw said: "I hope that people in the lesbian, gay and transgender community will closely examine the Conservatives' record on this and David Cameron's record in particular, which is not good. A deep strain of homophobia still exists on the Conservative benches."

Mr Duncan, one of two openly gay Tory frontbenchers, 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. "

Labour's performance among the gay community is worrying party strategists, who feel it is not reaping the rewards of 10 years of equality legislation.

New research for Jake, a company which specialises in professional networking for gay people, found the Tories outperforming Labour by 38 per cent to 20 per cent, with the Lib Dems in second place. The Tory vote was one per cent higher than the national average.

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    John Maclean, Exeter  |  July 05 2009, 1:12AM

    If indeed Ben Bradshaw attended the parade for the Armed Forces, then I apologise. However it's funny that he was not mentioned! More to the point is the original argument that his sexuality has nothing to do with his job or his politics. He is simply using his sexuality as a political weapon. Do us all a favour Ben. Concentrate on the issues and leave sex out of it.

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    Bernard, London  |  July 04 2009, 10:31PM

    Like many current Labour MPs, Bradshaw will be out on his ear come the next election, so is desperate to try anything to curry favour with any potential voters.

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    P Charles, Exeter  |  July 04 2009, 5:45PM

    Is this the same Ben Bradshaw who abstained from the Commons vote in November 2002 to allow gay or unmarried couples to adopt?

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    John Maclean, Exeter  |  July 04 2009, 1:44PM

    Once again Ben Bradshaw plays the "homophobia" card just as he did during the expenses revelations. I do wish he would leave his sexuality aside and concentrate on the cabinet job he has to do. I fail to see how homophobia bears any relevance to the problems faced by the government at this time but ah! It is Gay Pride weekend! I am not a Tory supporter but I do know Alan Duncan who quite happily sits on the Opposition front benches and was the first gay Conservative to "come out." He seems to have no problem with his leader so why should Ben Bradshaw? It is high time Bradshaw stopped whining about what is his private lifestyle and got back to doing what he should be doing, attending the parade in Exeter to honour our Armed Forces! I don't care what Mr Bradshaw's preferences are but I wish he would stop using them as a political weapon.

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    People's Republic of South Devon, Devon  |  July 04 2009, 1:20PM

    This story is probably a couple of days old. Ben Bradshaw actually was in Exeter supporting the return of the troops yesterday - check out his blog. But even with a full itinerary I would hope any MP would be able to speak out against homophobia and other bigotry.

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    Keith Owen, Exeter  |  July 04 2009, 1:18PM

    Ben was at the Cathedral supporting the troops. He also that day attended the funeral in Exeter of Granville Baldwin, the much respected first Lord Mayor of Exeter. Correspondents would best check their facts before criticising individuals.

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    D F Moon, Exeter  |  July 04 2009, 11:00AM

    I would have thought it would have been better for Ben Bradshaw to have been in Exeter supporting the troops his government sent to war , than talking to a gay rights party Still thats about par for Ben