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Monday 1 May 2006

Voters dislike adulterous MPs. Gay MPs don’t bother them

On BBC News 24 tonight, Janet Daly (a contributor to the Daily Telegraph) referred to research which she says has been carried out by the Conservative Party. It found that voters have a strong dislike of married Members of Parliament who have affairs and they don’t really mind MPs who are gay.

She said this showed that the Conservative Party got it wrong in the past because it was homophobic and many Tory MPs were adulterers.

I would say that ignores the fact that it’s only in very recent years that we’ve seen a big change in public attitudes towards gay men and women. Unfortunately, the Tories probably were fairly in tune with what many people thought up until 5-10 years ago.

Which reminds me of an occasion back in the early 1980’s during an election. A car drove past our house in Victoria Park. It was promoting the local Conservative candidate. ‘Public money given to gays and lesbians — we’ll show them,’ shouted a voice through a megaphone. A reference to the labour-controlled city council’s support for us back in those days.

I was so incensed that I telephoned the local Conservative party headquarters. I told the rather-startled woman who answered (who had probably never talked to anyone gay before — shock/horror!) that this sort of campaigning just whipped up hatred towards gay men and women. I also pointed out that my boyfriend was a Conservative voter and that quite a lot of gay men were. So the Tories were shooting themselves in the foot with this hate-campaigning.

Unfortunately for the Conservatives, they spent almost another 20 years attacking the gay community, single parents, asylum seekers and minorities, before the message finally hit home. They realised that a large number of us in Britain have family or friends who are gay, black, a single parent… And we don’t like those people being victimised.

Strangely enough, I submitted these comments as feedback on the party website shortly before Theresa May made her famous comment at the 2002 conference about the Conservatives being perceived as the ‘nasty party‘. Goodness — did I help to rehabilitate the Tory party?

Now I think it’s rather wonderful that all our main political parties accept us and recognise gay rights. Especially when I look at the way the gay community is struggling in other countries such as the United States. Now I can even consider voting Conservative (though don’t get your hopes up David Cameron).

Anyway, to get back to the original subject, it’s easy to see why the public dislikes adultery. As it involves dishonesty and a partner being hurt.


Filed under: Politics — GS @ 1:37 am
Sunday 19 March 2006

British soldiers to face life imprisonment for desertion

So many soldiers are absconding from the British Army due to the war in Iraq that the Government is planning to change the definition of ‘desertion’.

Under The Armed Forces Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, ‘soldiers could now face life imprisonment if they refuse to take part in the occupation of a foreign country’.

As usual with Tony Blair, the answer is not to tackle the root of the problem — which is that he lied, the invasion of Iraq was illegal under international law and has been a total disaster. Not to mention that moral has been low because soldiers have sometimes lacked essential equipment such as body armour.

No, instead, Blair punishes the soldiers. Like so many other people, they see through him and have no faith in his leadship. So the only way to stop them running away is to theaten them with life in jail!

If I was in the armed forces I would be looking to get out as soon as possible, one way or another.

This is the twenty-first century and, when a soldier is being asked to put his or her life on the line, they should be confident that it is for a cause that is just and legal (and not just inside Tony Blair’s twisted head).

POST-WAR PROFITEERING BY US COMPANIES IN IRAQ

BBC Newsnight has a must-see report on how billions of dollars of Iraq’s money was directed to American companies to rebuild the country and much of it is now unaccounted for. Download it here while you can.


Filed under: Politics — GS @ 9:01 am
Saturday 18 March 2006

Theft of cash more serious than taking the life of a father of four?

The justice system in Britain is messed up.

Last year three teenagers (currently aged 17-18) beat a man to death because he refused to give them a light for a cigarette:

‘Richardson punched the 43-year-old victim in the head outside a pizza restaurant on Oldham Road after he refused to give them a light in June last year…

One of the youths then smashed a metal peg from a BMX bike into his face, knocking him to the ground. As his friends ran to help him, the gang kicked and stamped on the kitchen fitter as he lay on the ground.

Witnesses described them kicking his head as if it were a football…

Mr Sutherman, who had four sons and was originally from Singapore, was taken to Royal Oldham Hospital but later died from a head injury.’

All three admitted manslaughter. One has been sentenced to six years, one to four years and one got nine months! Bear in mind they will probably serve only half their sentences.

Meanwhile, a bank cashier who helped conmen steal £279,000 from comedian Harry Hill has been convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to four years in prison!

Her defence counsel said she had never received, been offered, or asked for any financial reward for her actions and that she did it because the gang threatened her family.

So here we see what is looked on as being really important in Britain today — money, not a human life. I feel so sorry for that man’s family.


Filed under: Crime,Manchester,Politics — GS @ 5:51 am
Wednesday 1 March 2006

Manchester Pride 2004 – just 34.5% of Operation Fundraiser ticket money went to good causes

Today I received some official figures for Manchester Pride 2004 via my Member of Parliament. They appear to show that only about 34.5% of Operation Fundraiser ticket money from the event went to good causes. The rest was spent on costs. So far I have been unable to get figures for collection bucket money. I don’t know where that is included.

Currently the Operation Fundraiser website states:

‘Once again in 2005/06 50% of the money raised by Operation Fundraiser at Manchester Pride will go directly to Community Futures’

From the figures that I have seen for the years 2003 and 2004, and the information I have now received from Manchester Pride, that statement from Operation Fundraiser appears to be untrue. I don’t see how they can say 50%.

If you’re wondering why I had to involve my MP. The answer is because Operation Fundraiser will not give me information.

In 2004, Operation Fundraiser collected £331,192 from ticket sales at Manchester Pride. They handed over 50% of that money to Manchester Pride to cover the cost of running the event. Leaving £165,596.

Operation Fundraiser Annual Report 2004-2005 - no mention of a ££165,596 that was handed over to Manchester Pride towards running costs

Operation Fundraiser’s ‘Annual Report’ leaflet, which they distributed last August, was misleading. In it they add together the £165,596 ‘net proceeds’ Pride figure and a £43,812 figure (for other non-pride fundraising and donations). Giving a ‘total income’ of £209,408.

Then they deduct their own costs of £79,982. Leaving just £129,426 for good causes in 2004.

The true costs in 2004 were £165,596 handed over to Manchester Pride. Plus £79,982 of Operation Fundraiser’s own costs. Total costs: £245,578.

Therefore we can say that out of ticket sales and non-pride year-round fundraising (£331,192 + £43,812), Operation Fundraiser spent 65.5% (£165,596 + £79,982) on costs and only 34.5% (£129,426) went to good causes.

I don’t know where collection bucket money is in all of this.

In the Operation Fundraiser ‘Annual Report’ 2004 leaflet, they don’t mention the £165,596 that was handed over to Manchester Pride. By doing so, they give the public a false impression of what percentage of income goes to good causes. They make the situation appear much better than it really is.

Interesting to note that, although Operation Fundraiser handed over less to cover the running costs of the event in 2004 than it did in 2003 (£200,000 in 2003 and £165,596 in 2004), Operation Fundraiser’s own costs in 2004 are some £20,000 more than the previous year (£59,520 in 2003 and £79,982 in 2004). A 33% increase in running costs in one year. Why?

Which leaves a final figure for good causes in 2004 that is just £1,736 more than the previous year. Quite a coincidence… Sometimes it feels as if there is a ‘glass ceiling’ on the amount that is allowed to go to good causes each year.


Filed under: LGBT,Manchester — GS @ 4:41 pm
Saturday 11 February 2006

Profits fall in Manchester’s gay village

This morning, both The Independent and The Times have stories about profits being down in Manchester’s gay village. Income has fallen by 20-25% they say.

This is not a surprise to me. Recently I found figures that suggest, since they began charging for entry, attendance at Manchester Pride has fallen to one quarter of what it was in 2002. And contrary to the ‘best-ever event’ hype that we see in the media each year afterwards.

Aw what a shame. Now, after ten years during which time the businesses abandoned their traditional loyal customer base in search of the biggest possible profits, finally the chickens are coming home to roost.

Neither article mentions that gay bars and clubs used to be a safe space that could be enjoyed by gay men and women of all ages. The pubs may have had curtains at the windows but, once inside, they were friendly and rather civilised. You never saw a fight and it was rare to see anyone really drunk and misbehaving.

Anyway, the ‘gay village’ has always been a commercial manufactured thing. Years ago, the bars and clubs were spread across the city centre — from Deansgate and Spring Gardens to Sackville Street. Despite what it says in The Independent, there were no gay bars actually on Canal Street until the early 1990’s (the entrance to the Rembrandt is on Sackville Street and the New Union is on Princess Street).

These days the area is threatening, unpleasant, cynical and aimed exclusively at the 18-30 age group who have a high disposable income and drink a lot. Everyone else has been driven out. There is no ‘community’ anymore and they should stop pretending this now-awful area is anything of the sort.

Even the bricks and mortar have been destroyed in the quest for profit. Old shop fronts have been ripped out to make way for takeaways or bigger bars, stonework has been removed from the front of the old warehouse buildings and the original cobbles are long gone. Controversial and tacky waste-of-money memorials have been put up in Sackville Park, when the cost could have been better spent actually helping people.

It’s not just the fact that we are now more-accepted at other places around Manchester and have other ways to meet people — such as the Internet. It is that we don’t like what the so-called gay village has been turned into by money-grabbing businesses and Manchester City Council.

Now The Rembrandt (which used to be a men-only bar) is to take the drastic step of banning hen parties. Unfortunately, the time to do that was ten years ago. Not now, just because your profits are down.

So what is the future? I think the outlook is bleak for the businesses down there. Gay men and women are going to continue voting with their feet and the over-30’s who, in the past, would have been customers for life, won’t ever return. As the area becomes increasingly ‘less gay’, there won’t be the novelty value, so the ‘non-gay’ customers won’t bother with that part of town anymore.


Filed under: LGBT,Manchester — GS @ 9:25 am
 
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