Chris Smith List

Language matters if you want LGBT politicians to succeed

LGBT candidates perform well at election time, but have to contend with dog whistle politics.

First publish on the Staggers

In the run-up to the 2010 general election, I presented a paper to the committee of the organisation LGBT Labour to set up a fund to help openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans candidates standing for parliament. While there were considerable barriers for LGBT people being selected, the message continually coming back from those who had tried to get selected was that members feared how an openly LGBT would be viewed by the electorate at large. We therefore decided to use the funds raised not to help with selections but to offer a financial dividend to the local party: if you select an openly LGBT candidate they will have additional resources to help put their argument forward. It was joking referred to as “Dorothy’s List” but when we realised it was raising considerable sums of money it was formally renamed the “Chris Smith List” This was in honour of the former cabinet minister who in 1985 made history when he told an assembled crowd in Rugby: “Good afternoon, I’m Chris Smith, I’m the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury and I’m gay.” (more…)

Advertisements