Friday, January 15, 2010

The non-Sexuality Bits of Clegg's Attitude Interview

I blogged on Wednesday about The Independent's coverage of Nick Clegg's interview in Attitude magazine. So this afternoon on the way home (via Clifton Terrace to drop off my conference registration) you guess which article I read first.

The one about Gareth Thomas the rugby player?


The one about E4's latest show about teenagers Glee?


The interview with Nick Clegg.

Could be. Indeed how could it be anything else, though the article of geek love sandwiched between Gareth and Nick almost got my attention. Only joking. So apart from the gay agenda which the Indy picked up on how did Nick fair? Quite well in my humble opinion.

I don't think it has anything to do with the end of the lead in saying:

Clegg is also, by consensus here in the Attitude offices, the hottest of the party leaders - although we were slightly too embarrassed to ask if he approves of that accolade.

But on with the interview. The opening question is "Why should gay people vote Lib Dem?". The response shows just how instinctive the Lib Dems are about gay being a equal state. Last month's Gordon Brown's first sentence was, "Because we're the anti-discrimination, anti-prejudice and pro-equality party." This month Nick started with:

"I want anyone from any community to vote for us because of the values we represent, not because they think we tick a particular set of boxes. We are a liberal party who believe in tolerance. We have the longest and proudest record in campaigning for gay rights in British politics. The main reason I want people to vote for us is not some sort of segmented appeal, but because we've got a vision for what Britain could do that I believe lots of folk - gay, straight, white, black, Asian, women, men - can support."

Nick not diluting the message of Liberal Democrat policies just because he is being interviewed for a gay magazine goes on to mention issues like the third runway at Heathrow, Kingsnorth coal power station, Stephen Lawrence, freedom of speech (even those whose views we detest), pension rights, fairer taxes, reforming the commons. Gordon Brown didn't move subjects unto other subjects that way, even though both faced questions posed from a gay standpoint, Gordon didn't show inclusion and breadth in his answers. Nick made the point to answer the questions and expand on it. He showed that not only is gay equality something that is not some theoretical aim or goal, like Gordon tended to, but that they are people who care about issues rather than merely their sexuality.

Gordon also skipped the key issue between civil partnerships and marriage, the issue of pension rights. When he was asked "why not introduce full equality and call it marriage?" he missed the point the clue is in the question "full equality". Nick grabbed the bull by the horns, to the same question said:

"Yes, totally. I don't understand the objections to this. There's one specific issue of substance here - I think it's about pension rights which you don't enjoy in a partnership, but you do under marriage."

Far better response that Brown's (I paraphrase) call it what you want it's not the important thing, people have freedoms they never previously had. I'd ask him what about those few rights that the "equal but different" element of civil partnerships tends to ignore.

So far of the two leaders to have been interview Nick does come across as more open, more natural and naturally inclusive. Brown seems more stilted, somewhat forced and focused only on the issues of sexuality, not how the gay people are integral in society. He also of course pales alongside Tony Blair's interview in the same magazine last April.

Next month is the turn of David Cameron and I will do a comparison of all three of them.

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