Thursday, January 26, 2006

Message To David Drier

Guardian columnist Andy Beckett nails it in this column about the gay political scandals currently striking Britain. It's not that the two recently outed MP's were gay that disqualifies them from leading their party. It's that they deceived folks about it:

But we are fast approaching the point where the electorate and a politician's colleagues are entitled to ask what justifies a politician leading an effectively clandestine life. Any reasonable person will turn away from Oaten's behaviour with some distaste; making a parade of his family for political gain and behaving in a way that is calculated to involve a wife and two small children in a very public humiliation, is simply inexcusable behaviour.

And perhaps the Lib Dems should be asking themselves whether they should really be thinking of electing a man as leader who would clearly prefer still to be keeping these apparently shameful secrets, who gives the impression of regarding his affairs with men as "mistakes", who, until last week, was lying in response to a perfectly reasonable question on the subject and who compares his sexuality to "an albatross round [his] neck". Whatever dubious psychological state of mind these peculiar comments reveal, the suspicion cannot be avoided that here is someone who might have been vulnerable to pressure from some very unsavoury quarters. Is someone who has chosen to live most of a life in shame and shrilly defended "privacy" really a safe person to put in charge of a political party?

Hughes is right: the fact of someone being homosexual should not debar them from holding high political office. But it ought to be someone who regards their homosexuality just as a heterosexual regards their sexuality: unremarkable, uninteresting to strangers, not worth talking about and, for many reasons, not worth thinking about concealing or lying about.

This is my problem with the James McGreevey's of the world, who lie and dissemble, and then claim gay fealty when they are outed. If you are not smart enough or self-aware enough to realize that, in this day and age, openness is the best policy, well, you probably shouldn't hold office until you work your issues out.


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