The Independent carries an important piece today about one of the ‘founders’ of LGBTory. The story isn’t exactly as it first seems but it remains a good indicator of the issues David Cameron still faces. According to the Independent, Anastasia Beaumont-Bott (solid working class name), the first chairman of the LGBTory group has now ‘spoken out’ about the Conservatives and revealed she is now backing Labour. As the piece reveals, she actually jumped ship 18 months ago so this isn’t a result of the Grayling cock up -but she claims that is the reason she’s now speaking out and twisting the knife. In truth, it’s the first opportunity she’s had – nobody would have cared in normal circumstances. So now she gets a bit of publicity. Nonetheless, some of her remarks are rather revealing. Take this quote:
“It’s been in my head for a while to speak out, but the Chris Grayling issue has made me realise that a year-and-a-half ago, I was someone who was standing up and telling gay people that they should vote for Mr Cameron. But I became disillusioned after meeting one too many people in that party who were not like what the leader was saying the party was about. If you make a comment like [those made by Mr Grayling], you should be out. This isn’t a question of party lines – it is disgusting. I don’t like doing this to Mr Cameron. I like him, but the insides of his party are not what the people are led to believe.”
Here, Beaumont-Bott is addressing what I suspect is actually a fear of many people – and something the Labour Party have already tried to make something of. Who’s behind David Cameron? Who are these Tory candidates that will fill the green benches? Are they really all that cuddly and ‘enlightened’. The argument of Beaumont-Bott and Labour is “hell no” or perhaps “beware of Tories bearing national insurance gifts”.
When Beaumont-Bott says “if you make a comment like [those made by Mr Grayling], you should be out”, she is spot on. Sacking your Shadow Home Secretary at the start of a political race would have been messy and suggested that the Tories had not completely changed but it would also have allowed David Cameron to show his mettle and send a clear signal that such views are not tolerated, that the Tory party has reformed itself inside and out. Cameron could have asserted that reform runs through the Tory party like Blackpool runs through it’s iconic rock -and sounded plausible. He didn’t, and it seems fair to conclude that it doesn’t.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts.