|Well, the British election is over, with some surprising outcomes. What does it all mean for the British LGBT communities?
David Cameron remains in charge To summarise the results, the pre-election opinion polls were substantially out of kilter with the actual result. With 331 seats at last count, the Conservatives are the largest parliamentary party and have a slender majority of five seats. The United Kingdom Independence Party proved to be somewhat of a paper tiger, and won only a single parliamentary seats, and it didn't emerge as the major threat to the Conservative centre-right vote that many had predicted. Labour was unable to win any of the marginals off them and its voter share collapsed in Scotland, now comprehensively dominated by the Scottish Nationalist Party- whom, however, is dedicated to working alongside Labour against the Tories. Apart from the boastful populist UKIP and Labour, the real losers are the Liberal Democrats, who were decimated. From fifty two seats in the last Parliament, they've contracted to a mere eight. It is highly probable that the next few weeks will see the resignations of Ed Miliband (Labour), Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats) and Nigel Farage (UKIP).
What happens next? Cameron has defied expectations and won a slender absolute majority, although not as impressive as the landslides of the Thatcher era. Labour did worse than expected and Miliband will have to suffer the consequences. The SNP is in a powerful position and can dictate terms when it comes to Scottish policy. Whether that ultimately means a new constitutional referendum or even the dissolution of the United Kingdom as we know it is as yet unclear. With the Tories moderately securely in power in Whitehall, the appeal of nationalist separatism north of the border may intensify. The Liberal Democrats are the same size as the fundamentalist Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland at eight seats apiece. One bright spot when it comes to the Conservative majority is that they won't have to rely on the obnoxious fundamentalist extremists within the DUP.
What does this mean in terms of LGBT policy? As noted in previous weeks columns, the Conservative Party is in favour of introducing anti-bullying initiatives through funding individual school anti-bullying projects as opposed to comprehensive anti-bullying legislation as party policy, as in the case of Labour. It isn't in favour of comprehensive reform of the school physical, health and sex education curriculum to include more proactive LGBT comment, as Labour is. However, on the more positive side, marriage equality is indisputably safe, and as with Australian Liberal/National Coalition state governments, there is also the strong possibility of multipartisan agreement over historical offences record deletion reform for older gay men and others who fell afoul of Britain's repressive criminal justice status quo when it came to gay men in the past. Labour and the Liberal Democrats also favour reform. Whether this could go any further during the forthcoming House of Commons term depends on whether the Scottish Nationalist Party benefits from their new position of strength in the House of Commons. If so, there could be multipartisan accord on issues such as a special international UK envoy on LGBT rights or strengthened protection against homophobic and transphobic hate crimes, given that the Conservatives, Labour, the Scottish Nationalist Party and Liberal Democrats would all agree on the necessity and prudence of the latter.
Congratulations to David Cameron on his second term and in fighting off the extremist threat that UKIP posed. While I do not agree with Tory austerity, welfare retrenchment and industrial relations policies, at least he has proven to be an inclusive Conservative Prime Minister.
Recommended: Attitude: http://www.attitude. co.uk Gay Times: http://www.gaytimes. co.uk Diva: http://www.divamag. co.uk Craig Young - 9th May 2015