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David Mundell comes out as the first openly gay Tory cabinet minister. So what?

13 January 2016

1:28 PM

13 January 2016

1:28 PM

David Mundell, the Secretary of State for Scotland, is gay. And you know what, so what? Of course Mundell is not the first gay Tory cabinet minister, merely, it’s believed, the first to “openly” acknowledge the fact. He did so in typically low-key fashion, writing on his website:

Having taken one of the most important decisions of my life and resolved to come out publically as gay in 2016, I just want to get on with it, and now, just like that, I have said it. How can it be both so easy and so hard to say a few short words?

Good for him and good luck to him. Mundell would not, I think, like to consider himself a pioneer and yet while it has, generally speaking, never been easier to come out in this fashion it remains the case that the general is not the same as the personal. It makes a difference that others have trod this path before you but that does not necessarily make it significantly easier for you to do so.

The reaction to Mundell’s announcement will be interesting chiefly because there will be next to no reaction. There will instead, I fancy, be a collective shoulder shrug, a nod of the head, and a general agreement that it doesn’t matter at all.

And yet, in another sense, it does matter. Because Mundell’s declaration is a reminder that, in so very many ways, this is a better, kinder, gentler, country than it was. Sometimes even a more open and honest one too.


The arc of history may not, as sometimes claimed, bend towards justice but it can tilt in the general direction of happiness. When people talk of ‘diversity’ this is what they should be meaning: simply the ability to be who you are, with neither shame nor favour. Let all the flowers bloom.

It is a sign of progress that this is now easier than it has been. If we must drag politics into this kind of story, it’s worth remembering that the point of the Tory modernisation project was more than just a matter of hugging hoodies and huskies. There was some substance to it as well. It stemmed from the realisation that a successful party must actually like, as well as represent, the country it aspires to govern. (A problem, I am afraid, that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party is in the process of discovering as it turns the clock back, not forward.)

And that meant accepting that times – and Britain – had changed. Which in turn meant that the Conservative party had to change too. That necessarily meant losing some votes to Ukip on the right but this too should be understood as a feature, not a bug. Let Ukip be the home for the disgruntled reactionary, the eye-and-vein-popping malcontent, and the hell-in-a-handcart prophets of doom*. The Tory party would, quietly but genuinely, pursue a different path, one marked by a measure of relaxed optimism, albeit that this would still need to be tempered by a degree of prudent scepticism.

You should welcome all this even if you think you’d never, ever, vote for a Tory candidate. Again, a distinction may be drawn between the worth of a party’s policies and, in this particular instance, the worth of the party itself. Today’s Tory party is a different beast and that’s something worth a raised glass in itself.

David Mundell is gay. So what?

*Yet even Ukip is not immune to the tides of liberalism. David Coburn, the party’s Scottish MEP, is gay too. And if people have a problem with him, it’s not because of that. Which is as it should be.

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Show comments
  • Tamerlane

    If it was a genuine ‘so what?’ there wouldn’t be an article on it.

  • Adam Carter

    I’ve just been sent to moderation. My point was that we spend no time at all thinking about the physical side of most people’s relationships, and I hope that one day we will spend an equal amount of time, i.e. none, specultaing about or discussing the physical side of the relationships of those who follow a minority direction.

  • JJD

    You should probably have just left UKIP out of it.

  • MrJones

    If all the gay Conservative MPs come out that ought to reduce political blackmail substantially.

  • OldPete

    Must have been tough on his wife to have lived with a liar for so long.

  • FrankS2

    It’ll take some convincing for me to agree that the Tory party likes this country – well, maybe as much as a spiv likes his marks. Meanwhile, who’ll be the first cabinet minister to come out as hetero?

  • Suriani

    Few Scots have even heard of David Mundell never mind Ukip’s gay rep. A great non event indeed.

  • Miss Floribunda Rose

    Only deluded fools define themselves, or others, by their “sexuality”.

  • Sue Smith

    So, let’s hope he’s just not another one-issue politician – that’s what.

  • Mongo

    at least he didn’t come out as a RoP convertee

  • Blindsideflanker

    The real shock and career damaging revelation would be if someone came out Heterosexual.

    • serialluncher

      True. Every centre-right or right politician in Scotland is gay I think.

  • UnionPacificRX

    So nothing. What his orientation, Gender, Race is matters little. what he does as a Cabinet member is what matters. But then there are limits to public figures. Tolerance is best when it is balanced and not accept anything

  • Roger Hudson

    Mundell, with three children, is obviously ‘that’ sort of Gay.

  • Chris

    He’s gay. So what. Anyone would think he’d just climbed Everest or something the way he’s gone on about it. As for trying to imply that UKIP are against gay people and therefore score a couple of cheap points, well, the author of this piss poor article is obviously sick in the head.
    This paper, like its sister paper The Telegraph don’t have much to say that is worth reading these days. Breitbart London is a far better read and more up to date and it doesn’t spend all its time publishing crappy articles slagging off UKIP and Corbyn. Time to move on.

  • Jambo25

    Scottish gay men expressed shock and disgust today when David Mundell came out as Tory.

  • AdAstra100

    The real issue here, if there is one, is that like David Laws and others, Mundell stood for Parliament and hid his true colours. Thus we had the unknown covert lobbying body elected to Parliament for redefining marriage. Cameron probably bought loyalty with the knowledge. Before standing for public office I would not have been at all bothered whether he was gay or not, now I regard him as a devious hypocrite. As I did Laws, who almost certainly was not prosecuted because he came out as a gay while in office which gave him some sort of immunity????

  • Chingford Man

    At least it gave the Spectator’s worst columnist (now Sebbie has gone) another chance to bash UKIP.

  • Jack Rocks

    When people can lose their jobs for tweets as private citizens, it’s more the climate of fear around free speech than being kinder or gentler.

  • glassfet

    “The reaction to Mundell’s announcement will be interesting chiefly because there will be next to no reaction. There will instead, I fancy, be a collective shoulder shrug, a nod of the head, and a general agreement that it doesn’t matter at all.”

    So he hasn’t seen Eddi Reader’s timeline then…

    • Max Bennie

      Eddi Reader’s Twitter timeline is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever read.

  • MikeH

    ‘Let Ukip be the home for the disgruntled reactionary, the
    eye-and-vein-popping malcontent, and the hell-in-a-handcart prophets of

    There seems to have been rather a lot of doom to prophesy. To boot, their prophecies have turned out to be uncannily correct as Nuahs87 states rather well.

  • King Kibbutz

    Exactly. This is so ‘so what’ that we should be way past your having to waste time producing copy to flag-up such a non-event.
    Anybody would think you’ve run out of things worth saying.

  • Radford_NG

    What is the point in posting here if the most innocuous posts are being blocked?

    • jeremy Morfey

      What I do when the autocensor blocks my post is to find out what naughty word caused it. All sorts of innocuous words can bring a post down – such as male chicken, also a type of tap, the diminutive of Richard, the place where Lucifer lives, a three letter slang word for cigarette or schoolboy servant, a four letter description of a 20th century German political party that came to power in the 1930s, the word forms really mean when they say gender…

      What you need to do is to make sure you copy everything to Notepad before posting. Then if it is blocked, try again one paragraph at a time until you can narrow down what is causing the trouble, and then reword it.

      • King Kibbutz

        I got them all except the type of tap?
        It has become a right old pain hasn’t it? And yet, often there is unmodified effin an jeffin to be seen? Mental as ennifink.

        • Radford_NG

          ….type of tap….valve to turn flow of liquid/gas on or off……and a male fowl.

          • aristophanes


          • King Kibbutz

            Of course.

  • Ringstone

    Given his lonely position in Scotland, the only real interest is trying to work it into an “Only gay in the …” joke. For everything else it’s “good for you, so what?”. Which is probably a good thing.

  • right1_left1

    Whichever way you look at the issue homosexuality is deviant.
    For promiscuous males at least it is a health threat.
    Thats what !

    • Mynydd

      Also for promiscuous females it is a health threat.

      • disruptivethoughts

        Promiscuity is a health threat for all kinds of people, and also results in unwanted children.

        As for ‘deviancy’, they do say that those who shout the loudest have the most to hide. Simon Danzcuk could tell you a thing or two about that.

      • right1_left1

        That doesnt invalidate what I said.

    • Max Bennie

      But it doesn’t affect you in any way, does it?

      • right1_left1

        You have chosen to view the issue as a personal one.
        It is bigger than that.

        I leave it to you to look up the money spent and the resources allocated to the HIV problem and the scarcely reported epidemic of STD’s pesent in the UK.
        Reply back asap !

        • Max Bennie

          Breaking news! Straight people get STDs too!

  • Frank

    Is this the divorced father of three David Mundell who has suddenly discovered he is gay? Were those facts not worth mentioning in this article?
    Can we please have a day in Parliament when all these hidden gays come out, and then it becomes an offense to enter Parliament as an MP under one flag and then come out (eg Greg Barker, David Laws, etc, etc, etc).
    Talking of new disciplinary rules, are Lord/Ladies who commit a crime now thrown out of the House of Lords and, if not, why not?

  • CalUKGR

    ‘…David Mundell is gay. So what?’

    Well, quite.

  • Josephine Victoria O’Carroll

    I hate to have to point it out, but UKIP had the first lesbian transgender MEP as far back as 2009 when Nicki Sinclaire was elected for the West Midlands.

    • disruptivethoughts

      Well done, have a medal! 🙂

    • Jack Rocks

      Lesbian? This is like Boolean logic. It’s a guy. Guys fancy women. Having your bits chopped off and putting on a dress does not make you a lesbian. You’re still a guy who fancies women.

      • Max Bennie

        Oh dear, oh dear.

  • MikeF

    “this is a better, kinder, gentler, country than it was” – not for anyone who gets an accusation of ‘racism’ against them however spurious, not either for anyone who wants to be openly gay in, say, Tower Hamlets. You are a complacent, self-deceiving fool Mr Massie with little first-hand knowledge of anything you write about – not least UKIP, which if full of gays.

  • jim

    Hooray…the africanisation-arabisation-islamicisation of europe continues past the point of no return but don’t worry. ..we’ve got openly gay ministers in parliament…… .I don’t know about anyone else but I am absolutely reassured by this assertion of western values….Are we all supposed to stand up and cheer?

    • Max Bennie

      “the africanisation-arabisation-islamicisation of europe continues past the point of no return”

      The rest of us are still waiting for it to begin.

  • Chris

    So Alex, you’re raising a glass to the fact that the Conservative party aren’t actually conservative anymore. That anybody who actually is conservative is a ‘disgruntled reactionary, the eye-and-vein-popping malcontent, and the hell-in-a-handcart prophets of doom.’

    Many former Tories will continue to turn their back on the party, which bizarrely you celebrate and the party’s power will wane, which you are to blinkered to see. If people want left wing policies they’ll vote left, not for pathetic, wet Tories, thank goodness.

  • The Masked Marvel

    Yet even Ukip is not immune to the tides of liberalism. David Coburn, the party’s Scottish MEP, is gay too
    News flash: UKIP are rather libertarian on these matters, so the smear is invalid. Let most of the flowers bloom anyway, eh?

    • douglas redmayne

      Indeed they are libertarian on these matters.

    • jeremy Morfey

      I loved it when one UKIP gentleman suggested that gay cruising was a sort of rain dance, and might have sent Stonewall a bill for cleaning up the Thames Valley after it flooded.

      Such a pity it didn’t work so well in California.

    • Jack Rocks

      They are but they aren’t though, are they. Gay marriage for example.

  • MichtyMe

    Huh, the Scots Tory Party at Westminster 100% gay!

    • Mynydd

      It also means the top two Sottish Conservatives are gay.

      • MichtyMe

        Hmmm. Mundell has produced three offspring, suspicious, dastardly lies/tories?

        • Mynydd

          Who said a gay person cannot produce off spring. Many a man and woman have only realized their true sexuality after marriage and children and are the better for it.

      • Postscript

        “Sottish”? If they’ll do that when they’re drunk, what will they no’ do when they’re sober?

    • CraigStrachan

      And the SNP at Westminster 100% irrelevant.

      • justejudexultionis

        The SNP aren’t interested in Westminster. Their real interest is the Scottish Parliament, and they are likely to consolidate their hold on power in the next Holyrood elections. Labour and the Tories are irrelevant in Scotland.

        • CraigStrachan

          Thats not what Nicola said during the UK general election campaign. She said she was going to lock the Tories out, end austerity and scrap Trident. How’s that all going?

  • Nuahs87

    “Let Ukip be the home for the disgruntled reactionary, the eye-and-vein-popping malcontent, and the hell-in-a-handcart prophets of doom”

    Not a fan of UKIP then Alex? I do accept that I am a very conservative person on most issues, although not gay rights as it happens, but there is a need for such people Alex, particularly now. The “prophets of doom”, as you dub us, are certainly not always right, but we aren’t always wrong either. Were we wrong about the Euro? Were we wrong about Schengen? Were we wrong about the direction of the EU? Were we wrong about the risks of letting in huge numbers of young men from North Africa and the Middle East? Historically, were the conservative right wrong about the Germans in the 1930s? Were the conservative right wrong about the Communists, or revolutionary France? The only difference between the conservative right and the progressive left is that when we are wrong, it is deemed that our only motivation was hate. When the progressive left are wrong, they were simply too idealistic – “ahead of their time”, it was the people that let them down. I agree that not every conservative is pleasant or rational, but that is the same with people right across the political spectrum. You don’t have to like us, but it would be nice if you would occasionally recognise that we have legitimate concerns and aren’t just swivel eyed hate mongers.

    • jeremy Morfey

      You misjudge those who criticise the Conservative Right. They don’t hate any more than anyone does – the Left too has their fair share of haters, surely? Why else do they need “safe spaces” in our universities?

      What the Left does say of the Right is that they are led by greed and self-interest, and are quite unscrupulous about it. What corrupts the Left more than anything is being led by those consumed by greed and self-interest, and are quite unscrupulous about it.

      The Right takes this thing as part of human nature and finds ways to work round it, or simply jumps in the trough first.

      • Nuahs87

        Well put. I do suspect this is one of the reasons that older people are more inclined to conservatism. These people usually have more to lose from massive social upheaval, and they also have far fewer illusions about the motives of other people.

        • disruptivethoughts

          Whilst you might be right that older people are more inclined to conservatism (and Conservatism according to received wisdom), their only real fear from social upheaval (or ‘progress’, depending on your point of view) is that nobody will care for them when they can no longer do so, or that their means to look after themselves will be debased. Whilst the economy is clearly very important to these concerns, as are the stability and safety of their home community, I do not see how any of this is undermined by society’s increasing tolerance and acceptance of people who happen to be gay. Indeed, these concerns would be common to older gay people too.

      • douglas redmayne

        When right wingers have an attack of conscience it is usually something like sanctimonious moralising about abortion. Most people can’t stand it because it is like a poling perfume to a turd: tge mix of smells is more vile than the smell being masked.

        • jeremy Morfey

          Abortion is not a good example. The split here is not between right and left, but between feminists at one extreme, and Catholics at the other. Many Catholics are actually quite left wing, especially under this present Pope.

          • douglas redmayne

            Many conservative politicians are against abortion because they don’t like feminists and want to pretend to be moral. Trying to stop or restrict abortion is thus both a badge of identity and a form of virtue signalling.

            • jeremy Morfey

              I don’t like feminists, but I am neither Conservative nor a politician. I therefore feel no “badge of identity” nor “virtue signalling” and rather despise these trendy labels.

              I am a Catholic, and agree with their stand on the sanctity of life, which starts at conception. It is philosophical, not moral. I also accept that I live in a secular nation where civil law takes precedence over religious law. The 1967 Abortion Act defining human life to be at the point of independent viability with medical intervention is a compromise I, as a British citizen, accept, even though I may not like it. There’s plenty that comes out of Parliament I do not like, but I am bound by it if I am to continue to enjoy citizenship.

        • King Kibbutz

          Can you honestly vouch for the existence of this vileness or are you just relaying what you’ve heard?

          • douglas redmayne

            I use my imagination.

            • Jack Rocks

              The only vileness I’ve seen recently are Labour activists spitting in people’s faces as they go into a conference. Disgusting.

        • Jack Rocks

          You really need to read The Road to Serfdom.

          • douglas redmayne

            I have read it. What has it got to do with abortion?

            • Jack Rocks

              You talk about “right wingers” as if somehow their philosophy to life is conscience free. I know plenty of left wingers who think abortion is a moral wrong. Only people on the authoritarian left and right propose to do anything about it.
              The Road to Serfdom deals directly with your point about “attacks of conscience”. It’s the left that is failing morally in today’s society.

              • douglas redmayne

                The left are committed to relieving poverty whereas the right are working to reinforce it. Twisted turds like you inhabit a delusional world and abortion is none of your business by the way.

                • Jack Rocks

                  Being committed to doing it and having an optimal set of policies to do it are two completely different things.
                  And you continue the hilarity with another comment about abortion. You seem to be committed to it as if it were a moral good in itself. The more abortions the better! It’s possible to be in favour of letting a woman decide, whilst at the same time being against it as practiced.

                • douglas redmayne

                  They are best avoided in general but there are some groups for whom it should be encouraged. The extension of 24 weeks for social reasons should, for example, include benefit claimants and the stupid. If child benefit is to be removed for new children , say in the next phase of austerity then it is only fair to widen choice in this way. Even more so if it us decided to charge for all maternity care.

                • Jack Rocks

                  Oh, they’re best avoided. I see you’re peddling backwards very fast.

                • douglas redmayne

                  No I am not. I don’t think abortion should happen but if necessary, ie the woman wants one or it is for the long term good of society then they should be encouraged.

              • Jeffrey Vernon

                Hayek criticises what he calls ‘reasons of state’, but I don’t see a link to the morality of abortion – infanticide before and after term has been carried out all over the world for millennia, and does not seem to me to have any political content. Hayek, in any case, traces the moral crisis back to Bismarck, who is not most people’s idea of a socialist today.

  • jeremy Morfey

    Yesterday’s taboo.

    I’m waiting for the first Cabinet minister to come out openly as a paedophile, or the first Party leader to admit openly that he or she or other is a terrorist.

  • In2minds

    Mundell, goodness me he looks glum!

    • Nuahs87

      Actually a top man. I am from the western part of Dumfries & Galloway, which neighbours his constituency, and have met him a couple of times. He is very good on local issues, is always respectful and put up an excellent defense of the union during the referendum debate. I’m not convinced by a lot of the current Conservative party, but he is one of the good guys.

      • OldPete

        Shame he must have lied to his wife. Still if you think he is one of the good guys then you must trust him more than his wife does, I would imagine?

  • southerner

    I am waiting for the day a Tory comes out the closet and declares he wants to leave the EU.

    • eat your greens

      I’m not. Those who agree with me have better things to do.

      • southerner

        Not entirely sure how you have consulted them all. Do tell.

        • jeremy Morfey

          Tories will agree with anyone to get your vote. Just watch how they vote.

          • southerner

            They do as they are told Jeremy. Just as No Ifs can’t make a decision without checking with Angela.

        • eat your greens

          Pardon? I consulted not one single too-scared-to-come-out leftard. Why would I waste my time on that and why would you? Please do let me know.

    • itdoesntaddup

      Surely it was a far rarer event for him to come out as a Scot?

    • Jack Rocks
      • southerner

        Where does he say he wants us to leave Jack?