When is a homophobic comment not a homophobic comment? When it is spoken by
somebody on the ‘left’ of course.
Ken Livingstone has just reminded us of a prevailing rule in British politics. His comment that the Conservative party is ‘riddled’ with homosexuals ‘like everywhere else’
would have earned him a sacking if the parties had been reversed and a Conservative politician had talked of the Labour party in this fashion. In the same way, if a Conservative had made the kind
of smearing racial generalisation that Diane Abbott recently twittered, they would have found themselves sent beneath the bottom rung of the political ladder. And I dread to think what would have
happened if a photo had ever emerged of a Conservative frontbencher once dressed as a Nazi.
In our currently booby-trapped political terrain only the right is punishable for sins of homophobia because — as in other matters — only the right are seen to be closet bigots whose
intense bigotry is simply waiting to be exposed. Yet though there are certainly people in the Conservative party who don’t want gays to marry, there are none I know of who ally with those who
want gay people murdered.
Ken Livingstone will get away with his latest comment for the same reason he got away with allying with the leading advocate of killing gays and pro-genocide anti-Semite Yusuf al-Qaradawi: because
our political compass is skewed and outdated. If the Conservative party, let alone a Conservative Mayor of London, continually praised one of the world’s leading advocates of genocide against the Jews, and advocate of the murder of gays, as a ‘moderate’ and
‘reformer’, then the presence of that politician at the top of British politics would be impossible. But Livingstone is meant to be on the ‘left’ which over recent years has
been successful in its effort to pretend that you cannot be a left-wing homophobe, any more than you can be a left-wing racist or a left-wing anti-Semite.
Of course that lie is now crumbling, and if Livingstone’s comments do nothing else, they have helped it crumble a little faster.