Dead Men Left

Sunday, January 29, 2006


It's a been a funny few weeks, all told, and there's still a few puzzles:

1. Why didn't Pete Tatchell out Simon Hughes at any point? If memory serves, he at least nodded at Hughes' sexuality in his account of the 1983 by-election, The Battle for Bermondsey, and has dropped hints since. Regardless of the merits of the tactic, why no outing of Hughes?

2. The same papers now running homophobic campaigns against the Lib Dems are the first to denounce assorted imams and preachers for their "homophobia". Tatchell's conversion from "homosexual terrorist" to national treasure has depended in no small part on his willingness to offer appropriate liberal cover for the Right. Being charitable, Tatchell seems blind to the context of his actions, and how his words will be taken and used. There must be a point at which he realises that the Sun - that's the same Sun this week reporting that "SECOND LIMP-DEM CONFESSES" and "ANOTHER ONE BITES THE PILLOW" - is no friend of gay rights.

3. Consternation that a newspaper can obtain an individual's telephone records. It would appear to be alarmingly easy. A friend of mine had reason to contact one of the Murdoch papers; they subsequently rang his mobile phone operator, pretending to be him, and asked that they check the last few numbers he'd dialled. The phone operator happily complied. (The friend only discovered this later, when some his acquaintances had received calls from the paper in question.) Moral: don't ring the press from your mobile.

4. This is down to the Cameron effect, in part: the old order is reasserting itself: Britain has a stable two-party system and any funny ideas the minor parties might otherwise have need to be kicked into touch, now that the Tories' "credibility" is restored. (There is a glaring contrast between the soft-soaping of senior Conservatives' private lives, and the scouring Lib Dems receive.)