“… unless there is hypocrisy, like some Tory MP denouncing homosexuality while they are indulging in it… Well, the Labour ones have all come out… As soon as Blair got in, if you came out as lesbian or gay you immediately got a job. It was wonderful… you just knew the Tory party was riddled with it like everywhere else is.”
We understand and appreciate the underlying sentiment but the wording, from such an experienced politician, is highly surprising. You tend to find “riddled” used about cancer, bullets, STDs or – another popular derogatory use, heaven help us in the context – AIDS. Just because Ken’s main opponent is a man known for glib comments getting him into trouble, doesn’t mean he should start taking tips.
Lib Dem Mayoral candidate Brian Paddick has taken offence. Paddick, who is gay, says
“When he talks about homosexuality in the Conservative party as being ‘riddled with it like everywhere else’ his remarks are clearly homophobic. He is a political opportunist who likes to be controversial in order to draw attention to himself, I think his true feelings towards LGBT people have seeped out.”
We don’t think Ken is genuinely homophobic – his record is excellent – but does this gaffe show that the 66 year old is growing out of touch?
The New Statesman also carries an interview with Boris Johnson, and is on shelves now.