|Issue 6 - June 1972|
|All In Favour|
two local elections and canvassing for the Liberals since I was 18
(I am an old man of 31 now) I began to see the pointless side of politics
with all sides saying the same things to toady to the voters. When
I was asked again to stand, at a committee meeting of the Durham Liberals,
I said I would only do so if I could put in my election literature
that I was a member of the Gay Liberation Front.
There was a silence that seemed like two hours when a retired spinster headmistress said: "I think Sam should stand because he lives in the ward".
So off I set - Liberal candidate for the true blue Crossgate Ward, Durham City. A Northern Echo reporter lives in the ward and shortly after unknowingly putting a leaflet through his door the telephone rang. The following day the story appeared headlined "Candidate is a member of Gay Organisation".
So off my Independent opponent set, complete with a copy of the Northern Echo. People were too embarrassed to tell me exactly what he said but I gathered his patter was something like this: "I am Norman Williamson and have been your councillor for 18 years." If this was not greeted with the appropriate respect this real-life butcher would add "My opponent is one of those." If the stereotype reaction did not follow he would then sound off about "nancy boys", "puffs" and "the corruption of youth".
As I said I was fighting on real issues (whatever they are), I ignored the Gay tag unless someone asked me a question about it (e.g. "Are you active?" "Yes I go to a lot of their meetings"; "What role do you play?" "Oh I am one of the troops not the generals".
I was rather surprised no-one seemed to mind. The ward is small and has at least five clergy living in it. Four seemed to intimate for various reasons they would vote for me. Little old women were coming to their doors and whispering "I am voting for you. I am a Conservative really. But get HIM out". Two people even said they were praying that I would win.
When the result was announced my vote was 535 and his 397. The ward had been won by a non-right wing candidate for the first time. There were gasps of surprise, followed by some cheers for Liberals, students and tenants association helpers. The beaten Normopath did not shake hands with me, a tradition for the beaten candidate after the count, snubbed my mother and refused to make the usual speech from the Town Hall balcony.
What does the result prove? The Gay tag meant nothing other than in the privacy of the ballot box people could not care less about stereotyped prejudices. People did not vote for or against me because I was a homosexual. They just could not give a damn.
But it also shows that the silent majority is not as reactionary as is supposed but that the people are looking for a new approach to politics based on Libertarian principles.