Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Pink Blues

With the Conservative Party conference in full swing, the recent allegations over Foreign Secretary William Hague's sexuality seem to have been laid to rest. Much to the relief of the party leadership. Anything other than two point four children, monogamous marriage, and heterosexual sex once a week in the missionary position, has always been hard to sell to the party faithful. Indeed, only this week, David Cameron has been attempting to shore up his popularity by hinting at tax breaks for married couples, (surely a swipe at Labour leader Ed Miliband, who is still 'living in sin' with his partner). However, Hague isn't the first senior Tory whose sexuality has caused consternation amongst the party's grass roots. Back in the late 1990s, then shadow chancellor Micheal Portillo's admission that, when still a student, he had had a 'gay experience', sent shockwaves through the party, calling into question his suitability as a possible leadership candidate. However,Portillo’s admissions came as no surprise to Professor Jerry Mire, visiting Chair of Politics and Sexuality at the Bangkok Institute of Economics. “When he lost his constituency to an openly gay Labour candidate in the 1997 election, I thought ‘I bet that’s not the first time he’s lost his seat to a young homosexual’”, Professor Mire said, adding that it was obvious that Portillo was an ambitious man who wouldn't let doubts about his sexual orientation handicap his drive for power. “I had no doubt that he couldn’t wait to get his hands on then Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown’s red box!”

Mire believes that, ultimately, it wasn't Portillo's youthful sexual dalliances which denied him the leadership of the Tory party, but rather his compassionate nature. "Despite Portillo's stern and serious public image, in private he is actually extremely kind and generous, exuding charm to his closest confidants," he explains. “In fact, he always reminded me of Rock Hudson - hard and brutally masculine on the outside, but with a sensitive and warm interior.” It was this fundamental niceness and decency, Mire contends, which proved unacceptable to the party at large. "The truth is that they prefer complete bastards, who treat the poor and disadvantaged like dirt, whilst showering the party faithful with tax breaks," he opines. "But sneering whilst they do it, of course." Indeed, Mire is somewhat surprised that another Tory front bencher accused of being gay around the same time as the Portillo revelations, didn't become leader. "I remember that when completely unfounded rumours that then senior Tory minister Peter Lilley was gay began to circulate, his wife quickly scotched them with the assertion that her husband was “the least homosexual” man she knew," recalls the Professor. "Which was absolutely true - he was a totally butch bastard. Exactly the sort of person the Tories usually like to be dominated by, but, for some reason, the suspicion lingered that being even slightly 'gay' could be equated with kindness and compassion." However, in today's new caring and sensitive Tory party, such suspicions would surely be an advantage, wouldn't they? "As Hague has found out, a leopard never changes its spots," Mire points out bitterly. "He's having to go around telling people that he only shared a room with that male aide so as to save money and thereby cut his departmental budget, in order to look hard, rather than gay. He's not fooling me, though!"

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