The mayoral battle for London is looking like a done deal. Recent polls show the incumbent Labour Party candidate Sadiq Khan has extended his lead; whilst he’s thinking about buying a new comfy chair for his office in City Hall, the other hopefuls are stuck sucking up the fumes in a jam on the South Circular. What each of the main candidates has to offer lesbian, gay and bisexual voters has not been addressed by the mainstream press, so here’s a handy – and slightly tongue in cheek – guide to the Mayoral race by Jo Bartosch.
Beloved of the much-maligned metropolitan elite, Khan is so invested in all things queer if it weren’t for his poorly manscaped eyebrows and bad dress sense he could be suspected of being a homosexual. There are twelve mentions of ‘LGBTQ+’ in his manifesto, a commitment to support plans for a new ‘LGBTQ+ community centre for London’ and a pledge to extend hate crime legislation. Khan has a history of condemning ‘queerphobia’ and embraces everyone from human pups to students with edgy undercuts but is apparently less sure about rights for those who are same sex attracted. Khan’s focus on identity politics must be a relief to London’s estimated 10,726 rough sleepers.
Notably in Khan’s manifesto there is a recognition that “better data on experiences of women and girls” is needed. But during a recent London Assembly meeting Khan was reluctant to define who this mysterious group of non-men are; when former UKIP, now Heritage Party mayoral candidate David Kurten asked Khan “Do some women have male reproductive organs?” Khan dodged the question. He responded with the factually incorrect statement “I know one in four trans teenagers try to kill themselves” before accusing Kurten of trying to stir-up hatred. Given Khan’s inability to get to grips with basic truths or definitions, one has to question how the glitter army at the GLA will gather data on the vulva-havers who constitute over half London’s electorate.
Interestingly, for all his posturing about listening to the voices of marginalised groups, it seems Khan’s media team couldn’t be arsed to respond to emails from Lesbian and Gay News. Perhaps he and his aides were too busy sitting in a decolonised circle trying to define the words ‘woman’ and ‘homosexual.’
Khan’s recipe for London is a rainbow cake; prosperity for the city, community safety and support for young people topped with a sprinkling of glittery if indigestible cake decorations.
Reports suggest that Bailey has been given-up as a lost cause by Conservative HQ. Bravely battling-on, Bailey chases media opportunities like they were PPE contracts at a Tory dinner party. Sadly, despite having a big brain, considerable political experience and being a Londoner through-and-through, Bailey is almost entirely lacking in charm. He has about as much charisma as one of Boris Johnson’s egg-stained ties, and about as much hope of success.
On the plus side, Bailey is concerned about politics becoming increasingly tribal, and even subjected himself to an interview with Owen Jones to make the point. Deftly skipping round the notorious womb-hunter, Bailey managed to both complain about cuts to policing whilst claiming austerity was necessary. When questioned about education around domestic violence, Bailey claimed “it’s a man’s issue, but it’s about safety as well… it’s telling girls ‘don’t let them tell you rubbish.’” This left Jones choking on his organic macchiato, but anyone who has worked supporting survivors of abuse will recognise that there was good intent behind his poor phrasing. Surprisingly given his studied plain speaking and apparent abhorrence of career politicians, Bailey looked awkward when asked ‘are transwomen women’ but eventually answered ‘yes, they would say they are women.’ One suspects he’s a politician on the streets but a ‘terf’ in the sheets. On the plus side, he’s fine with same-sex marriage and gay sex.
Bailey’s focus is the traditional bread-and-butter pudding of conservativism; more police and a drive for affordable property ownership, with a dash of Cameron’s hug-a-hoodie in the form of new youth centres. A bit stodgy and inclined toward the rich, his serving is just about edible.
Unlike Khan, there are no mentions of ‘LGBTQ+ communities’ and as such one can only assume he’s a massive homophobe who wishes death upon us all.
Porritt was probably a prefect, she is the sort of character one imagines carries wet-wipes and a spare pair of pants in her sensible handbag in case of accidents (never hers). A Camden councillor and former MEP, Porritt’s priorities are simple: jobs, homes and clean air. In the past two mayoral elections, the Liberal Democrats have come behind the Greens though polling this time puts them in third place.
Aside from taking the opportunity to condemn the policing of the Sarah Everard vigil Porritt has stayed doggedly on topic. Her plans include developing a “Reinvent the High Street Task Force” and establishing “a London Housing Company.”
Porritt’s vision is essentially Liberal Democrat granola, worthy and wholesome with some clusters of nutty detail; overall the taste is somewhat bland.
Mx Sian Berry
With all the aplomb of a tired drag queen in heels, staggering in from stage far left is Green candidate Sian Berry. Berry’s concerns are housing, transport and unsurprisingly the environment. But beyond the obvious pledges are some astonishingly nutty commitments, including an ‘Action Plan for Trans Rights.’ Berry promises to “launch a commission into the needs of trans and non-binary Londoners, and create a trans rights action plan for London.” She adds: “Greens in City Hall have already helped introduce policies that allow for gender-neutral honorifics (including Mx) in official documents within the GLA.”
A little like Khan, Berry’s brand of inclusivity is oddly exclusive; she has little interest in hearing from lesbian, gay and bisexual people who don’t agree with her view that “Trans people are currently among society’s most marginalised communities.”
Berry’s plan is a “magic brownie” with ethically sourced palm oil and nuclear grade cannabis. It might seem tasty but after ingestion one is left questioning the fabric of reality.
Whatever one thinks of Fox’s controversial “all lives matter” and anti-lockdown sentiments, his team did at least have the courtesy to respond to Lesbian and Gay News’s media enquiry.
Fox’s priorities include transport, policing and protection of civil liberties. Fox said:
“A shocking number of women and gay people have been sacked, de-platformed and cancelled for voicing opinions on gender or seeking to protect same-sex rights. The police must operate without fear or favour, dealing robustly with any protest that seeks to limit women and lesbian, gay and bisexual people’s freedom to organise, gather and speak freely.”
“I will end the Mayor’s woke policies which have proved so divisive and discriminatory, instead promoting freedom of thought and speech. I don’t agree with lumping people together under politically correct identity acronyms and treated as a homogenous blocks, everyone should be free to be treated as individuals.”
The Fox option is akin to Eton Mess; quite appealing but with a strong hint of public school discipline.
So far as I’m aware Mandu Reid is the only openly bisexual candidate in the election. Sadly, it seems Reid struggles to define the word ‘woman’ despite this being integral to the Women’s Equality Party she heads.
As such, WEP’s approach might best be described as a donut; there’s a gaping hole in the middle.
(We are sorry we forgot to ask the WEP for comment)
Count Bin Face
Alongside Laurence Fox, intergalactic space-being Count Bin Face was the only other candidate to respond to Lesbian and Gay News. Taking time off from a busy schedule of eating rubbish on London’s streets and saving the galaxy, Count Bin Face said:
“If an actual alien can’t fight for minorities, who can? In a practical sense, I would look into ways in which we can increase tolerance and understanding in all 33 boroughs. And as a small token of my personal commitment, I would commission a new rainbow-striped suit of armour – which I’ve been in the market for a while now, but this planet is weirdly short on supplies. Anyone who can help, bung me a line!”
Count Bin Face is perhaps the Angel Delight option. Carrying on a long-established tradition of levity in British politics, there is something comforting about the lack of substance to this nostalgic brand. Given the rest of the menu, Count Bin Face would probably be my preferred option.
The London Mayoral elections are on Thursday 6th May.