Comment & Opinion
by Alex Lister

“We’ve been asked to make our speeches as unpolitical as possible” said Rosie Duffield as she took the stage eager to recreate her rock star moment from last year’s Pride. “But last year we waved goodbye to the Conservative MP who voted against equal marriage.”

So not being political didn’t last long then.

She continued by talking about her work in parliament and aside from a smattering of applause achieved not much more than guaranteeing no politician will be allowed within a mile of next year’s Pride.

Of course it wasn’t just her. Conservative council leader Simon Cook remarkably managed to speak from notes yet still ramble and repeat himself. Some people can take to a stage like a duck to water. In Simon’s case the water was boiling, and it cooked him alive. At least he didn’t get booed off stage.

Why does it matter? This is just the opening salvo in what seems likely to be an increasingly acrimonious election campaign which we can all enjoy for the next twelve months.

The Pride 2018 parade

For those who don’t know the history, the Conservatives have been the largest party on the city council since dinosaurs ruled the earth.

However, with Labour’s shock election victory in last year’s general election, all bets are off when it comes to predicting next year’s local election outcome.

Canterbury’s Pride event has become so successful that everyone from Kent Police to Unite Union wants a piece of the action.

Today’s marketing buzzwords are inclusivity, diversity and tolerance, and what better way to demonstrate how progressive your organisation is than having a stand at Kent’s biggest LGBT+ event.

Personally, I’m delighted that Pride gets the support it does. Yesterday was a great event. My family and I got in early and staked out a spot by the monument with a prime view of the stage.

The children danced away to the music and I enjoyed a very welcome pint in the sun. It’s just a shame that unabashed insincere politicking had to rear its ugly head.

In reality it’s no surprise. The local political landscape isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Voters are becoming more informed, fake news gets routinely challenged, and people don’t fall for the same old bullshit anymore. And politicians don’t know which way to turn.

When it comes to delivering on promises those in power are faced with the same impossible situation they’ve always faced. There isn’t enough money to do what you want, and the opposition will always do whatever they can to stop you.

The local Conservative administration has thousands of people on housing waiting lists yet seems to only deliver student housing blocks. Our Labour MP doesn’t appear to have made much headway on delivering the hospital she promised – and avoids any questions on Brexit like the plague.

My own party, the Liberal Democrats, don’t yet have enough local councillors to make a significant difference here in the Canterbury district – something we’re hoping to change next May.

I believe that when it comes to casting a vote, local residents won’t make a choice based on who was nearer the front in the Pride parade – and yes, the organisers had to put up with bickering on that subject.

If my reading of the electorate’s mood is correct, people will make their choice based on which candidates have the best ideas and the conviction and sincerity to deliver them. Chasing the pink vote by crowbarring an appearance at Pride won’t make one iota’s difference.

But still, it’s rather amusing to watch them trying. Here’s the video so you can decide for yourself.

 

 

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