An intriguing political battle is being played out ahead of this year’s Canterbury Pride festival.
It began earlier in the week when Cllr Simon Cook used the launch of the Canterbury Conservatives’ manifesto launch to announce that his party would be sponsoring this year’s festival in a fortnight.
“Canterbury Pride is the biggest Pride in Kent and local Conservatives have always played a vital role in organising and supporting it – but in the past, we have allowed Labour to hijack the event,” Cllr Cook said.
Some might have hoped that events such as Pride might be free from politics. No such luck. Such occasions are just too valuable to political organisations which want to promote themselves.
Last year’s Pride, for example, saw the city’s new Labour MP Rosie Duffield publicly unveiled to an ecstatic crowd following her surprise general election victory over Conservative Sir Julian Brazier.
This year Labour will have a stall at Pride. The Conservatives, meanwhile, are major sponsors of the event.
Writing in the Canterbury Journal today, local party chairman Greig Baker explains why.
He said: “[The] love of our local area is what we all have in common, whatever walk of life we come from.
“Pride Canterbury gives us all a chance to get together and celebrate the place and the people that we love – and have a party while we do it.
“I am proud of the local Conservatives who have helped arrange Pride Canterbury, I’m chuffed that we will be a headline sponsor this year, and I’m really looking forward to being on the Conservative stall on the main site.”
Labour, for its part, will also be maintaining a presence at Pride and Ms Duffield is once again due to attend.
Cllr Alan Baldock, Labour group leader at the city council, said: “To be honest it’s up to them if they want to try and atone for the actions of the previous Conservative MP with the Gay community.
“Frankly, I think they will find that a bit difficult.
“Rest assured Labour will be there with Rosie Duffield MP just because we all want to be.
“We will be part of the Parade and in Dane John with a modest stall having loads of fun.
“We will be chatting to anyone who wants to chat, singing along to the great bands and happy to share on this special day the world and the city we all have the right to be an equal part of.”
This is the third year of Canterbury Pride and it is expected that some 15,000 people will attend.
Pride chairman Edd Withers said: “We value all our supporters. We are in fact still looking for some final sponsors if there is anyone who wants to get on board.”
Canterbury Pride takes place in the Dane John Gardens from 11am on Saturday, June 9. Visit the Pride Canterbury website for more.