The PinkNews Political debate: the LGBT issues

Reporter Delilah attended the PinkNew LGBT political debate on Thursday 19 March.

For someone who has never really taken an interest in politics before, I now have a sudden interest in it and have adopted a ‘get stuck in’ approach. A part of me feels like I am in the trenches and under a barrage of information and opinions, making it difficult to do a full report justice.

The fact is, this feeling of confusion is shared by an awful lot of young people. Many are not sure, they don't understand or feel that they can't make fully informed decisions.

In this state of uncertainty and scepticism, entering the registration room of this event was for me at first very daunting. Thankfully, tea and biscuits were being served to help defrost on a cold night and break the ice. With cup of tea in hand I braved a hello and found very soon just how little I knew, and how much I wanted to find out  more.

Soon it was into the main space and the talk began. Much was said and in the following I have tried to distill the essence of responses by the speakers to the main questions debated.

This article is not written to influence you on any of the positions, just report on what was said. You must make up your own minds about what you agree with. 

So, lets identify the speakers and you can see what they said!

  • Green - Natalie Bennett                      
  • Labour - Yvette Cooper                   
  • Lib Dem - Don Foster                 
  • UKIP - Peter Wittle                             
  • House of Lords - Baroness Tina Stowell                         

The speakers answered two questions:

  • Question 1.  Would your parties commit to update the laws on surrogacy?
  • Question 2.  Are you more D&G or Elton John ?

Don Foster:
Don Foster responded by saying that what D&G proposed was a disgrace. He was delighted by Elton John’s response. He also said that it is clear that Surrogacy laws have to be looked at. The Lib Dems vioting record suggest

  • 0% were against Trans couples
  • 1% in same sex marriage voted Not in favour

Yvette Cooper:
Her response was that “Parenting isn't about your sexuality, it's about  the love you give your child”. She said what D&G said was stigmatising. we have  to make sure everything is up to date, including surrogacy law.

She began by saying that the most important thing is the well being of the child. She then talked about the “great strides” that her party has made in supporting adoption by gay couples. They are looking at the surrogacy law carefully before any changes are made. She said that what D&G said was offensive and concerning. The suggestion was made that  boycotting could be increased.

She was certainly more on the side of Elton John and said that “good parenting” is “good parenting.” She also suggested that there would have to be more research on the evidence surrounding surrogacy, to make a informed decision.

He drew a comparison between what D&G said and Donna Summers isolating her fans. He felt that as a gay man there is no difference between parents who are gay, trans or straight. He was then asked "Is this party policy or yours?”! His response was the “The opposition to gay marriage has changed and accepts the law”  (This brought a bit of a giggle to the room, due to his use of the accept and its obvious difference to the notion of accepting - but clearly indicated that UKIP wouldn't repeal it.)

All parties agreed that they could and would not make a decision about surrogacy "right off the bat" without first looking at all the available information.

A show of hands in the room was requested as to who would boycott D&G right now if they could.

The response was unquestionably clear with 90% YES and  10% NO.

  • Question 3. What would the panel do to make house prices more affordable ?

Greens have a policy to build half a million homes.     

She suggested that we must start of by asking why we have a housing crisis. One significant reason is that many people now regard housing primarily as a financial assets rather than a home.

She talked about her party wanting to bring in rent caps and also securing a 5 year tenancies to rented property, helping to provide “homes that are homes”.

He proposed a number of measures which would help alleviate the problem. The first being the “Obvious answer is if your going to get prices down, you have to build.”

He then talked about  the necessity to free up land to achieve this.

Other strategies include: helping with the deposit, the provision of more social housing and the ISR.

He was very concerned that there were still have more empty properties available than people on waiting lists, empty houses should be brought back into use.

In contrast to Natalie of the greens he was emphatic that "rent control does not work".

Following this Peter’s response was that "yes, we need more houses" but we have to plan properly for it. Without knowing how many to build the plan is not effective.

Wants to see policies revised in addition to increasing the supply and bringing in schemes that help enable people to pay a deposit.

Her response was in opposition to Peter’s. She disagreed with his implication that this was problem fuelled by the number of immigrants needing to be housed and his assertion that  all you needed to do to solve the problem was to change the immigration policy.

She asserted that  an obvious factor is that people are living longer and we haven't been building enough for generations. She suggested that there was a difference between the empty  rhetoric peddled by members of Tina and Don’s parties and the  reality that this parliament clearly hasn't built enough and  should have built double the number of houses that  it has already.

One answer was to  give local councils more power to take action on land within their areas.

Yvette vs Tina!

Tina’s response to this was that the building industry needed time to repair and that the number of new building erected has significantly increased been since recession.

Yvette response to this washtub this is only because you've started at such a low base.

In response to this Tina reiterated the impact of the recession.

She identified needing less problems with private developers and affordable homes


Yvette began by Congratulating Stonewall on all their progress,  but said that there needs to be so much more achieved. She stressed how important it was to start in Schools as a place where attitudes and beliefs are formed, just how  important it is to change the attitudes of the young early in their education.

For Peter, the spectre of Social Mobility has been haunting society and a big concern for him is its stagnation and failure. He believes that an answer is to reintroduce more selection into the state schooling system, with the reintroduction of grammar schools.

Don turned the responsibility of the question back to the sponsors by encouraging companies like KPMG to go into schools and play a part in the education the young.

Continuing this idea as a significant part of the solution, she felt sure that it was all about "role models" and suggested that making successful businesspeople perform the role of advocates.

For Natalie, representation on the boards of businesses themselves has to be more reflective of our diverse society. She appeared to be in favour of some ‘positive discrimination’ and controversially talked about ensuring this diversity through implementation of rules. It is green party policy to have 40% women candidates.

At this point, a member of the audience commented that how could we expect companies to be more diverse when representation in parliament was so woefully ‘monotone’.

To catch the debate in full, view it below