What’s in the name The Straight Choice
We’ve chosen the name The Straight Choice in memory of the infamous campaign leaflet used during the 1983 Bermondsey by-election in a contest between Simon Hughes, standing for the Liberal Party, and Peter Tatchell — the gay rights campaigner — standing for the Labour Party.
The Wikipedia article about the by-election is highly recommended because it gives an idea of just what a different political era it is now from what it was then 25 years ago — partly due to the hard work of people like Peter Tatchell.
From a 2006 article by Andrew Grice in The Independent:
After Mr Hughes resolved to say nothing about his own sexuality, his party issued a leaflet entitled “The Straight Choice”. Mr Tatchell said: “Some of their male canvassers went around the constituency wearing lapel stickers emblazoned with the words ‘I’ve been kissed by Peter Tatchell’, in a blatant bid to win the homophobic vote.
“On the doorsteps, they spread false rumours that I was chair of the local gay society; no such society existed.”
Mr Tatchell said one Liberal member admitted to him that the party was behind the anonymous and illegal campaign leaflet “Which Queen Will You Vote For?”, which ridiculed his sexuality and “invited local voters to have a go at me by listing my home address and phone number”.
Mr Tatchell, now a member of the Green Party, said it was “ironic” that Mr Hughes had admitted he was gay. He received “information” to that effect at the time of the by-election but Labour took a decision not to retaliate.
In 1993 Peter Tatchell wrote:
I was deluged with thousands of abusive telephone calls and hate letters, more than 30 death threats, and over a hundred violent assaults. My flat had to be boarded up against threatened gun and arson attacks. I lived in permanent fear of my life. Indeed, police officers later told me that I was lucky not to have been seriously injured or even killed.
There are dangerous forces out there in society. All politicians are tempted to play with fire when they scent victory. Like any human being, they can be caught up in the madness and do things that go against everything they stand for — if that’s what it takes to win.
Electioneering is a high-stakes game.
We, at The Straight Choice, believe that it’s time for this game to become a spectator sport.