So we have finally got a date for the first same-sex weddings – Hogmanay 2014! For me it had been a long time coming and my journey only, but for some of the people involved in the campaign it had been a whole lifetime. Just a week previous on Friday 10th October I woke up to see that whilst I had been sleeping the first UKIP MP elected to parliament (I am never sleeping again).
We are heading towards the next general election, on the 7th May 2015 as a nation will take the the ballot boxes and determine our fates for the next five years. In light of austerity measures and the growing fear-mongering in the media I am terrified that UKIP will win more seats, maybe not here in Scotland, but across the rest of the UK. More than that, I am terrified what this will do both to the rest of the British political parties, and to the British public.
The wave of support for UKIP seems to have spurred on some kind of race to the bottom for all of the major political parties as they fall over themselves to profess the most right-wing, anti-immigration policies they can to keep up with the people who would rather blame the gays for the rain than admit climate change. This year hate crime rates have risen in Scotland (http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Hate-crime-statistics-d98.aspx), I have been spat on in the street, and barged square in the chest by an elderly man whilst holding my girlfriend’s hand. The rise of right-wing politics and policies has had a very real-life impact.
My colleague during the last European elections told me that she would not be voting because she all the political parties were the same; she is not alone in these feelings. Would-be-voters up and down the country don’t bother turning out to their polling stations because they believe that whichever way they vote the changes to the running of our country will be minimal at best, and non-existent at worst. During the Scottish referendum 84.6% of people turned out to their polling stations, democracy was in the air. Whichever way you voted in the Independence Referendum you were affecting change.
If there had to be something that forced us to wake up and realise that there is a possible real change at the General Election it is the serious risk of bigots leading our country. Made very real when Douglas Carswell was elected.
The LGBT community is a broad church, and sometimes we can mistakenly think that even those who are not-too-quick to pick up a placard, are closet lefties. It’s just not quite true. As a movement there is very little that we are guaranteed to have in common. But I think this very real threat is something that whatever corner of the rainbow you sit in, we can all get behind.
At the general election in 2015 however I hope that the very real threat of UKIP will unite us. We can’t pretend that UKIP aren’t horrible homophobes, and whether or not Mr Farage tells us that he welcomes queers with open arms, the UKIP members views on homosexuality really read like aged grandparents rocking in their comfy chair and reminiscing about the days when bigotry was not just legal, but state endorsed. So for the next election we must up our game! For people who haven’t voted before, that means registering to vote and getting out to the polling stations. For those who are already engaged that means getting out on a doorstep.