Caroline Pidgeon expresses concern about Stagecoach involvement with LGBT Rainbow bus

Rainbow BusIt’s a lovely bright sight on the streets of London. A bus with rainbow livery to celebrate the 10th anniversary of OUTbound, the Transport for London’s LGBT staff network.

It’s a nice idea to have such a clear statement of solidarity with London’s LGBT people.

There is a cloud though, and that comes in the form of the involvement in Stagecoach’s partnership in the venture. You know, the same Stagecoach whose chairman Brian Souter took such exception to the abolition of Scotland’s equivalent of Section 28 that he spent a huge some of money on a campaign against it, sending a ballot paper to every home.

I might be prepared to dismiss it with an ironic smile – after all, doesn’t taking their money for something their chairman really doesn’t believe in is kind of funny – if it weren’t for the actual misery and harm that Souter caused.

Imagine if you had been an LGBT teenager at that time. You might already be confused enough about your feelings and there’s some rich businessman whipping up feeling against you with the aim of keeping from you the information that you needed, information that might just save your life. LGBT teenagers actually suffered because of his action and that is hard to forgive.

So it’s good to see that Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon has raised an eyebrow about this, as the Standard reports.

Stagecoach chairman Sir Brian Souter opposed the repeal of Section 28 and has spoken out against gay marriage. Scottish independence campaigners were urged to return a £100,000 donation last year over concerns about his stance on gay rights.

Lib Dem Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said: “Stagecoach was set up and is still led by a person who has had consistently been a major barrier to tackling discrimination against gay and lesbian people. I am really concerned that TfL was not aware of this before this initiative with Stagecoach.”

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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11 Comments

  • Ryan McAlister 3rd Mar '15 - 8:20pm

    The actions of the company speak an awful lot louder than the words of the chairman (who owns a non controlling minority stake of 15.1%).

    Stagecoach the company are doing a good thing. We should be happy, instead of wringing our hands and looking to find fault in everything.

  • Simon McGrath 3rd Mar '15 - 8:57pm

    Stagecoach can’t really win can they? If they had said no to this sponsorship Caroline would be complaining that the views of the Chairman were stopping them sponsoring this.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 4th Mar '15 - 9:11am

    Ryan,
    Thanks for the clarification. The bus is a great idea IMO.

  • It’s better Stagecoach do this, than not do this, whatever the views of Brian Souter.

    A more interesting political question is what influence does Souter have on SNP policy concerning equality issues and religion? The SNP are a secular party, reasonably committed to equality, but is Souter trying to change this? Certainly some of the SNP old guard are of a demographic that share his views (although similar people are present in all Scottish parties).

  • Julian Gibb 4th Mar '15 - 10:13am

    I may not agree with Brian Souter’s views but I object to such attacks. We either have free speech or we don’t. Caron seems to forget her “Liberal” values when it comes to political spin.

    Nice post by Simon McGarth – well said

  • Did LDV not notice the irony of this thread appearing so close to the….”Davey and Cable defend free speech at universities from Tory attack”?

  • The piece in The Standard is very short —
    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/rainbow-routemaster-bus-roars-into-sponsorship-row-10079724.html

    The quote from Caroline Pigeon, who is an excellent Liberal Democrat elected member of the GLA and very effective advocate for public transport, is even shorter.

    Some of the people leaping to the defence of a multi-millionaire bigot seem to be being rather disloyal to a prominent London Liberal Democrat and disloyal to Liberal Democrat beliefs and policies.

    Has this party shifted so far to the right that I am now the “party loyalist” in LDV ?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 4th Mar '15 - 12:57pm

    “Caron seems to forget her “Liberal” values when it comes to political spin.”

    So criticising Souter’s record and questioning Stagecoach taking part in this is somehow illiberal? I’m not sure I understand your point and your personal attack on me. Should I keep silent because I feel something you might disagree with?

  • JohnTilley 4th Mar ’15 – 10:59am…I don’t believe anyone has defended Brian Souter, ir his views,. It is his ‘right’ to express them that is being defended.. I would suggest that money from ‘Stagecoach’ is a ‘cleaner’ than that from Michael Brown

  • Simon McGrath 4th Mar '15 - 10:29pm

    @john – can you please tell us which comments above are ” leaping to the defence of a multi-millionaire bigot ” ?

  • Alex Macfie 6th Mar '15 - 9:17am

    I do not understand this idea that a company is supposed to be the tool of its Chairman. I would expect any major business, especially a PLC, to be run in the interests of all those with a stake in its success and not become the mouthpiece for the personal political opinions of its nominal head. And that is exactly what is happening here. Whatever Souter’s personal views on homosexuality, they do not seem to have affected Stagecoach’s corporate equal-opportunities policies. And that cowboy referendum campaign? It was financed with his personal wealth; it was not a corporate campaign.
    I do not see an issue here; if anything Stagecoach is behaving like a good corporate citizen, and is free from personal interference by its CEO. Caroline and Caron are wrong to make an issue of this, because there is none.
    I’m reminded of the ridiculous (but successful) campaign to hound Mozilla’s CEO out of his job because of his personal campaign contribution to an anti-gay-marriage campaign, when there was no evidence whatsoever that he was going to let his personal view on that issue dictate company policy.

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