What does Alan Duncan MP think of Conservative candidate Mark Bowen?

Mark Bowen was the (unsuccessful) Conservative candidate in Feltham and Heston at the 2005 general election.

In February 2005 he gave a speech to the local Conservative Party AGM. No surprises there. And he said the contest in the seat was between himself and Labour. No surprises that he should that either. But I think you might be able to guess what’s coming…

Oh yes, this is what Mark Bowen said in his speech (taken from the official local Conservative Party website):

I  had thought that this coming election would be a straight choice between the man in Feltham North and the man in Brentford.  Now I am not so sure?

Is it a straight choice between the man in Feltham North and the man in Brentford?

Or is it a straight choice between the man in Feltham North and the man in Covent Garden?

Oh dear Mr Duncan. You see, there you had the Conservative chap using the phrase “straight choice” three times in four sentences. Yet you told the New Statesman that you thought the use of that phrase in Simon Hughes’s election campaign was evidence of hostility to gays.

So which is it: do you think Mark Bowen is homophobic or were you just been hypocritical and applying double standards?

(As for my own view? I don’t know anything about Mark Bowen beyond having read his speech and he may well be a lovely person. But then I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with using the phrase “it’s a straight choice” to describe how an election is a two-horse race. The problem is that if you do think that’s wrong, how can you then hold any view about Mark Bowen other than a rather unpleasant one?)

PS Advance warning for Laurence Boyce: best be prepared, but there’s quite a few more examples of Conservatives using the “straight choice” phrase I might be tempted to wheel out. You might wish to fall asleep bored now.

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17 Comments

  • I seem to have a flair for typos with people’s names this month 🙂 Good thing the month is nearly over.

  • Anyone other than a Lib Dem remembers the blatant homophobic attack on Peter Tatchell by the Lib Dem activists fully supported by Simon Hughes and we all know what a hypocrite Hughes turned out to be.

    Anyway what goes around comes around and Peter Tatchell will ensure that the Lib Dems GE prospects in Oxford East are trashed,looking forward to going to the constituency to support him.

  • Hmmm Jim – care to provide evidence for your assertion?

  • Not surprising to hear that the Greens – in hopeless fourth place in Oxford East – are keen to see Labour retain the seat. Still, sounds like a straight choice between Andrew Smith and Steve Goddard there.

  • Is Alan Duncan transfering the guilt of some form of personal duplicity in order to cover his own conscience?

    Straight has many connotations, but which deviation from the plain, dead-eye, god’s honest truth has triggered his indiscreet identification, I can only summise (mole, leak, fraud, what?).

    I always thought Simon Hughes’ electoral usage of the term ‘straight’ was always more knowing than vindictive: his intelligence, combined with hard-work, patience and modesty outshines any flamboyant stunting or complacent cattiness which left Tatchell and his coterie bitter after that defeat.

    OxE will be the next well-spring of self-pity and loathing for Tatchell’s narcissism and martyr complex. What are his odds?

  • Someone asked me whether ‘straight’ had the same connotations at the time of the Bermondsey by-election as it does now. Does anyone have a definitive answer to this?

  • “It was only as a candidate. If you know how politics works you’ll see why being a candidate is different to being an MP.”

  • Justin Hinchcliffe 1st Aug '07 - 9:46am

    What, in the name of God, are you doing reading speeches from Mark Bowden, an unsuccessful ppc? Is this what you’re really paid to do? No wonder the Lib Dems are stuck in the low teens in most polls…

  • Just spotting Tory double standards and hypocrisy. Doesn’t take very long you know. Especially with the cunning use of a search engine.

  • Indipendently on the meaning of the term in early 1980s among general population (Tony Hill’s point above), this comparison is not the point. In that contest the candidate that quote was referred to was not gay (unless Ann Kenn doesn’t know something about Alan Keen) and the contest was not characterized by anti-gay rhetorics coming from other quarters. So that line is harmless. It can’t assume other connotations (unless in some very weird minds). However it can play into the hands of some bigoted people (by indirect association) if used in a different type of contest.

  • You can’t accuse a tory of ever missing an opportunity to lower the tone – it’s why they are hunters and shooters; they like to grouse and snipe.

  • I think someone has miss read these comments to mean something totally different to what Mark Bowen was suggesting. Both he and the MP concernend are married. He is referring to the fact that MP Alan Keen was claiming parliamentary allowances for two different addresses within close range of each other in London at Brentford and Covent Garden. Mark being the a resident in and Councillor for Feltham North.

  • Thanks for coming along and commenting. Just to be clear: I was making the point that using the phrase “straight choice” doesn’t equal being homophobic.

    When the Liberal Democrats use the phrase “straight choice”, both Labour and Conservatives have at times tried to argue that using it is necessarily homophobic.

    It isn’t. Moreover, as it is a phrase used by both Conservative and Labour members who have no intent to be homophobic when using it either (including yourself) it’s rather hypocritical of Labour and Tories to attack the Liberal Democrats for using a phrase that their own colleagues use too.

  • Mark, considering I voted Lib Dem the previous 2 elections was my candidate of choice.

    I voted for Mr Bowen in 2010.

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