The Leicester South by-election has turned dirty. A leaflet purporting to be from the Liberal Democrats and featuring a picture of two men kissing has been distributed in an Asian area of the city. The materials, which campaign organisers have confirmed as fake, are clearly an attempt to inflame anti-gay sentiment in the largely Muslim Spinney Hills area.
The leaflet [full size] features a version of the party’s equality policies as channelled by the Daily Mail. If the lack of an imprint (text required by electoral law) or contact details doesn’t raise suspicions, the text erroneously describe former Treasury Secretary David Laws and Simon Hughes as front benchers:
“We will force all schools to teach homosexuality as normal … Our front bench team Simon Hughes and David Laws are committed homosexuals, while Nick Clegg was recently voted by readers of Pink Times as the sexiest party leader.”
The operation to whip up anti-gay sentiment echoes a similar incident during the 2004 Leicester South by-election, which was won by now out-of-favour Liberal Democrat Parmjit Singh Gill. Party HQ told Scrapbook:
“Some of this leaflet is completely true and we are very proud of our record in championing gay rights. However, this a fake leaflet maliciously designed to incite hatred. It is disgusting attempt to provoke hate during the last days of a political campaign. It has no place in politics and it has no place in society.”
For once in a considerable time we agree.