Blair's War on Biology

Letter From England

In the May 2000 issue of Chronicles (“Letter From England: New Gaybour”), I wrote that there was a good chance that Section 28 (the portion of the 1988 United Kingdom Local Government Bill that forbids the promotion of homosexuality among schoolchildren) would be retained through the current Parliament at least, because of the Labour Party's failure to push the repealing legislation through the House of Lords. Mirabile dictu, on July 24, their lordships—or rather, one ladyship. Baroness Young, who led the Tory opposition—came up trumps again, with a majority of 42 in favor of retaining the vexed clause.

This was a surprising result—or perhaps we conservatives are just accustomed to losing such battles. Faced with the prospect of having to drop the repeal legislation altogether in order to ensure the passage of the rest of the Local Government Act, Tony Blair had resorted to the time-dishonored tactic of stuffing the awkward legislative chamber with placemen. Since the last Lords defeat, 30 new Labour and Liberal Democratic peers have been appointed. This should have made the government victorious; in the end, however, there was a difference of only three votes, thanks to a revolt of 18 principled Labour peers and the absence of at least ten others when the vote was being taken.


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