Peter Cuthbertson does not to attend LGBTQI hustings the day after controversial comments about homosexuality surface in the Guardian.
Every other main party was represented at the Darlington hustings including UKIP (not renowned for their progressive views) held at the Voodoo Cafe last night (31/05/17). In response to the Guardian piece. In which he is quoted offering praise for a ‘gay cure’ priest in Sweden. Cuthbertson claimed he “definitely does not have all the same views as my adolescent self” but surely if that were the case he’d have buckled down and gone to face the music? If he doesn’t have all the same views as before, which does he still have? Because all of them were pretty outrageous. He also claims to have written the blog as an adolescent when he wrote the blog between the ages of 18 and 22 so technically as an adult. So I emailed Peter to see if there was a reason he had chosen not to attend the husting or why he felt no need to apologise or even explain his comments to his constituents.
Firstly he claimed that the Guardian’s article was “an unconvincing hit job” despite it merely quoting his own words. Then he went on to excuse his absence yesterday: “I had a big campaign session organised for last night and I emailed Emma Roebuck on 28th to say I sadly could not make the hustings.” What exactly constitutes a ‘big campaign session’? I’m not sure. “I’ve now done hustings with Churches Together, Look North and the Northern Echo but I’ve had to turn other hustings down like the NUT one and the LGBT one because of campaign commitments in this short election campaign.” Interestingly avoiding the hustings where he would likely have a more hostile crowd. Strangely familiar from the Tories in this election campaign isn’t it … And that’s not where the similarity ends. There was another Tory other than May empty chaired last night.
Photograph of Peters empty chair from yesterday’s LGBTQI hustings. Photo: Mike McTimoney
On the issue of LGBT rights he said “The Conservative Party has moved on a lot on gay rights since I was a teenager in 2002 and so have I. I support current Conservative Party policy.” Which sounds reassuring, until you realise stating that his views have changed and then not turning up to say how exactly they have changed, is a pretty poor show. This coming at a time when Theresa May’s election campaign is making overtures to the LGBTQI community. How they can continue claiming that she is an ‘unsung hero’ of the same sex marriages act, when her party fields candidates that have made controversial comments (such as Cuthbertson’s) is outrageous.
Whilst we all appreciate that the Conservatives have moved significantly on LGBT rights, I’d expect a more public disavowal from a potential MP that being the case. Yet looking at Cuthbertson’s Facebook page there seems to be no mention of it.
James Doran who attended the hustings last night wanted to ask “will all existing rights be protected when EU law ends in terms of human rights.” due to Peter Cuthbertson’s absence however he was unable to.
The LGBT people in the community are hugely disappointed Peter. If your views really have changed surely you see that a lukewarm apology isn’t going to cut it for them. They deserve answers.
Email exchange below
I’m writing a piece on the election and I was just wondering why the day the guardian published a piece about your (old) comments on LGBT issues, you choose not to turn up to the LGBT hustings despite every other parliamentary candidate turning up (including UKIP)?
If your views really have changed why did you not attend? Surely attending would have given you a chance to apologise/clarify your position to the LGBT community?
The implication is that your views have remained largely the same, but before I wrote as much in my piece I wanted to give you the chance to reply.
I look forwards to hearing from you,
I think the Guardian piece was an unconvincing hit job. The Conservative Party has moved on a lot on gay rights since I was a teenager in 2002 and so have I. I support current Conservative Party policy.
I had a big campaign session organised for last night and I emailed Emma Roebuck on 28th to say I sadly could not make the hustings. I’ve now done hustings with Churches Together, Look North and the Northern Echo but I’ve had to turn other hustings down like the NUT one and the LGBT one because of campaign commitments in this short election campaign.
Thanks for getting back to me quickly.
I appreciate that the Conservatives have moved significantly on LGBT rights however I’d expect a more public disavowel from yourself that being the case, yet looking at your Facebook page there seems to be no mention of it from yourself.
You just parroted the same line you gave to the guardian back to me, the LGBT people in the community I’ve talked to are hugely disappointed Peter. If your views really have changed surely you see that a lukewarm apology isn’t going to cut it for them.
I’ve received no further responses.
He has not posted about it at all on his Facebook.
UPDATE 06/06/17: I tried to raise this and other questions with him on his Facebook page, within 15 minutes he had blocked me then deleted all my comments. I then discovered that he has blocked a number of his constituents and deleted their comments on his page (I’ve learned about 10 other people so far). What I wrote was in no way offensive I merely have questions I want answered. Cuthbertson seems intent in not engaging with anyone who disagrees with him - just like May. I’ve sent him one further email, but I’m not holding my breath for a reply.