Thursday, 15 April 2010

Vale of Glamorgan Hustings-Vale Candidates are a credit to the Vale

Yesterday, 14th April saw the first Hustings in the Vale of Glamorgan. I was pleased to say that my organisation (Vale Centre for Voluntary Services) organised and facilitated the proceedings. It was a pleasure to have the candidates for Plaid Cymru (Ian Johnson), Labour (Alana Davies), Conservative (Alun Cairns) and the Liberal Democrats (Eluned Parrott) together to speak to representatives of the Third Sector in the Vale.

To be honest, I wasn't sure quite what to could have been a recipe for disaster - four opposing candidates all wanting to convince us to vote for them. Would it turn into a shouting match? Would the invited audience be hostile? Would it turn people off the electoral process?

In fact, it was none of the above. All candidates were exceptional in their professionalism - dealt with all questions fully, but more importantly, they all respected each other as politicians. Even though there were huge differences in policy between the parties, there was no disintegration into the yah-boo politics that we sometimes see at Westminster - what a refreshing change!! It was good to have a serious debate about serious issues in a mature and measured way!!

All in all, a successful event - all candidates could relate to the real issues facing the Third Sector and could relate to us, as constituents and voters. All of them are from the real world. How politics has changed over the years!! I'll be attending further hustings events in the Vale to chart the progress of the candidates!

Despite their differences in policy - one thing they did have in common was "Gavin and Stacey" - its funny how a TV programme can unite people who have opposing political views!!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Bed and Breakfast, Bigotry and More!

According to my Collins dictionary, a business is defined as:-

a: the purchase and sale of goods and services
b: a commercial or industrial establishment

I think its plain and simple that anyone who provides "Bed and Breakfast" on a commercial basis comes under this definition. The Sexual Orientation Regulations 2007 make it unlawful for a person providing goods, facilities or services to members of the public to directly or indirectly discriminate (or victimise) on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision or non-provision of such goods, facilities or services, or the terms upon which they are offered. So anyone who runs a shop, hotel, bed and breakfast or any other service that is advertised to the public on a commercial basis will be breaking the law if they deny services solely on the grounds of sexual orientation.

So, when you run a Bed and Breakfast establishment, you are running a business - same as running a shop, garage, etc. Your home becomes your business - you cannot have the benefits of running a business without realising you have a responsibility to the law - if you have a problem with the law, then you should question whether or not running a business is for you.

The current shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling obviously feels that its OK to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation - his recent gaffe testifies to this. It should come as no surprise that his comments were not pounced upon by his leader, David Cameron. As I write, I think there has been a stony silence from the Conservative Party Leader.

I'm sure if Mr. Grayling had said that its was OK to deny services to Black People, Jewish People, Disabled People, Women his leader would have dealt with him appropriately. However, as its a "gay" issue, it ranks low in the pecking order of equality - I have just one (polite) message - deal with these issues appropriately and effectively and start building the confidence of gay and lesbian people!

However, this does raise a more serious issue of people's attitudes in a society which is perceived to be inclusive. Even in the Third Sector (which outwardly promotes itself as a model of excellence in promoting equality and diversity), I've heard comments similar to those made my Mr. Grayling and I have dealt with them appropriately. Its only by challenging these views that we can move forward and make our society the inclusive society that it claims to be. People in authority have a particular duty to set an example and uphold the principles of equality and diversity. I will be relentless in challenging discrimination, no matter how subtle or covert it may be!