Davies Resignation: The outing of tolerance - except in Downing St

I WAS ONCE mugged in South London - does that throw into question my sexual orientation? Of course not. This is why the Ron Davies affair, despite the speedy spin-doctoring of Alastair Campbell, is so peculiar. The rapid response to Davies's strange admission he had done something foolish and had been robbed was a way of avoiding further accusations of sleaze. Yet by avoiding the juicy issue - whether this is extra-marital and possibly gay sex - tabloid imaginations have not been quieted.

According to the tabloids, this is a "gay sex scandal" and that's it. But it remains difficult to know quite what Davies has done wrong. Elsewhere rumours about drugs circulate. By not spelling out the details of his "lapse of judgement" we can only guess at what has gone on.

There is something, however, to be learnt from the reaction to Davies's admission, which has thrown the question of how both the press and this government handle the issue of gay sex. What we are witnessing is not only the confusion at the heart of government about how to handle the issue of homosexuality but the underlying sea-changes that are taking place culturally. We know that some of Blair's best friends are gay. No one really minds about Chris Smith or Angela Eagle. No one can really make their mind up about Peter Mandleson who has been outed yet again on Newsnight by the openly gay Matthew Parris. I don't know how many times you can be outed and still keep one foot in the closet but Mandleson has muddled along like this for a very long time.

Yet even the Daily Mail these days can embrace Chris Smith and his lover because, one suspects, they manage the extraordinary feat of making homosexuality appear as dull and mundane as heterosexuality. The Sun yesterday, despite giving that sad yobbo Gary Bushell an innuendo-laden page to speculate on which of our prime ministers had been gay, came over all liberal when it came to Mandelson's sexuality. In an editorial which would have been unthinkable even a year ago, it said Mandelson was gay, brilliant and talented. "The British people will not turn on him because he is gay."

So if it is acceptable to be gay and a cabinet minister then what exactly was Davies's crime? Is the issue of infidelity more important now than that of homosexuality? Is the fact Davies is married the key factor? Or are some kinds of homosexuality acceptable to this government and others not? Is bisexuality the real problem? Or are all these questions completely out of order because whatever has caused Davies to resign is nothing to do with homosexuality? If homosexuality is permissible only as long as people are in stable and long-term relationships then we have to conclude that despite its more liberal attitudes, this government still has some way to go on gay issues.

This administration is all too aware of what happened to Major's "back- to-basics" campaign and is keen to avoids any accusations of sleaze - sexual or financial. Yet what caused the Major government to implode was the sheer hypocrisy of ministers preaching about sole-parent families while creating them in their spare time.

It is difficult to see in the Davies case what kind of hypocrisy has been involved unless we know the whole story. Involvement with drugs would lay Davies open to such charges.

The great irony, though, is that while Davies had gone as quickly as he has to avoid tabloid censure, the Government may have underestimated just how far tabloid values have changed. All in the garden is not rosy but being gay is no longer a bar to power or, indeed, popularity. Drug use may be. Yet it is a queer business when a scandal that may have nothing to do with gay sex is the catalyst for a more tolerant attitude to homosexuality.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
News
Justin Bieber performing in Paris earlier this year
people
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Support Assistant - Hampshire - up to 40K

£25000 - £40000 per annum + 23 days holiday Pension Scheme: Deerfoot IT Resour...

Foundation / Year 1 Teacher - Long Term - Salford

£90 - £130 per day + competitive rates, pension scheme: Randstad Education Man...

.Net Developer -London - up to 55K

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits : Deerfoot IT Resources Limited...

Long Term Primary Teacher - Oldham - Start September 2014

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Manchester Primary: Key Stage 1 Teache...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil