Andy McSmith's Diary: Ben Harris-Quinney - a voice the Tories would rather not hear


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Indy Politics

Ben Harris-Quinney, a voice of the young, hard right of the Conservatives, has been recorded in Russia sounding off about gay people. He is heard accusing what he calls the “LGBT lobby” of wanting children as young as seven to be given sex lessons that include the “promotion of a homosexual lifestyle”.

He continues: “I am pleased to say that from a climate of fear that had been created by the LGBT lobby, as a necessity of support for same-sex marriage, we successfully ensured that a majority of Conservative MPs did not vote for same-sex marriage, and the Conservative Prime Minister was forced to endure the indignity of passing same-sex marriage only with the support of opposition parties.”

Harris-Quinney is a councillor and chairs the Bow Group, which has an illustrious history as one of the oldest Conservative think-tanks. It is linked with Conservative luminaries such as Lord Howe and the former Deputy PM, Michael Heseltine. But when Lord Heseltine was asked about Harris-Quinney on the BBC’s Daily Politics this month, he dismissed him as a “nobody”.

Pink News, which obtained the recording, ran a commentary on it describing Harris-Quinney as a “vile homophobe”. He says: “The Pink News article is both false and defamatory, and I am deeply offended by the allegations.” However, the words he can be heard saying are clear.

A complaint has been made to the Conservative Party’s disciplinary committee. “These sort of homophobic views have no place in the Conservative Party,” a source said.

Eagle swoops on ‘small fish’

Chris Grayling cannot be any worse at his new role as Leader of the Commons than he was as Justice Secretary. On his first appearance, his Labour shadow, Angela Eagle, offered him an appropriate welcome. “Given that an eagle is a predator and a powerful emblem used by countries across the globe,” she said, “I thought I would honour your arrival by looking up what a grayling is. The dictionary defines it as ‘a small, grey fish frequently used as bait’.”

A little local difficulty for BBC

BBC Radio London is holding a hustings for the election of a new mayor of Tower Hamlets, a job that became vacant when Lutfur Rahman was removed by the High Court because of multiple counts of corruption.

The BBC has a problem – there are 10 candidates, too many for a wieldy programme. It is believed to be planning to have the candidates from the main parties on a panel, while  others are to be allowed a short contribution from the floor. In this case, the others include Andy Erlam, who led the little group which, at considerable financial risk, took the mayor to court.

The Beeb says that all the candidates “will be invited to contribute” while the panel “will be chosen in accordance with BBC guidelines”.

Double Ginola, no tonic

The former Tottenham and Newcastle footballer David Ginola has been touring studios, commenting on the Fifa scandal, as if he were someone who knows what he is talking about.

On Channel 4 News on Wednesday, Jon Snow struggled manfully for four minutes, trying to get Ginola to say something intelligent. When Snow said that he suspected there had been corruption in Fifa for many years, Ginola did a double take. “You do? Really?” he responded, in apparent astonishment.

Three hours later, he was on Newsnight, confidently telling Kirsty Wark that there had been corruption in Fifa for 20 years, and that everyone knew about it, but nobody spoke up.

You would think there were two of him.