Dear Sir,

On 31st October last year Cllr Beetham put forward a motion for buying an LGBT rainbow flag, this motion was defeated by 16 votes to 7. Of those who voted against it 10 were Labour and 6 Independents, for it were 7 Labour.

It was the 10 Labour Councillors who voted in the majority against 7 Labour that defeated it, the 6 Independents made no difference.

Yet, Owen Dickinson tries to label me and the Independents as homophobic.

I have many friends in this town who are LGBT+, none of them consider themselves superior or more special than the rest of the community, they are equal, no more, no less. Owen supports “Identity Politics”,

I do not.

At the Council AGM a couple of weeks ago (at which Owen was not present), the Labour Group changed its mind, 6 months after the original decision, and voted for it.

Cllr Beetham asked for a named vote. The vote was 20 for and 6 against. Labour councillors had changed their mind.

I stated for the record that I wasn’t going to make a speech again and that I would respect the decision and not seek to change it every six months like labour had.

Owen, if you are going to criticise, at least attend the meeting, rather than rely on second hand propaganda from your fellow ‘Corbynistas’ and ‘Momentum’ friends.

Most LGBT people do not support ‘Identity’ or ‘Group Politics’, they do not see themselves as special, different or better than everyone else, they see themselves first and foremost simply as ordinary decent honest members of the same community as the rest of us, going about their daily lives.

It is people like Owen and Momentum who insist that LGBT people be treated differently, and separate from the rest of us. Setting them apart as a target for the far right, rather than all being part of the same community.

Equal rights, equal respect and equal consideration. I think most Independents agree with me, as too will most residents, (and LGBT people who to me are the same as the rest of us).

Cllr Arun M Chandran


The following is the speech given to the Council on 31st October 2018

I believe in one race, the human race, irrespective of the colour of one’s skin, language, religion, or culture. We all eat, breathe the same air, sleep and share the same planet. We all have the same inalienable rights equal under law. I believe in Infinite Diversity in infinite combination. The growth of identity politics, a world in which we cease to be individuals first, but define ourselves instead, by membership of an interest group “family” or “community” is to be deplored. My study of insult and invective shows me that when human beings want to wound with words, their first reflex is to pick on their victim’s personal characteristics. It is happening a million times a day.

Sometimes this is mere teasing, sometimes a factual criticism is being made and sometimes it’s downright cruel.

We know there are boundaries, but I would despair of capturing them all in law. With Identity politics, politicians for four decades, were so determined to prove their anti racist credentials, that they ignored the signs of growing public unease about our multi ethnic society.

The outcome, Trump, Brexit and the steady advance of truly racist and anti immigrant movements.

The disaster of the public consultation process on gender recognition, has revealed a government so terrified of being labelled transphobic, that it is ready to destroy a half century of painstakingly assembled, anti discrimination legislation, to the detriment of every woman, person of colour and disabled individual in Britain.

People who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender or indeed black, and minority ethnic, disabled . . . in my opinion are neither inferior nor superior to anyone else, they are equal, no more, no less. Do we have a flag for single mothers, widows, disabled, elderly? Are we going to fly the Syrian flag for our Syrian refugees? What about a flag for Holocaust Day?

Once you insist on recognising every group possible, and dividing people into separate groups where do you stop, who is not deserving of a flag?

So if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, Cllr Beetham wants you to have a flag flying for you, single you out, distinguish you as separate from the rest of us.

Or, if you are the 17.4 million who voted for Brexit well, we know what she thinks of you. The left needs to help people see what unites them, instead of focusing on their differences. All the available evidence indicates that exposure to difference, talking about difference, and applauding difference … are the surest ways to aggravate the intolerant, and to guarantee the increased expression of their predispositions in manifestly intolerant attitudes and behaviours.

We can best limit intolerance of difference, by parading, talking about and applauding our sameness.

Nothing inspires greater tolerance from the intolerant, than an abundance of common and unifying beliefs, practices, rituals, institutions and processes.

If the goal is to diminish intolerance, telling people they’re racist, sexist and xenophobic is going to get you exactly nowhere. It’s such a threatening message. One of the things we know from social psychology is when people feel threatened, they can’t change, they can’t listen.

To sustain our democracy, and diminish intolerance, then promoting cross-cutting or mainstreaming within civil society and political organizations is absolutely necessary. Social experts have long recognized the necessity of cross-cutting or mainstreaming to a healthy democracy. More specifically, research has linked it with toleration, moderation and conflict prevention. As long as politics is a fight between clearly bounded identity groups, appeals and threats to group identity will benefit extremists more than democrats, which is presumably why Steve Bannon infamously remarked that he couldn’t “get enough” of the left’s “identity politics”. He said “The longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em . . . I want them to talk about identity . . . every day.”

Society is more divided socially, than it is on the issues; there is significant agreement even on controversial topics like immigration and economic policy. Promoting cross-cutting or mainstreaming, and diminishing social divisions might therefore help productive policy making actually occur. I for one will have no part of segregation and identity politics.

Arun M. Chandran