Posted by Chris
Simon Hughes actually has little reason to apologise for the alleged homophobic campaign during the Bermondsey by-election back in 1983.
Though he probably just wanted the whole sad business to go away, it has, in fact, prompted a lot of unfair comment on TV and in the press, particularly this nasty and vindictive piece in the Guardian. http://politics.guardian.co.uk/libdems/comment/0,,1696036,00.html
The only evidence that is reportedly attributed to the Liberal By-Election Team is the use of the words "the straight choice" in a leaflet. Put in that context I can see that it could misinterpreted as implying what they suggest it does.
But the words used were actually "a straight choice" followed by "between Labour and the Liberals." Words that were used at many by-elections, before and after Bermondsey, where Liberals/Lib Dems were in second place.
The actual text of the story, printed at the bottom right hand corner of a leaflet actually reads as follows:
"Southwark and Bermondsey have sadly declined for years. We can keep on Going down with Labour - and be remembered as the people who elected Tatchell. That way lies the certain end of the road for Southwark and Bermondsey.
"Or we can face the future. We can start to bring life back into our Communities. We can back Simon Hughes - THE ONLY ONE TO BEAT TATCHELL."
Peter Tatchell did not "come out" as gay until after the by-election.
I can't be certain (others have suggested it) but the use of the word "straight" for someone who is not gay did not enter our vocabulary until much later than 1983, when the by-election took place.