Tonight, I’m attending an event at the National Liberal Club in London and so I thought that I would a blog about what has been on my mind this weekend: Europe, Eurovision, and equal marriage.
Let’s look at why Europe has been on my mind first of all. Firstly, on Friday, I attended the filming of the regional version of a popular current affairs show in Birmingham. My hosts were excellent, but both of the MPs that were on this edition of the show were fervent Eurosceptics from the opposite sides of the political spectrum. As I was watching the screening of this show from the gallery, I was forced to reflect on what I see as a strange aspect of British politics presently: Euroscepticism. What I fail to understand is why British political discourse is so anti-EU?
What has the EU done wrong for the British? Very little; in fact, it has done more than a lot of people think, in my view. To illustrate this, let’s look at my hometown of Liverpool, a city that has been caricatured as something of a cesspit of crime by the British media over the years; Liverpool is now one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with a vibrant culture and a commercial district to rival not only other British cities, but also many European capitals.
Why is Liverpool such a modern city, one might ask? The uncomfortable answer for many British politicians is: the European Union. In order to facilitate Liverpool’s redevelopment, the European Union provided funding to redevelop the city and also build new landmarks, such as the splendid LiverpoolOne shopping mall, which has provided with the city with a much-needed boost as neither the shops nor the restaurants, including the independently-owned Catalan eatery Lunya, one of my favourite restaurant in the EU, ever seem to be quiet. This development would never have been built if it wasn’t for the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. It is only by remaining in the European Union that we can ensure that the United Kingdom continues to push for a stronger stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.
A second reason why Europe was on my mind this week was because of the Eurovision song contest. The Eurovision competition is a classic example of what Europe can achieve when it comes together. Unfortunately, it seems that the UK seems all too happy to send mediocre artists to Eurovision, year after year, much like they often send the castoffs to Brussels to be MEPs or Commissioners. It’s time that we started taking Europe seriously in Britain, so that we can get things done in Brussels and win (yes, miracles do happen) the Eurovision Song Contest.
Congratulations to Denmark, whose song ‘Only Teardrops’ was fantastic. I also felt the Russian, Azeri, Swedish, and Greek entries were also very strong contenders for Eurovision crown. What the UK needs to do next year is send some who is half-decent, established at a domestic level, and young (I’m thinking Jake Bugg). Experienced artists, such as Bonnie Tyler, all too often appear washed-up when they get on stage. As I was frequently reminded on Saturday night by my fellow viewers (my parents), the UK has some outstanding artists; I believe that it is time that they are asked to step up and defend their nation on an international stage.
As I’m writing this blog post, the UK Parliament is debating whether to legalise same-sex marriage; I firmly believe that now is the time for action on this important piece of legislation. Some Conservative MPs are planning to amend this legislation to extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples; whilst this needs to be done, guaranteeing the right of LGBTQ individuals to equal marriage is more urgent than allowing couples who already have the right to marry a civil partnership.
We have come a long way in the last 20-odd years towards achieving fairness for LGBTQ people, however we need to pass this legislation to bring us up to speed with other European Union member states, such as Spain which legalised equal marriage some time ago.
For me, it is unfair and unjust that in a tolerant 21st Century United Kingdom, individuals are denied the right to marry based on their sexual orientation. At tonight’s event on human rights in Russia, we will be looking at regressive regimes that are discriminatory towards LGBTQ individuals. That must change, as soon as possible through both the systematic and non-systematic opposition to the regime of Vladimir Putin.
We in the United Kingdom can be a beacon of hope for oppressed people around the world, if we co-operate with our neighbours via the European Union and triumph laws that guarantee equality and liberty for our citizens; legislation that guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry has an important part to play in ensuring a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.