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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be

From a Guardian review of a book on closeted gay UK politicians, an interesting contrast with the new Parliament- though, the author argues, the old system wasn't all bad:
Is a study of this subject historically or politically relevant? I believe it is, because until recently many politicians (possibly more than one might imagine, for the men in question usually did their utmost to ensure that no details of this aspect of their lives emerged) were obliged to keep secret something important about themselves. And this inevitably affected the way they operated as politicians: apart from inculcating quick wits and sharp antennae, it tended to foster skills in several areas – tact and discretion; acting and showmanship; the “dark arts” of presentation and manipulation; awareness and management of risk. Following the election, Westminster now boasts 32 gay MPs and while one must be thankful that, in Britain, official homophobia is a thing of the past, and that gay men and women, in politics as elsewhere, can now be open about their sexuality, the necessity for homosexuals in public life to hide their nature, though in itself deplorable, did not, perhaps, exercise an entirely negative influence on the 20th-century political scene.

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