Yes she Kendall? Photo: Getty Images
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25 Labour parliamentary candidates back Liz Kendall for the Labour leadership

25 parliamentary candidates from across the country have endorsed Liz Kendall's bid for the Labour leadership. 

25 defeated parliamentary candidates have endorsed Liz Kendall in an open letter to the New Statesman. The candidates – who stood in seats both inside and outside Labour’s target list and come from across the party – say that they “believe the person best-placed to take Labour forwards and to win in the places where we lost on May 7 is Liz Kendall”.

They highlight that her recent pledge to turn Britain into a “living wage society”  shows she has the right ideas, “as well as the energy” to lead Labour. The candidates include Emily Benn, Tony Benn’s granddaughter, Matt Turmaine, the candidate for Kendall’s home seat of Watford, and Vicky Fowler, the candidate for Nuneaton, the seat that has become a symbol for the shock rout within the Labour party.

 

The full letter is below:

 

At the recent election, Labour lost seats across the country and failed to win in the areas where this election was decided.

We must now decide how we respond to the challenges we face as a party.

We believe that the person best-placed to take Labour forwards and to win in the places where we lost on May 7 is Liz Kendall. 

Her plan for a Living Wage society shows she has the ideas, as well as the energy, to lead our party. 

She can win back the trust of the British people and is committed to engaging both the party and local communities about how we shift power away from the centre and put it into the hands of those who need it most.

Liz is the fresh start that our party needs. As we seek to come back from two painful defeats, Liz Kendall is the right person to lead that fight.

Signed

Jess Asato Norwich North

Jack Abbott Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

Gareth Barrett Epping Forest

Emily Benn Croydon South

Nick Bent Warrington South

Michael Borio Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner

John Fisher Aldridge Brownhills

Vicky Fowler Nuneaton

Kate Godfrey Stafford

Vicky Groulef Reading West

Nicola Heaton Mid Derbyshire

Sarah Jones Croydon Central

Naushabah Khan Rochester and Strood

Ollie Middleton Bath

Tristan Osbourne Chatham and Aylesford

Andrew Pakes Milton Keynes South

Jason Pandya-Woods Sleaford

Liam Preston Brentwood and Ongar

Steve Race East Devon

Alex Sanderson Chelsea and Fulham

Michael Taylor Hazel Grove

Nick Thulbourn North West Cambridgeshire

Matt Turmaine Watford

Julian Ware-Lane Southend West

Mary Wimbury Aberconwy

 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

Photo: Getty
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Why gay men love this photo of Prince George looking fabulous

It's not about sexuality, but resisting repressive ideas about what masculinity should be.

Last week’s royal tour by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge provided the most intimate view of the young family to date. Throughout the five-day visit to Poland and Germany, it was the couple’s adorable children who stole the spotlight.

As George and Charlotte become better acquainted with a world in which everyone recognises them, this level of public scrutiny is something that will no doubt have to be carefully managed by the family.

But there is one particular image from the trip that has both captured people’s hearts and prompted debate. On the eve of his fourth birthday, Prince George was invited behind the driver’s seat of a helicopter in Germany. Immaculately dressed in a purple gingham shirt neatly tucked in to navy shorts, the future King is pictured staring out of the helicopter in awe.

As a man who was visibly gay from a young age, the distinctly feminine image of George smiling as he delicately places his hands on his face instantly struck a chord with me. In fact, an almost identical photograph of five-year-old me happily playing in the garden is hung on my parents' kitchen wall. Since the photos appeared online, thousands of other gay men have remarked that the innocence of this image reminds them of childhood. In one viral tweet, the picture is accompanied by the caption: “When mom said I could finally quit the soccer team.” Another user remarks: “Me walking past the Barbies at Toys ‘R’ Us as a child.”

Gay men connecting this photograph of Prince George with their childhood memories has been met with a predictable level of scorn. “Insinuating that Prince George is gay is just the kind of homophobia you’d be outraged by if it was you," tweets one user. “Gay men should know better than that. He is a CHILD," says another.

Growing up gay, I know how irritating it can be when everyone needs to “know” your sexual orientation before you do. There are few things more unhelpful than a straight person you barely know telling you, as they love to do, that they “always knew you were gay” years after you came out. This minimises the struggle it took to come to terms with your sexuality and makes you feel like everyone was laughing at you behind your back as you failed to fit in.

I also understand that speculating about a child's future sexual orientation, especially from one photograph, has potential to cause them distress. But to assume that gay men tweeting this photograph are labelling Prince George is a misunderstanding of what we take from the image.

The reaction to this photo isn’t really about sexuality; it’s about the innocence of childhood. When I look at the carefree image of George, it reminds me of those precious years in early childhood when I didn’t know I was supposed to be manly. The time before boys are told they should like “boy things”, before femininity becomes associated with weakness or frivolity. Thanks to a supportive environment created by my parents, I felt that I could play with whichever toys I wanted for those short years before the outside world pressured me to conform.

Effeminate gay men like me have very specific experiences that relate to growing up in a heteronormative world. It is incredibly rare to see anything that remotely represents my childhood reflected in popular culture. This image has prompted us to discuss our childhoods because we see something in it that we recognise. In a community where mental illness and internalised homophobia are rife, sharing memories that many of us have suppressed for years can only be a good thing.

People expressing outrage at any comparisons between this image and growing up gay should remember that projecting heterosexuality on to a child is also sexualising them. People have no problem assuming that boys are straight from a young age, and this can be equally damaging to those who don’t fit the mould. I remember feeling uncomfortable when asked if my female friends were my girlfriends while I was still in primary school. The way young boys are taught to behave based on prescribed heterosexuality causes countless problems. From alarmingly high suicide rates to violent behaviour, the expectation for men to be tough and manly hurts us all.

If you are outraged at the possibility that the future king could perhaps be gay, but you are happy to assume your son or nephew is heterosexual, you should probably examine why that is. This not only sends out the message that being gay is wrong, but also that it is somehow an embarrassment if we have a gay King one day. Prince William appeared on the cover of Attitude magazine last year to discuss LGBT bullying, so we can only hope he will be supportive of his son regardless of his future sexuality.

Whether Prince George grows up to be heterosexual or not is completely irrelevant to why this image resonates with people like me. It is in no way homophobic to joke about this photograph if you don't see a boy being feminine as the lesser, and the vast majority of posts that I’ve seen come from a place of warmth, nostalgia and solidarity. 

What really matters is that Prince George feels supported when tackling the many obstacles that his unique life in the spotlight will present. In the meantime, we should all focus on creating a world where every person is accepted regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, because clearly we’ve got some way to go.