Former Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes under fire for ‘singing Bermondsey song at conference’

Josh Salisbury (27 September, 2018) Politics

Neil Coyle, Labour MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said the Lib Dems failed to recognise the hurt of the 1983 campaign

19174Sir Simon Hughes speaking at the Liberal Democrat autumn conference in Bournemouth in 2017

Former MP Simon Hughes has come under fire for allegedly singing a song at Lib Dem conference poking fun at the historic 1983 Bermondsey by-election.

Mr Hughes defeated gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell in the by-election campaign, which became infamous for homophobic rhetoric deployed against Tatchell.

The song Marching Through Bermondsey – sung to the tune of the Civil War tune Marching Through Georgia – was part of the Lib Dem’s Glee Club event at their conference in Brighton, which is known for its satirical numbers.

It featured the lyrics “Tatchell hit the headlines, boys” and “Tatchell went, and Tilley came and said that he was straight.”

Neil Coyle Labour MP for Southwark & Old Bermondsey – who won the seat from Mr Hughes in 2015 – slammed the song saying: “Very sad to see that Lib Dems still fail to recognise the disgust and hurt their campaign and this song caused in 1983 and today.

“Their homophobia must end.”

Mr Tatchell also criticised the tune recalling the 1983 campaign as “the dirtiest, most violent & homophobic election in UK in the 20th century.”

Mr Hughes has previously apologised for the homophobia in the campaign which featured leaflets describing the vote as a ‘straight choice.’

As the News’ history of the 1983 election has previously reported, some of Tatchell’s political opponents daubed signs with offensive slogans such as ‘Tatchell is queer’, ‘Tatchell is a communist p**f’ and ‘Tatchell is a n**ger-lover’.

In 2006 the Lib Dem said: “I hope that there will never be that sort of campaign again. I have never been comfortable about the whole of that campaign.”

Mr Hughes later confirmed he was bisexual after being outed by a newspaper.

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