Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the LGBT+ Conservatives’ Christmas Reception here at 10 Downing Street. My name is Luke, and I am the Chairman of this organisation. It is pleasure and a privilege to kick things off today.
This afternoon we will be hearing from two brilliant speakers. Firstly, I am delighted to say that we will be hearing from the Chairman of the Conservative Party himself, the Rt. Hon. Richard Holden MP – the man who unseated Laura Pidcock and long-term supporter of our organisation. We will then hear from a man who needs no introduction – and was the LGBT+ Conservatives’ Patron of the Year for 2024 – the Minister for Equalities and Conservative MP for Pudsey, the Rt.Hon. Stuart Andrew MP. Stuart has been a long term patron and supporter of this organisation.
But before we do, it would be remiss of me not to say a few thank yous.
Firstly, I would like to thank you, our guests, for giving up your time on a Monday afternoon in essentially what is the Christmas endgame – that is a chess reference for everyone in the room. Given Stuart is also the Minister for Chess I hope everyone is nodding and showing that they get this reference. Excellent. But in all seriousness, I hope that you all have a brilliant evening.
I would also like to thank the Prime Minister and his brilliant wife Akshata – who came to visit us earlier this year at the Conservative Party conference. Thank you for letting us essentially crash your house. One word of a warning though, we did once spend £25,000 in one evening at the Be At One in Deansgate Manchester so I do fear for your wine and prosecco reserves. Sorry about that.
I would also like to thank David, James, Mary and Will – from the PM’s political team – who have engaged with us as an organisation in way I haven’t seen for a few years. I can only go on my own experience, but is really is a partnership.
It is about more than just organising swanky drinks’ receptions as these, we have been invited in several times over the last few
months to collaborate and work together – shown perhaps most recently as last month when the Government and the brilliant Conservative Health Secretary Victoria Atkins announced a huge £20M expansion of HIV Opt-Out testing to a further 46 A&Es around England. This will genuinely save lives – so thank you so much. I am sure we will hear more about this later this evening.
I would also like to – finally – thank the Executive and the Council at the LGBT+ Conservatives who have helped us achieve so much this year. We cannot do it without out and together we have achieved a lot.
- Organised 8 socials, the most since COVID, and taking them on tour to Manchester next year.
- Ran 24 campaigning sessions, supporting over 30 Conservative candidates, down from Portsmouth South up to Scarborough in North Yorkshire. I hope that you’ve noticed us out more this year as it’s been a key goal of mine.
- Attended 2 Conferences – not just the main one, but also the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Conference in Glasgow, with a brilliant event hosted by Braiden Smith.
- Recruited over 300 additional members this year, the most we have ever recruited – st least as far back as WebCollect goes. I apologise for inflicting that dreadful platform on you all but it is the best out there I promise.
- And in and amongst those 300 members, alongside our existing members, we have seen 8 LGBT+ Conservatives selected to stand in the next election – with a further 9 on the list pending a seat.
- Ran an additional 14 events, most notably of which with the now Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton – rightfully back in government.
- Written to every Tory MP and most peers – sorry (!)
- And we have recorded 16 episodes of a new podcast which hit the Top 50 in the first week.
But why do we do all of this?
Last time I spoke to you all I said it was to get as many LGBT+ Conservatives elected. This is still true, I still want to get Freddie Downing, John Cope, James Spencer and so many others elected. But I’d like to amend my earlier statement.
We do this, to get people like John and Freddie elected, because of what they believe in. What we believe in. And what we believe in is the Conservative Party. What we believe in is Conservatism and what is can offer to LGBT+ people.
It is about meaningful change. So not pride flags on buses, not virtue signalling, nothing that paints trans, lesbian, bi and gay people like victims. We aren’t victims. We don’t need to be saved by the Labour Party. We don’t believe in an auction of grievances and victimhood.
We believe that LGBT+ people are as independent, free-thinking and autonomous as anyone else. Trans, gay, lesbian and bi people do not need to be told what to think, what to believe or how to vote because of their immutable characteristics.
Because our immutable characteristics do not define us. They’re part of who we are. We are proud of them. But Conservatives believe in the whole person. They value us as individuals. And that is why it is a Conservative Party which has delivered meaningful change for LGBT+ people – because they see people as people first and foremost, not a box tick.
So it is no surprise it was a Conservative Party that brought in Same-Sex Marriage. Or mandatory LGBT+ relationships education in schools.
And no surprise it was a Conservative Party that saw HIV deaths reduce by 51% from 2010 to 2019.
No surprise it was a Conservative Party that rolled out the largest national PrEP rollout in Europe – something I hope that we expand to pharmacies and GPs into the new year.
It is also a party that has righted the wrongs of the past. Because we haven’t always got it right and we have made big mistakes in the past. So it was no surprise it was a Conservative government – not Labour – who issued the first and only apology on behalf of the British state for how it treated trans, gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the armed forces before the ban was lifted.
I could go on. But that is why we do this. That is why we want to see Stuart, Nigel, Alicia and so many others back on those green benches – because of what they believe in, what they have done and what they will go on to achieve.
So be proud of everyone in this room. Be proud to be a Conservative. Be proud of who we are and what we have done. Thank you and have a lovely Christmas.