Covid has meant it's been a tough old year for the charity sector – but few have had it worse than Stonewall. Accused of misrepresenting the law, pilloried by its co-founder Matthew Parris and facing an exodus of Whitehall departments from its diversity scheme, the LGBT rights organisation has few allies left.
Now even Sir Alan Duncan, the second-rate politician turned third-rate diarist, has turned his guns on the charity – despite being heralded on Stonewall's website as the first openly gay Conservative MP. The ex-Rutland and Melton Tory, whose memoirs fired more shots at his colleagues than a Maxim gun, mounted a rare defence of the government's decision to withdraw funding from Stonewall's diversity programme. He told Bright Blue's magazine Centre Write:
“I think some of the Stonewall agenda has become so apart from what one might call mainstream thinking; they’ve become a bit odd. I don’t see the decisions on Stonewall as anti-LGBT at all. I see it as the government having difficulty embracing what Stonewall is saying. In any case, I don’t think the government should have anybody else’s agenda on these issues, apart from their own. The government should set an example by having their own diversity policy and by making it an example for others to follow. The government shouldn’t contract out these things, and instead take ownership of it themselves.
Of course, being Sir Alan, he also could not resist also taking a pot shot at the Prime Minister, the man whom he dubbed 'Borisconi' under whom he spent two (in his eyes) under-appreciated years at the Foreign Office. In the same interview, Sir Alan savaged Johnson's ambitions on the world stage, declaring the 'Global Britain' strategy of his erstwhile boss to be 'idiocy':
““Global Britain" is utterly meaningless, until they explain the details of what it means in practice. It is nothing more than a slogan... Politicians talk in hyperbolic superlatives like ‘Global Britain’ and claiming we are still the best in the world. We need to get real, be dignified, and recognise that we are an upper-medium power, with good alliances and prospects, but we are not the hub of a massive empire anymore, and the language we use sometimes is self-deluding, and converts in some cases into distasteful and risible nationalism. You cannot build a foreign policy or a lasting national reputation on the back of such idiocy.'
Somewhat ironic, given that it was he who delivered a speech on 'Global Britain' to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in October 2017 and subsequently boasted to the House of Commons that 'all Ministers in all Departments are making sure that global Britain is a reality.'
Still, Sir Alan has never been one to let reality get in the way of his self-aggrandising, as his pretensions to being 'deputy Foreign Secretary' make clear. Looks like it's not just Boris who suffers from delusions...