Mark Bowen was the (unsuccessful) Conservative candidate in Feltham and Heston at the 2005 general election.
In February 2005 he gave a speech to the local Conservative Party AGM. No surprises there. And he said the contest in the seat was between himself and Labour. No surprises that he should that either. But I think you might be able to guess what’s coming…
Oh yes, this is what Mark Bowen said in his speech (taken from the official local Conservative Party website):
I had thought that this coming election would be a straight choice between the man in Feltham North and the man in Brentford. Now I am not so sure?
Is it a straight choice between the man in Feltham North and the man in Brentford?
Or is it a straight choice between the man in Feltham North and the man in Covent Garden?
Oh dear Mr Duncan. You see, there you had the Conservative chap using the phrase “straight choice” three times in four sentences. Yet you told the New Statesman that you thought the use of that phrase in Simon Hughes’s election campaign was evidence of hostility to gays.
So which is it: do you think Mark Bowen is homophobic or were you just been hypocritical and applying double standards?
(As for my own view? I don’t know anything about Mark Bowen beyond having read his speech and he may well be a lovely person. But then I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with using the phrase “it’s a straight choice” to describe how an election is a two-horse race. The problem is that if you do think that’s wrong, how can you then hold any view about Mark Bowen other than a rather unpleasant one?)
PS Advance warning for Laurence Boyce: best be prepared, but there’s quite a few more examples of Conservatives using the “straight choice” phrase I might be tempted to wheel out. You might wish to fall asleep bored now.