Iceland elected the world’s first openly gay Prime Minister earlier this year. Could Britain be next?
British politics is, to put it mildly, different than American politics. The formation of British governments and their dissolutions is something few Americans understand, but there is growing buzz in the press that Peter Mandelson, the openly gay First Secretary of State in the Labor Party government of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, may be positioning himself to take the top job should the increasingly unpopular Brown step down before the next national election.
Matthew Norman, a columnist for the Independent, writes today:
Wherever I go these days, be it pub, back of a cab or steam room at the Turkish baths, those who not long ago would rail about him in the least elegant of language now nod sagely and say that he is the only minister they trust on the economy.
(A)n openly gay prime minister now appears acceptable to the country. Remembering his fierce fight to remain in the closet, there’s a weeny irony in this one. But, in making the shattering of the last great glass ceiling imaginable, he may already have done more to promote equality than the gay campaigners who once sought to out him.
That he wants the job is in little doubt…A few weeks ago Mandelson told a parliamentary gallery lunch that there is no chance of Britain joining the euro for untold years. There could be no more blatant a piece of strategic repositioning, designed to neutralise the weakness that is his Europhilia, than that. Smoothly and surely, he is laying the ground to strike in October should Gordon’s grip further weaken. If he waits until next summer, the resistance of the trade union portion of the electoral college might well be fatal. But so close to an election, and regardless of the most recent precedent, a swift coronation makes far more sense than weeks of internecine poison.
I am not saying that this will happen, or even that it is likely, merely that it is possible. Peter Mandelson could, if the cards fall right, be our Prime Minister before the year is out. If the Labour movement has an ounce of survivalist sense left, he will be. He is its best, and probably only, hope of averting the cataclysm. After all, as the song almost goes, how can we resist him?