With just under two years to go until the next General Election, James Ledward has compiled a mid-term report on local Kemptown MP Simon Kirby.
For many LGBT people in 2009, the thought of having a Conservative MP back representing the constituency of Kemptown and Peacehaven after 13 years of Labour control was not appealing. However, even though Labour delivered many legislative gains to benefit LGBT people during their years in power between 1997–2010, in Brighton they somehow failed to engage with the LGBT community enough and those gay votes that moved to them in 1997, moved back in 2010.
The reasons for this are complex, but the lack of implementation locally of the main headline finding in Brighton & Hove Council’s 2008 Equality Review for an independent Whistle Blowing Policy for Council Workers, by the Labour administration at the time, did not go down well with many in the LGBT community in Brighton & Hove. The administration failed to stand up to council offices on the issue and in doing so lost many votes for the party from the LGBT community and those on the left generally.
Name: Simon Kirby
Year Elected: 2010
Constituency: Brighton Kemptown & Peacehaven Party
Conservative Majority: 1,328
Since before his election success in 2010, Simon Kirby took a close interest in local and national LGBT issues, in a way you would not necessarily expect from a Conservative MP. I heard his passionate defence of equal marriage at the Equal Marriage debate organised by Changing Attitude Sussex at St Mary’s Church in Kemptown in June. It was impressive, it was sincere and most importantly had a profound effect on many people in the audience. He played a pivotal role in bringing forward the government’s Equal Marriage legislation where he worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure the government got their numbers on the key votes. Now that the legislation is on the Statute Book he is looking forward to weddings starting next summer and he hopes the first marriage will be here in Brighton.
He serves as the Vice Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for HIV/AIDS and a check of his parliamentary activities reveals he has tabled a number of written parliamentary questions on LGBT issues since 2010.
He recently took up the issue of the rights of LGBT people in Russia and has long campaigned against the deportation of LGBT people to countries where they could face criminal action.
Simon has been recently appointed as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Foreign Office and previously carried out the same role in the Department for Culture, Media & Sport where he successfully lobbied for games to be staged at the Amex Stadium in Brighton during the Rugby World Cup in 2015. He has secured a £2m investment in local railways and has been lobbying ministers hard to release the £420m funding for the redevelopment of the Royal Sussex County Hospital.
Simon has been a regular supporter of LGBT events in Kemptown, taking part in Stonewall’s Brighton Equality Walk on four occasions as well as taking part in the Brighton Pride Parade and supporting both IDAHO Day and Hate Crime Vigil events organised by the LGBT Community Safety Forum. He has had a stand at the Kemptown Carnival, attended numerous local meetings, including the inaugural meeting of the St James’ Street Community Action Group and has also been spotted pulling pints in Legends in his efforts to highlight the importance of bars and clubs to the city’s wider communities and night time economy.
Since being elected, Simon has held regular constituency advice surgeries at a number of locations, including Dorset Gardens Methodist Church and the Kemptown Crypt.
First and foremost Simon has proven himself to be a hard working constituency MP, who can be regularly found supporting local community events and who has been a pleasantly strong campaigner on LGBT issues.
Despite having endorsed the Labour candidate for Kemptown & Peacehaven at the last election as being the best choice for LGBT Brighton & Hove, I have since been well impressed with Simon’s firm up front support on LGBT issues. He is not a tribal party politician and has demonstrated a willingness to work with local councillors from other parties on behalf of local residents.
His press machine is relentless and the group of advisors around him is truly reflective of the demographic of the unique constituency he represents. He understands that ‘gay people’ transfer into ‘gay votes’, a similar lesson learnt by the conservative group on Brighton & Hove City Council in recent times.
However, his position on Europe, immigration and travellers does not sit comfortably with many in the LGBT community. In attracting LGBT voters back to the Conservatives he has had a fine line to walk in not upsetting his traditional Conservative voters. He seems to have got that balance just about right.
Over the coming months I’ll continue to monitor his work and I’d encourage anyone living in the Kemptown constituency to contact him with any concerns they have. After all, we should make use of all our public representatives and make them earn their keep.
How to Get In Touch
There are five ways to contact Simon:
• Write: Simon Kirby MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
• Email: email@example.com
• Telephone: 0207 219 7024
• Follow on: twitter.com/#!/simonkirbymp
• Facebook: www.facebook.com/simonkirbyMP Regular Surgeries Simon holds regular surgeries at the following locations across the constituency: Moulsecoomb, Rottingdean, Telscombe, Saltdean, Peacehaven, Woodingdean, East Brighton and Queen’s Park. Surgeries are by appointment only.
If you would like to make an appointment either contact the office on 0207 219 7024
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of the issue you would like to discuss.