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London's useless Mayor Khan gets his economic knickers in a twist virtue signalling about gay bars

Tom Winnifrith
Thursday 6 July 2017

Ooooh you are awful said Dick Emery. In the case of London Mayor Khan that is awfully politically correct. And awfully useless. Fresh from supporting the Al Quds day, aka lets blame the Jews for Grenfell Tower, march, hapless Sadiq Khan has a new battle: saving LGBT bars and clubs and he has promised "urgent action." Politicians always promise urgent action never just action but what exactly is little Khan's understanding of why gay bars are shutting?

Actually this is an old battle - the initial report on this crisis was published last December and back then May Khan pumped £10,000 of taxpayers cash into more research. But ahead of the Pride rally this weekend he has duped George Osborne's Evening Standard into making this its lead story. Pliant press gives free PR to useless Mayor making this fake news.

The data from University College London Urban Laboratory published almost 8 months ago showed that in 2006 there were 127 gay bars and clubs in London. Today there are just 56. or is that the real data. Having actually read the research which is loaded with C Grade sociologist jargon I note:

"Between 1986 and the present, we have recorded the presence of 233 venues, 80 nights/events. This is, of course, just a snapshot, based on the particular listings we have identified and recorded"

In other words the data is not comprehensive and is thus almost certainly therefore wrong. But let us accept that there is a trend. The study covers the years 1986 to 2016 and "peak gay bar" was 2004 since when there has been a steady decline. Mayor Khan thinks this is awful saying:

I hold LGBT+ venues in very high regard and have made it clear that protecting them is an integral part of my plans to grow London’s night-time economy and culture. The importance of LGBT+ venues cannot be overstated in the role they play in helping members of an often vulnerable community to take pride in their identity, and enriching London as a whole. These shocking figures show urgent action needs to be taken.

Now let us put this in context. This weekend a million folk will march and celebrate gay pride in London. The population of London is 8.8 million and - according to the ONS - 2.6% of Londoners identify as L, G or B so that is c 250,000 people. Moreover the pink pound phenomena is well documented meaning that on average these quarter of a million souls are more affluent than straight Londoners.

The ONS identifies an increasing trend for folks to identify as LGBT with younger folk regarding sexuality as more fluid than we oldies. Thus there are more gay Londoners with more cash to spend and more of an age when they's rather go out, than stay in to watch Midsomer Murders, than ever before. Yet gay bars are closing. So too are pubs as a whole by the way,between 2006 and 2015 pub numbers fell by c16% across the UK and at an even faster rate than in London.

If there was a genuine need for more gay bars then a large and affluent population would - via market forces - ensure that they were opening. Bars that are open to all and do not practice sexuality based apartheid would be turned by their owners into gay bars. But that is not happening. It seems that the trend is the other way.

Those who run bars and clubs do not do so as a charity, they do so to maximise returns and what this data shows us is perhaps that society as a whole is moving away from bars and clubs, thanks to the smoking ban and a general desire to be more healthy. But also that especially in uber tolerant and liberal London gays now feel increasingly relaxed about drinking and dancing with non gays. If they felt otherwise, the vast wealth of London's gay community and its material size would, via market forces, see gay bars opening not closing.

Mayor Khan probably knows this in his heart of hearts. But that is the point. It is not that this useless man will manage to turn back the tide driven by the invisible hand, but that he will use scarce resource, taxpayer's cash, to show that he cares.  In short, this is just another pointless exercise in virtue signalling for the pathetic Evening Standard to run - without critique - as real news.

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About Tom Winnifrith
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Tom Winnifrith is the editor of TomWinnifrith.com. When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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