Watch this clip from Paul Brand's exclusive Around The House interview with Scottish Secretary David Mundell - the first ever gay Conservative cabinet minister.
- You can see the full interview on tonight's Around The House, on ITV at 10:40pm for viewers in Cumbria, and 11:10pm (after Representing Border) for viewers in Scotland
- Read Paul Brand's blog about the interview below:
Mundell's relief at trending without a trolling
If you’re a politician and you’re trending on social media it’s normally time to panic. Better pull out your phone quick and delete that patronising picture or tipsy tweet.
But when David Mundell trended back in January, the trolls fell silent. His decision to come out as the first gay Conservative cabinet member in history got a huge reaction, and almost all of it was positive.
It shows in the Scottish Secretary’s face. In his first interview since making his announcement at the start of the year, the lights glare and the cameras roll. Yet this is the most relaxed I think I’ve ever seen him – on or off TV. He smiles at almost every question, and I even wonder whether it’s okay to ask if he’s lost weight.
“I hadn’t really understood the reaction”, he tells me. “I expected a positive reaction from certain people, but what I got was from lots of people I’d not met, who came back with personal stories.”
He admits that he dreaded posting the announcement on his website. “I’ve said I thought it would be more difficult than standing up at the Despatch Box in the House of Commons against my 56 SNP colleagues. In fact, it wasn’t…although I did find it very emotionally draining. I felt, the day after, that I’d gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson!”
Only that week did he realise he’d be the first Conservative cabinet member in history to take this step. “Other people have to tell their mum and Dad – I had to tell the Prime Minister”, he explains.
He tells me he pulled David Cameron to one side after a cabinet meeting the day before, warning him he had something personal to tell him. “He stopped eating his apple, so I don’t know what he thought I was going to say to him!” But the reaction was positive. “He said ‘well done’ and ‘good on you’ and ‘we’ll support and help you whatever’”.
In the Commons the next day, Mundell waited until PMQs was over before posting his announcement. Cabinet colleagues tapped him on the arm and congratulated him, and the Border MP is amazed how much things have changed in politics in just a few years. “When I was born, homosexuality was a criminal offence…it was only legalised in Scotland in 1980…but we’ve got to a good place now.”
He admits there’s still more to do. “I think we particularly have to deal with the transgender issue”, he says. “I think that is something that has been kept in the shadows and people haven’t really spoken or addressed it to the extent that it needs to be.”
As for David Mundell, he no longer has to hide. The relief is palpable. He wants to take some time before deciding how to use his experience to help others. But surely the very sight of a gay Tory MP sitting quite comfortably at the cabinet table is enough to show anyone that sexuality is no longer the scandalous barrier it once was in politics.
You can see Paul Brand's full interview with David Mundell tonight on Around the House at 10:40pm in Cumbria, and at 11:10pm in Scotland.