Tory councillor ‘disturbed’ over Ian McKellen school visit withdraws mayoral nomination

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A Tory councillor who said he was “disturbed” that gay actor Sir Ian McKellen had been visiting schools has withdrawn his nomination to become Bristol’s next Lord Mayor.

In January Chris Windows was nominated by the Conservative party for the ceremonial post, which traditionally rotates between the parties, but his nomination was thrown into doubt after opposition from Green councillors.

After being cleared for the post last month as party leaders agreed his nomination should go ahead, Windows has withdrawn his nomination.

Not disputing that he in 2010 said “I am unhappy and a little disturbed” that Sir Ian had been used as a role model for “impressionable” children, Windows now claims that an “unpleasant and slanderous attack upon my character”, was too much to expect his wife to endure, reports the Bristol Post.

The full statement from Windows is available to read below.

I was greatly honoured to be chosen by my Group to be their nomination for Lord Mayor in the next Civic Year. However, sadly, for a number of reasons, it has become clear to me that I must now withdraw my name from further consideration for this important civic post.

Over the last few months, my wife and I have been deeply concerned about the campaign – orchestrated by a very vocal minority – to portray me as some kind of controversial figure for the ceremonial and symbolic position of Bristol’s first citizen.

The unpleasant and slanderous attack upon my character and the pressure this has placed upon my wife is not something I am prepared to continue to expect her to endure.

I have the deepest respect for this historic Office and am anxious to avoid doing anything which might undermine its dignity and non-political status. I believe it is vital to maintain the high regard this ancient, impartial role commands in this city amongst all communities and across the political divide.

The effective conduct of Full Council meetings requires – and relies upon – a convention that all embers are prepared to defer to the authority of its chairman.

The apparent unwillingness of some members to support my name for this position means that I cannot be sure of such voluntary cooperation.

I obviously have taken this decision with a very heavy heart and great personal disappointment. For what it is worth, to those who have unfairly judged me or contrived to foment controversy, I must leave it to them to live with this victory on their own conscience.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts. Therefore, I pledge my total support to whoever is fortunate enough to be chosen to be our next Lord Mayor.

Tory leader Peter Abraham said he was “saddened” by the decision to pull out and that he thought Windows had “conducted himself with great dignity throughout this period.”

After McKellen visited Bristol schools with Stonewall in 2010, Windows said at a council meeting: “I am unhappy and a little disturbed at the involvement of Stonewall with our local schools, and particularly the use of a certain leading actor as a potential role model for our impressionable young people.”

He was suspended by the party for the comments, but later had the whip re-instated.