Labour MP Lucy Powell sparks fierce debate after wearing ‘never kissed a Tory’ t-shirt to Pride

Lucy Powell wears a red 'Never kissed a Tory' t-shirt to Manchester Pride

Labour MP Lucy Powell has provoked a strong debate on social media after wearing a “never kissed a Tory” t-shirt to the Manchester Pride celebrations.

Powell, who is the MP for Manchester Central, was among the large contingent of Labour Party members who marched during the city’s LGBTQ+ festivities Saturday (27 August). It was the first Manchester Pride parade in three years after it was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. 

The shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport posted a picture on Twitter and wrote that she was “Manchester Pride ready” ahead of the parade. 

In the picture, the MP showcased her bright red Labour-coloured t-shirt emblazoned with the message: “Never kissed a Tory.”

Powell’s shirt quickly evoked a strong response on Twitter and in the media, with Conservative MP Chris Clarkson saying it was “puerile, divisive and completely against the spirit of inclusion that Pride is supposed to embody”. 

Sara Britcliffe, the Tory MP for Hyndburn and Haslingden, said Powell’s shirt created an “us v them” mentality and believed a “difference of political belief should not result in hate”. 

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Conservative MP Dehenna Davison, who came out as bisexual last year, described the shirt as “juvenile” during a GB News interview. And former DUP leader Arlene Foster added in the same segment that the shirt “goes against what Pride is supposed to be about, which is to be inclusive”. 

A source close to Lucy Powell said: “While the Conservatives are fixating over a t-shirt worn to a Pride event in Manchester this weekend – a t-shirt worn by Labour at all Prides for over a decade to much cheer from the crowds – millions of families and pensioners are worried sick about how they will pay their energy bills this winter.

“Conservative MPs should get off Twitter and get on the blower to the continuity Conservative leadership candidates and tell them to adopt Labour’s plan to freeze energy bills and save families £1,000.”

Others on social media criticised Tory MPs and members for getting worked up over Powell’s shirt. Many  highlighted how Conservatives seemed more pressed over the t-shirt than other more pressing issues facing the UK, like the cost of living crisis. 

On the same day, anti-trans demonstrators were “drowned out by the shouts of solidarity” from the LGBTQ+ community at Pride Cymru in Wales. 

Members of lesbian separatist group Get The L Out UK crashed the Welsh Pride event on Saturday. They carried banners reading “transactivism erases lesbians”, “lesbians don’t like penises” and “lesbian, not queer”. 

Mobile phone footage showed South Wales Police encountering the protestors and asking them to “move to the side” so Pride Cymru attendees could continue marching. 

South Wales Police said in a statement officers engaged with the “small protest group who had assembled on the route to block the procession”. The force said the group agreed to “move to an alternative location nearby” and that nobody was “arrested or forcibly moved by officers”.

Pride Cymru co-chair Gian Molinu said the “small group of people” who interrupted the march were “drowned out by the shouts of solidarity” from the LGBTQ+ community and allies. 

“There is no place for hate at Pride,” Molinu said. “And as our parade said today loudly and clearly: ‘Trans rights are human rights.’”