I was only away a few days but missed the furore over cuddly Conservative councillor Richard Eddy objecting to the Lottery fund giving a £400,000 grant to an organisation which supports gay young people, and helps them cope with homophobic bullying. (For those who don't know Councillor Eddy, think along the lines of a more amiable Simon Heffer. Very similar hair.)
The BEP has come in for some flak for not making it clear that the grant actually covers four local authority areas and runs for five years, which works out at about £20,000 p.a. for Bristol, and also for giving the misleading impression that the Lottery Fund was actually giving more than 50% of its awards to this organisation. Yes, the £400,000 formed a large chunk of the £700,000 handed out by the Lottery this month - but the £700,000 is only a monthly figure. There's loads more money going to good causes across the region. Arnos Vale cemetery in my constituency has had millions from the Lottery over the years, and there are plenty more examples. In fact virtually every month I get a briefing from the Lottery with details of which organisations in my constituency have been given funding awards; I always write to them to congratulate them.
But let's go back to Cllr Eddy's comments: "I think this is a mistaken and misguided, outrageous waste of money. Sadly, it seems to be further confirmation that the Big Lottery has long since ceased to impartially distribute lottery cash to worthwhile and respected causes, instead it seems obliged to dole out punters' money to a raft of politically correct lobbies which clearly sit within the Labour Government's priority."
It would be correct, would it not, to construe from this 'political correctness gone mad' outburst that Cllr Eddy thinks that providing support and mentoring for young gay people is neither a worthwhile cause nor something which deserves our respect. And that protecting young people from discrimination, bullying and assault on the grounds of their sexuality would not be worthy of the attention of a future Conservative government.
Of course David Cameron did recently - very late in the day but still, better late than never - apologise for Section 28. Some of us cynically suggested at the time that such apology was not worth the pink paper it was written on, given the prehistoric attitudes towards homosexuality still prevalent within the Tory ranks. (See Shadow Cabinet member Sayeeda Warsi for example. Or Roger Helmer MEP. Or Ann Widdecombe, who once told a gay Labour MP in an anteroom at the BBC that she would walk out of a radio interview with him if he tried to talk about 'buggery').
So what does David Cameron think of Bunter's outburst? (That's what the Bristol Blogger calls him. Cruel, but if Eddy doesn't care about homophobic bullying he presumably thinks it's OK to pick on fat kids too). How does this square with compassionate Conservatism?
And while we're waiting for a response from DC, which I suspect may be some time in coming, what about the local Tory candidates in the seats in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset, and North Somerset, covered by this award? What do Adeela Shafi and Charlotte Leslie - both of whom hold themselves up as examples of just how much the Conservatives have changed over recent years, to have selected a Muslim woman and, er, a posh young blonde - have to say? Jacob 'pot plant' Rees-Mogg? His lovely sister Annunziata? Former Bristol City councillor Jack Lopresti? And the rest of them?
Do they support this money being spent to support gay young people in what they hope will one day become their constituencies? I think we have a right to know.
Update on this - I've now been told there's a Facebook group, which also gives the lowdown on Golliwog-gate.