General Election 2017: Sir Ian McKellen endorses gay Labour politician Wes Streeting
Legendary actor Sir Ian McKellen has endorsed a gay Labour politician for the upcoming general election.
Wes Streeting was elected the Labour MP for Ilford North since 2015, but is now facing a tough battle to be returned on June 8.
He has a majority of just 589 votes, the smallest of any out politician in the country.
Now Lord of the Rings star and LGBT rights activist Sir Ian has endorsed Mr Streeting in a bid to convince voters to re-elect him.
In a video for local newspaper Ilford Recorder, the Gandalf actor said: “I don’t normally get involved in politics, although I have voted, I think, in every election that I’ve been able to.
“So, it’s June 8 and it’s Thursday and you can vote all day. If you’re a first-time voter: good luck to you.
“And if you take my advice, consider Wes Streeting as Member of Parliament for Ilford North.
“We need him back in Parliament because he is one of the great young politicians: everything before him, but his principles firmly in place.
“Like me, like you, he believes in equality and young people and has got a passion for education and opportunities for young people too.”
Streeting previously worked as head of education for Stonewall, the LGBT rights campaign group Sir Ian co-founded in the 1980s.
Sir Ian has also been a longtime supporter of the Labour party, launching the party’s LGBT manifesto at the last general election.
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The Labour candidate said he was delighted by the endorsement, telling the newspaper: “Sir Ian McKellen is one of my heroes, not just because of his career as one of the world’s greatest actors, but because he has been at the forefront of campaigns on issues like homelessness, childhood literacy and equality.”
Mr Streeting added that he hoped Sir Ian’s intervention would engage “people who might not normally vote at a general election – particularly younger voters who tend not to turn out so much and so get forgotten by government.”
LGBT issues have already played a surprising role in the first two weeks since the snap general election was called for June 8.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron also agonised over a question of whether gay sex is a sin, before eventually revealing his view to the BBC, two years after first being asked.