Bermondsey, 1983

Opera (in development) in collaboration with writer/director Gareth Mattey

‘A straight choice’ – Liberal Party by-election campaign leaflet

In early 1983, Peter Tatchell stood as the Labour candidate for the seat of Bermondsey in the upcoming by-election. Following a bitter and fractious campaign that drew extensively on Tatchell’s gay rights advocacy and his links to the left-wing of the Labour party, the seat was won by Simon Hughes of the Liberal party in what remains the largest swing of any by-election in British political history. It was not until 2006 that Simon Hughes confirmed his own bisexuality and apologised, saying ‘I hope there will never be that sort of campaign again’.

Composer Robert Reid Allan and writer/director Gareth Mattey will be exploring a documentary approach to this by-election – using, setting and shaping verbatim material to create a multi-media music theatre interrogation of the events of the Bermondsey by election in 1983, the intertwining of the personal and the political, and the legacy of this moment in British politics today.


Robert Reid Allan is supported by PRS Foundation’s Open Fund