Tristram Hunt
Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt will announce the plan to "eradicate" homophobic bullying at Little Ilford SchoolGetty

The greatest achievement of the last Labour government was arguably the role it played in turning Britain into a more tolerant place for minorities. Yet the latest plan by Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt to "eradicate homophobic bullying" is lazy and wrong in its thinking.

Looking back it's hard to believe how different the United Kingdom is, culturally speaking, from what it was as recently as 1997.

Among the many Conservative Party candidates who failed to gain a seat in that year's general election was Dr Adrian Rogers, a man who ran what was described as a very aggressive "family values" campaign against Labour's Ben Bradshaw, who was and is openly gay. For those who don't quite get the euphemism he told the Independent at the time that Mr Bradshaw was "some queer media person from London".

Other losers of note from that year were David Evans - who speculated about fictitious rapes committed by "some black bastard" – and Peter Griffiths, who may not actually have said "if you want a n***** for a neighbour vote Labour", but whose election to the House in 1964 was forever associated with that slogan.

In the Britain of today perhaps even the BNP would think twice before putting forward candidates who'd made remarks like that. At any rate comments of that sort would earn a one-way ticket out of the modern Conservative Party. Yet just over a decade ago they were not just candidates but sitting MPs in the Tory Party.

Despite the many calamities of the Labour years, the party does at least deserve some credit for bringing about a cultural change of this kind not only in the Conservative Party but in the country as a whole.

Having said that, it is possible to have too much of a good thing and this is where I take issue Tristram Hunt's desire to "eradicate homophobic bullying".

Many people have spoken passionately about the evils of homophobic bullying and one cannot really disagree with the fact that it is a horrible experience for the victims and should not happen. What these people forget though is that bullying in schools happens to all kinds of people and it is equally terrible for all victims.

The same is true of so-called "Hate crimes" (does anyone commit a crime with love for the victim as a motive?). One only needs to think logically for a moment to realise the stupidity of the idea that some crimes are worse because they involve racism, homophobia or some other prejudice.

It may be a little vulgar to put it like this, but does anyone believe that in his final moments Stephen Lawrence was thinking it would be preferable his attackers were black rather than white? Would it have been less bad if he'd been murdered by black people? Would it had have been better if the victims in Rochdale had been raped by a gang of white British people or had themselves been Pakistanis?

The exact same principle applies at the other end of the severity scale. Does the miserable bullied gay schoolboy think to himself "if only they'd bullied me for being weedy, spotty or good at maths"? Conversely does the miserable bullied weedy, spotty or good at maths child think to him or herself, "that was bad but at least it wasn't homophobic"?

The misery of both is the same and is more likely dependent on the quantity of the bullying rather than the form it takes. The deadness of a murder victim is the same regardless of why he or she was killed. It's not that there is no such thing as a Hate Crime. All crime is Hate Crime and should be treated as such. The same is true of bullying.

When Tristram Hunt says he wants to "eradicate homophobic bullying" and when politicians say they want tougher penalties for Hate Crimes they are devaluing the suffering of countless victims of hatred who are cursed with being conventional.

No government can eradicate all crime and no school can eradicate all bullying. That does not mean they should not try to, for everyone's sake.