Why gay marriage has exposed Conservative divisions

Same-sex marriage ceremony

Many older Conservatives remember days when they were much more unpopular than they are now - days of strikes, riots and massive protests on the street, days when their leader's name was spat out with anger, days when they felt proud to be Tories.

Those Tories look back with fondness at that time of heroic unpopularity - when they awoke with pride to hear the news about the protests of the dragons Mrs Thatcher was slaying - the unions, CND and the Soviet Union.

Those same older Tories loathe the daily wearying grind of the age of austerity and coalition compromise.

They wake up now to hear with indifference or disappointment or, worse still, anger the news of what their government is doing. It is gay marriage which has released that fury.

Gay marriage was always certain to cause a furious row since it challenges sincere religious beliefs, deeply-rooted social conservatism and a mistrust of the metropolitan elite who are blamed for imposing an ideology of legally enforced equality on the country.

However, the real reason for the anger directed at David Cameron is that many Conservatives have realised that they and their attitudes are the dragon their leader has decided to slay.

Many believe that their leader only embraced gay marriage as part of his obsession with modernising the Tories and/or to claim credit for a measure the Lib Dems were determined to drive through.

There may be some truth in both but talking to senior Tories about gay marriage reminds me of talking to Tony Blair about Iraq.

When people hurled at him their belief that he was invading Iraq because of oil or a desperation to suck up to America he would reply "It's worse than you think, I really believe this".

The same is true of those around David Cameron and his acolytes. They really do believe in gay marriage. They believe much opposition to it is rooted in what they call "bigotry".

They want their government to be remembered for a great social change and not just its efforts to turn the economy around.

The divisions on display now stem from the fact that, in order to get their way, they are having to slay the sincerest beliefs of some of their own activists and MPs.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

Debates - on or off?

David Cameron says he wants to take part in TV election debates and that he thinks a deal can be done but he's also setting new conditions for taking part.

Read full article

More on This Story

More from Nick


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    @14 The Just: not clear from your post whether you've been voting for UKIP for 20 years or for the Tories but are now changing to UKIP, a party which really is so far to the right that it rivals the BNP. Either way, the sooner you and people of your intolerant disposition emigrate, the better a place the UK will be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Cameron is trying to drag the party into the 21st century but in reality most of them are still stuck in the first half of the last century. !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    What is surprising is that the previous administration did not do this, ironic the Tories are doing now.

    The blue rinse brigade may be up in arms but whilst their views should be listened to they must adapt to a modern society.

    I've never personally understood the fixation with marriage but it obviously means a lot to the gay couples - so why deny it to them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I don't recall this being in the Tory manifesto.
    YES, I think this is a good thing to do, but surely DC and cronies have more important things to sort out like the economy & ending involvement in unecessary wars etc etc?
    It just seems like it is being used as something to deflect us from more bad news elsewhere...

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Cameron is simply there to feather his own nest and prepare himself for when he is no longer PM. Exactly the same as Tony Blair. They have their own agenda which has little to do withe what the electorate needs and wants. The sooner he goes the better for all concerned. He fails to listen to advise. If he did he would resign as the electorate is rapidly beginning to see through the man.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    A bit of division is a good thing. We don't vote for a whole party - we vote for candidates, and obviously they will have a range of opinions.

    My understanding is that the conservative MP's have a "free vote" on this? In my opinion all votes by MP's should be free votes!

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    He will bring on his party nothing but ridicule and contempt.Absolutely nothing will be gained by affecting to be "relevant" and "fit for the 21stC" and all that blather.Come off it - stop all this silly posturing and govern properly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Most people don't care whether gay people are married in whatever way they want as it does not impinge on others. What annoys people is the time being wasted. If I was gay, I would still feel that parliament has far more important matters to deal with and so little time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    After 20 years of voting for them, UKIP will get my vote and hopefully after the next election when Milliband wins (with the inevitable help of those poisonous liberals) the conservatives will wake up and sack the traiterous & spineless Cameron. It will probably be too late because the lab/lib pact will be wise enough to stitch up power for the 15 years and it will be time for me to emigrate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    "Their may be some truth in both but talking to senior Tories about gay marriage "
    Surely, that should read THERE may be some truth..?

    Either way, old lies, old spin, it all comes around, when the current generation get wise to the nasty party they will vote them out, just like we did in the '90s.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Gay marriage is a massive non issue, affecting a very low minority of people. My son is gay and as such I know quite a few members of the gay community and even most of those think it's a nothing issue, though some are vociferously in favour, the majority couldn't care less about it.

    Oh, and what you dramatically call 'divisions', other people call an opinion. It's not an ideological split.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Cameron is just killing himself and his future here. He appears to be hellbent on his own self-destruction. He is against any form of real debate, as seen by his reaction to the TV debates for 2015. He is frightening off all his activists who would otherwise be posting leaflets.
    He really should go to the poundshop and pay the extra for a plot, as he has surely lost it. As has the coalition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Vote UKIP - why not ?
    Westminster has been dysfunctional for generations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    I think part of the problem is that Cameron thinks that his ideas are 'a big wheeze' in line with his wish to modernise but all his proposals have not been thought through properly and all the implications examined. It is policy on the hoof yet at no time has he any idea how to properly implement it. There is no real sense of purpose or grand vision just soundbites - just like Blair and Brown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    As a life-long Conservative voter, I don't give a damn whether gays can marry or not. What makes many so angry about the gay marriage issue is that successive governments are determined to destroy everything of social value in this country. The pursuit of "minority votes" and "equality" drags everything down to the lowest common denominator. In desperation I'll turn to UKIP!

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    "great social change?

    Its the economy stupid.

    The very survival of this country is at stake and left wing zealots are obsessed with social change no matter what.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    To kammbo, Not peoples beliefs, just SOME peoples beliefs

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    David don't dismantle that special significance marriage has for many people. Because you love each other is not a good enough reason to be married in the Catholic Church. There is a transcendent third. Read Aristotle Nichomachean Ethics. You are rushing through legislation without proper discussion and discernment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Over the last 3000 years:

    Our religious clergy has fought science many times but has always deferred to Darwinism
    Our POLITICAL clergy has deferred to science but has always fought Darwinism, seeking to impose it's own values

    This is why our religious clergy has survived for millennia
    Meanwhile political creeds and clergies come and go, surviving as nothing more than a few pages in history books


Page 39 of 40



  • FridgeCool customer

    The village that has just got its first fridge

  • Lincoln Perkins (in the middle of the image) carried Churchill's coffin with seven other menNear miss

    How pallbearers almost dropped Churchill's coffin

  • Josef Mengele in SS uniformThe twins of Auschwitz

    How a Nazi doctor experimented on identical siblings

  • Alok'Red market'

    The desperate patients in India turning to illegal blood donors

  • Bank House, 27 King Street, LeedsIn pictures

    Some of the office buildings new to the National Heritage List

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.