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

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  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 242.

    I'm very happy for homosexuals can do whatever they wish in terms of love and relationships, it's a free world (well some times and in some places it is) but I always thought that marriage required a man and a woman just like funerals require a corpse.

  • Comment number 241.

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

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 240.

    Whatever the merits or otherwise of the principle of gay 'marriage', Cameron has been very foolish to push this as a priority without a manifesto mandate - particularly as it splits his party at a time when he needs unity. And when so many serious national issues need urgent attention. This casts serious doubt over his credentials as leader and encourages a challenge for the party leadership.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 239.

    236.Bart Spart - ".......I suspect that he is motivated by a need to appease the LibDems because of the failure of Lord's reform."


    I doubt it - the need to appease the Lib Dems is because Cameron failed to win an outroght majority even standing against a seriously unpopular incumbant Govt....

    ....nah, the need to appease the LDs is because without them the Tories won't be in power....!!!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 238.

    Conservatives feel that they own marriage. And want to dictate the terms, to fit their own narrow ideology.

    Opening marriage up to everyone, means that marriage belongs to everyone - not just traditionalists

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 237.

    @232.Keith Watts

    "I can think of nothing more hilarious than two men walking down the aisle hand in hand to the wedding march"

    Why would you want to ban the funniest thing you can think of?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 236.

    It's a great shame that Cameron is railroading this issue through parliament in such a divisive fashion. I suspect that he is motivated by a need to appease the LibDems because of the failure of Lord's reform.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 235.

    This debate is so ironic. 20 years ago the debate was: Why get married? All relationships are equally valid! Why is marriage suddenly back in vogue when it went through the dark days of being ridiculed and diminished? As a happily married man of 28 years, I feel like an old suit that has come back into fashion! The trousers need to be let out a bit, but the suit still feels comfortable :-)

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 234.

    '232.Keith Watts'
    Has this country taken leave of it's senses, marriage is between man and woman not two men utterly crackers.

    Not a single mention of 2 women there Keith. One of the 'old school' boys that thinks gay women are OK (with the mentality of it's shame, or you'll change them) but gay men not! No doubt Mr Freud would have a theory about that eh!.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 233.

    This is a distraction.

    Whether the tories do in the end reach unity on this, either way, it won't cost rich taxpayers a penny more.

  • rate this
    -26

    Comment number 232.

    I can think of nothing more hilarious than two men walking down the aisle hand in hand to the wedding march. Has this country taken leave of it's senses, marriage is between man and woman not two men utterly crackers.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 231.

    I fear those of us who still attend church will view this the same way as contraception, the church may say no but the laity will ignore them.

    Marriage is an institution in place long before religion, a civil contract & as such gay marriage should be allowed. No church will be compelled to hold them, but I look forward to the first blessing in my lifetime.

  • Comment number 230.

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

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 229.

    226.anthonygh - "Do the bulk of the population support this? ....."


    Yes, & not only that but the majoroty of religious people in Britain support it!


    http://yougov.co.uk/news/2012/06/13/three-five-people-faith-britain-support-same-sex-m/

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 228.

    226 All the polling data collected suggest that actually yes a large majority do support the proposal. Those that do not are simple a very vocal minority (as much as some pushing for it are also a very vocal minority), it only matters in politics because there appears to be a large overlap between the vocal opponents and Conservative party members. Make of that what you will.

  • Comment number 227.

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

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 226.

    Do the bulk of the population support this?

    Or is it that they just don't care anymore? It just seems odd that we have a govt that seems hell bent on making things difficult for many 'conventional' families to survive financially...and at the same time is busy legitimizing other 'marriage style' relationships. Must be votes in it somewhere.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 225.

    If its not Europe, its the Unions, if its not the Unions its the unemployed, if its not the unemployed its immigrants, if its not immigrants its Gays............Becomes nothing but tedious rhetoric after a while.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 224.

    Cameron is right about Gay marriage although he has not gone far enough and forced the church to carry out the weddings the bigoted old men who were on show yesterday are the reason the tory party will never get a majority .

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 223.

    There are just as many divisions within Labour as well on this matter thats why the half way house of 'civil partnerships' where introduced, because they knew they couldnt get a Full blown gay-marriage act through parliment at the time.

 

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