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, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 782.

    I came to this country 1 year ago as the civil partner of my British partner.
    We had been living together in Brazil for 4 years before coming to live in here.
    We couldn`t get married there or even get civil partnership, those are unthinkable in my country where most families and people see homossexuals as a "mistake" in society , Britain did the right thing, that makes me proud of living here.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 781.

    I only ask if someone has a consceince (Kant) or is criminal. I don't ask if they are gay, a quest worker or hankering after some old cosmology (religion by another name).

    If gay couples wish to be to known as married couples I'm afraid its beyond my enquiry. As long as they treat others as they wish to be treated by others.

    All the media have failed my test above. It was a free vote.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 780.

    For the first time in years I am proud of our elected government and the country we live in. Today is a momentous day in the fight for equality for everyone.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 779.

    A sigh of relief that at last the UK is playing catch up with the elite liberal countries of the world (clearly not those ruled by ayatollahs and the Taliban). It's a shame we had to endure the litany of holy sanctity of marriage ordained by God for procreation by one man and one woman etc etc. If an MP can't separate religion from their obligation to improve society then why are they there?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 778.

    All these people whinging about the Conservative manifesto blah blah etc should maybe remember that that manifesto didn't win an overall majority. Cameron leads a coalition government with the help of the Lib Dems. The UK has moved on, in every sense. The views of some of the bigots in the Commons today show clearly why the Tories couldn't win an overall majority in 2010, or ever again.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 777.

    I am old enough to remember when MPs voted to legalize homosexuality and the reason given, it was decimalized to protect MPs from spies blackmailing gay MPs and gay civil servants. Well well well; it now appears that the boot is on the other foot; because rumour has it that homosexuals are now blackmailing any gay MP who is still in the closet. Surely this requires criminal investigation

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 776.

    773 I completely agree that Marriage is special and demonstrates the love and commitment between two people but clearly we differ on the nature of the relationship. The problem with society is not the dilution of the institution by two gay men marrying, the problem is the institution has been turned into an event not a commitment and too many children have neither a home or parents in a marriage

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 775.

    I think this is ridiculous. What happened to tradition and conservatism. David Cameron needs to start looking at things that matter, forget gay marriage... cut benefits and reduce immigration!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 774.

    If "call me Dave" is so in favour of gay marriage why didn't he attend the debate or vote?
    As Nick mentioned on News at Ten MP this isn't leadership. Cameron sits in the back seat of the car scared to make a decision and unable to offer leadership.
    Dave "put up or shut up".
    He is committing the Tories to a slow painful death as people defect to UKIP.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 773.

    its nothing to do with spanish conquredistos nothing to do with the wrack.its to do with marriage..one man one woman....call it something else....have you seen a spectacular wedding ? how can two men duplicate these occasions...no.... marriage is special..ONE MAN ONE WOMAN.

  • Comment number 772.

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

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 771.

    i dont object to two women or men doing what they want in private...the problem is marriage......call it something else.....marriage is simple...one man...one woman...love...children.....its not perfect.....but its old in many cases it works.....and its what holds our society together....so homosexuals do what you want...but leave marriage alone.its no big deal

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 770.

    We've come a long way since we sailed to other countries and enslaved their populations or burnt woman at the stake as witches or sent children up chimneys to clean them and yet I read this forum and wonder if we really have become more understanding, forgiving and tolerant of each other as fellow human beings

  • Comment number 769.

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

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 768.

    i do like clever boys and girls.......you saw thro my last post of ossie i did make it easy with Eton never mind a plus for being clever it makes me purr ...clever is clever..love ed

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 767.

    There's no rational argument against gay marriage, just a bunch of nonsense from homophobes and misinformed Christians. Read http://rationalexaminer.com for an overview of the problems with opposition to gay marriage. This is a victory for human equality.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 766.

    has the prime minister gone mad ? fight em on the beaches ? no way well be bloody have them running hand in hand to the beeches for some canoodling..

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 765.

    With all the issues we are facing and the Conservative party see this as top priority-god help us.Definitely will not vote conservative ever again.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 764.

    761 lol - it's a fact that being gay is a politicians second job after creative accounting and as for public toilets your biggest concern should be that most people haven't washed their hands before holding the door on exit!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 763.

    oh yes me and my man can fulfil our dreams and get married...we have loved each other since Eton....what joy...ossie and i were sweethearts when the world frowned on it thankyou David

 

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