We need to be able to demonstrate what we claim. Otherwise we’ll just be ignored

“The Conservative party risks losing Christian votes if it goes ahead with legalising gay marriage, a recent survey conducted by ComRes, on behalf of Premier Christian Media Trust, has shown. More than half of respondents (57 per cent) say they would be less likely to vote Conservative.” That’s how Comres gives the headline findings of the poll it carried out for Premier on a sample of around 500. It has also carried out a poll for Catholic Voices, which on a larger sample (2,000) found that

Seven out of 10 British people believe that marriage should continue to be defined as a lifelong union between a man and a woman, and more than eight out 10 think children have the best chance in life when raised by their biological parents, the ComRes online survey of more than 2,000 people found. The poll also found that people think the state should promote marriage, and that most people support the idea of civil partnerships.

“The results show that most people support the idea of civil partnerships for gay people while being firm that marriage should remain between a man and a woman,” said Austen Ivereigh, Catholic Voices coordinator. “The survey also shows that most people understand marriage to be a conjugal institution, which benefits children above all.”

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The poll found “overwhelming” (84 per cent) support for marriage’s benefits to children raised by their biological parents, as well as strong majority support for marriage being promoted by the state. Pink News responded to this with a simple slur: that ComRes had conducted a “dodgy” poll, and quoted a Stonewall activist as saying that this suggested that “they’re worried they’re losing the argument”. ComRes demanded that Pink News remove this allegation and they did so immediately.

Well, I think we all knew that there was strong public opposition to “gay marriage”; but so what? Cameron was going to go ahead with it anyway, gambling that Tory voters wouldn’t actually desert him over it. But, according to Protect the Pope, the ComRes poll done for Premier shows that they will indeed desert him: “An opinion poll carried out by ComRes has found that PM Cameron’s plans to legalise homosexual marriage by 2015 could lose the Conservative party 1 million votes at the next election, and up to 30 seats in the Commons. For every disaffected Tory supporter attracted back to the party, it loses almost three because of its stance on the issue.” It could be that the source for this understanding of the figures comes from an analysis carried out by Christian Voice, the website of the Christian Institute, which says that “An analysis of the polling figures shows that the Tories stand to lose anywhere between eight and 30 Parliamentary seats, and could lose more than 1.1 million votes in a general election.”

The thing is that I couldn’t find any trace of this analysis in the actual ComRes poll, and this is unfortunate, since if we can actually convince Cameron himself that he really could lose that many seats (quite enough to put little Miliband into Downing Street) we might squeeze a U-turn out of him: he’s done it often enough before when he saw himself as being threatened by one of his own blunders (there’s going to be a sly U-turn, quite clearly, over the charitable giving of the rich). But ComRes doesn’t actually say it, and nor does Premier, so far as I can see, nor does Catholic Voices. So, Christian Voice – can we have the basis of your analysis? I’m not saying it’s wrong, not at all, just that I (who am absolutely innumerate in my old age, I got an A level in maths over 50 years ago, but it’s all gone now and I’m just a fuddled old man when it comes to numbers), I seem to be missing something. The actual figures can be found here.

There must be something else. Could you (or someone else) explain it to me?

Meanwhile, it is worthwhile reiterating that both polls really do show very heavy opposition indeed to this proposed change, and from all age groups. I know it was in the manifesto of both parties to the coalition: but everyone knows that all kinds of stuff gets through that way, hiding behind the major issues. Most Tory voters, if they noticed it (it wasn’t, as I remember, prominently reported) would have thought it was just part of the rebranding of the Tory Party (get us, just look how modern we are) but that it would never actually come to anything. This is how Pink News glumly reported the Catholic Voices Poll:

Support for continuing to bar gay couples from marriage was high among all age groups, at odds with many opinion polls which have showed more support for marriage equality among younger generations.

In the 18-24 age group, 66 per cent said they wanted marriage to remain between a man and a woman only. Eighty-one per cent of those above the age of 65 were in favour of retaining exclusively straight marriage.

Support was highest (81 per cent) among married people and lowest (53 per cent) among those cohabiting. Single and widowed correspondents favoured straight marriage by 60 and 71 per cent respectively.

The least support for maintaining the bar on gay marriage came from Scotland, at 63 per cent, where a public consultation on marriage equality finished in December.

Eighty-four per cent agreed children “have the best chance in life if raised by their own mother and father in a stable, committed relationship” and support generally slightly higher among people with children than those without.

Dr Austen Ivereigh, coordinator of Catholic Voices, said: “Our poll shows that the Government has no mandate to alter an institution which lies at the foundation of our society.”

We must just plug away at it. If you haven’t voted in the Coalition for Marriage petition (they didn’t make their half million by Monday target, but they will soon), do it now.

As I write, they’re up to 491,368. Nearly there; then on.

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