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Ukip plans to derail the Tories over gay marriage: Farage has perceptively concluded that this, not the economy or Europe, is what will destroy Cameron

Farage understands the Tory grassroots much better than Cameron and his pals; this, in the end, is what will unseat him as leader of the party

By on Friday, 14 December 2012

Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Downe, Kent (Photo; PA)

Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Downe, Kent (Photo; PA)

I have been reading the Guardian for the last week. I get it on my Kindle, on which the first two weeks of a newspaper subscription is a free trial: and I have to say that reading the Guardian really is a bit of a trial for an old reactionary like me. Unlike the Independent, which does at least try to be dispassionate, every word of the Guardian is dripping in its own variety of Left-wing bias. The paper seems to me now a very long way from the vision of its most famous editor, C P Scott, who in a famous piece marking the Manchester Guardian’s centenary in 1921 wrote that the “primary office” of a newspaper is accurate news reporting: in his words, “comment is free, but facts are sacred”. Even editorial comment, he said, has its responsibilities: “It is well to be frank; it is even better to be fair.” Well, the comment in the Guardian, signed or unsigned, is to my mind sometimes so grossly unfair that it’s practically unreadable: the very names of its two most prominent commentators, George Monbiot and Polly Toynbee, are almost synonymous with unfairness and spite (as Lord MacAlpine in the case of Monbiot discovered to his cost). And even the news reporting often needs to be checked against other sources.

But I digress. I mention the Guardian because of its (credible) front page splash on Wednesday: “Ukip plans to derail David Cameron over gay marriage.” Nigel Farage has, it seems, spotted what many others saw some time ago, but what Cameron himself has apparently not yet understood: that this, not Europe or the economy, could be the issue which will destroy his leadership of the Tory party and lose him the election.

The main group campaigning against the change – the Coalition for Marriage (whose petition, ignored by the government, as I write has 620,505 signatures) – is warning Tory MPs that the issue could bring about what it is calling Cameron’s “Iraq moment”. Tony Blair needed the support of Tory MPs to win the Iraq vote after 139 Labour MPs rebelled. But winning that vote with the help of his enemies did lasting damage to Blair’s authority within his party from which he never recovered. That seems to me an entirely valid parallel.

Cameron thinks this is all about the modernisation of the party and bringing it into touch with modern Britain. But if he loses the trust of his party, in the country as well as in the House, he will find himself walking on very marshy ground; and if he goes any deeper into this swamp (as he can now hardly avoid doing) it could (and I predict will) swallow him up. Members in the constituencies are resigning in record numbers. And it’s not just the Guardian which is reporting that. According to Iain Martin in the Telegraph, “Tory MPs say they are getting a steady stream of letters from outraged constituents and party members who are resigning. One MP, a supporter of gay marriage, admitted that the letters have been running 6-1 against over the past six months.”

And many of those who resign are defecting in the direction of Nigel Farage. That’s why Mr Farage, as the Guardian tells us, “plans to put the issue of gay marriage at the heart of Ukip’s campaign for the 2014 European elections”. “Amid signs that Conservative associations are losing members in their droves,” the paper reports, “over what is being dubbed the prime minister’s ‘clause IV moment’, the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, warned that gay marriage could ‘rip apart’ the Conservative party. He plans to put the issue at the heart of Ukip’s campaign for the 2014 European parliamentary elections”.

These elections, it should be noted, will take place a few months after the gay marriage legislation is due to come into force (though my own guess is it could still be bogged down in the Lords, whence it may never emerge unless Cameron, with the general election looming, foolishly invokes the Parliament Act, thus signing his own death warrant as party leader).

This is how Farage explains his tactics: “David Cameron’s proposal has the potential to rip apart the traditional rural Tory vote. While Ukip wholly respects the rights of gay people to have civil partnerships, we feel the prime minister’s proposals will present an affront to millions of people in this country for whom this will be the final straw. The division between city and rural is absolutely huge. In my village pub in Kent they are just completely against.”

Farage thinks the gay marriage issue will benefit Ukip by highlighting the impact on this country of the European court of human rights and by giving his party a touchstone issue around which it can rally. “Ukip is not a one-issue party,” he says. “But the gay marriage case is closely interwoven with the European Court of Human Rights, as is so much of our life. Ukip will be seen to be a party campaigning not just about who governs Britain but about how we think that Britain should be governed.”

Farage is right to invoke the spectre of the European Court of Human Rights. For, whatever legislation the government introduces to give national Churches the freedom to accept or reject the right to celebrate gay marriages in their own buildings and according to their own rites, any Church which forbids any such enactments on its premises and by its ministers will undoubtedly lay themselves open to proceedings in Strasbourg. In the words of the Anglican blogger Archbishop Cranmer, writing on the occasion of the government’s original bogus “consultation” (tell us what you think, then we’ll ignore it)

“The intention of the Government … presents a very high risk of Churches and Faiths being forced to marry gay people. Their right to manifest their religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance will be struck down at the Altar of Equality.

“It cannot be that legislating for religious gay marriage could be justified under Article 9.2 [of the European Convention on Human Rights] but we strongly fear – as do most of the Churches and Faiths of our country that, whatever the intentions of the Government are in this regard, such will be forced on them by the Strasbourg Court – a court which has a well-established track record of forcing the United Kingdom to adopt positions, such as votes for prisoners, which are anathema to our people. We [the Libertarian Alliance] believe that this case will be no different.”

I agree. The fact that whole Churches, as national institutions, may be given the right to (may even be legally forced to, in the case of the C of E) refuse to “marry” people of the same sex will not protect them at Strasbourg. Any Anglican, any Catholic, will have the right to take his own Church to the European Court, especially if other Churches have been given the right to go through some kind of “marriage” ceremony: this will simply, in the eyes of Strasbourg, compound the unfairness of those Churches who don’t allow it. So the latest concessions simply hasten Mr Cameron’s forward lurch into the swamp he has conjured up for himself. His leadership of the Tory Party has surely now gone beyond the point of no return. And it could indeed be Ukip which will finish him off, with the votes of many of those Conservatives who will never again (as in “never again glad confident morning”) vote for the party as long as he is its leader.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    I am a merely a hack lawyer retired 12 years ago and the issues you raise would require a lot of study.  It would be necessary to study the proposed bill.   I suspect we are going to be presented with two different kinds of marriage – one for heterosexuals where consummation, adultery and other events remain much the same – and another kind for those of the same sex where consummation and adultery are no longer relevant.  If you suddenly introduce into a number system that 17 and 4 add up to 22 then you can expect an awful lots of contradictions and muddle.  I wonder whether the proponents of gay marriage have really thought this through.

    I believe much of what we will get is already contained in the Civil Partnership Act and one would need to look at that.

  • NewMeena

    Christianity is finished in this country and probably in mainland Europe too.

    We have all read the figures from the 2011 census showing the decline in “Christianity”. But the real truth about what people think and believe is much more encouraging. The declining numbers of those who called themselves Christian are nothing of the sort.In the 2011 census  for example only 32 per cent of the census “Christians” believed in the resurrection of Jesus.  When asked why they had ticked the Christian box, ONLY 28% of those who did so said it was because they believe the teachings of Christianity. And those who think that our laws and governance should follow Christian values should be disconcerted by the following too:  74% of the Census “Christians” are secular in that they think religion should have no special influence on public policy.

  • NewMeena

    But I am sure you would agree that any proposal that gay marriage should be recognised by the state would not have gone down well with the authoritarian leaders of the Soviet Union. 

  • NewMeena

    “But to be honest, I’n sure we;’ll cope. ”

    Yes, I’m sure you will.

  • NewMeena

    Agreed, it is probable that they will not win a seat.                                                                              The hot air about a possible EU referendum is a deliberate and meaningless distraction.

    See Christopher in the Sunday Telegraph 24 November 2012:

    “Here we come back to the central dilemma: we could only begin to think realistically in these terms by first invoking Article 50 and saying we wish to leave – the one thing that Mr Cameron and the rest of the fashionable consensus could not possibly bring themselves to say. Without that fateful step, all talk of “renegotiation” is idle – as empty as too much else of what we hear our politicians say.”

  • NewMeena

    I meant Christopher Booker

  • NewMeena

    The only effect that UKIP could have is to help replace Toryism with a more liberal and left-wing Realpolitik for the foreseeable future. Not a bad thing.

  • Jack Hughes

     you’re not just up against Catholics, you’re up against evangelicals, jews of all description, Sihks, hindus, muslims and sensible athiests such as David Starkey who last year on question time derried the rise of a ‘liberal tyranny’.  In any case any victory you achieve will be short lived; the jackboots of Hitler’s Stormtroopers, the legions of Imperial rome, the Massed ranks of the Red Army and their KGB informers have tried and failed to crush the Church.  She lives, yet lennin is a stuffed corpse, hitler atmospheric dust, the imperial emperors and Bismark nothing more than bleached bones

  • awkwardcustomer

    Exactly. And during the first years of the Soviet Union the Bolsheviks attempted to realise the Marxist dream of dismantling the ‘bourgeois’ family. Religious marriage was replaced with civil marriage, divorce became easier to obtain, abortion was legalised, property inheritance was abolished and single mothers were supported by the state.

    By the late 1920s, however, many of these provisions had to be reversed. Family breakdown, a devastating civil war and the mass murder of ‘class enemies’ by the Bolsheviks had resulted in millions of orphaned and homeless children. And so the family had to be strengthened again. Divorce was restriced, as was abortion.

    Then, during the 1950s and 60s, when the Soviet population had begun to recover from the murder of 20-40 million ‘enemies of the state’ by the Soviet government, as well as the devastation caused by WW2, divorce and abortion was again made more available. Marxism is nothing if not pragmatic. Philosophically Marxism seeks the end of the traditional family. But if a Marxist state needs the traditional family to boost population numbers, it will support the family, albeit temporarily.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Gay marriage recognised by Western states would have been thoroughly approved of by the Soviet Union.  How better to undermine the Western family and hence Western society? 


  • Charles Martel

     The definition of consummation in ‘gay marriage’ will surely be what Genesis defines as a ‘sin crying to heaven for vengeance’ – sodomitic sex. Lovely.

  • Antonia Willis

    In the rural area in which I live (Cornwall),the atmosphere is anything but pro-Tory or indeed pro-coalition, & people I meet are coming out of their closets & confessing to UKIP tendencies in notable numbers.

  • LongIslandMichael

    Cameron must be the UK version of the United States Republican party establishment and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio). The only difference may be that Boehner and the moderate Republican party establishment is on the verge of selling their souls whereas Cameron never had a soul to sell.  

  • teigitur

    He he you really are hoot. A clueless one though. You just don t get it do you? Christianity will never be finished, ever, anywhere. It will wax and wane as it always has. In any event it was never meant to have power, just influence.

  • teigitur

    It might be an idea to stop talking to yourself.Just a thought.

  • Gildaswiseman

    Of course you would think that. Yet I have made no judgement upon individual people. I have argued against a change in law, against the redefinition of marriage and what constitutes a family. 
    What your opinion reminds me off is the type of statement one would expect to hear from the athiest Soviet Union,North  Korea and 16th century England.
    We are Catholics, NewMeena. We defend the Judeo- Christian religion. We follow the teaching of Christ. and we pray and fight against the diabolical influences within our country for heaven and the common good  You are against us and that is your choice but never forget this everyone will stand before the throne of God and will be judged whether you believe it or not.

  • la catholic state

    Actually Meena….it is Catholics that will be telling you juvenile secularists to grow up.  Just wait and see.

  • la catholic state

    I guess such a measure wasn’t needed.  Brute force was enough to supress Christianity.  They didn’t need the farcical ploy of gay ‘marriage’ as a pretext for suppressing Christianity.  And that is the core of this….suppression of Christianity and Christians.

  • la catholic state

    Here in the West though it is not only the Lefties who want to see the collapse of Christian civilisation…..but also the Right.  Left and right secularists are united in their hatred of Christianity. 

  • la catholic state

    Excellent article regarding so-called gay ‘marriage…’The iron fist in the velvet glove’…..

  • Deodatus

    Cameron impulsively trespassed upon territory beyond his ken and remit, purely for electoral gain.  Too often government policy is thus fashioned in this “coalition’ of similar political ambition.  Thus the Church must continue to teach, exhibit and pray a true understanding of the  Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.  More than ever is it urgent to pray the Holy Spirit’s help, openly and unashamedly. More than ever the Church must be bold with a courage sought from God’s help.

  • whytheworldisending

    “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

    It is the Devil who is finished. He knows it and he wants to take as many souls to Hell with him as he can. Cameron is on the wrong side.

  • Bob Hayes

    It may well suit your prejudices to allege that Catholics claim the Pontiff is the Truth. However, I suggest you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church: it will help blow away the ignorance and myth that evidently shaped your comment above.  

  • Bob Hayes

    Sorry to barge in on your gloating Meena, but have you seen the ComRes (August 2012) polling that found that amongst those who declared they were ‘atheist’, 23% believe humans have souls, 7% believe in angels and 5% believe in God! 

  • Bob Hayes

    Many thanks for the link. Brendan O’Niell offers an excellent critique from a Radical-Left perspective.

  • Yorkshire Catholic

    On gay marriage and women bishops, the Church of England is suffering because it has allowed itself simply to be treated as a mere earthly institution devoid of any spiritual authority, something to be cut and tailored according to fashions of its  time. Christians need to emphasize that they have a firm body of religious beliefs and that the right to hold these and live by them is enshrined in our history and law. Sir Tony Baldry talking on Radio 4 just now revealed that what appealed to him about the Church of England is that it does not have specific beliefs, that it was a sort of synthesis between Catholicism and Protestantism, and people can believe what they like. This is of course completely wrong as far as the history of doctrine is concerned and it is deplorable that the ‘Second Church Commissioner’ is so poorly informed about his religion and its dogmas (though he is probably no worse than many contemporary Catholics, brought up without instruction.)

    On the gay marriage issue, Christians generally and Catholics in general have fallen silent about their general beliefs on sexual morality arising from the Commandments and Christian teaching down the ages. The implication of their silence is taken  to be that they are relaxed on heterosexual activity out of marriage and their censure is confined to homosexuality. This apparent position (for to many people it looks exactly like that)  reduces their attitude in modern eyes to mere lingering prejudice.
       This invites attack on grounds of fogeyism and hypocrisy (alleged paedophilia by the clergy.)

    Of course there are several reasons for this. Changes in the law, unopposed by our church leaders, have made it dificult to express certain tradtional moral principles without fear of prosecution. The sexual revolution or revolution in attitudes has left many ordinary Catholics without a compass, while there is deluge of media comment (particularly from the BBC) which strikes pre-emptively against tradition. Expressions of Catholic teaching, e.g. in the catechism, are held up to derision.

    The Church, and moral theologians and apologetic writers in particular,need to writing and discussing these issues with much greater visibility than they do at the moment, and these topics should not be left to second or third rank talents.

    Otherwise the Catholic Church will find that commitment and belief have evaporated among its followers in the way that unfortunately seems to have overtaken Anglicanism.

  • Alan

    Ah, but does Farage oppose gay marriage?  He has not said so, so be careful what you vote for!

  • la catholic state

    We need to get more practising Catholics into the top ranks of UKIP then.  Why don’t Catholics ever lead…..why do we think we must only be supporters.  After all only Catholicism is going to save the West….though not necessarily by political means.  Still….a little share of political power won’t kill us.  But we act as though we are allergic to it.

  • Bob Hayes

    ‘The UK Independence Party’s position on this issue may be stated simply: while UKIP fully supports the concept of civil partnerships, it opposes the move to legislate for same-sex marriage.’

  • NewMeena

    But in so far as the Catholic Church has a position on the EU, it has always been in favour of it, as a bulwark against extreme right-wing and left-wing political movements and the basis of an eventual “United Christendom”.
     This was discussed here on the CH website, only a couple of months or so ago. Some of you expressed surprise at this, saying you were previously unaware of this.

  • Deodatus

    I am afraid that this vital issue of faith and order is for the government merely a means to detract from the terrible effects of its policies for the economy, the NHS, social security, the environment, big ETC. Of course UKIP is a threat to the Tories, but not nearly in the same way the Social Democrats of Dr Owen et al were for Labour in the days of Foot et al.  

  • NewMeena

    So you believe that if “it’s in the manifesto” that means that the party would actually do it (or not do it, as in this case)?    You have an extraordinary FAITH in UKIP (as well!). 

    I doubt if UKIP will win any seats in May 2015. It is much more likely to help eject the Conservatives and assist in the formation of a more left-wing and more progressive, liberal government.

  • NewMeena

    “…fashions of its time…”

    The Catholic Church was once the fashion of the time (and for a long time).

  • NewMeena

    Are people in Cornwall still talking of Cornish independence from England and the UK? 

  • NewMeena

    Just a correction and a little addition my dear. Many people do it.

  • NewMeena

    All the real or major parties are pro gay marriage.

    Let’s start talking about a UKIP government after they have ONE SEAT in the Commons.

  • NewMeena

    Oh I know full well that it is not the Pope’s personal truth – it is God’s as revealed to us.

    God inspired the Gospel writers so that they could write the truth, and the Pope is infallible when he defines “a doctrine concerning faith or morals” (i.e. about things we must believe, or must not believe, or must do, or must not do).

    I’ve read the Catechism.

  • NewMeena

    I think stonewall is a pro gay organisation. I have never seen their website, read anything about them or heard anyone talk for them.

    I might google the name one day – but don’t think I’ll bother just now.

  • NewMeena

    I am referring to SOME OF the obnoxious and ignorant “middle class”, or SOME OF those who so-describe themselves.

    Although I’m titled, I regard these people as a more destructive group than the most militant Trade Union imaginable. 

  • NewMeena

    I am pleased to note that the numeracy of the legal profession has improved.

  • NewMeena

    I know you believe in the resurrection of the body (and the Resurrection of Jesus), but the resurrection of Old Labour would be beyond the scope of miraculous events.

  • NewMeena

    But marriage WAS the foundation of the family in the Victorian days of the most gross immorality.

  • NewMeena

    I am not gloating, but simply stating facts.

    ComRes has something of a reputation in opinion polls relating to these topics.
    But there will always be ignorant people and illiterate people who are theists and atheists. But, of course, much depends on what you mean by God. I openly accept the Einsteinian God.

    As regards souls (and maybe even angels), the situation, I think, is possibly complex. If I stated my views of the possibilities here, you would misunderstand.


  • la catholic state

    The Vatican is not in favour of the present model of EU ie an aggresively authoritarian, anti-Christian body.   It wants to change it.  And the Pope has called for the New Evangelisation of Europe… the re-Christianisation of Europe.

    Also….secular Western nations outside the EU are just as politically correct and inept as those in the EU, isn’t it?!

  • NewMeena

    All of these legions of ghastly, authoritarian horrors that you cite bear considerable responsibility for the strengths that Christianity, and especially Catholicism, still display.

    Catholicism in Poland was never stronger than under Communism at its worst.

  • NewMeena

    There is no need to be coarse and offensive.
    Of course it will wax and wane, and may never totally 100% vanish – like the Druids and Witches of today – but it will eventually, and probably quite rapidly, become a spent force.

    If there is further economic failure, this will no doubt cause some waxing.

  • NewMeena

    I have to tell you that this supposed “hatred of Christianity” to which you refer is very largely a construct of your brain.

    Christianity is really rather lovely in many respects: writings, ceremony, myth and tales, buildings and artifacts, music….etc.

    But it must be continued to be resisted when it seeks to impose some of its teachings/beliefs and demands on wider society, composed increasingly of people who do not share its beliefs etc.

  • NewMeena

    The point I was making is that it would have been prevented by the authoritarian Soviet state. 

  • NewMeena

    No. It would be more like “why do you have to be so nasty?”; “Do you enjoy being so rude, vulgar and offensive”; “Please keep your views on this to yourself; we find them of very poor taste”. etc

    But of course you know this as well as I do.

  • la catholic state

    Um…..labour may not be quite as pro-gay marriage as you wish.  And likely to get less and less so as the number of Muslim voters grow.  A flash in the pan this hilarious gay marriage notion….certainly won’t last as long as traditional religions..