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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.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    Um…..opinions are not necessarily truth.  Truth is objective…..opinions aren’t.  Silly mistake there.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    And atheism will wane within the next 2 generations….as atheist women have the lowest birthrate of anyone.  The more PC a society….the less children they bear, I’m convinced.

  • Bob Hayes

    ‘Please keep your views on this to yourself’ = ‘shut up’ does it not Meena? You appear to be lashing out now without even consider what others have said, let alone context. Oh dear, dear, dear.

  • Bob Hayes

    So what is your thesis Meena? Marriage made the Victorians grossly immoral? Gross immorality made the Victorians staunch supporters of marriage? Marriage and gross immorality make people into Victorians? Chucking around glib statements seems to have become your stock in trade of late Meena. Have you lost the skills of analysis and debate?

  • Bob Hayes

    I think you might find them more agreeable company than some of us here.

  • Bob Hayes

    What are you on about?

  • Bob Hayes

    Whereas Meena you see yourself rather as a Pontiff but without the inconvenience of being answerable to God. Everyone has to agree that you are right don’t they?

  • whytheworldisending

    They were all ghastly despotic unfeeling atheists – Atheism produces Monsters.

  • Bob Hayes

    Meena, please take a deep breath and put down that chalice of righteous indignation from which you’ve been supping too much of late.

    I posted a quote and a link to the source. I added no personal comment. The post was in answer to Alan’s query above. So why did you respond with this, ‘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!)’? 

    None of this is attributable to me and you know it. You are starting to make yourself look impetuous, irrational and boorish. I am sure you are capable of much more coherent debate than these sort of flailing assertions.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    Christianity is not merely lovely…..it is the Truth about God, life the universe etc.  Loving its fabulous artistic spin-offs is a start….but its not enough.  And these masterpieces are only as a result of Catholics practising Catholic doctrine anyhow.

    To object to Catholic doctrine….is to object to Truth.  And that’s a sin.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Obviously you are trying to make a connection between being ‘authoritarian’ and rejecting ‘gay marriage’.

    But the authoritarian Soviet Union began by liberalising divorce, legalising abortion and encouraging single motherhood, among other measures designed to undermine the traditional family.  It was only the demographic crisis caused by their violent revolution and subsequent murder of tens of millions of  so called ‘class enemies’ that compelled them to support the family again. 

    During the 1950s and 60s when their population had begun to recover, they made divorce and abortion easier again. You have no grounds for assuming that the Soviets would had forbidden gay marriage.  It’s far more likely that they would eventually have abolished the institution of marriage altogether. 

  • Yorkshire Catholic

    It was a dominant institution but it tended to do the domination (e.g. Gregory the Great, Gregory VII etc) without  having great temporal power. It wasn’t generally told by rulers  that it had to be dragged into line with a secular age. Henry VIII was the first real attempt to do that, but even he and his commissioners paid lip service to religious values.

  • Tridentinus

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

    I can’t understand what you mean. I took Yorkshire Catholic to be likening the C of E to the Vicar of Bray.

  • David Lindsay

    Labour
    has confirmed a free vote on same-sex “marriage”, having never
    threatened to whip it in the first place, unlike both Coalition parties. Even the campaign in favour of this measure has to
    admit that it is in serious trouble, with a third of Labour MPs and a quarter
    of Lib Dems still undeclared, plus many of the rest held up as supporters on
    the basis of nothing more than single emails to constituents. Figures such as
    Gordon Brown, David Blunkett, Alistair Darling, Hazel Blears, Margaret Hodge
    and Margaret Beckett (a member of the National Executive Committee) have still
    either said nothing, or else, in Blunkett’s case, expressed studied ambiguity.
    Among the officially uncommitted and their constituencies, count the Catholic and
    Muslim areas, and count the Islamic and Irish names.

     

    The line
    seems to be, at least for now, that there are 12 avowed Labour opponents:
    Stephen Timms, Gavin Shuker, Jim Dobbin, Joe Benton, Mary Glindon, Brian
    Donohoe, Sir Paul Murphy, Stephen Pound, Roger Godsiff, Paul Goggins, Austin
    Mitchell, and A N Other who joined Timms and Shuker in threatening to resign
    his or her front bench position if the Whip were imposed. But free votes are
    not granted on major pieces of legislation, and that at the Leader’s insistence
    despite fierce opposition from his Deputy and from other Shadow Cabinet
    members, merely because 12 out of 257 MPs have threatened to rebel if whipped,
    and three of those have threatened to resign junior front bench positions in
    order to do so. The true figures are in each case anything up to 10 times
    greater.

     

    It is
    also notable that Dobbin, Benton, Glindon, Murphy, Godsiff and Mitchell are all
    signatories to EDM 1334, the objection to the wider media’s discrimination
    against the Morning Star. Dobbin chairs the All-Party Parliamentary
    Pro-Life Group, Benton is its Secretary, Glindon is a practising Catholic,
    Murphy is a Papal Knight and significantly sceptical of Welsh devolution, and
    Godsiff and Mitchell embody the Keynesian and pro-Commonwealth Euroscepticism
    of the Old Labour Right. In other words, when pro-life activists, solid
    Catholics generally, staunch Welsh Unionists, and the heirs of Gaitskell, are
    also supporters of the Morning Star because of its trade union links and
    because of its different perspective on the news, then we are talking about
    that half-forgotten phenomenon, the Labour Movement. Out of that Movement comes
    a parliamentary opposition to same-sex “marriage” proportionately
    comparable to that which comes out of half-forgotten Toryism.

     

    The Civil
    Partnerships Act was a hard-won compromise within the Labour Party. There was
    never the slightest suggestion that it was a temporary measure on the way to
    same-sex “marriage”. Quite the reverse, in fact. It was the
    settlement, the deal, the last word. No fewer than 80, and possibly 100, Labour
    MPs, including figures of the utmost seniority, were always going to continue
    to take that view in the Division Lobby, partly out of principle, and partly
    because they had not yet acquired suicidal tendencies in relation to their
    reselection or re-election.

  • NewMeena

    I do apologise.
    When you posted the quote and the link, I assumed that you approved of its content and basically agreed with it.

  • NewMeena

    I’m sure the Vatican disapproves of some aspects of the modern EU. Mainly, I am equally sure, because it thinks Europe is not big enough for TWO powerful, authoritarian structures when the second one disagrees with it on several major issues.

    But I don’t think the EU is as “aggresively [sic] authoritarian” as the Vatican.

  • NewMeena

    In those early days it had more temporal power than would formally seem to be the case.
    The Church always (then) had the power to threaten with mortal sin, possible excommunication and eternal damnation. It did not need to actually do this, the mere fact that it was believed to have the power to do so was quite sufficient.
    This power, based as it was on supernatural superstition, had started to wear thin by the time of Henry 8 – and in the developed world today has totally vanished.

  • NewMeena

    If this ridiculous anti-gay-marriage fracas is still going on in early and mid 2015,  UKIP will take votes away from the Tories, which will be critically damaging in the more marginal constituencies. The Tories will lose these constituencies to Labour and we will have a Labour majority government. 
    UKIP will probably win very few, if any, seats for itself. I would guess none at all.

  • NewMeena

    I don’t agree. I believe that people would continue to fight for it.

    [it is irrelevant, but simply for accuracy: the death penalty has returned, not in the UK, but elsewhere].

  • NewMeena

    Yes, I know the Church claims this.

  • NewMeena

    No they don’t.   I KNOW Catholics, for example, have views that do not agree with those of (say) agnostics or atheists or myself.

    But I don’t teach, claim or believe that they will suffer a terrible fate after their deaths as a result – or that they or I speak for the creator of the cosmos.

  • NewMeena

    I find you most agreeable, in the fuller sense of that word.

  • NewMeena

    Mary and Joseph were married. Did they consummate their marriage?

  • NewMeena

    In response to my comment that marriage has now just about ceased to be the foundation of the family, you replied “And it shows….”.

    I took this to mean that you believe our present society to be an immoral one as a result of marriage no-longer being the foundation of the family.
    I do not believe this to be so, and pointed out that Victorian times were grossly immoral even though marriage then WAS considered to be the foundation of the family. This was to provide one reason for my stated lack of belief in your assumption.

  • NewMeena

    I doubt that atheism is genetic in origin.

  • NewMeena

    No. Some monsters have been atheists and some have been religious zealots.

    I do not read the Guardian newspaper but found this on its website a day of so ago:

    “We can ripost with religious atrocities, Godly genocides or the Inquisition, but that’s futile. Wise atheists make no moral claims, seeing good and bad randomly spread among humanity regardless of faith. Humans do have a hardwired moral sense, every child born with an instinct for justice that makes us by nature social animals, not needing revelations from ancient texts. The idea that morality can only be frightened into us artificially, by divine edict, is degrading.”

  • NewMeena

    “…these masterpieces are only as a result of Catholics practising [sic] Catholic doctrine anyhow.”

    No they are not.

    The geniuses concerned were using the all-pervading idiom of the time.

  • NewMeena

    It is a much softer and kinder use of language, than a vulgar “shut up” – and that, I believe, is important.

  • teigitur

    Of course you would like to think so, but, as ever, you are in error.

  • teigitur

    Surely you are not suggesting its pathological in origin??

  • teigitur

    Surely you are not suggesting it is pathological in origin??

  • teigitur

    Correct, you claim and teach there is no future and no hope whatsoever.

  • Pontifex

    Nothing in any of the proposals to allow gay marriage will prevent Catholics and other Christians from practicing their faith.

    It is the very definition of bigotry to refuse to tolerate others doing something that has absolutely no effect on your liberty at all.

  • stan zorin

    …and why shouldn’t they be united on trying to dismantle the last vestiges of the christian civilization ? At the Freemasonic den meetings they sit together, “Left” and “Right”, secular and [protestant] religious and work towards implementing the master plan of the sulphurous ‘Great Architect’ himself. On the political scene it is all smoke and mirrors of “democratic” parliamentary catfights but on the essential questions of furthering the degeneracy of the society they pull at the same end of the rope. We should wrap this rope around their necks.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    Yes they are.  Only the Catholic world produced them.  I’ve yet to see the secular world produce anything near as good.  I’m not holding my breath!!

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    Neither is Catholicism genetic…..though high birthrates are a distinct advantage!  Ask any Muslim!

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    The Church had temporal power….and so could bring the greatest civilisation known to man to fruition!  That’s why Christendom is so important to the whole of humankind.  It leads the way…..spiritually and even materially.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    The EU is atheistic and secular….so by its very nature it needs force to implement its unatural laws.  Truth on the other hand needs no force.  The Vatican has no army you will notice….and as of now has no plans for one.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    It’s common sense and logic.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    We don’t believe your weasel words.  Already Peter Tatchell is preparing to challenge the Church of England exemption on gay so-called marriages in their Churches.

    And  you are probably prepared to see practising Catholics lose their jobs over their beliefs.  So don’t talk to us about this bill ‘having no effect on our liberty.  Because that is a vicious lie.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    Of course they were.  These artistic glories were produced in the Catholic world only!  Nothing the secular world has produced can compare……or ever will

  • whytheworldisending

    I was referring to the UK, however thinking about it, we do still impose a death penalty – without any trial – on innocents in the womb, for the “Crime” of causing inconvenient.

  • whytheworldisending

    You again confuse the labels people put on themselves with what they actually are. Unrepentant evil-doers claiming to be christian are atheists. If they believed in Jesus trhey would do what he says. Humanists claiming to be atheists are a remnant from the christian upbringing they enjoyed from their parents, grandparents and from being fortunate to have been reared in a christian society – Britain as it was. You’re right not to read the Guardian – a lot of it is just pretentious trash.

  • Yorkshire Catholic

     It is tedious to reply to a dogged anti-Christian interloper who seems to be mainly concerned to heckle at a Catholic meeting. How would humanists (or Marxists, atheists or Muslims or Anglicans or whatever) react if a Catholic cuckoo kept on popping up inanely on their blog pages? Still perhaps the Holy Ghost will catch you unawares, NewMeena.

    Your grasp of history is shaky. Yes at some points the papacy did have temporal power over tracts of central Italy. But they did not exert military authority over anywhere much.  Gregory VII brought the Emperor to Canossa through spiritual not military authority.

  • NewMeena

    I agree with your above second paragraph. It is exactly what I  was saying – although you use the term “spiritual…. authority”, and I the power to dispatch to eternal damnation.

    I often “hear” what you would describe as the Holy Spirit – although others would call it the bicameral mind.

  • NewMeena

    PS to Yorkshire Catholic:

    I am not an outright anti-Christian. There is much in Jesus’ teachings that is very good and the world would be a better place if his words were more often heeded.

    But I object strongly to both the unthinking ignorant on the one hand and the reactionary conservatives on the other who hitch their wagons to Jesus for their own ends.

  • NewMeena

    I would agree that some late abortions can be little more than murder, but do not accept that the abortion of an early foetus is murder.
    The RC Church’s insistence that the latter is as unacceptable as the former, helps the former to continue.I see nothing wrong with a pursuit of sexual gratification if both parties are agreeable to it.

  • NewMeena

    I think the Telegraph is too – although it is usually well written pretentious trash.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    I wonder whether there has been any comment on the Government Response to the Consultation.  There is an analysis of the response which is extremely complex but it starts with the statistics that of the respondents:

    • 52% identified as heterosexual or straight
    • 69% identified as aged 40 or under
    • 59% have never been married or in a civil partnership
    • 41% identified as Christian. 

    Thus it seems to me that it was hardly a representative sample of the population if 48% were presumably homosexual.  It seems that those who opposed gay marriage concentrated on signing the C4M petition whilst the enthusiasts for SSM concentrated on the Government inquiry.

  • Bob Hayes

    Thanks for this analysis. You are quite right in that the Labour Movement has been largely sidelined on this issue. Around a century ago the Irish trade union leader (and subsequently 1916 leader), James Connolly, expressed his concern that ‘free-thinkers’ were commandeering the working-class movement for their own purposes and, as a consequence, the plight of the poor and dispossessed would be swept aside. How true this has turned out to be.