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Forcing through the same-sex marriage Bill will bring Cameron down: his determination to do it shows how out of touch he has become

He has thrown away his authority as Tory leader over an issue utterly irrelevant to the nation’s problems. Is he mad?

By on Monday, 4 February 2013

David Cameron is setting up a cabinet level task force to combat Islamic extremism (Photo: PA)

David Cameron is setting up a cabinet level task force to combat Islamic extremism (Photo: PA)

It is now becoming clear that marriage, more than Europe or the economy, is the issue which more than any other will lose the next election for the Tories. They cannot now win. According to a ComRes poll, taken this month, quoted by the rather well-written letter handed in at 10 Downing Street yesterday by 25 Tory local party chairmen, 20 per cent of those who voted Conservative in 2010 agree with the statement “I would have considered voting Conservative at the next election but will definitely not if the Coalition Government legalises same-sex marriage”. That includes me: I voted Tory in 2010 — I didn’t just want rid of Brown, in my naivety, I was attracted by the idea of The Big Society, as were other Catholics, including Archbishop Nichols (maybe that should have made me think). That turned out to be an empty slogan. Now Cameron is about to enact same-sex “marriage”, which did not figure, either in his election manifesto or in the coalition agreement. I will never vote Tory again, so long as Mr Cameron remains Tory leader. I know that means Miliband in Downing Street: but how could that be any worse? The fact is that our polity has been wrecked, and our society gravely (though perhaps not, given time — at least half a century — irreversibly) damaged by those who have held power in this country over the last 25 years. There is very little real democracy left. Blair wrecked the constitution. Cameron is about to damage, very seriously, the institution of marriage, the building block from which our society is built. It all looks pretty hopeless, and if your assumptions are entirely secular, hope isn’t, indeed, a commmodity you can rationally harbour very much of.

Back to the Tories. The fact is that if 20 per cent of those who would have considered voting Tory at the next election will not do so if the gay “marriage” bill is enacted, then he cannot win. Nor can he ultimately survive as leader if over half his MPs vote against him tomorrow, as the Sunday Telegraph (which always has good information among the Tories) predicts. There is very little loyalty to the Tory leader left among his MPs, who are well aware of opinion among their own grassroots. According to yesterday’s Telegraph, around 180 Conservative MPs, including six whips and up to four members of the Cabinet, are ready to oppose the Prime Minister’s plan to legalise gay marriage: that leaves only around 120 Tories to vote for the measure. At the same time, the 25 chairmen or former chairmen of Conservative party associations I have already quoted have warned that the policy will cause “significant damage” to the Tories’ 2015 general election campaign. One chairman, who has quit over the issue, said “this is a policy dreamt up in Notting Hill”; a still serving chairman said it had angered the grassroots more than Europe. Cameron is tearing the Tories apart, and for what? It seems like political madness.

According to the Telegraph, among those who will vote against will be Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, and David Jones, the Welsh Secretary, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, who will either vote against or abstain; Iain Duncan Smith is expected to abstain. At least half of the Tories’ 12-man whips’ office, on whom Cameron relies to enforce party discipline, will also vote against as will senior Tories like Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Liam Fox and Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Commons Treasury Committee. A good number of junior ministers will also vote against. The fact that this will be on a free vote can provide no comfort for Mr Cameron. Downing Street has made it plain that it regards this as an issue of confidence; and bullying messages have been put about implying that those who vote against the bill can forget any advancement in their political careers.

The letter from the Tory chairmen is too long (Cameron probably won’t even look at it, he’s so arrogant), but it’s worth reading, all the same. I quote simply two paragraphs:

“According to another ComRes poll in February 2012, 70 per cent of British adults agreed that ‘marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman’.

“To dismiss these strongly held views as those of an extremist minority, or a minority at all, would be wrong, as would the assumption that this is an issue which will swiftly be forgotten and abandoned by those who have made their feelings clear. We feel it would also be wrong to assume that the passage of time will remove opposition to same sex marriage and the advocacy of traditional conservatism. The largest faith groups, the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and Islam ,are strongly opposed to same sex marriage in common with most practiced faiths in Britain. Equally, we are sure you will agree that the Conservative Party needs to do much more to attract ethnic minority voters to the Conservative cause. It is predicted that by 2030, 25 per cent of voters will be of ethnic minority background, most of whom oppose same sex marriage.”

That final point really does show how out of touch Cameron has become. He has just had the bright idea, it seems (on top of his renegotiation with the EU, etc etc) of trying to make the Tory party more attractive to black and Asian voters. And he forces through this vote on gay marriage? Is he totally out of touch with reality? But why do I even ask the question?

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

    What I really mean is…..Cameron and his ilk don’t seem to like practising Catholics so much.

    And well…..I don’t like him and his ilk so much either.

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

    No!  (remind me to laugh later at your great..er… wit)

  • OldMeena

    The great majority of the electorate are in favour of Gay marriage.
    Com Res is a skewed poll, as others here have explained quite well.

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

    Well they may be worth more than an er…gay ‘marriage’ don’t you think?!  I do.

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

    Who’s betting that the people who support gay er ‘marriage’ are also the people with the lowest birthrates in the land?!!

    This should tell you what the landscape will be like 20 years hence.

  • mollysdad

    I don’t believe Mr Cameron is mad. He’s the most evil person ever to occupy Downing Street, and I suspect that the root cause is that he is a rich man who loves money more than he loves his wife and is greedy. As the Apostle tells us, greed is a form of idolatry.

  • kinkysox

    Nope, Jonathan. You are 110% WRONG.

    The Roman Catholic Church is better, healthier, holier as it is and always has been - without women priests. Period.

    Women do have challenging, fulfilling and satisfying roles in the church. Women were witnesses to the birth, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Just look at the state of the Church of England since women became vicars and bishops.

    Those who want the RC Church to change for changes sake and follow these trends actually want the Roman Catholic Church to disappear.

    Women priests – rather like calling black white or asking a dog to be a budgie on command.

    Impossible.

  • OldMeena

    Interesting “Conservative Home” Blog today:

    Christian and traditionalist Tories have chosen the wrong fight. They’ve chosen to fight gay marriage, a battle they can’t win. They’ve neglected religious liberty, a battle they can’t afford to lose.
    “There’s lots of nonsense emanating from certain pollsters, notably ComRes, about gay marriage having a disastrous impact on Tory fortunes. YouGov’s Joe Twyman has Tweeted an important link which shows that the effect might well be negative in the short-term but that – AT WORST – it will reduce the Tory vote from about its current 34% to 33%. Here, in full, are Joe’s numbers”:

    See: http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2013/02/christian-and-traditionalist-tories-have-chosen-the-wrong-fight-theyve-chosen-to-fight-gay-marriage-.html

  • kinkysox

    Well put, rjt1!

    After same-sex ‘marriage’, the next thing would be to allow ‘marriage’ between man and his/her horse, hamster, motorbike, a building or even a breezeblock!

    Don’t laugh! That’s coming.

    Don’t put anything past these crazy governments, whose priorities are fundamentally skew-whiff to the max.

  • Jonathan

    To understand what the landscape will be like 20 years hence, better to look at the generally progressive views of younger people versus the generally conservative views of the older.

    Happily, opinions are not inherited.

  • OldMeena

    .

  • Jonathan

    Brilliantly put, kinkysox.  Just the same way that if we allow Catholic doctors not to conduct abortions… the next thing, they’ll be refusing to attend to non-Catholics, burning heretics, expelling Jews from the cities and all sorts of horrors!  Aaaagh!

    “Don’t laugh!”  Impossible.

  • Jonathan

    Another great argument.  And 110% wrong? 100% innumerate.

    I don’t want the RC Church to change for change’s sake.  I want it to change for its own sake.

    Point of fact: there are no women bishops in the Church of England.

    Point of logic: according to Catholic teaching, there are no such thing as “vicars and bishops” in the Church of England (their orders being “absolutely null and utterly void”) so what possible harm could have been done by these non-vicars being women?  Your argument is empty.

  • Jonathan

    Ok, so maybe Cameron doesn’t much like practising Catholics…. what’s to like?  We seem most vocal when arguing against the freedoms of others – others who hold different beliefs.

    When do practising Catholics argue for the freedoms, rights, wellbeing, protection… of adults with beliefs different from our own?

  • Alan

    “He forces through this vote on gay marriage”. Well at least you are correct in one aspect, “vote”. Regardless of what Mr Cameron’s personal views may be regarding ‘marriage’, as a parliamentary democracy there will be a debate and ultimately a vote. Now this doesn’t particularly seem a revelation to me, it happens to be how our democracy works. Ok, so one could argue about Government priorities, but that seems to me to be a separate issue. The point being, it is not the Government (or indeed the PM) who makes laws a reality. They present Bills to our democratically elected Parliament and then a process takes place which ultimately requires a majority vote. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the proposed Bill, it is not for the likes of William Oddie to  undermine democracy and how it works. All he is doing is regurgitating the views of those opposing the Bill as if that is a legitimate disqualification to the democratic process. Mr Oddie, those and likes of those will have their say and vote in Parliament. 

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

    So you haven’t contested my belief that those who support gay er…’marriage’ have the lowest birthrates in the land.  Good.  And therefore immigrants will be brought in to replace them and immigrants are generally speaking more fertile and more against gay ‘marriage’.

    It’s not over yet….gay ‘marriage’ is just an interlude.  And opinions are not inherited….therefore we Catholics intend to spread Catholicism.

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

    Catholics are actually the most productive kindest creative imaginative industrious people in history.

    And we don’t believe in fairy tales like er….gay ‘marriage’.

  • Jonathan

    Interesting assertions, but:

    When, though, do we argue for the freedoms, rights, wellbeing, protection… of adults with beliefs different from our own?
    We ask much from the state when we ask for our own beliefs to be protected.  Why are we so unwilling to afford similar concern to others?

  • Jonathan

    I have no idea about the correlation or otherwise between support for equal marriage and birthrates.  Perhaps you can equip all of us with some statistics to demonstrate your assertion?

    Immigrants are attracted to our nation by many things, including our open society and our respect for individual rights and fundamental freedoms.
    I’m afraid that – in this country at least – we’re doing a poor job of spreading Catholicism.  The proportion of Catholics remains at less than 10%, as it has since 1985, with no discernable growth.

    Interstingly, the number attending mass each week “practising Catholics”? is about equivalent to the number of gay people.  Food for thought.

  • teigitur

    Yes, because that has worked so well for the C of E …….oh wait…

  • teigitur

    Not as mad as you think. There has already been a 3-way “marriage” in Brazil. Human nature will see to it that the law will get ever more liberal. Once definition is gone, its gone forever.

  • teigitur

    I doubt that is true. In my experience people are about 50/50.

  • teigitur

    One can only presume you have tried.

  • Alan

    I suspect the truth about these polls is that a large minority are strongly against, a smaller minority strongly in favour, and most of the remainder mildly in favour but not considering it that important.  If there were a referendum on this issue (which in my view would make more sense than an EU referendum) a low turnout would reject it, while a high turnout would accept it.
    I would also say to my fellow-Catholics: arguments against this Bill should NOT be based on moral disapproval of homosexuality.  That is a completely different issue.

  • Jonathan

    Hmm, teigitur.. was that marriage with a horse? a hamster? a motorbike? a building? a breezeblock?

    I didn’t think so.

  • AlanP

    Two of us appear to be using the same name.  From now on, if I remember, I shall be AlanP.

  • Jonathan

    The CofE hasn’t tried it much yet either.

    On the other hand, it’s refreshing that you’re willing to look at what other churches can teach us.

  • teigitur

    Hardly, but you are not so stupid that the point was lost to you.

  • Jonathan

    Good points.

  • teigitur

    We really are in a bad enough state as it is. We have no need to emulate the C of E which is in a really dire situation. Mostly because it no longer stands for, or believes in anything much.

  • Jonathan

    You’re right.  Even I’m not that stupid. (well…)

    I do take *your* point, teigitur, that our understanding of marriage, if it evolves, might evolve further.

    I don’t agree with the view of kinkysox that it will lead to every kind of absurdity.

    I particularly disagree, though, with arguments claiming that *because* A might lead to B, A should be disallowed.  You may as well argue that marriage has led to gay marriage, so marriage shouldn’t be allowed.  It’s a slippery slope, after all…

    Make the argument on its own merits.  Argue *against* what people are arguing *for*, not what you’re imagining.

  • teigitur

    Marriage, cannot lead to “Gay Marriage” because such a state does not and never will exist, no matter what the law says.

  • Jonathan

    We should involve women as a matter of urgency, in all our ministry, not in order to emulate the C of E but for our own sake, to do honour to the God who created us and to begin a fuller, better, holier understanding of the human condition and our relationship with God.

    In my opinion, of course! 

  • OldMeena

    SEE:  http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2013/02/christian-and-traditionalist-tories-have-chosen-the-wrong-fight-theyve-chosen-to-fight-gay-marriage-.html

  • Jonathan

    I think you have a strong point here, teigitur…. the polls seem to show a majority in favour, but with some polls showing a slight majority against, depending on how the questions/ statements are put.

  • AlanP

    Attack the policy, not the man.  Calling Cameron “evil” is absurd.  (I am not a Tory.)

  • Jonathan

    Now *that* is an argument.

    Axiomatic, but argument nonetheless.

  • teigitur

    If you knew anything about the Church, you would know that it is not possible. Even if it was a good idea, which it clearly is not, the Church has no authority to go down that road.

  • mollysdad

    This is no ordinary policy. It is not a matter over which good men may disagree. Same sex marriage is an affront to reason itself and legislating for it is an exercise in egregious evildoing. 

  • teigitur

    Why do you keep puting some word in asterisks? Its a little irritating.

  • OldMeena

    The YouGov poll quoted today on Conservative home shows that only 7% of the electorate consider gay marriage an important issue that would affect their voting. Of this 7% some 54% OF THEM would be more likely to vote FOR a party supporting it, and 44% less likely.

    See:  http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2013/02/christian-and-traditionalist-tories-have-chosen-the-wrong-fight-theyve-chosen-to-fight-gay-marriage-.html

  • Jonathan

    Well, I do know something about the Church, but I disagree that it has no authority to go down that road.

    I can see that it doesn’t *want* to go down that road.  The “we have no authority” argument is poor.

    The Church has the authority it needs to order itself.  When men say that women have no place in the roles they hold… forgive us all our distrust.

  • teigitur

    Its just a fact of life for the Church. No matter what the spirit of any particular age dictates. A spirit you have clearly surrenderd to.

  • Frank

    Do you not think Jonathan that viewpoints stratified by age-banding has always been true to some extent? Many attitudes have phased-out and re-appeared. 

  • OldMeena

    “It is not a matter over which good men may disagree.”

    What gives you the right to state that the only people to support gay marriage are evil people?

  • Jonathan

    to *emphasise* them.  Sorry to irritate you.

  • Jonathan

    Agreed, I am in tune with the spirit of this age.

  • teigitur

    No need to be sorry, it happens a lot! I get it without the emphasis you know! There used to be a Priest on here who posted everything in capitals, that was equally annoying.

  • teigitur

    Candidly sad, and not particularly faithful.

  • Frank

    Seriously I’m not being sarcastic but there’s plenty on Zenit.org. Only last week the bishops in the Philipines issued a strong condemnation to the government about social justice and corruption. When organising social evenings for the elderly and housebound, working on the soup runs, scouts and guides, SVP, justice and peace groups, homeless etc. Others might have different experience but I can’t  remember anybody being asked if they were catholic.