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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?

  • Fractious

    Cameron has it in mind to make the British risible. But wait, the Americans and others – including, of all people, the Spanish – have adopted same-sex marriage seriously, so it can’t be a laughing matter. But it is. It really is. It’s Monty Python without the correctness. Two blokes married. And you can’t see the joke? Sorry to be so uncharitable. It’s not a gain for toleration to accept such things: the serious acceptance of them makes mockery of toleration. The whole point of marriage is to brace a man and woman together in a union that makes children. That some couples are infertile is sad, but not a reason to make marriage a different institution. The meaning of marriage is not to be varied by mere preference. My apologies to Humpty Dumpty. 

  • rjt1

    The thing about tides is that they go in and out. Public opinion goes one way and it can go another. It can be manipulated. Are opinion polls (based on what question exactly?) worth anything?

  • teigitur

    Well they worked for my MP anyway!

  • la catholic state

    So why can’t 2 sisters get married then eh?!  Stop lying! 

    Sorry, but there’s more chance of a male rabbit and a female cat consummating marriage than 2 males or 2 females.  Therefore they cannot marry.  Simples.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    liquafruta:  Excommunication is for those who preach heresies not for your ordinary sinner.

  • liquafruta

    What a relief.

  • OldMeena

    Stephan Shakespeare the CEO of  YouGov, the polling organisation, gives his views and specialist knowledge about the gay marriage polls on “Conservative Home” today the 5th Feb.:

  • danmoon00

    Hi Jonathan. Your response is based on a a bit of a mistake, so i thought i better clear it up. My starting point is not my conclusion. My starting point is the legal definition of marriage (something that i had no hand in drafting :)  I then show what that definition represents (the physical reality of parenthood). I take away the heterosexual element of the definition and observed what happens – the law ceases to recognise (protect) the natural rights of parents and children. My conclusion is not based on my assumption  that the definition is correct. Instead, my conclusion is based on the fact that when you change the definition of the LEGAL INSTITUTION of marriage, it stops being able to do something. That “something” is therefore what it existed to do before it was changed.

    Catholics know full well what marriage is. The only question in play is, “What happens when man-made law denies physical reality?”. And the answer is loss of natural rights, for everybody.

    The trick is to differentiate between the real world and the legal world. That’s about it really. The rest is down to the fact that we have multi-layered law mechanisms. If our law says marriage is between any two adults, while the superior mechanism of the ECHR gives marriage as the right to found a family then, in tandem, they have destroyed natural rights. Neat trick, huh? Nobody feels a thing.

  • Jonathan

    That’s great – and refreshing – to hear.  

  • Jonathan

    “The whole point of marriage is to brace a man and woman together in a union that makes children. That some couples are infertile is sad…”

    I can understand this argument, but if this is “the whole point” then why is marriage extended to couples well past child-bearing age?  Why do infertile couples not have their marriages automatically annulled?  Why do the marriages of fertile couples, who nevertheless decide not to have children and raise a family, not get automatically annulled?  

    Many couples get married with the express intention of having no children despite their fecundity, yet marriage is extended to them.

    Under your argument, Fractious, it seems that what is ok for heterosexual people is simply not ok for gay people.

    If you were prepared to argue to deny heterosexual couples access to marriage if they are unwilling or unable to have and raise children, then your argument be more compelling.  Perhaps you are ready to argue that?

  • Marcus_cole

    Surely Dr Oddie you’ve been around long enough to know that the Great British Electorate would never allow such arcane issues to affect its decision at the ballot box. Whatever Mr Joe Public may say now as he indulges whichever clipboard pollster is asking the question, when it comes to general elections, there’s only one thing that matters – what are they going to do to my pay packet? Are my children going to have a job to go to? Am I going to survive a trip to A&E? Will the police come quickly…

    Or as that master of the political arts, President Clinton reminded us, it’s the economy stupid!

    I can assure you now, in 2015 – and keep in mind how very far away that still is – worrying about whether that nice gay couple two doors down are married will be very low down the list of voters’ concerns.

  • Patrickhowes

    I will sit on the committee with you!Our Archie has probably sent her a letter of congratulations!

  • Patrickhowes

    I agree!The conscience is but the presence of God in the human mind and one cannot exist without the other,otherwise we become Godless.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Marriage in English law is a status not a contract.

  • OldMeena

    Telegraph readers today will also find a letter there signed by Mr Cameron’s three most senior ministers: the Chancellor, the Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary.

    The Telegraph calls this: ‘…an unprecedented letter published ………. to declare that allowing gay marriage “is the right thing to do at the right time”.’

  • OldMeena

    You have said that people who support gay marriage are evil and also now that they are liars.
    It is outrageous to make these claims in the public arena.

  • JabbaPapa

    There never is “a right time” to do the wrong thing, notwithstanding the self-serving rhetoric of these career politicians …

  • OldMeena

    How much did that cost?

  • JabbaPapa

    I can understand this argument, but if this is “the whole point” then
    why is marriage extended to couples well past child-bearing age?  Why do
    infertile couples not have their marriages automatically annulled?  Why
    do the marriages of fertile couples, who nevertheless decide not to have children and raise a family, not get automatically annulled? 

    Because it is a BASIC principle of Law that you legislate on the basis of generalities, not exceptions.

    There is a qualitative, ontological difference between incidental or accidental infertility, and the sheer biological impossibility that two men could produce children together.

  • JabbaPapa

    “I don’t know what kind of God some of those people who have contacted
    me from religious groups believe in – but he’s certainly not
    compassionate or loving.”

    Conor Burns MP sets his own virtues of compassion and love as being above other people’s, and it could be argued from this comment that he’s implicitly setting them above God’s.

    This bill is neither compassionate nor loving towards those that Chris Burns MP would likely tar and feather as being “homophobes” and “bigots”, nor towards the lives of the children who are already being traumatised by being thrust by the adoption services into the homes of homosexuals and deprived of their rights to a mother and a father, nor to anyone that Chris Burns MP decides that it’s OK to personally disagree with.

    This appalling public attack by a sitting Member of Parliament upon the beliefs and the concerns and the worries of his own constituents is illustrative of the fundamental breakdown in UK politics of representational democracy as such.

  • Jonathan

    Is there not, though, a greater ontological gap between fertile heterosexual couples and sterile heterosexual couples than between sterile heterosexual couples and gay couples?

    I’m not blind to the fact that many of those sterile heterosexual couples will outwardly have a similar appearance to fertile heterosexual couples, but the reality is one of fundamental, ontological difference – if, again, “The whole point of marriage is to brace a man and woman together in a union that makes children”I know that we’ve been here before, and we’re unlikely to make progress along this line.I’m not clear either about this basic principle of law being that legislation is on the basis of generalities, not exceptions.  If you look at any piece of primary legislation it is lengthy – usually because of the large number of accommodations, exceptions, particularities etc.

  • JabbaPapa

    The ordinary sinner who has committed mortal sin unrepentedly and knowingly is automatically excommunicated, until that ordinary sinner repents, confesses, and performs the necessary contrition.

    This is an extremely common occurrence, and is an entirely private matter between that person, their confessor, and God.

    But this case is different — this is a public sin, of preaching heresy against the Church’s teachings.

    Accordingly, the excommunication should be public — though she is de iure automatically excommunicated in any case.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Quite right – I was thinking of public excommunication.  

  • JabbaPapa

    the silent majority in the RC church who long for the day when women can rightly achieve high office, even pope

    Such a “majority” exists only in some fantasies of so-called “progressive” Modernists and Relativists.

    In my experience, the majority of Catholics want no such thing.

  • la catholic state

    We don’t follow ministers….we follow the Pope!

    And there is no such thing as gay er ‘marriage’.  It cannot be consummated….so it’s not marriage.

  • Jonathan West

    Many of the sentiments expressed here, including our own, are hardly a model of the compassion and love that you are expecting others to show towards you.

    Try practicing what you preach.

  • maxmarley

    This is the sexual revolution working its chaos through a society which has all but capitulated to secularism.
    Your census information has shown the heterosexuals have lost interest in lifelong commitment in wedlock. 
    Marriage has been hammered from within for some time.
    The Equality business is an opportunity for airheads in the tory party to achieve short term political gain and for homosexuals and others to destroy what is left in marriage from without.
    You say marriage is acknowledge as good for society.
    These stupid blind or malevolent people know that.
    But they also know, with many noble exceptions, that ultimately society doesn’t care.
    They stopped thinking about what is good for society some time ago.
    If somehow society does care and punishes these social vandals at the next election, I will eat my hat

  • Jonathan West

     That should have been “including your own”

  • Jonathan

    Does excommunication still happen in practice? If so, with much frequency? Just interested.

  • Jonathan West

    A small snippet from today’s Commons debate.

    Stephen Timms, the Labour MP for East Ham, said he would vote against the bill at third reading. He said that marriage revolved around children.

    Lyn Brown, the Labour MP for West Ham, said Timms attended her wedding. Timms must have noticed that she was above child bearing age when she got married. Did that make her marriage invalid? Timms said he was speaking about church teaching hundreds of years ago.

  • OldMeena

    “Try practicing what you preach.”

    I was once told by a Catholic that the Catechism says (or used to say) in answer to the question “Why must we contribute to the support of our pastors?” that:

    ” Christ has said: ‘Those who preach the Gospel should live by the Gospel’. “

  • paulsays

    Peoples’ opinions are the only way to run a democracy, your opinions are what motivate you to vote for a particular party in an election.

    The general public’s opinion does change, yes, but I would not compare them to tides. Tides go in and out, whereas public opinion for the most part follows a certain trajectory. 

    Large changes in our society and democracy, usually are a one-way-street. Homosexuality is becoming more and more tolerated, the idea of women in work is gaining/has gained acceptance, the ability for women to vote is not questioned. 

    If this were not the case then the legalization of sodomy would be being questioned, and whether women should be allowed to vote being put up for referendum.

    Some opinions do change back and forth, but it is unusual. One such example is attitude to Europe, which was much more popular then it is now. However the terms of Europe have changed drastically from the initial referendum in 1975, so whether people’s opinions have actually changed, or simply more the terms of the deal, is up for debate. 

  • paulsays

    I have no reason to think it isn’t. What makes you think it is not a fair source?

  • paulsays

    That’s how democracy works I’m afraid! I think the Church will look foolish and homophobic in the future if it does not tone done its rhetoric.

  • Alan Patterson

    Cameron has lost the plot! My wife and I have been tory supporters for 43 years.  We are now considering UKIP the only political party to wholly oppose this bill.  As Christians we have seen decades of erosion to the divine values we faithfully follow.  The institution of marriage is not Cameron’s to change it is ordained by God.  Is the country ready to answer for the Christian persecution that will follow when this bill is passed?  When politicians put themselves above God there are consequences. This will bring down his government.  

  • Liam Ronan

    If the Brits were not outraged by the approval of the previous Brown government to ‘create’ animal/human hybrids in the laboratory (chimera) then homosexual unions will provoke nothing more than a yawn in most of the electorate.
    God help us in these times of diabolic disorientation!

  • Jonathan

    Ignore that… answered well, elsewhere.  Hadn’t read the relevant post.

  • OldMeena

    You said previously that such people are evil, now you are adding that they are liars too.

  • Katie

    Thank you

  • rjt1

    I think your belief in a one-way trajectory shows an underlying belief in ‘progress’. But there can be retrogression.

    The acceptance of homosexual behaviour could be said to be a retrogression to pagan standards such as might have been found in some sectors of ancient Greece. I don’t see why one would accept that as an advance.

  • Cassandraa

    Democracies can also look foolish paulsays. A democracy condemned the wisest man in Greece to death!! 

  • OldMeena

    130 Tory MPs voted for gay marriages and 139 against, with 30 abstentions.

    MPs of the other parties voted very strongly for gay marriage.

    Of course there were no UKIP members, and there will probably be none after May 2015. 

  • AlanP

    I think you will find that UKIP’s stance is nothing to do with principle, and everything to do with peeling off Tory votes, in other words political expediency.

  • Patrickhowes

    I have just watched Catholic MP after Catholic MP say that they are going to vote in favour.It reminds of the night of Our Lordñs passion.”Aren´t you that friend of Jesus”‘No Not I…..Shocking

  • kinkysox

    The Roman Catholic Church has survived tyranny, heresy, revolution and the twisted ideas of the deluded since Christ was on the earth.

    It will do so again.

    This same-sex marriage issue will prove to be Cameron’s ‘poll tax’, just as it did for Mrs Thatcher in late 1990. She thought she could bulldoze ill-thought-out and unworkable legislation through Parliament but ended up being deserted by her own government ministers and leaving 10 Downing Street under a humiliating cloud.

    … and people who haven’t already woken up to the stupidity and recklessness of this coalition will surely wake up now and get off their lardy bums and do something!

    Let’s pray that the House of Lords will rip this bill to shreds… and keep ripping it to shreds.


  • Frank

    Sorry Jonathan I still disagree. There are regular bishops’ statements about issues of social justice, unemployment, corruption in politics etc. and they are not made to  support only catholics. I take your point that it may not always appear that way but that seems to me more a function of the media in this country as in “man bites dog” is news, not the other way around”

  • kinkysox

    In my parish, we were made aware of this grotesque animal/human hybrids carry-on and signed petitions etc. to our MP to lend their voice to put a stop to it… and we continue to do so with many more issues to do with family, life and care of the vulnerable.

    It is dangerous – yes, DANGEROUS - to democracy when people are expected to sigh  ‘whatever!’ when politicians try to push in legislation which is either ludicrous or unworkable.

    People here in the UK laugh and take the rise out of the French but one thing’s for sure – they don’t stand for any rubbish and I admire them for it.

    Indeed, God help us in these times of diabolic disorientation!

    People – PRAY THE HOLY ROSARY!!!

  • TheBlueWarrior

    The short answer to your question is No!  A faulty light bulb in a lamp is still a light bulb in form if not function.  To suggest that because faulty light bulbs exist, two lamp sockets tied together is a valid expression of lighting a room, is sheer madness.

  • sclerotic

     Quite so – but the status of the parties was likewise presumed as to gender.

  • ninoinoz

     So what? Elizabeth was in advanced years when she conceived John the Baptist.

    There is always the potential for procreation with traditional marriage, with same-sex “marriage” precisely ZERO.