The problem with the Tory gay marriage row is not the issue itself but the party appearing split

December 10th, 2012

The polls seem to back Dave

As the I and the Indy are reporting this morning there’s a schism growing within the Tory party over gay marriage – on which an announcement is expected this week.

On the one hand a powerful grouping including Boris and Gove are getting behind the proposal while a traidtionalist faction is getting ready to fight. This is how Peter Bone put it:-

    There is a political calculation, at some level, that this is going to be good and if we go ahead with it David Cameron’s going to be carried shoulder high back into No 10 by Stonewall activists. ….The Prime Minister is absolutely wrong on this.

    This ‘cast-iron guarantee’ he has given that no church will be forced to marry someone is obviously false, because the European courts will intervene… he’s splitting the Conservative Party when we don’t need it to be split.”

UKPR carried a summary of the various polls on gay marriage a couple of weeks ago on which the chart below is based.

So the consesus appears to be behind Cameron. The trouble for the PM, though, is not the issue itself but that it comes after a period when the Tories have seen splits over Europe and Lords reform.

The general theory is that voters punish parties that are seen to be divided.

It’s hardly a surprise that Cameron is more of a social libertarian than large parts of his party. The issue is whether he can contain the damage from a public split.

Mike Smithson

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