An opinion poll carried out by ComRes has found that PM Cameron’s plans to legalise homosexual marriage by 2015 could lose the Conservative party 1 million votes at the next election, and up to 30 seats in the Commons. For every disaffected Tory supporter attracted back to the party, it loses almost three because of its stance on the issue.
In The Sun today, Trevor Kavanagh says Tory supporters are “deserting in droves over [David Cameron's] irrelevant campaign for gay marriage” and other unpopular issues.
A Home Counties Tory MP said: ‘We’re worried we’ll haemorrhage votes unless Cameron backs down. These protests are not from the usual suspects of complainants. These are from quiet, unassuming Tory supporters telling us, do this and we won’t vote for you again.’
The Mail on Sunday has been told that Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin has privately assured anxious Tory backbenchers that the Prime Minister’s same-sex marriage plan will ‘not come to a vote’.
The MPs say Mr McLoughlin told them the controversial proposal will be ‘kicked into the long grass’.
One exchange of correspondence reveals how Tory Mps are changing their stance on gay marriage in response to pressure from their constituents. GP Philip Lee, who is the Conservative MP for Bracknell in Berkshire, hardened his stance after protests from a constituent.
In a letter dated March 30 to the constituent, who had written to the MP expressing his opposition to the policy, Dr Lee said: ‘I agree with the Prime Minister that society is made stronger by people’s commitment to one another. This is true whether the couple making the commitment is a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman. For most of my constituents there are more pressing issues of concern.’
Barely three weeks later Dr Lee wrote to the same constituent, admitting the ‘vast majority of people’ were against the plan. He wrote: ‘With the strength of opposition from so many of my constituents, I have had to review my own position.’
He also set out the view, held by many Tory MPs, that as civil partnerships give homosexual couples the same legal rights as married heterosexuals, the gay marriage plan was pointless.
Last week another Tory MP, Karl McCartney, expressed his opposition to the plan in a statement released to his local paper. Mr McCartney, who is a magistrate, drew attention to a petition against gay marriage organised by umbrella group the Coalition for Marriage.
By yesterday the petition had attracted almost 475,000 signatures, including that of the Queen’s cousin, Lady Elizabeth Shakerley.
Mr McCartney said: ‘It is clear from both my postbag and the Coalition for Marriage petition… that a significant body of opinion in our city and up and down our country share my views.’
Last night, No 10 sources insisted Mr Cameron remained fully committed to the proposal.
Protect the Pope comment: The trouble with David Cameron and other Tory MPs supporting gay marriage is that they live in the Westminster bubble which they’ve created with likeminded media types and lobbyists. The problem is that the Westminster bubble is detached from the real world, where flesh and blood Tory voters live. It is delusional to think that traditional Tory voters are going to support the legal re-definition of marriage, one of the bedrocks of the Tory heartlands.
Here’s hoping that the rumours are true and that this absurd social engineering experiment worthy of the Labour party is kicked into the long-grass. If Cameron’s persists with his plans in the face of such opposition, then he could lose the Tories the next General Election.