Loon-gate and the meltdown of the marriage Bill

May 20, 2013

Important developments over the weekend. A close friend of Mr Cameron says Tory activists who object to redefining marriage are just “swivel eyed loons”. That’ll just further inflame masses of backbench MPs who are already seething with the Prime Minister and his chums for being so utterly out of touch.

A large group of grassroots Conservatives, including current and former association chairmen, have written to Mr Cameron saying the plan to redefine marriage has been “a disaster, and has driven thousands of voters to Ukip… It makes winning the next election virtually impossible.”

A new ComRes poll puts Ukip on 19 per cent nationally. An earlier poll of voters taken ahead of the local elections says opposition to redefining marriage was a key factor in Ukip’s recent surge. Ukip has placed ads in today’s press urging Conservative voters to come over to them.

More than 500 Muslim imams have written a letter opposing the redefinition of marriage. Imam Suliman Gani, of Tooting Mosque in south London, said: “The Muslim community will take this issue very, very seriously because now the Government has interfered with family… it will definitely have an effect on Mr Cameron’s vote.”

The Daily Mail says the Tories are in meltdown over the marriage Bill. The Guardian reports that Number 10 is begging the Labour Party to save the Bill, amid fears that a Tory rebellion combined with Labour support could damage it fatally. It relates to an amendment by Tim Loughton MP (Con) to extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples, something many in the Labour Party agree with on principle. But the Government has hinted that the amendment could cause the Bill to collapse.

Meanwhile, ahead of Commons debates today and tomorrow, David Burrowes MP (Con) has tabled a series of amendments aimed at protecting the civil liberty of people who believe marriage should remain as it is. He has also proposed a referendum to allow the people to decide whether or not marriage should be redefined.

The next 24 hours could yet see some important twists and turns for the marriage campaign.