Panic in Downing Street over redefining marriage

Nov 22, 2012

According to this morning’s newspapers, panicking Downing Street spin doctors have suggested David Cameron would rush through plans to redefine marriage, with talk of MPs getting their first opportunity to vote in the New Year. But since then, other Government spokespeople have hurriedly denied the legislation will be fast-tracked.

We will wait and see. We always knew such claims could be made, because we knew that our campaign was hitting home very effectively. We knew we were making headway and that the Government could panic like this.

According to senior Government sources quoted in the press today, there are indeed fears that we have been winning the argument and gaining too much ground. Our polling this week found that 62% of voters support traditional marriage. In terms of the party breakdown: 68% of Tory voters oppose redefining marriage, as do 58% of Labour voters and 52% of Liberal Democrat voters.

Our ComRes poll found that for every one disaffected Conservative voter gained back, the Party lost eight votes. In April the ratio was one to three. So the haemorrhage is deepening. The Tories have lost around 1.35 million votes. That will easily translate into the loss of over 30 seats. Downing Street’s panicked reaction shows that we have been doing precisely the right things in opposition to this unpopular and unnecessary plan.

It was always arrogant for the Government to think it could rewrite the meaning of marriage. It would be even worse for them do it in a rush, knowing – as they surely must – that the plans bring monumental legal difficulties, not least for the civil liberties of those who disagree. In today’s Times, gay journalist Matthew Parris says that opponents of redefining marriage “have some dangerously cogent arguments at their disposal”. It would be completely reckless for the Government to plough on ahead and ignore the fact that people like Adrian Smith have been punished for their beliefs on traditional marriage. If that is the case now, how much more so if gay marriage is legalised?