Toxic Tories force Cameron to abandon gay marriage


by Carl Packman    
9:27 am - May 6th 2012

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Have you seen the Sunday Times headline for today?

Interventions like this by Cameron, to offer olive branches to the right by losing something from his more “liberal” toolbox, confirms my long held belief that the Conservative party is held back, from being conservative, by a more “toxic” audience; indeed what I have called the party’s “toxic constituency”.

In February 2011, from a sample of 1004 adults, 37% felt that immigration was a very big problem, 37% believed it was a problem, 16% felt it was not a very big problem and 5% felt it was not a problem at all.

Further, according to a YouGov poll studying the same period, 35% of those who voted Conservative in 2010 appealed to family values over anything else, 41% voted for them on matters of traditional values (compared to just 19% for Labour) and 28% on patriotism – while only 6% voted for the Tories appealing to tolerance and diversity (which, actually, Cameron sought to highlight).

The Conservative party – very much through fault of its own – is not conservative, but a big tent dominated by tubthumping angry old bastards.

I’m hardly surprised they don’t take too kindly to gay marriage. What I am surprised at is Cameron doesn’t want to challenge them – even from a conservative position.

But hold up! Should Cameron really be listening to the likes of Stewart Jackson MP, who pleaded with Mr Cameron to drop “barmy lib Dem policies” like gay marriage? As it has been noted, Conservatives were not wiped out by independents, the right, the far right, or the even fringier. They were routed by the Labour party.

If rumour is true, the Conservatives held a policy review last night at 11.00pm (though that is probably untrue since the mayoral election result didn’t come through until before 12). Regardless of when they had or have it, the proposals when they do are set to see the right get more than just olive branches, but bunches of fucking great bouquets. Bad move, Dave.

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About the author
Carl is a regular contributor. He is a policy and research analyst and he blogs at Though Cowards Flinch.
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Reader comments


The Tory headbangers don’t see themselves as being beaten by Labour (low turnout, after all) as much as insufficiently supported by their core voters; this is combined with the rumoured rise of UKIP and made into an argument for going further right.

Cameron, like Blair, had eyes on the middle ground: on being broadly acceptable to the floating voters and thereby achieving a majority. In contrast, the Tory right don’t give a stuff about anyone but themselves and are instead focused on getting the maximum turnout from their cohorts – they are working on the belief that the man on the Clapham omnibus is inherently sympathetic to their views and scornful of namby-pamby political correctness. So they don’t even attempt tolerance or multiculturalism; they believe that power will be gained through being firm and standing for what they identify as traditional Tory values: ignorance, bigotry and nationalism.

Just another example of why the Lie Dems were morons to give away the farm in exchange for scraps.

The tory party has not changed and never will. If the Lie Dems had been clever they could have run rings round the tories and created civil war in the tory party without giving up anything. Instead they wanted to be ever so serious, and thought they tories would thank them for it.

Just remember on the Friday after the last election the tories did not have the votes to do anything. The right was spewing feathers, and then in stepped Nick Dumbo Clegg to the rescue.

Disappointing to have a prime minister who admits that he stands behind a policy (to allow gay marriage) but that he won’t implement it out of fear.
Leadership looks different.

If some Conservatives are against gay marriage, there is a very easy solution that I propose to them: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/how-to-fight-gay-marriage/

It’s hard to know what to think of this post, because it seems so rambling and incoherrent. I would, however, pick up a couple of things:

“Interventions like this by Cameron, to offer olive branches to the right by losing something from his more “liberal” toolbox, confirms my long held belief that the Conservative party is held back, from being conservative, by a more “toxic” audience; indeed what I have called the party’s “toxic constituency”.”

So Cameron being less liberal means that the Tory Party can’t be conservative? How does that work, exactly?

“As it has been noted, Conservatives were not wiped out by independents, the right, the far right, or the even fringier. They were routed by the Labour party.”

Yes, but the idea that everybody who votes Labour is also a Guardianista-type social liberal, and that the way to win their votes is therefore to become more socially liberal, is just wrong. They may be left-wing economically, but on many social issues a lot of Labour voters would be classed as right-wing. Indeed, you even quote a study showing that 74% of people think that immigration is either a problem or a big problem. That’s quite a lot of people holding right-wing views.

>”Toxic Tories force Cameron to abandon gay marriage”

Brilliant fulminating, Carl !

Meanwhile, those who want to respond to current government proposals to introduce equal marriage, rather than get excited about something that hasn’t happened, can do so here:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/equal-civil-marriage/

:-)

6. john reid

Maybe toxic liberal (backbenchers) could force clegg to stop the NHS reforms……

7. Dick the Prick

Or alternatively, why bother with gay marriage when there’s few votes in it? It can happen organically and doesn’t need to come from Number 10. If anyone really cares about gay marriage then, as the Op Ed argues, they’ve done pretty well of late and can continue campaigning for it but to expect a Conservative PM to lead the charge is tactically daft. It harks back to Cameron’s PR background and his nieve triangulation; push something that isn’t really an issue to offend his right flank just to demonstrate to the left that he’s more aware than they are on a policy which the left couldn’t be arsed to initiate. Just another thing that Cameron’s fucked up by trying to be too clever by half and getting involved with something that was never any of his business in the first place.

Conservatives were not wiped out by independents, the right, the far right, or the even fringier. They were routed by the Labour party.

Well, it’s often thought that as well as leaking anti-war votes to the Lib Dems, the drop in labour voters throughout the Blair and Brown years was due to people getting fed up with the right-wing direction Labour had moved and felt ignored so just stayed at home. So there is some merit in concluding that the same turn-off ignoring-your-electoral-base factor could be hurting the Tories, but after just 2 years in power?? No.

Cameron and Osborne’s austerity measures are hurting the working and middle class voters who would normally vote Tory* and know who’s responsible. The whole point about same-sex marriage is to act as a distraction**, a social issue that won’t really affect much change at all if implemented, but which the headbangers in his party will generate much heat not light about which it is hoped will distract from the agenda of making workers closer to serfs and impoverishing the majority of the nation.

* Which isn’t to say working and middle class voters are naturally Tory, just that you get everyone – Lib Dem, Labour, UKIP, BNP, SWP voters in those groupings too, they’re rather big and broad.

**Otherwise known as the culture war from the USA, where economic policies usually end up being completely ignored, drowned in the swamp of public opinion, in favour of things like same sex marriage, civil unions, the ten commandments in court rooms, trans-women using women’s toilets, and Obama’s birth certificate. The problem with this route is only now becoming manifest with the current Republican infighting over whether or not Romney is pro-gay.

9. Steve Stubbs

“Conservatives were not wiped out by independents, the right, the far right, or the even fringier. They were routed by the Labour party”

Was there a different election to the one I got the results for then?

A triumph of wishing over reality I think. Even a cursory look shows that what hurt the conservatives was not labour increasing its vote in unwinnable constituencies, it was the 14% of the votes that UKIP got where they chose to put up candidates, thereby letting the opposition win.

Take a look at the total of seats lost where the UKIP vote was larger than the winning majority. No doubt conservative HQ will have these numbers in front of them right now – all they have to do is realise that its UKIP who will defeat them, not Millibands rabble. The problem is growiing and the solution is clear. And you can bet your shirt they will not take it, given performance to date.

Nah I think in time Labour will be the ones to defeat the Tories not UKIP. Remember also that a lot of independents and Greens take away the Labour vote and before 2010 it was the Lib Dems who took away the Labour vote to allow the Conservatives to win.

Im not angry and I’m not middle-aged. However I am happy that Cameron is dropping this liberal nonsense. Open the champagne Jeeves!

Why call them ”Toxic Tories” and not just middle of the road typical Tories?
Because that’s what they are. Just your average Daily Mail readers. No need to call them toxic just because they have a different view on gay marriage.

I think that my dad would not be a fan of gay marriage. Not because he hates gays. I’d say he hardly knows any or even thinks about gays, but is a catholic and goes to mass and ”weird stuff” like that. He has voted Tory in the past too.

Speaking of toxic Tories, here’s a nasty (s)tory that’s doing the rounds on Twitter today.

http://therightearuk.blogspot.com/2012/05/cllrsuea-bournemouth-tory-councillor.html

14. margin4error

Odd to see Cameron giving up one of the sorts of policies that help demonstrate that he’s not one of the same old tories.

in opposition he worked very hard to appear socially liberal – because he wagered that the public would recognise that change in his party while he was still keen to continue “rolling back the state” as his party had last time in government.

So while they are rolling back the state now – it seems odd to think he would now cede the one aspect to his re-branded tories that numbed the sense of “same old tories” and “they never change” that he had to do to detoxify their brand.

Surely better to press ahead with gay marriage than something like lords reform, which is rather technocratic and doesn’t really fit any particular trend or category in the public’s imagination.

Interventions like this by Cameron, to offer olive branches to the right by losing something from his more “liberal” toolbox, confirms my long held belief that the Conservative party is held back, from being conservative, by a more “toxic” audience; indeed what I have called the party’s “toxic constituency”.

I’ve read this sentence several times and I have to say that I don’t see the slightest bit of sense.

Cameron is forced to sacrifice one (strictly limited) liberal aspect of his programme to maintain (frankly, mystifying and misguided) conservative support, then this is preventing the Conservative Party from being conservative how, exactly?

OP is basically another entry in the by now weighty tome of generic disingenuous liberal advice to conservatives, whereby we are assured that highest principles of conservatism consist of abandoning conservative principles for liberal ones and claiming that true conservatives are actually liberals and have been all along.

On the other hand, this is usually done by people claiming to be conservatives–so I suppose that given that the author is a self-described liberal or leftist we are making progress, of sorts.

16. Barrie J

Maybe Cameron fears being dumped by his own Party more than UKIP/Labour at the next General Election?
Tory backbenchers are daily appearing more and more like cornered and wounded hyenas.
In depressing times it brings a little light.

Gay marriage is not Labour Party policy, and it never has been. So having been routed by the Labour Party is not an argument against giving up on it.

Margin @ 14:

“So while they are rolling back the state now – it seems odd to think he would now cede the one aspect to his re-branded tories that numbed the sense of “same old tories” and “they never change” that he had to do to detoxify their brand.”

I think you’re exaggerating the impact of Tory support for gay marriage. As far as I can tell, the liberal types who hated the Tories still hated them after they adopted this policy, the conservative types who thought Cameron was too left-wing still thought so, and the country as a whole didn’t really care much one way or another.

Given Hollande’s victory in France, and in Greece the Coalition of the Radical Left SYRIZA’s jump from >5% to about 16% pushing Pasok into 3rd, it’s becoming very clear that if you want to win elections, it’s time to start rethinking this austerity business.

“The Conservative party – very much through fault of its own – is not conservative, but a big tent dominated by tubthumping angry old bastards.”

That’s what conservatism is.

Anyway, I hope Cameron does abandon gay marriage – it’ll lose him votes without gaining any and anything that harms the Tories’ electoral prospects is a good thing in my book.

@9 Syte3ve Stubbs: Even a cursory look shows that what hurt the conservatives was not labour increasing its vote in unwinnable constituencies, it was the 14% of the votes that UKIP got where they chose to put up candidates

In the ward I stood in, UKIP got a good deal less than that — 0.8% and came last.

I suspect People not having any jobs/money may piss them off a bit more than Gay Marriage . I find it amazing that the beast that is a tory is so differently wired up………………but then I don’t live in the Home counties

How ironic.Same old right wing shit nearly 80 years on

http://hmd.org.uk/genocides/dates-to-remember/looting-of-the-institute-of-sexology

I suggested around the time of the AV vote that the Tories were being tactically halfwitted by campaigning against AV. I haven’t checked the electoral data in detail, but if it’s true that UKIP are splitting the nasty vote and causing Tories to lose their seats, then hurrah, I win.

One thing I don’t quite understand is how this Shift To Far Right Loonery is supposed to get past the Lib Dems. It’s likely that if the government collapses and we have another election fairly immediately, then Labour will win certainly the most seats, and quite possibly an overall majority. While the LDs would lose half their seats in such an election, the fact that they’d abandoned the Coalition for being too illiberal would help to salvage some of their credibility as an independent political force – and they might even end up with the the balance of power.

So, unless Nick Clegg is even more spineless than he appears to be, the LDs should be in a strong position to stop the Tories doing any rightward shifts to appease the fanatics.

So, unless Nick Clegg is even more spineless than he appears to be, the LDs should be in a strong position to stop the Tories doing any rightward shifts to appease the fanatics.

Depends on if the shift rightward is something the Orange Bookers, actually oppose. These would be the same orange bookers who want to scrap the NHS, privatise Royal Mail and end national pay bargaining in the public sector.

26. MarkAustin

@24 John b

So, unless Nick Clegg is even more spineless than he appears to be, the LDs should be in a strong position to stop the Tories doing any rightward shifts to appease the fanatics.

Two points,

Firstly, I think the Lib Dems are trapped. An immediate election would probably see them loose half their seats. Their only chance of recovery is to go to the electorate in 2-3 years times on a platform of economic success and political success in reigning in the Tories. The Tories know this, so will call their bluff.

Secondly, recently Clegg said (can’t find the quote: can anyone help) something about expecting to see a more centerist Lib Dems emerging from this process, so perhaps the “Orange Bookers” are not as worried about what is happening as you would expect. Frankly I think he’s in a Metropolitan bubble over this, but I think there is a view that this is an opportunity to dislodge the remaining radical Liberals.

Ask which policy should have higher priority – legalising gay marriages or getting the economy to grow again – I’ve no doubts about which of those options the balance of popular opinion would prefer.

As for Lords reform, what is the point unless the elected House of Lords is given sufficient new powers to block or amend government legislation? As present constitutional arrangements stand, the Lords can’t debate finance bills and can only delay other government legislation for a year. The Lords has nothing like the constitutional powers of second chambers elsewhere such as the US Senate or the German Bundestag. The Lords is influential because of its cross-benchers and they would go or be cut back with Lords reform.

28. Badstephen

When this blog first started, I suggested that it was important to avoid party factionalism and to support those Conservatives who could be described as liberal, even if only occasionally. The obvious ideological war raging in the Party right now makes this need all the more urgent. We should congratulate Cameron when he does the right thing (he does sometimes, you know), encourage the likes of Ken Clarke, argue for the reversal of the Murdoch’s unfair defenestration of Dominic Grieve (I know he’s not perfect but he was shabbily treated) and even, God help us, back Boris on some social issues.

I think the conservatives lost the local elections because they lack a conservative leader with moral values.

29

Moral values are subjective, so which particular values did the conservatives lack?

31. David Watts

Was the last Labour Government “toxic” because they refused to introduce gay marriage, arguing – as they did – that civil partnerships were sufficient?

32. Chaise Guevara

@ 31 David Watts

“Was the last Labour Government “toxic” because they refused to introduce gay marriage, arguing – as they did – that civil partnerships were sufficient?”

No, because they achieved a huge step forward for gay rights – insisting on the “civil partnerships” definition was basically an attempt to get the legislation through.

You can’t seriously be saying that a major but imperfect civil rights victory is morally the same as actively opposing further civil rights improvements? Where the hell is the logic there?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Toxic Tories force Cameron to abandon gay marriage http://t.co/M1vaYIEm

  2. Brian Moylan

    RT @libcon: Toxic Tories force Cameron to abandon gay marriage http://t.co/YaaDpN9L #ukpolitics

  3. Jason Brickley

    Toxic Tories force Cameron to abandon gay marriage http://t.co/1T1j79UM

  4. copperbird

    Toxic Tories force Cameron to abandon gay marriage http://t.co/M1vaYIEm

  5. Luke Farley

    Toxic Tories force Cameron to abandon gay marriage http://t.co/M1vaYIEm

  6. Graham Mumford

    Wish they'd all drop the 'gay marriage' shorthand but well made point.. | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/0NokMHY6 via @libcon

  7. BevR

    Toxic Tories force Cameron to abandon gay marriage | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/4sn8JC7M via @libcon

  8. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Toxic Tories force Cameron to abandon gay marriage http://t.co/5nV90a04

  9. Dave

    RT @libcon: Toxic Tories force Cameron to abandon gay marriage http://t.co/YaaDpN9L #ukpolitics

  10. Viv

    Toxic Tories force Cameron to abandon gay marriage http://t.co/vIu8PlEb <<< *sigh*

  11. mattwardman

    Moronic left @libcon. Tories abandoning gay marriage !!! http://t.co/3s3e5fbG Govt proposals to bring it in are here: http://t.co/HnmfvFF3

  12. BevR

    Toxic Tories force Cameron to abandon gay marriage | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/4sn8JC7M via @libcon

  13. Natacha Kennedy

    Looks like #Cameron is about to drop #Equalmarriage as he gives in to Tory raving right http://t.co/LzyeyQcj

  14. Natacha Kennedy

    @Tara_Hewitt Times suggesting #Cameron is going to abandon Equal Marriage as part of a deal with far right. http://t.co/LzyeyQcj

  15. Mr Creek

    Toxic Tories force Cameron to abandon gay marriage http://t.co/M1vaYIEm

  16. Was gay marriage a major factor in the recent elections? | eChurch Blog

    [...] now have claims of Cameron backing away from gay marriage and counter [...]

  17. DAVID CAMERON DROPS HIS FIGHT FOR GAY MARRIAGE UNDER PRESSURE FROM HOMOPHOBES | CYBERBORISjohnson

    [...] That in itself is bad enough, but should members of the Tory party like Stewart Jackson go on record as saying drop “barmy Lib Dem policies” like gay [...]

  18. Carl Packman

    I saw this coming a while back… http://t.co/dWeC3VVG





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