David Cameron deserves a lot of credit for the stance he’s taken on equal marriage. But in addition to the principle, there was also calculation: he wanted to project an image of a modern Tory party, at ease with the the society it seeks to represent.
Unfortunately for him he didn’t quite reckon on his party’s entrenched opposition to equality for minorities, with today’s Commons vote splitting his party. In the end, more Tory MPs voted against equal marriage than voted in favour of it:
Sky Sources: estimate of 132 Conservatives have voted for gay marriage, 139 against and 30 abstained #equalmarriage
— Sky News Newsdesk (@SkyNewsBreak) February 5, 2013
Tories sometimes wonder why they fail to appeal widely to black and ethnic minority voters, even those who are small-c conservatives. The legacy of Enoch Powell taints their party still, they concede. Next time they wonder why the LGBT community’s disinclined to vote for them, Tories might want to reflect on the long-term damage today’s vote has done their party.
* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.