Equal marriage: who voted which way

For those wanting to know the voting breakdown of last night’s historic decision in the Commons to approve equal marriage, here it is courtesy of Andrew Sparrow’s essential Guardian live-blog…


FOR – 127 MPs (42%)
AGAINST – 136 MPs (45%)
ABSENT – 35 MPs (12%)


FOR – 217 MPs (84%)
AGAINST – 22 MPs (9%)
ABSTENTION – 16 MPs (6%)

Lib Dems

FOR – 45 MPs (80%)
Danny Alexander (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey), Tom Brake (Carshalton & Wallington), Annette Brooke (Dorset Mid & Poole North), Jeremy Browne (Taunton Deane), Malcolm Bruce (Gordon), Paul Burstow (Sutton & Cheam), Lorely Burt (Solihull), Vincent Cable (Twickenham), Sir Menzies Campbell (Fife North East), Alistair Carmichael (Orkney & Shetland), Nick Clegg (Sheffield Hallam), Michael Crockart (Edinburgh West), Edward Davey (Kingston & Surbiton), Tim Farron (Westmorland & Lonsdale), Lynne Featherstone (Hornsey & Wood Green), Don Foster (Bath), Andrew George (St Ives), Stephen Gilbert (St Austell & Newquay), Duncan Hames (Chippenham), Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South), Sir Nick Harvey (Devon North), David Heath (Somerton & Frome), John Hemming (Birmingham Yardley), Simon Hughes (Bermondsey & Old Southwark), Julian Huppert (Cambridge), Mark Hunter (Cheadle), Norman Lamb (Norfolk North), David Laws (Yeovil), John Leech (Manchester Withington), Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne), Michael Moore (Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk), Tessa Munt (Wells), Alan Reid (Argyll & Bute), Dan Rogerson (Cornwall North), Bob Russell (Colchester), Adrian Sanders (Torbay), Sir Robert Smith (Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine), Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove), Ian Swales (Redcar), Jo Swinson (Dunbartonshire East), Steve Webb (Thornbury & Yate), Mark Williams (Ceredigion), Roger Williams (Brecon & Radnorshire), Stephen Williams (Bristol West), Simon Wright (Norwich South).

AGAINST – 4 MPs (7%)
Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed), Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley), John Pugh (Southport), Sarah Teather (Brent Central).

Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West)

ABSENT – 6 MPs (11%)
Norman Baker (Lewes), Martin Horwood (Cheltenham), Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye & Lochaber), John Thurso (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross), David Ward (Bradford East), Jenny Willott (Cardiff Central).

I have, by the way, split the 7 Lib Dem abstainers into 2 groups, based on Mark Pack’s excellent bit of investigatory work here showing only one intended abstention, Greg Mulholland. (I haven’t done the same for Labour simply because I don’t have the information.)

Four of the 6 absentees — Norman Baker, Martin Horwood, David Ward and Jenny Willott — have all publicly declared themselves in favour of equal marriage (and Jenny had the utterly legitimate excuse for her absence that she was giving birth!). That leaves just 2 — Charles Kennedy and John Thurso — whose views on the issue are not on the public record.

Here was what Nick Clegg had to say about last night’s vote:

I genuinely believe that we will look back on today as a landmark for equality in Britain. Tonight’s vote shows parliament is very strongly in favour of equal marriage.

No matter who you are and who you love, we are all equal. Marriage is about love and commitment, and it should no longer be denied to people just because they are gay.

The Liberal Democrats have long fought for equal marriage. It is party policy and I am proud that the Liberal Democrats are part of the coalition government that are making it happen.

I especially want to pay tribute to Lynne Featherstone, whose dedication and tenacity have been critical to making this happen.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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This entry was posted in News and Parliament.


  • Helen Tedcastle 6th Feb '13 - 9:42am

    Is this detailed breakdown of the way Lib Dem MPs voted or otherwise, an exercise in accountability or the firing pistol for the start of a witch-hunt?

    There are Lib Dems who do not agree with this bill and their consciences (and arguments) should be respected.

    Some MPs express their dissent in different ways. It’s interesting that Nick Clegg has never acknowledged that in any comment he’s made on the issue – in denial?

  • “I haven’t done the same for Labour simply because I don’t have the information.”

    In that case it would be better to describe them as “Abstentions or Absent” rather than assuming they’re all abstentions.

  • Helen

    Don’t knock witch-hunting. There is explicit biblical authority for it, after all …

  • “Is this detailed breakdown of the way Lib Dem MPs voted or otherwise, an exercise in accountability or the firing pistol for the start of a witch-hunt? ”

    And have you stopped beating your wife yet Stephen?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to think that Lib Dem members/activists will be interested how the party’s MPs voted and to provide a definitive list.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 6th Feb '13 - 10:37am

    Helen, it’s perfectly acceptable for a Liberal Democrat oriented site to publish details of how Lib Dem MPs voted – it’s in the public domain anyway.

    Our MPs should expect to have to give account of themselves to party members as well as their constituents.

  • Tony Martinelli 6th Feb '13 - 10:40am

    It is embarrassing for us that a higher % of Labour MPs voted in favour (even if more also voted against). The dissenting MPs are , of course, allowed to have their own opinions, but I don’t think they should expect their views (which are opposed to much of what the LDs stand for) to be accepted without negative comment.

  • Helen Tedcastle 6th Feb '13 - 10:49am

    @ Chris: Funny 🙂

    If you could provide evidence for that, I would love to read it!

  • Liberal Neil 6th Feb '13 - 11:18am

    @Helen “If you could provide evidence for that, I would love to read it!”

    This post: http://thinking-christian.blogspot.co.uk/2007/01/does-bible-justify-burning-of-witches.html questions the idea, but if you read the Bible verses quoted you will see that they provide a far clearer justification for hunting down witches than the Bible verses you quoted yesterday do about the definition of marriage.

  • Helen

    Exodus 22:18.

  • Lib Dems discussing ‘witch hunts’? Oh no this is bound to lead to a change in the definition of the term “witch-hunt” . 😉

  • Zoe O'connell 6th Feb '13 - 12:34pm

    Mark Hunter also voted in favour, making 45 rather than 44 for. He doesn’t appear presumably because he was a teller for the ayes.

  • paul barker 6th Feb '13 - 1:04pm

    This means that both our rival parties will be be badly split in 2015, the Tories along “cultural” lines & Labour more on traditional Left/Right issues.
    Personally I was really saddened by Sarah Teathers vote against, surely this must mark the effective end of her political career ?

  • It was a free vote Paul. Draw conclusions as you wish, but are we really saying that MPs are finished for having a conscience in our party – I hope not.

  • I don’t know whether it will be the end of her political career but I dare say it has scuppered any chance she had of becoming leader. A lot of people will not vote for her after this and rightly so.

  • “walking through both lobbies (voting both for and against), ”

    What a very confused position.

  • If you think Sarah Teather should resign, than maybe I should leave your party. As a member for some years, I am disppointed by the way this has been steamrollered through the Coalition an d find myself wholly symapthetic to the arguments of the traditional Conservatives on this issue, dare I say? And I am fed up with the LibDem Thought Police emailing me to tell me what I must believe!

  • conscientious libera 6th Feb '13 - 2:02pm

    Tpfkar, MPs of course should have a conscience, but can an opponent of marriage equality really call herself a “liberal” in good conscience? And should the conscientious Lib Dem activists supporting same-sex marriage still feel obliged to carry her leaflets in the next General Election?

  • Richard Dean 6th Feb '13 - 2:05pm

    As Helen says, there are valid viewpoints on both sides of this debate. It’s a real problem that those in favour of the reform can’t see that, or see that their intolerance is the very opposite of what LibDemism is about. Recent poll results published here on LDV show that a little under half the population would have voted against, and the MPs performances yesterday does not represent that well.

    Fortunately, only 7% of the population seem to think the issue is important enough to change the party they would vote for. If it had been 50%, the MP’s performance would likely have given rise to huge civil protest, marches on parliament, and so on. Those things might even happen still, if this reform ends up having a significant perceived impact on the 93%.

  • Stephen Tall 6th Feb '13 - 2:11pm

    @ Zoe O’connell

    Many thanks, Zoe – have updated the list to include Mark, which tips the proportion of Lib Dem MPs ‘For’ the Bill to 80%.

  • Liberal Neil 6th Feb '13 - 2:16pm

    @Don Manley – you are entitled to your views and it is very clear that a minority of Lib Dem members, but a significant one, take you view. Saying that, has anyone in the Lib Dems actually emailed you to ‘tell you what you must believe’, or have they simply sent you emails with which you disagree? That’s quite a difference!

    Greg Mulholland has posted what I think is a very considered response on his website:


  • Richard Dean “As Helen says, there are valid viewpoints on both sides of this debate”

    Where does she say that?

  • Richard Dean “Recent poll results published here on LDV show that a little under half the population would have voted against”

    Where is that? I have seen a poll saying that about Tory supporters ( quelle surprise!) but not the whole population.

  • Stephen Tall 6th Feb ’13 – 2:11pm
    @ Zoe O’connell

    “Many thanks, Zoe – have updated the list to include Mark, which tips the proportion of Lib Dem MPs ‘For’ the Bill to 80%.”

    That’s almost exactly the findings of the poll of LD supporters! Spooky!

  • I think it’s worth noting that Sarah Teather hasn’t claimed that this is an issue of conscience. She hasn’t said “I am a Roman Catholic and my church teaches that homosexual relations are sinful and therefore I cannot in conscience support the Bill”. She has said that her decision has been reached on the basis of general considerations about the likely effect on marriage – not directly on her religious beliefs – and that it was a “finely balanced” decision.

    I’m not convinced any of that is really the case, but that’s what she has said publicly.

  • Thank you for posting that, Neil. I had misjudged Greg Mulholland’s reasons for abstaining. I actually agree with him pretty much in full. I would only take issue with respect to the process. If the government had done as he asked we would still be here years from now trying to get something done. This bill is not perfect and will not be perfect but it will establish once and for all the principle of same-sex marriage in UK law. The refinements which will inevitably come will not be subject to the same controversy.

  • In reply to query above — maybe not quite the Thought Police, but I am a bit fed up with the emails I get from Nick et al. telling me what has been the right course of action and expecting me to nod and think ‘Wonderful!’ especially when I think ‘Awful!’. And I am sad to see a comment questioning Sarah Teather’s sincerity. She’s a good strong character thinking for herself, I’d say! Liberalism should allow for a diversity of views. In cases where there is a huge societal change, maybe we should demand a two-thirds majority — though I can already hear shouts of ‘no!’ (please don’t bother).

  • Liberal Neil 6th Feb '13 - 3:02pm

    Don – I understand where you are coming from. I stopped reading the ones about Tuition Fees after a while for the same reason!

  • Don Manley “She’s a good strong character thinking for herself, I’d say”

    Out of interest if Sarah goes on to vote for Secret Courts, will you still think that?

  • I’m not sure this means the end of Sarah Teather’s political career, but I do think it will make a lot of party members think twice about travelling to Brent Central to help her campaign.

  • Richard Dean 6th Feb '13 - 3:33pm
  • Richard Dean 6th Feb '13 - 3:36pm

    There’s also something in the House of Commons Briefing paper, showing a strong correlation between poll sponsor and poll result – which just shows that you shouldn’t believe these polls too much

  • @conscientious libera
    Firstly good luck in finding that last ‘L’

    I’ll point you to Phyllis’s 2:24 post that the 80% of MPs in favour pretty much exactly matches the YouGov figures of part y supporters views (interestingly the Tory MPs vote matches their supporters as well, Labour MPs much more in favour than their voters) It’s clear that some of the 80% believe this should be an identity issue and not a conscience issue and you appear to be in this group – but party members and supporters have been drawn to the Lib Dems across a range of issues and I imagine there will be issues where you don’t agree with the party line, which others will find just as odd.

    As for Brent deliverers, I’m sure they can make their own minds up. I’ve seen firsthand how hard Sarah and her team work in the community – I think the 2nd most diverse constituency in the UK – and this vote won’t change any of that.

  • From the polling published this weekend:

    Would you support or oppose changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry?
    Support: 55%
    Oppose: 36%

    Amongst Conservative voters the results are 44% – 49% (which is a statistical dead heat, when you remember to factor in the margin of error).

    So I think you have misinterpreted the Poll results. It’s actually just over a third of the population who oppose SSM not almost a half – that s Tory supporters.

  • Sorry that last message was aimed at Richard Dean .

  • Richard Dean 6th Feb '13 - 6:42pm

    Phyllis. This bill alters things for a lot longer than just a weekend, so we’d need to see what the long term support is likely to look like. Page 23 of the Parliamentary Briefing Paper lists 16 polls that have been done in the last year and a half.

    Some of the 16 were done by organizations that clearly have an agenda, and these polls give results that are clearly outside the overall trend and generally support the sponsers’ agendas, which means the poll results are biased and should be discounted. This applies for the two polls by the Coalition for Marriage, one by Catholic Voices, and one poll by Freedom to Marry, perhaps also Stonewall who I don’t know.

    Looking at the remaining polls, generally for newspapers, support hovered around 40% up to about March last year, then increased to about 60% in December, and according to your figures is now beginning to drop, 5% already in less than a month. For most of the polls, there are some don’t knows, and the figures for oppose are usually a little less than support, though not every time.

    With such large variations in support over such a relatively short period of time, it’s evident that significant fractions of opinion are swayed by short-term events rather than mature, long-term considerations. All we can really say from these figures is that it looks like about half the population support change and a little under half oppose. This may change rapidly, since the present trend is for people to switch from support to oppose.

    This has several significant implications. One is that, if support continues on its downwards trend over the next two years, LibDems will be finding that they do not represent the voice of the people on this issue. This will obviously translate into less votes in 2015, particularly if the reform continues to be bungled and we end up with a situation with a minority – the gay community – having more rights than the majority.

  • Richard Dean

    I was merely pointing out that you were erroneous in saying:

    “Recent poll results published here on LDV show that a little under half the population would have voted against, and the MPs performances yesterday does not represent that well.” (See your first post above) .

    The link you gave in support of this shows this to be untrue.

  • Richard Dean “LibDems will be finding that they do not represent the voice of the people on this issue. This will obviously translate into less votes in 2015”

    Really?? You think this of all things is what will turn people away from the Lib Dems?? I would suggest it would only do so if people had mistaken the Lib Dems for the Tory Party.

  • Richard Dean 6th Feb '13 - 7:09pm

    The polls results I refer to are all recent – a year and a half is “recent” in the context of a long-term issue like this. Mark Pak’s article linked to one poll only, and I have linked to the Parliamentary Briefing Paper a couple of times.

    I think LibDems will get annihilated nationally in 2015, unless they change a huge lot. One of the things they need is a sense of what might be called “the country as a whole”, or “society”, rather than a collection of disparate individuals with rights. They need to get behind the concepts of representation and leadership, rather than focussing on protest and minority group support. They need a vision that has not become as meaningless as “fair” has.

    I think the Welsh LibDems might be an exception. Kirsty Williams is doing a pretty good job at focussing on real issues there.

  • conscientious libera 6th Feb '13 - 9:49pm

    Tpfkar: “Firstly good luck in finding that last ‘L’”
    – That really taught me.

  • Some MPs voted ‘for’ and ‘against’. Others simply did not turn up.

  • Richard Dean 7th Feb '13 - 11:49pm

    Personally I couldn’t care less if some people want to have same-sex marriages. But I do object to them changing the meaning of the words “husband” and “wife”. These words really are associated with genitals, even Wikipedia says so. Just as gay people appear to want to hide their sexual orientation on forms, both myself and my wife wish to have our sexual orientation visible. We have rights too.

  • Kevin McNamara 8th Feb '13 - 1:32pm

    “the gay community – having more rights than the majority.”

    are you SERIOUS?

  • Richard Dean 8th Feb '13 - 2:43pm


  • Arthur Graves 11th Feb '13 - 10:43am

    Sorry. Bit late on this but worth mentioning that Sarah Teather’s constituency has a large Muslim community which might be quite conservative in it’s views so voting against gay marriage could be electorally sensible for her…

    Does anyone remember Phil Woollas election leaflets last time round?

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