Praise for Lynne Featherstone from the newly-married Iain Dale

LBC Presenter, publisher and blogger Iain Dale and his husband John Simmons have recently converted their civil partnership to a marriage.

Iain wrote about the day they got married here.

He had some pretty fulsome praise for Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat minister who made it happen.

Finally, when we were sitting in the register office going through the paperwork I had a moment when I thought of Lynne Featherstone. Lynne was the LibDem Home Office minister who, with the backing of Theresa May and David Cameron brought in the Equal Marriage Act. She lost her seat at the election, but she will always be able to look back and think that this was a real political achievement. Just as Roy Jenkins will be remembered for decriminalising homosexuality, she will forever be associated with equal marriage. I can think of worse political legacies. Most ministers go through their careers achieving very little. She set out to do something and had the political courage and nouse to see it through.

Cheers Lynne.

Congratulations to Iain and John and their gorgeous doggies Bubba and Dude.

* Newshound in training. I'm sweet and full of mischief, just like my stories.

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14 Comments

  • I think most of the country will remember that the Equal Marriage Act was brought in by a Tory Home Secretary, who was appointed and supported by a Tory Prime Minister. Roy Jenkins is remembered for decriminalising homosexualty because he was the Home Secretary at the time, not a junior minister. Anyway I thought it was Maria Miller – Tory MP – who introduced the bill. Full credit to Lynne Featherstone for supporting the bill, but lets not make out the bill would have much – if any – different without her support.

  • John Tilley 18th Jun '15 - 7:07am

    “Just as Roy Jenkins will be remembered for decriminalising homosexuality…”

    I was not Roy Jenkins greatest fan but he was better than many of his contemporaries. I remember him for a number of things — a commitment to Europe, the formation of the SDP, a famous win in a parliamentary byelection, an unsuccessful attempt to reform the voting system for Westminster (he was another person duped by Blair).

    He also did various good things as Home Secretary in the 1960s including being very helpful to David Steel on the Abortion Act. It is interesting that Iain Dale remembers Roy Jenkins for one particular piece of legislation but I doubt if that is what most people would put top of their list.

    Malc in his comment is of course absolutely right about the role of junior ministers. Who can remember the name of any junior minister in the Home Office at the time when Roy Jenkins was Home Secretary?

    It is a sad fact of life for a number of our MPs and Ex-MPs but in the real world nobody remembers politicians for being junior ministers, even good ones like Lynne Featherstone.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Jun '15 - 10:48am

    We should hear from Lynne Featherstone herself. I recall that she said that as well as checking whether Nick Clegg was supportive, he was, she approached one of the Eagles to find out whether Labour would be supportive, they were. That might have been more difficult for a Tory Minister.

  • Lynne Featherstone 18th Jun '15 - 1:02pm

    Richard it was me – and me alone who was the originator and architect of same-sex marriage. But you will have to wait for the book! I was awarded politician of the year by Stonewall, Pink News and Attitude Magazine. Of course – in order to make it happen I had to get a lot of people on board and fight many battles (that is why the book will be interesting). And most importantly it was Liberal Democrat policy. Then people like Malc and John will hopefully be proved wrong.

  • Lynne Featherstone 18th Jun '15 - 1:03pm

    Richard it was me – and me alone who was the originator and architect of same-sex marriage. But you will have to wait for the book! I was awarded politician of the year by Stonewall, Pink News and Attitude Magazine. Of course – in order to make it happen I had to get a lot of people on board and fight many battles (that is why the book will be interesting). And most importantly it was Liberal Democrat policy. Then people like Malc and John will hopefully be proved wrong.

    And so when Malc says let’s not make out the Bill would have been much different without my support – the Bill would’t have existed!

  • John Tilley 18th Jun '15 - 3:09pm

    Lynne,
    I thought you were a brilliant minister. Unlike some of the others in the coalition you set a realistic, popular, Liberal Democrat target and you were dogged enough to achieve it and deliver a life-changing and historic piece of legislation. It was so good that David Cameron has been bragging about “his achievement” ever since.

    But as Ian Sanderson points out in his earlier comment nobody remembers Frank Soskice let alone any junior minister who worked under him.
    There is just no justice when it comes to being remembered for work in The Home Office. 🙂

  • Paul,
    I remember car stickers with “Marples Must Go” on them. I have no idea why though!

  • (Matt Bristol) 18th Jun '15 - 4:35pm

    People ‘remember’ ministers (even junion ministers) if they go on and do interesting things next.

    We remember Roy Jenksin’ actions on decriminalising homosexuality because it forms part of a narrative that goes on to include his later career.

    We remember that Churchill was at the Admiralty twice because of what happened next.

    We (well, I) remember that Gladstone was president of the Board of Trade and even Chancellor of the Exchequer because he went on to be PM.

    I hope you go on to (even more) greatness, Lynne.

  • The only point I was making was that the equal marriage act was introduced under a Tory Prime Minster and a Tory Home Secretary by a Tory MP – Maria Miller. Without them the bill would not have seen the light of day. I believe Lynne started the consultation period and was a strong supporter of the bill and she deserves a lot of credit for that, but she is being a little vain if she thinks the whole thing was down to her. She was one of the people who made it happen, but with or without her it would have happened because the time was right.

  • Philip Rolle 18th Jun '15 - 7:41pm

    Frank Soskice

  • Iain Sharpe 19th Jun '15 - 9:13am

    Winston Churchill said “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it”. That’s why it’s good that Lynne is writing a book. There is always a danger that the person who is the driving force behind a piece of legislation ends up as a mere historical footnote if they have been too modest and self-effacing about their achievement. Lynne is right not to fall into that trap. There are plenty of examples (Wilberforce on the slave trade, Shaftesbury on Factory Reform and Cobden on Free Trade) where the person who championed reform does get their due credit even when they were not the cabinet member under whose auspices legislation was passed.

  • John Tilley 19th Jun '15 - 7:35pm

    Iain Sharpe
    “…There are plenty of examples (Wilberforce on the slave trade, … ..) where the person who championed reform does get their due credit ….”

    Iain,
    Some people would say to you that in fact the people who actually championed the end of the slave trade (well over 100 years before Wilberforce came along) wereThe Quakers.
    http://www.quaker.org.uk/quakers-and-abolition-slave-trade

    So I agree with you that it s a good thing that Lynne is writing her own version. 🙂

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