Coffee House

Tensions in the tearoom on gay marriage

15 December 2012

This week’s developments over gay marriage have left a febrile atmosphere in the Conservative party. As Fraser wrote yesterday, David Cameron seems to have driven his party ‘quite mad’ by pursuing the policy, and the mood in the tearoom after Maria Miller’s statement on Tuesday certainly seems to have underlined that.

I understand from a number of MPs that there was an ‘excitable’ confrontation between a member of the 2010 intake and one of the members of the Freedom to Marry group. The new MP was irritated by the position that his colleague had taken and was jabbing his finger angrily as he spoke. One of the names on the grapevine is Alec Shelbrooke, but when I spoke to him yesterday afternoon, he said he hadn’t been involved in a confrontation:

‘I certainly don’t remember an excitable conversation. But my position is that I won’t vote for this unless we leave the European Court of Human Rights.’

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Tempers are running high, and one of the problems is that those who oppose gay marriage blame those in favour of it for causing such a row. Similarly, those who support the legislation are frustrated with its opponents for using such strong language in the Commons.

There are now a number of large splits in the Conservative party. Some MPs are in the rebel group on each issue. But the splits criss-cross different groups: there are the Lords rebels, the Europe rebels, the pro-statute and anti-statute Leveson groups, and the pro- and anti-gay marriage groups. As you move along that list, the splits and language across the divide become more and more emotional and heated.

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Show comments
  • Daniel Tekel Thomas

    Cameron doesn’t pay attention to anyone but himself and his closed circle of like minded friends.
    After claiming to be Eurosceptic before the election he now “believies that Britain’s place is in Europe”

    After giving his infamous cast iron guarantee before the election he believes that “now is not the time for a referendum”
    While he is imposing austerity at home he believes “that Britain cannot get itself out of trouble on the backs of the worlds poor” so foreign aid will double.
    As fuel bills increase driving millions into fuel poverty and despite evidence to the contrary Cameron is building windmills in Uganda and stopping cows farting in Colombia to help “combat climate change”
    Against the wishes of the majority of the British people C”I believe that homosexual marriage is a simple matter of equality”
    David Cameron is part of an arrogant elite who hold the British people in contempt.

  • fitz fitzgerald

    Calm down, chaps : you need the guidance of Constance Briscoe on this .

  • roger

    Am I the only person who thinks this gay marriage story is linked to almost all the other stories in Speccie this week, social care, demographics,violence, immigration, education and welfare . They are all functions of the way Britain has been badly led for decades, allowing a general moral decay in parallel with economic decline.
    The Cameron/Miliband show indicates that we haven’t even solved the class problem.

  • Kevin

    This reads like a very unserious posting.

    Are you sure you want to be a blogger?

  • David Lindsay

    Labour has confirmed a free vote on same-sex “marriage”, having never threatened to whip it in the first place, unlike both Coalition parties. Even the campaign in favour of this measure has to admit that it is in serious trouble, with a third of Labour MPs and a quarter of Lib Dems still undeclared, plus many of the rest held up as supporters on the basis of nothing more than single emails to constituents.

    Figures such as Gordon Brown, David Blunkett, Alistair Darling, Hazel Blears, Margaret Hodge and Margaret Beckett (a member of the National Executive Committee) have still either said nothing, or else, in Blunkett’s case, expressed studied ambiguity. Among the officially uncommitted and their constituencies, count the Catholic and Muslim areas, and count the Islamic and Irish names.

    The line seems to be, at least for now, that there are 11 avowed Labour opponents: Stephen Timms, Gavin Shuker, Jim Dobbin, Joe Benton, Mary Glindon, Brian Donohoe, Paul Murphy, Stephen Pound, Roger Godsiff, Paul Goggins, Austin Mitchell, and A N Other who joined Timms and Shuker in threatening to resign his or her front bench position if the Whip were imposed.

    But free votes are not granted on major pieces of legislation, and that at the Leader’s insistence despite fierce opposition from his Deputy and from other Shadow Cabinet members, merely because 11 out of 257 MPs have threatened to rebel if whipped, and three of those have threatened to resign junior front bench positions in order to do so. The true figures are in each case anything up to 10 times greater.

    It is also notable that Dobbin, Benton, Glindon (a 2010 entrant, like many of the undeclared), Murphy, Godsiff and Mitchell are all signatories to EDM 1334, the objection to the wider media’s discrimination against the Morning Star. Dobbin chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, Benton is its Secretary, Glindon is a practising Catholic, Murphy is a Papal Knight and significantly sceptical of Welsh devolution, and Godsiff and Mitchell embody the Keynesian and pro-Commonwealth Euroscepticism of the Old Labour Right.

    In other words, when pro-life activists, solid Catholics generally, staunch Welsh Unionists, and the heirs of Gaitskell, are also supporters of the Morning Star because of its trade union links and because of its different perspective on the news, then we are talking about
    that half-forgotten phenomenon, the Labour Movement. Out of that Movement comes a parliamentary opposition to same-sex “marriage” proportionately comparable to that which comes out of half-forgotten Toryism.

    And what of the Lib Dems? We are told that only Gordon Birtwhistle is opposed, although he is very strongly so. Well, he does have to defend Burnley. But there are plenty of silent voices from the Old Liberal heartlands of the West Country, the North of Scotland, and Mid Wales. Again, many of those seats are marginal, some of the Scottish ones extremely so. The SNP is likely to abstain, as it does at Westminster on matters devolved to Scotland. This Bill, which is a dog’s breakfast even in its own terms, is now in very serious trouble indeed. But then, it always was. Any Bill redefining marriage in this way was always going to be.

    The Civil Partnerships Act was a hard-won compromise within the Labour Party. There was never the slightest suggestion that it was a temporary measure on the way to same-sex “marriage”. Quite the reverse, in fact. It was the settlement, the deal, the last word. No fewer than 80, and possibly 100, Labour MPs, including figures of the utmost seniority, were always going to continue to take that view in the Division Lobby, partly out of principle, and partly because they had not yet acquired suicidal tendencies in relation to their reselection or re-election.

    There was never any serious suggestion that their doing so was going to result in their slightest loss of standing within their party. There is no longer any excuse even for any such unserious suggestion.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Go lie down.

      Your lefty buddies are all pro homosexual marriage, just as they’re all pro abortion, and they want to ram both down everybody’s throat by any means necessary. It’ll take more than one of your vacuous treatises to change that reality.

      • David Lindsay

        You are obviously thinking of David Cameron, who is pushing this legislation (the last Government specifically ruled it out) despite the overwhelming opposition of a public consultation, and who simply cancelled the ongoing public consultation on abortion because he frankly didn’t care what anyone thought.

        The Minister through him he made that latter announcement, one of Cameron’s closest allies, is an outspoken advocate of assisted suicide, to which Gordon Brown was most articulate in his opposition. Brown is one of more than 80 Labour MPs who have never so much as emailed a single constituent in favour of same-sex “marriage”. If that were left to the Tories, then it would pass comfortably. But it is not going to be left to the Tories.

        But then, you don’t know the first thing about Britain. There are rather a lot of you Americans on broadly Tory-affiliated British sites. Don’t you have anything else to do?

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Cameron is every bit the leftist that you are, and no need to read anything after that first bit of inanity.

          Go lie down.

          • David Lindsay

            Well, there is my point proved. Why you, and rather a lot of other Americans (from the tendency recently humiliated at the ballot box in your own country) who likewise know literally nothing about Britain, feel the need to haunt this and certain other British sites, I do not know. Presumably, it is because you can no longer get any hearing whatever at home.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Whatever dude. You of the homosexual marriage abortionist Left should all go lie down. We conservatives are on to you now. Heck, so are we liberals.

              • David Lindsay

                I could go on about how any American conservatism can only ever be a species of liberalism, and that in fact such is precisely the position to which the Americanised Conservative Party subscribes. Being pseudo-American, which it has certainly not always been, is exactly what gives rise to everything that you dislike about that party.

                Including this, which (like, for example, an elected second chamber, or starving nuclear power to death, or cutting the Royal Navy to the bone) has never been Labour Party policy, but is bound to be Conservative Party policy since it decided to become a mere satellite of American conservative liberalism.

                But what would be the point? “Whatever dude,” indeed…

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Well, there’s certainly no point to your claiming to be anything other than a leftist, running alongside your fellow homosexual marriage and abortion supporting lefty brethren.

                  I’m just amused at your attempted masquerade, is all. Wait… maybe it’s a dragshow… sorta fitting given the topic, no?

                  …but I agree… you “could go on”… and on… and on.

                • David Lindsay

                  Well, this is the only ever British Government to have supported homosexual “marriage”, and it is the most pro-abortion since Thatcher legalised the practice up to birth. In your terms, then this must be the most left-wing British Government ever, and far to the Left of its immediate predecessor.

                  Was Thatcher some sort of Leftist, whatever that really means? Along with Reagan, who legalised abortion in California and who appointed three pro-abortionists to the Supreme Court while he was President? There are those who say that Thatcher and Reagan were
                  indeed Leftist snakes in the grass. But I would never have had you down
                  as one of them.

                  Abortion was also legalised in New York by a Republican; a future Republican Vice-President, in fact. His elite liberal WASPery and the Irish Catholicism of his Democratic opponents rather recall David Cameron and the increasingly organised Labour opposition to same-sex “marriage”. Even Ed Miliband’s background on the secular Jewish Left, but his need to keep his very different co-partisans on side, rather fits the pattern.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  I don’t really care which leftist British government pushes your lefty agenda. And I can’t wade through all your nonsense postings. Sorry.

                  Your lefty friends are pro homosexual marriage, and pro abortion. That’s all you need to know, even as you ponce about to the contrary.

                  Oh, and go lie down.

                • David Lindsay

                  And the Republican Party? It is bad enough that, at least at Presidential level, the Democratic Party has become an organ of NARAL, and in no small measure accounts for many of its Presidential defeats in the age of abortion.

                  But at least that does not have the outright falsehood built into the transformation of the pro-life organisations into servants of the Republican Party, having to pretend that even Mitt Romney, a man who continues to derive an income from the taxpayer funding of abortion that he introduced in Massachusetts, was somehow pro-life merely because he was the RNC nominee.

                  Pro-abortion voters were not being deceived into supporting Obama, although more of them than you might think still don’t like him and think that the ghastly Hillary Clinton would have been better. Pro-life voters supporting Romney (or McCain, or Bush II, or Dole, or Bush I, or Reagan, or Ford, or Nixon who first permitted taxpayer-funded abortions on overseas military bases) were being actively lied to.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  All that unread nonsense, and you’re still a pro homosexual marriage, pro abortion leftist masquerading as something else.

                  Go lie down.

                • David Lindsay

                  Like Glenn Beck, I suppose.

                  But unlike enough Labour MPs to have forced a free vote, including, in Gavin Shuker, a 31-year-old Shadow Minister who is also the only Pentecostal pastor in Parliament.

                  At any rate, until between 10 and 20 are of them brought in next time as the Labour MPs for largely black seats. To be followed by that number again in 2020, and again in 2025. The deals are already being struck. And that’s before we even mention the Muslims.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  We don’t have to “suppose”. You’re a lefty, and you support the abortionists and homosexual marriageists.

                • David Lindsay

                  I didn’t vote for Mitt Romney, nor would I have done. I wouldn’t have voted for Ronald Reagan, Nelson Rockefeller or Margaret Thatcher, either. And I didn’t vote for David Cameron. So no, I am not. You are.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  You support lefties, meaning they and you are pro abortion and pro homosexual marriage.

                  Dress in drag all you want, but there is no getting around that.

    • Austin Barry


      WTF does this mean:

      “There was never any serious suggestion that their doing so was going to result in their slightest loss of standing within their party. There is no longer any excuse even for any such unserious suggestion.”

      You mistake prolixity for erudition and tortuous construction for argument.

      Keep it brief, mate.

      • David Lindsay

        It is not my problem if you were ruggered and buggered to brainlessness in your formative years. The wonder is that you are not in the present Cabinet.

        • Austin Barry

          ‘ruggered and buggered” ?

          I defer to your expertise on these matters.

          • David Lindsay

            I have only played rugby once in my life. Never again.

            And I cannot be buggered, for medical reasons. It would probably kill me.

            Mind you, so would playing rugby again.

            • IRISHBOY

              Medical reasons may stop inward traffic, but the outflow is prodigious.

              • telemachus

                expand and explain

  • FrankS

    The pro “gay marriage” argument rests on the propostion that Marriage is no more than a partnership between two people with the word marriage atached to it.
    The “same sex marriage” doubters believe marriage amounts to more than this – and are left to wonder why the “pro” lobby are so keen to trivialise something which they desire so strongly.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Wow. Well said. In rough terms, that would seem to describe the 2 sides of the argument.

      • FrankS

        Well yes. I suppose it is stating the blooming obvious, but the “pro” lobby do like to scream that opposition can only be down to “homophobic bigotry”.

        To put it more bluntly, the “pro” argument boils down to: “Marriage is not available to gays, therefore no-one may have it “. This could be labelled heterophobic bigotry.
        (Interestingly, the spell checker hear flags up heterephobic but homophobic is unchallenged.)

      • Colonel Mustard

        You two should get married. You deserve each other.

        “The viceroy’s gin” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

        • the viceroy’s gin

          You’re weird, buddy.

  • foxoles

    If Dave and Nick want to get hitched, why can’t they just be content with a civil partnership?

  • HooksLaw

    Another more important topic

    ‘Economic optimism spurred as construction grows 8.3pc in October
    Official figures showed that Britain’s construction activity jumped in
    October, spurring hopes that the sector might help limit an economic squeeze
    in the final quarter.’

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    It almost seems like it’s Cameron’s mission to destroy the Conservative Party.
    He’s doing a bloody good job of it as well. In fact, it’s the only thing he IS doing well.

  • Open_Palm

    “If this were a real battle for equality, with a genuine goal, Cameron would probably be backed by his party. But as things stand, this just looks like a fake re-enactment of a battle won eight years ago by a Labour government that was not stupid enough to pick a fight with Britain’s churches in the process. Like so many of this Government’s mistakes, it would never have been attempted had it been properly thought through.”

    – Fraser Nelson, Telegraph 10th May 2012

    • the viceroy’s gin

      The poor Speccie teenager is torn betwixt and between.

      Whether to support the paymasters/benefactors, or the previous blather, that is the question.

  • MirthaTidville

    My word Nigel Farage must be thinking its all his Christmases come at once….

    • George Igler

      Some friends invited me to a UKIP do this week at which senior figures of the party were practically high-fiving about it all.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Yes, UKIP can remain silent, pursue their EU oppositional agenda, and watch the rest of these idiots self destruct.

        It’s just perfect for them.

  • Troika21

    The way I’ve seen the gay marriage issue, is that Civil Partnerships are rather mealy-mouthed leftism. They are marriage is all but name, but when they were introduced they couldn’t quite bring themselves to go the full distance.

    Frankly, I thought conservatives were the ones who made tough decisions, yet what should be a minor correction to an anomaly in our legal system drives them into hysterics.

  • Augustus

    Nobody should feel genuine discrimination because of their sexual inclinations, but can we please stop magnifying a dumb gesture into an act of sociological
    and moral significance. Marriage is, and always has been, understood in civilized society as only between a man and a woman. Indeed, if human beings reproduced independently and human offspring was self-sufficient, would any culture have developed an institution anything like what we know as marriage? Redefining marriage can only lead to increased rates of out-of-wedlock childbirth, cohabitation and divorce, all things which undermine the foundation of family and society, without which there would be neither civilization, nor progress.

  • Common Purpose

    David Cameron needs to assert leadership here, one component of which is the ability to change course.

    He should heed Sir John Rose(CEO Rolls Royce PLC).

    “Leadership, in and out of authority, takes courage; a broad view; common sense;
    a small ego; the ability to focus and concentrate effort; a preparedness to
    change your mind publicly for the right reasons; and an ability to engage and
    influence people.”

    • MirthaTidville

      “Leadership, in and out of authority, takes courage; a broad view; common sense;
      a small ego; the ability to focus and concentrate effort; a preparedness to
      change your mind publicly for the right reasons; and an ability to engage and
      influence people.”

      Well that lets Cameron out then..

    • Daniel Maris

      Oh Lord, spare me CEOs pontificating about leadership; lead me not into anything much, thanks.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Cameron could exercise all your leadership blather by resigning posthaste.

  • HooksLaw

    Another more important topic, it illustrates the true depth of our multiple dip recession.

  • HooksLaw

    A more important topic. Latest IPCC report effectively admits they got it wrong.

    ‘contains game-changing admission of enhanced solar forcing – as well as a lack of warming to match model projections, and reversal on‘extreme weather’

    ‘No significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency…does not support AR4 conclusions regarding global increasing trends in droughts…low confidence
    regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale…there is currently no clear and widespread evidence for observed changes in flooding’

  • echo34

    They’ll pay at the polls for their complete misunderstanding of public mood and the fact other issues must take greater priority.

    Useless idiots.

    • telemachus

      The public could not actually give a stuff
      The only consequence is a mediafesttt talking puma Tory punch up
      Perhaps sadly it will all be forgotten in 2015
      But the Eds will get in on the economy anyway

  • Colonel Mustard

    In almost all these issues it boils down to the conflict between those who are “liberal bigots” (© Peter Hitchens) and those who are not. But the common ground for the “liberal bigots” (© Peter Hitchens) is calling all those who disagree with them “bigots”, “homophobes”, “racists”, “little englanders”, “loons”, “nutjobs”, “spittle-flecked”, “insert favoured pejorative here”, etc.

    • Colonel Mustard

      PS I’d just like the freedom in a democracy to disagree, even with the majority, to express that disagreement and not to be abused for it – or stalked by the telemachus troll.

    • Toxteth O’Grady

      You forgot ‘swivel eye’d’.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Not really, see “insert favoured pejorative here” and “etc.”! 😉

    • George Igler

      …”vile”, “ranting”, “obsessed”, “xenophobic”, “populist”, “dealer in the politics of division”, or just “divisive”; “far-Rightist”, “Rightist”, “hard Rightist” or the possible worst of all “socially conservative; “hate-mongering”, “stubborn”, “angry”, “offensive”; “aggressive” and “intolerant”, usually just after violence has been called for against the person expressing the “unacceptable” view;…

      …”unseemly”, “incautious”, “unfeeling”, “insensitive” (this one tends to follow a critique of those who would hang homosexuals and rape children);… “rude”, “irrelevant”, “backward”;…

      …then there are the ones maintaining that truth is somehow time-sensitive like: “reactionary”, “stuck/living in the past”, “Victorian”, “from the middle-ages” or “dark ages”; “minority held”, “irrelevant” and “out of touch” are beautiful examples usually deployed when a person is outnumbered 4 to 1 on Question Time against a hand picked BBC audience, while expressing opinions that chime totally with the repeatedly stated vast majority view of national polling data;…

      …”incoherent”, “baseless”, “out of context”, “conspiracy theory” (following a detailed and evidenced critique when the opponent is dealing in nothing more than their own wishful thinking); “imperialistic”, “unhelpful”, “odious”, “foul”;…

      …”strident”, “red-faced”, “puce faced”, “ranting”, and “fulminating” all screamed at the only person speaking calmly, who is being constantly interrupted; then there are the delightfully pathologizing variants: “deranged”, “batty”, “unhinged,” “bat-shit crazy”; and my personal favourite the chillingly exterminatory: “someone whose views have no place in modern Britain”. The latter expressed most forcefully if someone dared question the political content of the Olympic opening ceremony, which they like everyone else had paid for.

      And whoever said Twitter doesn’t have its uses?

      • HooksLaw

        The only thing I can remember about the Olympic opening ceremony is the Queen parachuting out of a helicopter – oh and there were some fireworks. I doubt anybody (except their mothers) can name who lit the ‘sacred flame’.

        Oh I take it back – the Olympic flame was a fantastic piece of sculpture.

        So wingeing on about the opening ceremony just summarises what stupidity it is to get hysterical about pointless things

        • George Igler

          I missed one! I missed one!


          It doesn’t matter that vast amounts of public money were used to produce an intentionally politicized “social workers’ history” of Britain at a supposedly apolitical sporting event… oh no.

          Or that anyone who deigned to object in a purported country of free speech, was immediately descended on by a swarm of harpies hissing at them chillingly that they “had no place in modern Britain”… tish and pshaw.

          Nope, what matters is that you’ve forgotten all about it, and anyone who hasn’t is clearly “hysterical” and may therefore have their views discounted.

          You my friend, are simply priceless. I can’t thank you enough for so brilliantly illustrating the point under discussion.

          • telemachus

            Hang homosexuals that rape children is the most heinous juxtaposition of four words that I have ever seen written on this blog
            Mebbe we need a blue pencil hereabouts
            (Or an editorial delete button)

            • George Igler

              Very true. Shame I never said it, dimbo. Check the different grammatical conjunction.

              So no it isn’t “the most heinous juxtaposition of four words that [you] have ever seen written on this blog”, because those four words were *never* juxtaposed in that way. You never *did* see it.

              Don’t think we’ve ever had more conclusive proof that regardless of the circumstances, you see precisely what it is that you want to see, despite all the evidence to the contrary directly in front of your eyes!

              • telemachus

                Hang homosexuals(your subtext) and rape children(the words after the last 2 intended as graphic)
                The message is clear
                You intend to shock
                You intend to belittle a serious argument by sending it towards the gutter
                You are a Johnny come lately who is in danger of Eddie-fying the CH site

                • George Igler

                  “You intend to shock.”

                  There you are again, all your positional assessment criteria are based entirety not on content, but what you believe the other person’s intention is. In fact you invent it for them, and then pass judgement upon an individual solely for the motives that you’ve just made up for them.

                  I bet you find it really perplexing why nobody chooses to engage with your opinions, don’t you?

                • telemachus

                  Type recognition
                  True believers engage

          • Colonel Mustard

            “No place in modern Britain”. Isn’t that a fantastic piece of verbalised fascism from the sort of pog-weasels who support Unite Against Fascism. And the resident Labour troll-parrot with his little red rose (“Why should you think me a member of the Labour party”) uses that very expression below.

            “Someone whose views have no place in modern Britain”.

            Fantastic. Incredible. The lack of self-awareness is remarkable. At the same time as they drone on about “equality” and “fairness” and “diversity” and seek to legislate the minutiae of brown paper bags, here they are emulating those who thought that Jews had no place in the new national socialist “one nation” being built beneath the smoke pall of a thousand concentration camps.

            Resistance is not futile. It has never been more necessary.

            • telemachus

              Are those who invoke the holocaust in danger of promoting just such calumnies in our well ordered integrated society?

              • Colonel Mustard

                Since you already have the answer in your fevered brain there is no point in attempting any kind of reply. I know your nasty little game well by now.

      • telemachus

        You’re prevaricating. If you didn’t mean what you said, you shouldn’t have said it. It’s the price of being glib. Night night

      • Daniel Maris

        There’s a rather unfortunate slip in what you wrote…

        • telemachus

          But also a few self truths
          Someone whose views have no place in modern Britain

    • Ali Buchan

      But it’s all relative. Presumably, you wouldn’t argue that genuinely racist or homophobic views, for example, should be given freedom from the accusation of ‘bigotry’? Think the current attempted legislation in Uganda.

      One of the reasons this situation riles the proponents of the change so much is that the opposition really does appear to inhabit some (admittedly very mild) part of the homophobic spectrum – mainly because there seems to be no good argument for the status quo without recourse to ‘history’ (whatever that is), ‘traditional definitions’ and so forth.

      I’m not saying that this is my point of view, but the Occam’s Razor observation, which Will Self mentioned during Question Time, holds some weight. If it feels like homophobia, it looks like homophobia and it smells like homophobia, the simplest and, therefore, likeliest reason is that it probably is.

      Genuine question, because any replies you’ve given to me so far have been well-balanced and well-thought-out: In your opinion, why should gay marriage continue to be forbidden in statute?

      • George Igler

        The problem, is that “homophibia” is no longer largely a concept defining a genuine feeling. It is being utilized as a cynical political tool, a “creeping barrage” to secure the incremental social objectives of a statistically tiny proportion of a small number of the population with vast and totally and intentionally ignored consequences for society as a whole.

        Peter Hitchens’s very valid and apposite point on Question Time, was that you can bang on about Occam’s razor, and “isn’t it obvious”, all you like: what that all comes down to is a simple rhetorical ploy for not having to engage with the arguments of your opponents; allowing you to steamroller through any proposal you like.

        Just call a person you disagree with a name, and you can completely ignore their opinions. In fruitful discussion seeking to invent a condemnable “motive” for your opponent is an irrelevance. What matters is the *substance* of a person’s position and then whether it represents the majority view, and whether it can be countered on the basis of argument or evidence.

        “I have decide to arbitrarily declare that you are a person with character-trait-X, therefore your opinion can be removed from the chess board” is a mutually exclusive moral proposition with “you are an intolerant bigot”. It’s just a trick to silence and ignore people and hammer through whatever you want.

        • Ali Buchan

          What I thought, when Hitchens replied, was that there aren’t currently any arguments with which to engage. Certainly not ones that don’t resort to the words ‘history’ and ‘tradition’.

          That’s why I come here; in the hope of finding and understanding the arguments for the retention of the status quo. The question is, why should we deny, by law, one group of people a liberty which the rest of us are free to enjoy? Few questions, and the quality of the subsequent answers, are more important than that one.

          (Worth bearing in mind that the ‘majority view’ has often been on the side of the preservation of discrimination, in the past, and has required a group or a person of vision to turn minds around. Plato’s Cave is a useful analogy.)

          • Colonel Mustard

            I don’t believe the preservation of discrimination is an imperative but rather an unavoidable aspect in a majority democracy. As a nation I sometimes think we set the “equality and fairness” bar too high and in an unrealistic way, giving ourselves no end of problems. We also tend to try to please everyone – ditto. Discrimination – or the accusation of it – is too often harnessed to a promotion agenda. It is a fact that in a country that one party leader boasts of as “one nation” English students are discriminated against with tuition fees. That discrimination within a supposedly “United” Kingdom, is pernicious on a much greater scale and affects far more people than limitations to gay marriage, but it goes largely unremarked. So accusations of discrimination become a tool in the toolbox of minority agenda lobbying. I can move to Saudi Arabia to live and I could argue that not being able to worship in a Christian church there discriminates against me. It does, but arguing that therefore the Saudi Arabian state must change is both unrealistic and unwarranted.

          • George Igler

            My long comment here:

            …might give you a few to get your teeth into. I’m always happy to encounter someone with an open mind happy to be swayed by the evidence rather than an agenda.

            A rare thing indeed these days.

            The truth is that there are a positive flood of extremely intelligent and nuanced arguments against this measure, all of which were flatly and deliberately ignored. (Googling the essays on the subject by the US writer Dr Sam Schulman is very enlightening.)

            The Coalition for Marriage was the largest fringe meeting at the Tory party conference, the press and the official party completely ignored its presence. Time and again Gay campaigning groups were asked to participate in public debates on the subject, these were all rejected, because they knew the matter was a sewn up foregone conclusion from the start.

            As soon as our politicians here saw how Obama backing it in the US led the media to so overwhelmingly swing behind his campaign, you can’t even begin to imagine it unless you saw it there: the near total and overwhelming media execration of Romney/Ryan from top to toe, to re-elect a presidency that should have had no logical reason for winning: trust me, the fix was in.

          • daniel maris

            I;ve stated the argument clearly.

            The institution of permanent monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is the bedrock of our society. Children thrive in stable family set ups. They don’t thrive under polygamous marriages or under the “serial polygamy” of western style adult relations that are replacing permanent monogamous marriage. If you dispute that I am happy to provide the statistical evidence that shows children raised outside marriage do worse on all measures.

            To allow gay marriage is to accept that somehow people’s personal fulfilment and their “equality” rights trump this benevolent institution.

            But why is a gay’s personal fulfilment and equality rights more important than a Muslim’s. Why can’t the Muslim have his polygamous marriage and thus be equal with the gays who want to marry? Answer me that.

            • Ali Buchan

              I think they should be able to, as long as they’re consenting ‘adults’ -however we define that word – who enter into wedlock voluntarily.

              ‘Bedrock’ is subjectively Flinstonian. ‘Family set-up’ is subjective, too. And it’s very dangerous to deny people a liberty because you believe it will have an adverse effect on their children/adopted children.

        • telemachus

          Can you explain to a simple minded fool what that bilge was about?
          As far as I can see you are simply trying to cloak your odious homophobia in the Oxford English Dictionary

          • George Igler


            (1) if you make it acceptable for specific groups of people to just call everyone else names,
            (1.1) in order to get others to cower and do whatever you want,
            (2) they don’t stop doing it,
            (2.1) but keep doing it to accomplish greater and greater selfish objectives.
            (3) This all results in severe and serious consequences for society, (4) and the eventual and inevitable devaluation of the well-intentioned “term” being utilized.

            Is that all nice and clear for you know? There have been two examples of the phenomenon this week alone.

            I must say that I must be a very odd sort of homophobe, given that all the arguments I use, like virtually everyone else’s comment in this thread, can be used just as equally to *ANY* re-definition of marriage, which is why I hardly mention gay people at all.

            You’re the one so obsessed with homosexuality, that you have to insist that every one else has a secret subtext about it that motivates them. Pot. Kettle.

            • telemachus

              This comes into the category of methinks he doth protest too much
              It is very clear to me that you have posted at least eight comments confirming your adherence and promotion of the alleged subtext

              • George Igler

                This is what you simply don’t get. The issue is not gay people, it is so only for the proposers of “reform”, while being at the same time the entirely imagined obsession of their opponents.

                Get it through your head, it’s not about what a minority may or not may not think about gay people.

                It’s about what the majority thinks about marriage; who will live as a consequence of its definition, and in a society that will be tailored by the results of that definition.

                It is your simple refusal to even contemplate this possibility, right at the premise stage of argument, that has made you even more detached from reality than usual on this one.

                • telemachus

                  I do see the point but I know it is not true
                  To most marriage is the social thing straight folks do
                  The right are upset because the liberals want to let them in
                  That is all your capitalisation gives us the truth of that

          • MirthaTidville

            well you have finally realised what you are

            • Guest

              Do you know how you argue? Like a six year old… who drinks.

      • Colonel Mustard

        That is an interesting but ultimately flawed argument. Whilst there may be and probably are “homophobes” within opposition to gay marriage I’m not sure that matters. No one scrutinises homosexuals very closely about how they feel about heterosexuals because the issue is about minority rights. But within the agenda for gay marriage there are no doubt some people whose motives are just as bigoted as those within the opposite lobby – who probably don’t give a fig about gay rights but are just using it as a cudgel to beat those targeted by their own prejudices.

        Again this is an attempt to put a moral certitude on an argument which comes down to personal values and beliefs. Personally I think the government’s proposed legal ban on gay marriage in the Church of England is heavy handed but I understand (imperfectly) that there are complex constitutional reasons for it. I do believe that Christians who object to and refuse participation in gay marriage on the grounds of their beliefs should not and must not be at risk of persecution or prosecution. The difficulty is that some will see that as discrimination and it collides head on with equality laws. Cynically I don’t believe it is possible to treat all minority groups “equally” or “fairly” without creating horrendously complex legal issues and the risk of a “tyranny of minorities” – which is what we are seeing more and more. In most countries it is accepted that the majority in a democracy should prevail and in this country the majority are still Christian and accept that the Church of England is a central part of our establishment. Even people who don’t regularly attend church choose to go there for weddings, baptisms and funerals. By all means disagree with all that but don’t expect to change it any time soon from the perspective of a minority agenda. And to suggest, as Self seemed to, that the Church should be divorced from the state to overcome an issue involving a very tiny minority of homosexuals seems to me the very tip of the tail attempting to wag a very large dog!

        • Ali Buchan

          I’m wary of arguments that ascribe views and beliefs to words like ‘most people’ and ‘the majority’, but I accept your points.

          I just don’t think any one person belonging to a ‘majority’ should have more state-sanctioned opportunities – whatever they may be – than one person belonging to a ‘minority’. Isn’t that the very definition of a tyranny of the majority?

          It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that I hope I see the day when we become a truly secular republic. As Mill said, though, “He who knows only his side of the case knows little of that.” which is why I very much enjoy these exchanges!

          • Colonel Mustard

            I think that might be true if there were no opportunities but I don’t believe that to be the case here. We have religious tolerance which means people are free to worship in the way they choose. Gays are free to establish the Church of Gay Marriage if they wish to.

            As to a secular republic I would only caution to be careful what you wish for and that perhaps you might benefit from a closer appraisal of the advantages of our constitutional monarchy and why so many Commonwealth countries value that hidebound institution (hidebound in the sense that it is constant in duty and cannot be hi-jacked to an extremist political agenda). Compare and contrast with the situation in Russia, in Egypt and the scenes in the Ukrainian parliament!

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Well, I doubt many countries feel as you’re stating. They’ve moved on.

              The root of this, and the only significant issue, appears to be the state established religion. Lose that, and much of this dissipates. You’d have the Church of Gay Marriage and whichever else, and nothing state sponsored in conflict.

              • Colonel Mustard

                I don’t care about those other countries, many of them seriously flawed and failed republics. I care only about this one, which is a constitutional monarchy with the Church of England as the established church. I am content with that. Others who are not are free to campaign to change it or move elsewhere.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Although it’s false that “many of them (are) seriously flawed and failed republics” as you bluster, neither do I care about them, and I mention them only inasmuch as the previous poster thinks they matter somehow to what happens to the CoE. Those countries don’t matter, simply because they don’t care either way. They’re all smart enough not to have an established state religion, cognizant of the devious ways that can be abused, as here.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  I’m not blustering and its not false. It’s a fact. Part of the reason that the EU is so unpopular here is because it is forcing European republican political systems on us with their turgid bureaucratic machinery. 67 years ago we had a healthy contempt for European systems of government and were confident in our own. Now we want to smash ours up to emulate them? Pff!

                  One thing I appreciate about Mr Ali Buchan is that he can debate robustly without descending to abuse. I salute him for that.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  I’m not talking about the EU, although few of them qualify for your “failed” re-bluster, either. This is more about the Canadas et al, who you fancied to be favorable to your point of view. They don’t care, even as you bluster that they do.

                  They do not have an established religion. They see the folly in it.

                  And buddy, you don’t post “my way or the highway” and then complain about the tone of somebody else’s post. That’s ridiculous, and I don’t salute you for that. Smarten up, please.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  You think there are no failed states in the EU? Poppycock.

                  I never mentioned Canada in the context of state religion. I never claimed they were favourable to my “point of view”. I never claimed they had an established religion.

                  I never posted “my way or highway”. I did not create the status quo of constitutional monarchy and established church but I am content with it from a personal viewpoint.

                  I don’t want or value your salute, thanks. What is ridiculous is creating an imaginary “bluster” (see above) so that you can disagree with it in abusive terms. You seem to have a problem with comprehension but there is something of a problem on this site with people re-writing other peoples comments to feed their own prejudices.

                  And just who the Hell are you to tell me to smarten up?

                  PS I’m not your buddy.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Buddy, you claimed they were all failed states. They’re not. Not even close. That’s what I said to you.

                  A bit of semantic masturbation for you, then? A bit of pettifogging? You were not speaking about Canada and “established religion”? Well, nicely weaseled, my friend. Nicely pettifogged. Well done.

                  But yes, you reached out to the other countries who allegedly support your ideas, and I pointed out to you that they don’t, and your ideas would have to stand on their own. After that challenge, that’s when you blustered they were failures. And pettifogging follows bluster, generally, assuming a narrowing and sober retreat doesn’t. You chose the former.

                  And yes, you signaled “my way or the highway”, as the closing sentence to your blusterous post I first made note of. It’s right there for you to review, if you require a memory refresh. You seem to be following the bluster/pettifog continuum there as well, rather than a sober narrowing and reflection on previous statements.

                  Now, you can choose any path you want, but when you choose the path of supporting state established religion, and raise a din of some fantasized support of all these other peoples/nations abroad who’d suffer without it, consider it likely that a conservative is going to point out that about the only other peoples/nations who agree with you on a need for state established religion are the communist Chinese and the islamofascists. That’s the group you’ve bundled up with here, and no pettifog or bluster will expand that group. It is what it is.

                  You don’t have to be my buddy, but you do have to smarten up.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  What a load of twaddle.

                  Me: “…many of them seriously flawed and failed republics.”

                  You: “…you claimed they were ALL failed states” (my emphasis).

                  My case rests and I suggest, “buddy”, that you try RTFP before inserting your large foot in your even bigger mouth. And news for you – I don’t have to be your buddy or smarten up at your say so.

                  (We get that you are probably an atheist Republican Canadian who dislikes the Monarchy, ok, but better not hang your hang ups on my comments – make your own, there’s a good chap)

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  More semantic masturbation, I see, and apparently you’re comfortable with your “case” resting in that activity.

                  As you and the communist Chinese and the islamofascists seem to see things similarly, perhaps you and they can form a circle and engage your mutual activity together. But leave the rest of us out of it, in post and deed. We have no need, your posts to the contrary.

                  And you and your circle mates do need to smarten up, fyi.

          • Daniel Maris

            If you enjoy debate, answer the question I put to you above.

            • Ali Buchan

              Hopefully there’s an acceptable point above.

              Out of interest, do you believe that homosexual love is the exact equal of heterosexual love?

              • Colonel Mustard

                No. It is not the exact equal. It cannot be. It is at best a comparable “equal” in that both involve the same generic emotion expressed towards a human being. In the universe there is no Yang Yang or Ying Ying but only Ying and Yang. Complementary forces interacting to form a whole greater than either separate part to create a dynamic. That is exemplified by man and woman and family that creates the dynamic for a harmonious society. Homosexual marriage can seek to imitate that by redefining words and resorting to adoption, say, but that is an artificial construct and not a natural one. And it is too early to say how or if such a change might contribute to a harmonious society. There is an argument that homosexual marriage, as envisaged, would be a stabilising influence within society but the context of society within the natural universe is infinitely arguable.

                But there are so many forms of love and so many stimulants for them. If the left believed truly in diversity the notion of absolute equality would be ridiculous. What they believe in are agendas to secure absolute power to coerce others to think as they do. This is progressed within the trumpeted deceit of being morally correct. Of course one cannot yet coerce thought but the process intimidates and suppresses the free articulation of thought in speech and writing. Without that freedom the thought of others is effectively influenced by the absence of honest counter argument and thus the left prevail. It is the very essence of the Political Correctness and Groupthink that feeds their power and the power of any totalitarian enterprise.

              • Daniel Maris

                Given love is not a quantity I don’t see how it could be “the exact equal”.

                It’s a pattern of experience that obviously has a lot of similarities with the pattern of experience of heterosexual love but it clearly isn’t the same pattern.

      • ButcombeMan

        Because it is a contradiction in terms. Homosexuality cannot embrace marriage just as homosexuality cannot embrace male/female sexual congress.

        The very suggestion it can, is innately & biologically impossible. Marriage is not just a word. It is word with a meaning that does not encompass and can never encompass, homosexuality.

        This is all about Cameron “newspeak” and language re-definition.

        He has made a great mistake. Civil partnerships were fine and should have been left alone.

        • Ali Buchan

          Isn’t that why it would be better to just remove all references to the word ‘marriage’ in statute?

  • HooksLaw

    There is a big split in the Labour Party – between those who want to lie a lot in order to return to power and those who only want to lie a little.

  • George Igler

    The government’s “consultation” on gay marriage received 228,000 anonymous frequently international responses, the slight majority of whom were for the measure. During the same time the Coalition for Marriage collected over 621,000 names of those against the proposal.

    The government, which was always going to bring this in no matter what, response? To simply pretend that the number of signatures on the C4M petition didn’t exist, excluding them at a stroke from the process. Of course you’ll not have read this fact in any Spectator piece on the matter.

    So I wonder what possible reason, “those who oppose gay marriage [might have for blaming] those in favour of it for causing such a row”?

    • Coffeehousewall

      A very good point George. Why has the Spectator not addressed the scandal of the rejection at a stroke of 620,000 electors contrary wishes? Surely this is a significant matter? Does the Spectator have not comment beyond the fact that the editorial team have already signalled that they want this proposal railroaded through.

      If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.

      • Daniel Maris

        Isn’t it a wonder to behold that the leading conservative magazine in the UK can’t come up with a single argument for defending the institution of marriages as understood in this land for milennia?

        • George Igler

          What an astonishingly pithy, accurate, astute and incontravertable condemnation. Puts my own rambling contributions to shame.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        The Speccie is and has been a leftist rag. Get used to these sorts of omissions. It is how the Left operates.

        But yes, in a proper media world, these issues would be explored comprehensively in media. But again, the Speccie and other leftists don’t subscribe to such as that. So omission it is.

      • telemachus

        Yes vicar you are certainly part of the problem

    • telemachus

      Just who are these Coalition for Marriage folk and do they not realise that their title implies acceptance of the measure
      In truth it mattereth not
      Noone will care by 2015

      • George Igler

        They would be the folk who collected well over twice the number of responses of the government’s exercise all opposed to the state redefinition of the concept of marriage, the folk who have so decisively proved that the so-called “public consultation” was no such thing and a completely dishonest sham never intended to do anything other than provide a fig-leaf of acceptability to the driving through of a measure that no party had a mandate for.

        Which is one of the main reasons for the resentment referred to in the article, which the article for its own dishonest reasons itself, chooses not to mention.

        You really must attempt to read comments before replying to them, try using a finger next time.

      • MirthaTidville

        These Coalition for Marriage folk, believe it or not, are ordinary people, voters if you like or bigots to the liberal gay whatsit lot..and do you know the best bit Tele old son……they all have a vote!!

  • Michael990

    What a pitiful display from both sides for something of zero importance. Cameron appears intent on the destruction of what he describes as his party.

    • Farenheit211

      Michael990. I couldn’t agree more. There was no need for Cameron to open up this can of worms. There was already de facto equality in partnerships with the existence of Civil Partnerships. The only thing that I could see that needed sorting out was to amend the CP legislation to allow those religious organisations like the Quakers, the Unitarians and the Liberal Jews to hold combined commitment and CP ceremonies, whilst having proper protection for those religious groups that didn’t wish to do these sort of ceremonies. This legislative change could have been done in a much more discreet an less heated way, than the coalition have approached this issue. It is a non issue because partnership equality already exists. It is only the professional gay activists who are making an issue of it and don’t forget that of those professional activists, Stonewall were very close to the last Labour Government. Do not ignore the political kudos to be gained for a Labour supporting organisation should they sow dissent among Tories.

      • HooksLaw

        My advice is to keep well away from gay people in case they infect you.

        • Colonel Mustard

          I think you’ll find a difference between gay people and the gay agenda lobby. Just as there is often a difference between the public and the agenda lobbies that claim to represent them. I have several gay friends and like them much better than some hetero friends but I don’t like the gay agenda lobby and I don’t want to see devout Christians misrepresented or persecuted for their beliefs. I’m sure that I’d prefer the company of a gay conservative to a hetero lefty. To paraphrase the “liberal bigot” (© Peter Hitchens) Patrick Stewart – I feel uncomfortable in the company of lefties. I don’t think lefties would infect me but I have no doubt they would try and impose on me and tell me how to live my life and what I should be able to think, write or say – given half the chance.

          There is only one nasty party. And it ain’t the Tories.

          • Ali Buchan

            One of Will Self’s points was that the CofE should relinquish – or the government should remove – its ‘established’ status, if it refuses some of its religious services to certain groups of people. That seems fair enough, to me. The state can’t be seen sanction discrimination (I suspect that sentence may be contentious).

            So, can we at least agree with Fraser Nelson’s preferred option of a complete separation of church and state? No bishops in the HoL, no reference to the word ‘marriage’ in statute or party policy etc etc…

            Wouldn’t that be an easy solution? Every religious body would be able to define ‘marriage’ as they see fit and do as they please…even marrying more than two people, should they so wish. The government/law could recognise civil partnerships as a commitment made between two or more people and, then, offer certain benefits to those people, no matter where they were married.

            The socially cohesive aspects of the union of people would remain, and we could all just move on.

            • Colonel Mustard

              I couldn’t follow any of Self’s “points” which seemed to consist of what he imagined were anti-establishment rants in which he did his usual trick of attempting to rabble rouse the audience. His output was a fine example of “liberal bigotry” (© Peter Hitchens). Whilst he puts up a front of being part of the “struggle” against the “establishment” he is married to a Guardian columnist and very much part of the privileged, metropolitan socialist elite and their network of preferential treatment and mutual back scratching – which is the new establishment.

              As far as I’m concerned this is a Christian country and the Church of England is the established church. Other religions are tolerated and there is freedom of worship. I am content with that as part of my birthright and identity. If some people don’t like it then they are free to move to countries better suited to their beliefs.

              • Ali Buchan

                “As far as I’m concerned this is a Christian country and the Church of England is the established church.”

                I think you’ve nailed one of the key issues, actually. My opinion is that the church has no place in the British state, especially one that was invented in order to facilitate a monarch’s divorce!

                Perhaps this issue is a kind of war by proxy, like a Korea or Vietnam; merely an expression of an underlying struggle between those, like me, who wish to see religion relegated to the status of a – not trying to be pejorative here – a golf club, and those, like you, who would prefer religion to retain an important place in the state.

                Still have an issue with the apparent discrimination. But we’ll just have to agree to disagree, I guess!

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Please see my reply to your other question below, which I think (hope!) addresses this.

                • telemachus

                  You imply an interesting question as to why so many Rightists cling to antidisestablishmentarianism. As a rule, conservatives are against
                  nationalisation, on grounds that it brings complacency and inefficiency, that the state is a rotten manager, that government control stifles initiative. If this is true of airlines or car manufacturers or the banks, why shouldn’t it be true of the Church of England?

                  There are several reasons why church-going is stronger in the US than inBritain, and for the revanchists we should spotlight the free market of denominations, that churches compete for congregations, that those congregations in turn compete to raise their ministers’ salaries, that people are often more loyal to what they have chosen than to what they have been allocated.

                  Surely the collapse of Church of England congregations should point you to the identified problem. Privatisation has worked everywhere else: why not here?

                • David Lindsay

                  Demonstrating that you are Victorian-Edwardian Liberals, and not conservatives at all.

                • Fernando5

                  The US experience is a good reason for our having an established Church. Religious fanaticism can be very unpleasant and the moral certainty of its adherents can lead them to enforce their standards on the rest of us. It’s difficult to image a civilised country where the priests aren’t under lay control. I think this argument was first used by Hume to defend establishment.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  So let me get this straight. You need the heavy hand of government on a single church in order to head off the heavy hand of any/every other church?

                  That doesn’t make any sense, at all.

                • Fernando5

                  It makes perfect sense, as it did to Hume. Religion is far too important to be left to the priests. The C of E is rather urbane and tolerant, at least compared with the alternatives.I like its benign confusion, its unwillingness to condemn and the general sense of trying to do good. Add to that the beauty of its liturgy and its historic role in the life of many parishes. Its character would be changed completely if zealots, rather than worldly sceptics, took over. Establishment is the safeguard that this won’t happen.
                  It’s like the BBC. We all complain and bemoan the falling away of standards. But we then look at the alternatives…….

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Well, you authoritarian statists always seem to look at the alternative and find it lacking. So yes, state establishment churches, broadcast media and tractor factories seem to be your preference.

                  But that is not liberal, nor conservative. It’s leftist, authoritarian and statist. It is antithetical to the freedom and liberty we are born with.

                • telemachus

                  But they sincerely believe and most have found Jesus

                • TomTom

                  How are Priests under Lay Control ? Hume was an Atheist or Agnostic. What Church are you thinking of ? You seem to be admiring the Nazi Reichskirche because what you describe is not the Church of England or even Us denominations

                • Fernando5

                  How are Priests under Lay Control ?
                  TomTom, I thought the Crown appointed bishops in the CofE. Lay patrons also have the right to present candidates for parish clergy. That seems like lay control to me.

                • TomTom

                  I think you are wrong. You will find The Crown does NOT interfere in the ecclesiastical functions of the Church. And as for Parish Clergy you might want to research the different kinds of livings and who granted land for churches, since not all are uniformly alike. You place too much emphasis on The Patronage (Benefices) Rules 1987 when in fact it is the Bishop who exercises such roles nowadays unless he is say the Duke of Devonshire



                • Fernando5

                  TomTom, you are not seriously suggesting that Bishops are not appointed by the Crown. The Crown takes notice of the opinion of the Church but the authority to appoint rests with the Crown.
                  I think we agree on the issue of the issue of patronage to benefices. The set-up varies from parish to parish. Bishops, Oxford and Cambridge Colleges and private individuals all have an imput. This lay influence has moulded the CofE as we know it today.

                • TomTom

                  Since technically all land belongs to The Crown and all authority in the State derives from The Crown it can be said that The Crown has a role in The Church and as I said earlier the ONLY place that Church and State are united is in The Crown but that is like saying Judiciary and Executive meet in The Crown and this was embodied until Blair in the Office of Lord Chancellor which until Thomas More was held by Church Officials not Lawyers. So what you say is a tautology rather than a useful fact. The Monarch has Peculiars, but in actual fact Bishops are simply a legacy of the Roman Catholic diocesan system with the Church of England pretending to be a Reformed Catholic Church rather than a Protestant Church as Cranmer wanted in his Prayer Book. The Bishops are a liability and a cost burden.

                • TomTom

                  Church going is stronger in the USA because Churches are TAX-EXEMPT in the USa and can offer much more and their Churches are Subscription-Churches wth tithing. England abolished Tithing and Church Tax and the Church of England pays VAT and Taxes and Council Tax and funds itself. Churches DO compete for congregations – it is nOT nationalised and has no State Levy as does the BBC. The Church of England is united with The Crown with Cameron involved only because The Royal Prerogative was usurped by the Prime Minister. It is The Crown in Parliament that legislates – Blair removing The Lord Chancellor from The Woolsack removed a Royal Official from the Speaker’s Chair and unhinged the Constitution……The Lord Chancellor pre-dates Parliament and was a Church Official until Thomas More gave the role to lawyers. What is clear is that Politicians and Industrial Schools with Comic Book History have produced Dimwits who have no inkling of how the system of Government in this country evolved over 1000 years – and they deserve to be reduced to Serfdom in a New Euro-State as Rome was subsumed into Italy

                • telemachus

                  As Ford said
                  All history is bunk
                  May I suggest a walk to Regents Park and imbibing the spirituality of the magnificent mosque
                  We cannot do God in our churches but the Muslims sure as hell can

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Absolutely perverse provocation. We cannot do God in our churches? What a nasty, little self-hating reptile you are. You besmirch this site like an especially unpleasant and evil-smelling stain.

                • TomTom

                  Ah The Great Ford the hero of Brave New World……have you also read his works – “…….
                  International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem (1920)

                  When you visit said mosque with your friend Ed Miliband you can ask if they have a copy ?

                • telemachus

                  wrong Ed

                • roger

                  Good point, time for a written constitution.
                  Britons like Paine wrote the basic ideas centuries ago, crown (state) rights subordinate to citizen rights based on Common Law.

                • TomTom

                  Monarch’s Divorce ? You are dim. Do you know any history of are you so sex-obsessed you think everything is reduced to coitus ?

                • Ali Buchan

                  That’s pretty offensive.

                • TomTom

                  I am not offended but thank you for asking

                • telemachus

                  Again this exchange emphasises what this debate is about
                  Salacious homophobia
                  The only good thing is the spectacle of the Tories being rent assunder and the Coalition falling apart

                • MirthaTidville

                  Why dont you just comment on the silly Guardian columns..its much better suited to your limited talents

                • Ali Buchan

                  That’s pretty offensive, too. I’m just trying to express a point of view.

              • Thick as two Plancks

                “… mutual back scratching …”

                I almost misread that as “mutual hack scratching”.

              • mikewaller

                For someone so sensitive about what is said of them, you seem remarkably free with your suggestions that folks who disagree with your world view should leave the country. Are we to assume that, as it inevitably will, this country shifts away from the way in which you would like it to be, you too will move?

                On the topic itself, I fail to see why churches etc cannot introduce a new marriage service specifically tailored to those whose declared intention is to raise a family. If well written, this would usefully serve to emphasis the desirability of children being raised by two parents rather than just one. If, as fairness dictates, such a service applied to folks of all sexual orientations who showed clear evidence of an intention to adopt, so be it.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  “Are we to assume that, as it inevitably will, this country shifts away from the way in which you would like it to be, you too will move?”

                  No. I have not suggested those who “disagree” with me should move but that those who do not like the status quo are free to do so. I am not the “other” that you wish to define.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  People like you make me smile. You are so keen to see the “shift” towards your views as final and somehow obviating dissent. Somehow getting rid of us “deniers” and “phobes”. Even when and if the country changes to what you want it to be there will be many who dislike that and will be free to criticise it or move – as you are now. What you “fail to see” is no more important that what I do see except that your sentiment has that whiff of incontrovertible, smug certitude that characterises so much of the “progressive” movement.

                  The Christian religion accounts for 59% of the population and I don’t see that changing any time soon as East European migrants are likely to bring more Christianity here not less. 69% support the monarchy too. Deal with it.

            • TomTom

              Will Self is a cokehead with no understanding of the Constitution. Cameron is about to unravel the lot by playing with Act of Settlement 1701 and 1662 Act of Uniformity. I hope he does so we can turn the country upside down and have a Cromwellian Republic and clear out this political rabble

              • Austin Barry

                Will Self: the perfect name for a galloping egomaniac.

                • fitz fitzgerald

                  Another apt name, revealed elsewhere in this issue, is pop fem novelist’s initial name – Toni Drabble … Marge’s sister .

              • the viceroy’s gin

                That would be splendid. A proper revolution is needed.

            • telemachus

              You are right to raise this
              From within the Church of England there are signs of increasing dissatisfaction with the role of the government in church affairs.

              The last Labour Government’s zeal for reforming the constitution did not quite run to the Church of England.

              But make no mistake if the gay lobby can call it into question there is no doubt that in the 2015-2020 Labour administration with Charles as King we will not only see the Anglican Church lose its constitutional place but we will also see a more representative mix of our citizens religions in our great countries affairs.

              I envisage a greater recognition of Mosques, Synagogues and Hindu and Sikh temples. I see National Ceremonies presided over by multifaith directorates. I can even see a coronation co presided over by Farooq Murad and Justin Welby.

              • TomTom

                I doubt there will be a Monarchy which is why they are going into overdrive hyping the Will & Kate Series to keep the show alive after the current cast leaves. You are so funny Tel-Boy – you really have noi idea how far the unravelling has gone

                • telemachus

                  UK public believe in the whole package of Liz-Charles-Will and will adhere to them long after the current political shower are long gone

                  I think they look at Clegg and Cameron (in this context) as latter day Piers Gavestons and we all know the wrong chap was pokered at Berkeley Castle

              • MirthaTidville

                Well why not,,this happens every day in the Metropolitan La La land…

                • telemachus

                  What does
                  Does this refer to Berkeley

            • SimonToo

              Of course the state can sanction discrimination. Most discrimination is beneficial. The last thing we want is the state acting indiscriminately.
              The point of marriage is discriminatory. People are at liberty to live their lives largely as they will, but the state has discriminated in favour of marriage because it has proved, on balance, to be the best (or, if you prefer, least bad) arrangement for producing and bringing up children and grandchildren. The state discriminates in favour of that institution that offers the best chances of success in that area.
              That is not to say that marriage guarantees success, nor that other arrangements guarantee failure : some married people make a complete mess of it and some people in unorthodox arrangement succeed outstandingly. But the odds are in favour of marriage, which it is the one arrangement that, until recently, the state favoured. Recently the state has also extended most, if not all, of that favour to civil partnerships. But that seems no argument for removing discrimination generally.
              In this field, the people who are being discriminated against are the bisexual. As now with a homosexual who wants to be married, they can be provided it is to someone of the opposite sex. If these marriage changes go through, they can marry, but not someone from one of the sexes that completes their sexuality. No doubt in a couple of years’ time Parliament will re-visited the marriage legislation so they can marry one of each sex, but until then they can certainly feel discriminated against in a measure that is lauded for promoting “equality”.

              • arklington

                Just because I like steak and peaches doesn’t mean that I hanker for steak a la peche.

              • fitz fitzgerald

                The state sanctions positive discrimination, quotas, etcetera …

            • WIlliam Blakes Ghost

              The state can’t be seen (to) sanction discrimination

              After nearly two decades of Government promoting ‘positive’ [sic] discrimination are you having a laugh (not to mention Cameron’s personal sojourns into discrimination ~ A-list and all that)? Our politically crass Government is probably more prejudiced than the rest of society put together.

              • telemachus

                Not to forget the discrimination against the poor and needy
                Actually evidenced and manifest in the burgeoning food banks

            • Angela Sullivan

              If it became legal to marry more than two people, there would be massive implications for the benefits, tax, and pension systems, and mean rules and laws would have to be changed to accommodate this. No radical changes to the law are needed for same sex marriage: it is simply a case of replacing genderist terms like “husband” and “wife” with gender neurtral terms such as “spouse”.

              • Ali Buchan

                I agree.

                As you say, speaking pragmatically, there’s a huge,perhaps currently insurmountable, difference between the two. Morally and ethically speaking, there probably isn’t.

                But it’s quite difficult to argue against the denial of a ‘liberty’ – whatever that is – on the basis of existing benefits/tax/legal arrangements. That’s not to say that it’s necessarily the wrong thing to do, it’s just devilishly difficult to assert, without recourse or reduction to phrases like ‘utilitarian’ and ‘life’s not fair’.

          • humorist

            I don’t like the way militant gays try to ram it down your throat.

        • TomTom

          Sorry to hear your cottaging activities have left you with serious infections -have you been to the GUM Clinic ?

        • telemachus

          Your implication is correct
          Homophobia is the only issue here

          • George Igler

            Funny, I thought it was the re-definition of marriage. Silly me.

            • telemachus

              That was Isabel’s post.
              The homophobia is where many posts on the thread have dragged it

      • TomTom

        Merkel has the same problem…… where they are arguing over married tax allowance. Funny how Germany and Uk have this problem simultaneously

        • foxoles

          Riots in France over same-sex marriage and adoption:

          Obama has also said he will make it a focal point of his second term.

          It’s being rolled out all over the place at once.

          • Daniel Maris

            That Daily Mail article is much more interesting. Setting up a liberal Mosque where women and men can mix is an excellent idea. Why isn’t Cameron supporting that sort of thing if he is so keen on equality? It’s the Islamic world that has the catching up to do, not us.

            • TomTom

              That shows how little you know about Mosques and how much money SAUDI ARABIA puts into building them and which architects design them – it is not haphazard but highly organised. Maybe you should get over to the Middle East and persuade the Muslim Brotherhood that the Mosqye MI6 and CIA paid for in mUnich in 1950s should become a beacon of Western Liberalism ?

              • telemachus

                The heartening fact is that the mosques are lively well attended hubs of the community while most churches are dank and dying
                Those of like mind to you Tom need to get down to your local churches this morning and reconnect with the same God that leads the muslims

                • TomTom

                  You are pathetic Tel-Boy and know little about mosques. Just how many do you have where you live ? Churches are certainly not dank and dying – but I bet there are in your area. “God leads the Muslims”…funny phrasing……suggests you are not very clued in on theology

                • telemachus

                  I have savoured the peace and sanctity of the central London mosque and prayed with the pilgrims in the blue mosque
                  My God is their God

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Obama’s opposition would be thrilled if he pushed for homosexual marriage.

      • telemachus

        Agree why the hell cannot thase churches that want bless a civil partnership and thase who dont shut up
        The electorate are supremely indifferent

        • MirthaTidville

          No they are not bozo..Most in the real world are seriously opposed to it..

          • telemachus

            The few chatterers gathered here
            The rest do not give a monkeys and by 2015 it will be long long forgotten

      • TomTom

        Stonewall is very close to this Labour Government advising and being paid by New ConLab

        • telemachus

          And the significance?
          Stonewall is a useful helpmeet to the persecuted in our homophobic society

          • TomTom

            I do not like to have taxpayer funds tithed to a lobby group whether it is funding Trades Unions through Council Tax or Stonewall Levies……………………………………….……………….

            In 2009, Stonewall received a total of £3,843,063,

            Arts Council England: £3,372

            Awards for All: £5,000

            Big Lottery Fund: £94,973

            Department of Health: £4,995

            Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership: £4,000

            Equality and Human Rights Commission: £96,904

            Greater London Authority: £12,000

            Russell Commission: £60,830

            Scottish Government VAF: £190,921

            Wales Council for Voluntary Action: £21,040

            Welsh Assembly Government: £109,996

            • TomTom

              Ben was a Labour councillor in Westminster and comes from a grand
              Socialist dynasty – son of Shirley, grandson of Edith… I have no ill
              will towards Ben in his career development. But I do not think paying
              his salary is an appropriate priority for the Council Taxpayers of
              K&C or anywhere else.

              Yet a look down the list of “Diversity Champions” (at £2,000 a pop) includes
              the following Conservative (or “Conservative led”) Councils:

              Birmingham, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Brighton & Hove,
              Bury, Cambridgshire, Chelmsford, Derby, Devon County Council, Dorset
              County Council, East Sussex County Council, Gloucestershire County
              Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Kent County Council, Lancashire
              County Council, Leicestershire County Council, Medway, Northampton,
              Nottinghamshire County Council, Poole, Shropshire, South Cambridgeshire,
              Southend-on-Sea, Staffordshire, Staffordshire Moorlands, Suffolk,
              Swindon, Telford & Wrekin, Thurrock, Warwickshire, West Sussex,

            • telemachus

              I would be amazed and humbled by all this

    • Austin Barry


      Well done. A good joke worthy of Sandy and Julian:


      A public lavatory often cruised by gay men. It comes from T(oilet) room.”

      • Daniel Maris

        Julian: How do you feel about the Early Day motion?

        Sandy: Depends what I had the night before…if you follow my meaning…

        Julian: I’m talking about the Commons…

        Sandy: So am I dearie…

        Julian: I mean this motion in the Commons to support gay marriage…

        Sandy: Oh yes I’m a great supporter of pink liberation. Up with the pink is what I say….! Man was born to be free – but everywhere is in chains…

        Julian: Well he is in that Club you go to…

        etc etc

        • Guest

          That Cameron, i’n’he bold? Goes too far.

          • Daniel Maris

            Julian: Bold! Bold? ‘e’s beyond bold…’e’s a mover and a shaker.

            Sandy: I know what you mean, it’s like I said last night – if you shake that thing near me I’m gonna move…you can be too bold if you follow my meaning…

    • telemachus

      The subtext of all this ranting against Cameron is the profound homophobia of the Tory right wing
      They have never forgiven Heath for beating Maudling

      • Fergus Pickering

        Well, I don’t forgive Heath for beating Maudling. The worst Tory PM in memory and would be the worst PM if it weren’t for Gordon’s late splendid showing.

        • telemachus

          Worse than Cameron?
          At least Heath had an excuse to tinker with his Party’s homophobic heirarchy

      • George Igler

        The arguments of people you disagree with are not invalidated by the arbitrary “subtexts” that you decide to invent for them.

        If there was one theme running through most of these comments today, it would be that principle, and yet there it is in front of your face and it still completely passes you by.

        (no. 2 in my list below)

        • telemachus

          I am never sure that shouting(capitals) wins arguments
          The issue of marriage or not is uninteresting to the voters but homophobia is not

      • TomTom

        Heath beating Maudling…kinky….and Maudling a Freemason

        • telemachus

          Freemason and Lush

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