Coffee House

No 10: No last-ditch pitch from PM on gay marriage

4 February 2013

Downing Street always knew tomorrow’s gay marriage vote was going to provoke tensions. But what’s interesting is how unsure Number 10 is about how to approach the free vote on the issue.

The whips are not supposed to get involved on these votes, and besides a number of those normally twisting colleagues’ arms to extract some loyalty are considering voting against the bill. But there are around 50 Tories whose votes will mean the difference between a Conservative majority for the legislation. Even though David Cameron is, as James explained in his column yesterday, personally committed to the legislation as a matter of principle, finding himself in the minority of his own party will dent his modernising zeal. As Peter Kellner points out this morning, only 17 per cent of voters say the Tories have best ‘succeeded in moving on and left its past behind’, so there is much still to do.


What can the Prime Minister do to tempt those wavering MPs into the ‘aye’ lobby tomorrow? Well, The Times reported this morning that he would speak out in favour of the legislation ahead of the vote. But this morning, Cameron’s official spokesman poured cold water on this, saying:

‘I’m certainly not aware of any plans at all for the Prime Minister to do that. As you know, it is a free vote.’

The danger, even in informal meetings between the PM and his MPs, and a last-minute statement, is that the party looks panicked and as though it is trying to corral unwilling MPs through the lobbies on a free vote.

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  • Mycroft

    Since it is clear enough that this was only introduced by Cameron out of political calculation rather than principle, it doesn’t say for his much for his political judgement! A massive own goal.

  • Smithersjones2013

    As Peter Kellner points out
    this morning, only 17 per cent of voters say the Tories have best
    ‘succeeded in moving on and left its past behind’, so there is much
    still to do.

    After 7 years of hugging hoodies mushing huskies erecting and dismantling wind turbines, making more noise in not talking about Europe than anyone would have imagined and having been sent to the heads office over grammargate not to mention the numerous high profile rebellions indicate one thing; Cameron has failed and will never succeed in detoxifying the Tories.

    In fact it may well be that because he has so often highlighted every Labour attack (and validating it as he goes) on the Conservatives, it is Cameron and his clique who are now most responsible for perpetuating the Conservative toxification narrative through their perpetual self-flagellation and obsessive handwringing over such matters (especially considered how rotten the last Labour government was) and as they have become so immersed in the issue, in a counterintuitive way, perhaps they are now synonymous with the whole toxification issue?

    Perhaps the best way to move on is to move beyond Cameron?

  • Faceless Bureaucrat

    If this Vote goes through, be prepared for the knives to finally come out for Cameron. The Conservative Party dissenters will then have nothing to lose by stabbing him, as the next Election will be lost thanks to the trickle of former Conservative voters moving to UKIP becoming a torrent.

    Speaking of which, what’s the news on Farage standing for Eastleigh?…

  • Peter

    Well said Laughing Cavalier

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    This has been complete shamles on Dave’s part, not only in his miscalculation of electoral advantage but in the law-making and the re-definition of marriage. He has alientaed half his parliamnetary party and a substantial number of party stalwarts. This is what hapens when people have the Blairs around for cosy kitchen suppers.

  • Tom Tom

    This is David Cameron as a Member of The European Council implementing EU Policy under instruction from Viviane Reding, EU Commissar for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, this vote may turn out to be proxy for an EU vote, as well as an informal vote on the Cameroons’ government. And at this late date, even given those stakes and his own loudly proclaimed interest, Dave crawls back into his hole? Untrustworthy and unfit to govern, he is. Not even he believes what he says.

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