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Whips try to neutralise row over gay marriage scrutiny arrangements

5 February 2013

In the next few hours as the vote on the second reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill approaches, the ‘undecideds’ are declaring how they will vote. Yesterday I reported that Tory PPS David Burrowes was likely to defy the three-line whip on the programme motion which makes the arrangements for scrutinising the Bill between second reading and report stage, but was not planning to resign in advance of either abstaining or even voting against, which some of his backbench colleagues plan to do. Normally a member of the government, from PPS to cabinet minister, would be sacked for defying a whip.

But I understand that the whips have been telling PPSs who are unhappy with the programme motion that if they abstain, either formally or by ‘being somewhere else at the time of that vote’, there won’t be the usual consequences. Because Labour supports the programme motion, a handful of Tory MPs failing to turn up won’t make any difference, while those opposing gay marriage acknowledge that they have already lost the argument on the arrangements for scrutinising the bill. There is even a chance that it won’t be pressed to a division at all. This manoeuvre by the whips is a thoughtful way of calming tensions on the motion.

While the Prime Minister’s plans to speak out to reiterate his support for the legislation came to nothing yesterday, George Osborne continues to lobby MPs on his behalf, with observers reporting that the Chancellor has enjoyed some success with his acolytes. I also understand that while Iain Duncan Smith’s support for the Bill has been publicly confirmed in the Mail today, he was telling parliamentary colleagues before Christmas that he would vote in favour after securing assurances of protection for religious institutions. But as the newspaper reports this morning, his public support along with that of fellow social conservative Chris Grayling is a big boost to the Prime Minister.

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  • Hadley

    What a shambles this government is and the Labour Party are no better,I would like a government that represents the people…………NO CHANCE OF THAT……

  • huktra

    All around us are styling this as a Political showdown.
    On the contrary I have been impressed by the quality of the Commons debate whether rom he pro or the con. Even Nadine Dorries put sound points.

  • Smithersjones2013

    I really am getting sick & tired of having perfectly reasonable comments sent into moderation never to see the light of day when the garbage written by trolls is allowed to persist on this site. Will the administrators please sought out their ridiculous filters!

    • Colonel Mustard

      ‘sort’ not ‘sought’. Your comment is not being ‘sought’ out by moderators but languishing in the virtual ether. What they need to ‘sort’ out is the auto moderation which permits ‘same-sex’, for example, but not s*x.

      • Smithersjones2013

        Thank you teacher

  • Smithersjones2013

    It is of little surprise that social conservatives are supporting the bill because if anything what is proposed secures the idea that heterosexual marriage as unique. By excluding consummation and infidelity from the Gay Marriage proposals it effectively removes sexuality from such an arrangement making it wholly different to what the Church actually provide (and logically opening this new sort of ‘marriage’ to any assortment of couples whether sexually involved or not).

    So it would seem Cameron is attempting to offer marriage to gays without offering Marriage to gays. Yet it does not provide equality other than in the use of the same label. Of course nobody on the gay side has noticed this because they are far too busy (egged on by the intellectually challenged left) indulging themselves in their favourite sport of calling anyone who in anyway questions the legislation ‘homophobes’ and ‘bigots’.

    What is the mystery is why Cameron has bothered to do this? The legislation does not offer equality. It wasn’t something that had the gay community marching in the streets over, There was no real demand and I suspect the potential implications will keep Human rights and divorce lawyers in the lifestyle they are accustomed to for decades to come and as a result undermine confidence in the institution of marriage even further (it would seem as flawed a piece of legislation as Cleggs risible House Of Lords reform). Furthermore it cannot in anyway do his party any good as it would always create a furore and divide them with a resulting emphasis on the nasty party narratives all over again (something Cameron seems to have a predeliction for) without providing that decisive Clause IV moment that Tony Blair achieved.

    So unless Cameron has already resigned himself to defeat in 2015 and this is part of a vanity exercise of him providing his ‘legacy’, I cannot see what on earth Cameron hoped to achieve.. Its just another bizarre episode in the ridiculous existence of this peculiar and incompetent Coalition Government.

    Oh well its just another dysfunctional day in the life of the Coalition Government. I do look forward to reading about all the various Human Rights and Divorce cases that are going to arise out of this. They should be highly entertaining!

    Personally I think all couples should be treated exactly the same and when there is legislation under law (what the Church does is there business ~ I don’t bother with them personally) that actually offers that I will be the first to commend it…….

  • Russell

    First came a change in the law making homosexual activities legal between consenting adults.
    Next came changing the law which lowered the age of consent.
    Now we have a change in the law to make ‘gay’ marriage legal.
    I bloody well hope they don’t make it compulsory in a few years!

    • Colonel Mustard

      No, but approval of it will be. The general trend is towards criminalising the articulation of disapproval towards any of the socialist regime’s sacred cows. It is going beyond just tolerance or the non-expression of an opinion as any public figure is expected to articulate personal approval or be denounced as a counter-revolutionary. The repression of censorship and intimidation will cover speech and writing but not thought – yet. What it will do though is repress the expression of thought – in fact that is already happening with the online bullying of those who dare to disagree.

      It is simply coerced cultural revolution. Welcome to Mao’s China, the Soviet Union and East Germany rolled into a very British subtlety.

  • Colonel Mustard
  • Bob Dixon

    How can this measure come before more important matters.

    RBS needs seriously sorting out.Hester seems unable to do anything.

    What a joke this government is.

    • Russell

      You conveniently forget to mention the reason RBS needs sorting………Brown & Labour!

    • HooksLaw

      Your pretence that government cannot be about other things besides banking is risible.
      Governments do not run banks. RBS has left the asset protection scheme.

  • Johnnydub

    The BBC et al are running 24 hour
    coverage pushing this as an issue of equality, fairness, the usual bollocks…

    But this is being pushed by the activist gay lobby, and the moment the
    legislation is signed into law, a gay couple are going straight to their local
    church to ask for a marriage ceremony, and when they are refused, straight onto
    the ECHR.

    The gay activist lobby has a chip on their shoulders from being described as
    “abominations” etc. and they want their payback.

    I personally don’t care that much, but don’t want my church to be dragged into
    one of Socialisms classic hierarchy of rights debates etc.

    And while we’re on the subject of redefining language – can I be redefined as a
    lesbian? After all I fancy women and surely it’s sexist that only women can be lesbians…?

    I.e. start playing Orwellian games with language and absurdity beckons…

    • HooksLaw

      What is the situation in catholic Spain or Portugal?

      ‘absurdity beckons’? Its arrived in your case. Please don’t tell us you’re a UKIP supporter – that would be too much.

  • 2trueblue

    “I can not understand the animosity to extending this a little wider……..” so says M Parris, Well I can, already there is provision in law. It is redefining the meaning of the word marriage which has stood for centuries, and across all cultures. For some reason Cameron has been advised to go with this and given an oppurtinity to the LobDums and Liebore to push it through. There was no mention of this before and it is just a distraction from where the focus should be right now. It is the economy, stupid.

    It also creates a situation where those who have a strong religious belief on the matter can/will be challenged in the future, and this will provide amunition against them if needed. People who have a strong and embedded religious befief are going to be put on the back foot because of what is a whim of the moment. Eventually organisations will all have to comply. I also do not believe that the greater public is in favour. Those who do not believe in it will be classed as bigots.

  • monty61

    I’m sorry but how can IDS or Grayling possibly claim to be a social conservative if they vote for this blatant piece of social engineering?

    • HooksLaw

      How is this social engineering? The measure is reflective of a change in society which has already happened.

      As for IDS he has not objected to the gay marriage idea for quite a while – way back last April he said –
      ‘I’m for things that are about stability. I think our biggest problem is actually with cohabiting parents breaking up at the rate they do — heterosexual cohabitees, not gay couples — because they’re the ones leaving the trail of devastation afterwards.’

      You have a narrow definition of social conservative designed to suit your prejudice. Like IDS you would be better advised to spend your time worrying more about hetrosexuals.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        No, you have no definition of social conservative, is the problem.

        You’ve perverted the language to suit some narrow Cameroonian political delusions.

    • Grrr8

      The government deciding what is and isn’t marriage is social engineering 😉

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Nice to see the CH continuing to focus on the fundamentals of British Life.

    At least it keeps Mr Ed’s gurning boat race away for a bit.

    • HooksLaw

      My Dear Sir,
      The Spectator is part of what I believe is called ‘the media circus’.
      Like every circus, when the show is over it will up tents and move on.
      And like every circus when it next arrives in town it will be with a great fanfare and parade of headlines.
      Like every circus it needs to keep generating the publicity and is always looking for ever more bizarre acts.

  • starfish

    Sorry, still trying to work out what immense problem is being solved here

    As religious groups can opt out, what will change exactly?

    Or is this the inevitable start of another ‘equality’ campaign against religion?

    • 2trueblue

      Do you really believe that the ‘opt out’ for religious organisations will remain? Watch this space.

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