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Gay marriage is a triumph for our arrogant political class

29 March 2014

Well, Peter and David, John and Bernado, Sean and Sinclair are now married and the happy husbands have the further benefit of the unanimous blessing of our political class.

David Cameron said the move sent a message that people were now equal ‘whether gay or straight. It says we are a country that will continue to honour its proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth.’ For good measure, he added that the law change would encourage young people unsure of their sexuality. Really? You mean a few more teenagers hovering between being gay or straight might go for the gay option on the back of the prospect of a wedding? And that’s a good thing?

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said ‘Britain will be a different place’ as a result:

“If our change to the law means a single young man or young woman who wants to come out, but who is scared of what the world will say, now feels safer, stronger, taller – well, for me, getting into coalition government will have been worth it just for that.”

Well, Britain is a different place all right but not necessarily a better one. What we’ve been reminded of is the arrogance of our political class who drove through a change for which there was, at the beginning of this parliament, no popular demand and certainly no mandate from the electorate.

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If David Cameron was so convinced of the necessity of gay marriage, perhaps he could have taken the trouble to put it in the manifesto…because an awful lot of people who did vote for him wouldn’t have done so if they’d only known. He was responding to opinion in his own milieu, at least that of his own generation – by all accounts he couldn’t convince his own mother. But he knew best, and railroaded his own party – with only partial success – into it. And at a stroke, the fundamental character of marriage – grounded in the difference of the sexes, necessary for its procreative aspect, more or less the same over human history – has been obliterated. Burke would have known what to make of it.

Certainly popular opinion has changed over the course of the debate but that’s not least because of the coverage of all this by the broadcast media, which has presented the gay marriage as a nice good news option, not as a calculated reworking of the most important social institution there is. There was rather little space given to the working class view, sotto voce, view that it’s not really natural. But that’s represented in the awkward response to polls asking whether gay and straight marriage is on a par: 44 per cent of people do not.

It seems not to occur to the BBC that ordinary people, not particularly religious, might find the prospect of gay weddings not wholly inviting, and not because they’re religious. But broadcasters have expressed opposition as the preserve of ‘religious groups’  and ‘some’ Tory MPs. There’s more out there, you know.

Naturally Labour leader Ed Miliband congratulated the gay spouses:

‘This is an incredibly happy time for so many gay couples and lesbian couples who will be getting married, but it’s an incredibly proud time for our country as well, recognising equal marriage in law’.

The bright side is that it’s lovely that Ed Miliband has got round to appreciating the signal importance of matrimony, given that he only hastily and belatedly married Justine after becoming party leader (Though that pales by comparison with the performance of Francois Hollande, who pushed through same sex marriage despite his unwillingness ever to engage in it himself.) Indeed the importance of marriage seems only really to figure for him in extending it to gay people.

What all this goes to show is that there is indeed a remarkable homogeneity in our political class. Tolerant — in some ways — certainly; arrogant, without question.

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  • transponder

    Last paragraph of the VERY important article by Christopher Caldwell — I do advise all interested citizens of Western countries to read it*:

    “In a decade, gay marriage has gone from joke to dogma. It is certainly worth asking why, if this is a liberation movement, it should be happening now, in an age not otherwise gaining a reputation as freedom’s heyday. Since 2009, if Klarman’s estimates are correct, support for gay marriage has been increasing by 4 points a year. Public opinion does not change this fast in free societies. Either opinion is not changing as fast as it appears to be, or society is not as free”. – See more at:

  • anosrep

    Why are you afraid of gay people?

  • balance_and_reason

    My concern is why a tiny minority of the population is so heavily entrenched in our parliament;

  • MikeF

    “….but who is scared of what the world will say…” The irony there, of course, is that the ‘liberal’ establishment epitomised by the likes of Clegg is very keen on making people ‘scared’ to say what they think if what they think is not what that establishment wants them to think. Remember the man at the housing association demoted for saying that he thought ‘gay marriage’ was ‘an equality too far’. That is the sort of nasty censorious world that is now being constructed – a world in which the gays currently do very well, but which one day might turn against them if they stop being grateful and compliant.

  • english_pensioner

    Once all the shouting is over, I just wonder howmany gay marriages there will be actually be each year, and whether it will be shown to have been worth the cost and disruption. There was already the right to a civil partnership, and I am aware of two gay couples who didn’t take advantage of this and it seem unlikely that the will want to get “married”.
    Personally, I believe the state and religious aspects of marriage should have been separated. A state recognised partnership or marriage, call it what you like, available for every one who is eligible, followed by a religious or any other ceremony of the couple’s choosing. This is the French system, and has considerable merit.

    • Pete

      “I am aware of two gay couples who didn’t take advantage of this and it seem unlikely that the will want to get “married”.”

      I am aware of about a dozen long-term, middle-aged straight couples who have yet to get married. Presumably this means that marriage will be abolished in its entirety tomorrow.

      • english_pensioner

        OK by me. If the state got out of the marriage business, then marriage could become a matter for the churches and one’s religious beliefs.

  • StephanieJCW

    “You mean a few more teenagers hovering between being gay or straight might go for the gay option on the back of the prospect of a wedding? And that’s a good thing?”

    Yes it is a good thing that people see no need to hide in the closet. Are you suggesting that it’s a bad thing for them to be open about their sexuality?

    How on earth is it bad?

  • transponder

    Bring back the belly hole.

  • bwims

    Excellent article, Melanie. Worth pointing out that if equality were really important, we would have 644 heterosexual MPs, and 6 homosexual MPs, instead of the over-representative dozens that have infiltrated Parliament with the objective of forcing through laws like these.

    • Pete

      According to the Census, which the Government estimates under-reports the prevalence of homosexuality by a somewhat significant margin, we would infact have 611 heterosexual MPs, which leaves non-heterosexuals currently under-represented. Of course, that’s not how democracy works: by your logic the current Parliament is completely illegitimate because it is dominated overwhelmingly by white, middle aged to elderly men.

      And no-one has “infiltrated” Parliament. The House of Commons has 650 MPs; each and every MP elected by free, fair and secret ballot to represent a district of several thousand people. No-one there has been put there by treacherous or underhanded means. If you truly believe in some grand ‘homosexual conspiracy’, then you are every bit as deluded as those who believe in Jewish banking conspiracies.

      • transponder

        We’re supposed to accept an activist’s word for how much h-s-xuality is ‘under-reported’? Don’t make me laugh.

        • Kitty MLB

          What have you done with Swanky, locked her in a room like
          the opposite of the ‘ dark ‘ twin. So we must call you transponder now.. well so be it.. but as long as the other
          much tolerant and non judgemental character returns,
          just question before I never mention your old name again,
          since when were you homophobic?

  • kle4

    It seems odd that you appear to believe that if something is not in a manifesto there is no mandate for it. I recall even during the gay marriage debate that one of the opponents toward the end summing up, expressing his principled reasons for not agreeing, although he accepted a majority of the country was in favour of it, which they are. Is it really arrogance from the political class to do something which enjoys popular support because it wasn’t in their manifesto?

    • MrsDBliss

      However, mr Cameron didn’t put it in the manifesto. Which meant that he knew the supporters most likely yo vote Tory wouldn’t support it. Which is why prior to the election he banged on about married tax allowances, a policy traditional conservative voters would vote for. Disingenuous no?

      • Pete

        Yes, he did. Page 14 of the Contract for Equalities, introduced and signed by Theresa May, says “We will also consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage.” The Contract was published alongside the Conservative manifesto as a supplement to it. It was Conservative policy in 2010 to consider the issue, and they did just that – they considered it and decided that it was a good idea.

        The Conservative policy was always to consider the case, and when it came to it, it was a free vote – MPs could vote however they wanted, without regard to party allegiance. A majority of Conservatives voted against the law, but support from other parties (most of Labour and the Lib Dems) enabled it to pass the Commons with a crushingly large majority.

        • MrsDBliss

          No, they lied. When they got into power they held a consultation which they stated – having gained power – the outcome of which was irrelevant. They were going to introduce it. That’s a lie, as if you know you’re going to introduce something, you’re not going to consider the case for changing the law. You’re going to change the law.

          • andagain

            Don’t you get it? The gay marriage thing is a side issue.

            Then why do I see all these complaints about this “side issue”, rather than about the supposed main issue?

            • MrsDBliss

              Because the side issue, like UKIP, gives people an opportunity to vent their dissatisfaction with the wider political culture that ignores the populace. Where the actual word popularism is spat out like an insult.

              • andagain

                There is, then, no important issue which can be used to demonstrate this treachery. All you can do is complain about the government doing something unimportant which it did not explicitly promise to do several years ago.

                And you are denouncing the government for ignoring the people on the grounds that it is doing something that most of the people want it to do…

                • MrsDBliss

                  Marriage is very important. It’s an institution of our society.
                  It didn’t just not explicitly promise to do it. It lied about intending to do it. See my reply to Pete.
                  You cannot say the majority of people wanted to do it based on opinion poles; especially as gay marriage has become the 21st century version of Victorian morals.
                  Finally, like it or not, you must uphold democracy even when it’s dismissal means getting something you want as it’s undermining will lead to the introduction of things you don’t.
                  First they came for the Jews….

  • Right-Minded

    Melanie I have sympathy for your position, but you really lost me here “You mean a few more teenagers hovering between being gay or straight might go for the gay option on the back of the prospect of a wedding? And that’s a good thing?”… people don’t hover between the two options, certainly if it was so easy to choose – well then there’s no choice at all people would simply pick the easier option.

    I didn’t necessarily ask for this myself either, but you’ve lost the argument and polls consistently show more people in favour than against – which is also where you lose your democracy argument.

    • transponder

      Uh-huh. Just like ‘most people’ ‘believe’ in ‘man made climate change’. Except that they’ve been lied to, don’t understand the science (to the extent that it exists, and isn’t just snake-oil-salesman flim-flam), and wouldn’t support the catastrophic Leftist policies that have been justified by the whole scam. Missouri in America is the ‘show me’ state. You would do well to adopt that motto.

      • Right-Minded

        That’s the worst comment I’ve ever read in the Spectator, its not worthy of a response. Are you drunk?

        • transponder

          Blimey. A few facts strewn your way and you have a meltdown.

  • SpookySpook

    Your point about it not being in the Tory manifesto is a sound one – it’s wrong that Cameron didn’t have the guts to do that. I agree with you there. But it’s odd to claim that this is an arrogant political class that’s out of touch in this specific respect, when the majority of the country appears to support equal marriage, or just not care or mind that much. It does start to seem as though your ‘arrogant political class’ argument is just a proxy for your displeasure at losing a political argument. The democratic credentials of the gay marriage legislation may not be unimpeachable – because of the manifesto issue you highlight- but there’s clearly the support in the country for the new law.

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