U.K. Debates Gay Marriage-- And Conservative Backbenchers Are Revealed As A Nest Of Bigots, Ready To Dump Cameron
Just before the House of Commons passed legislation this evening to make gay marriage legal, Margot James, a Conservative Member-- and the first openly lesbian Member from her party to ever serve in Parliament-- warned Conservatives that they would wind up big losers like the Republicans in the U.S. if they stood in the way of history and opposed the big [see video above]. Most did anyway-- though not enough to stop its passage, which had overwhelming support from Labor and the Lib-Dems.
Look, it's hard for Brits to get Richard III's bones out of their minds right now but if there's one thing that will do it, it's the civil war breaking out in the ruling Conservative Party over marriage equality. Arch conservative Conservatives, like David Cameron and George Osborne from the plutocratic Greed and Selfishness wing of the party, wanted to just legalize it and get it over with. And a couple of hours ago the Conservative bill passed 400-175, with the Tory Establishment yelling about the spirit of Margaret Thatcher to help demolish the far right's case for homophobia. Nevertheless, more Conservative Members voted NO than YES. The backbenchers are blaming their bigoted constituents who they say demanded they vote against the gays, babbling Fox-type nonsense about how "the government should leave faith groups free from persecution."
I noticed that there were plenty of bigoted Labor Deputies voting NO as well as the anti-modern Conservatives. Right after Peter Bone, a lunatic fringe wingnut from Wellingborough, got up and whined that this was the saddest day of his life as a Member of Parliament, recently fired Conservative Defence Minister Gerald Howarth stood on the floor of Commons and brayed this out: "I am not a Tory moderniser. I believe marriage can only be between a man and a woman and I shall not surrender my principles. I believe this bill is wrong, the consultation process was a complete sham, it is opposed by the established church, it has caused deep and needless divisions within the Conservative party, there is no mandate for it, there are huge potential consequences, not least the prospect of endless legal challenge, and the nation faces much more serious challenges which the government needs to address. I therefore hope and pray that this measure will be rejected, if not in this place, in the other place."
Osborne, England's Paul Ryan, along with Foreign Secretary William Hague and Home Secretary Theresa May had sent all the Conservative backbenchers a letter urging them to vote for the bill, explaining that the institution of marriage has evolved over time and that "attitudes towards gay people have changed... We believe that opening it up to same-sex couples will strengthen, not weaken, the institution. As David Cameron has said, we should support gay marriage not in spite of being Conservatives, but because we are Conservatives." almost half the Conservatives did.
But, like the GOP leaders who would like to eradicate America's teabaggers ruining their Party and party, they haven't seriously contended with their bigoted backbenchers. Yes, the U.K. has their own Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert and Paul Broun... well, maybe not a Paul Broun, but there are some real hatemongers and Neanderthals who have been elected to Parliament on the Conservative line. Polly Toynbee pointed out in yesetrday's Guardian that the dispute is tearing the Conservative Party apart.
Factions gather around the most improbable leadership contenders. Turn right! they cry, though their despised leader is the most rightwing prime minister of modern times. They are the only ones deceived by his moderate demeanour. Political failure usually breeds frenzy, as we gaze in on a party eating itself. What hope for the Tory future where the young "moderns" of the 2010 intake are even greater market fanatics?The bill, which would allow religious organizations to choose to conduct same-sex marriages if they wish-- but includes provisions intended to make sure no religious organization or person is forced to do so-- still has to pass the House of Lords before it becomes law. The Church of England and the Catholic Church are both opposed to the legislation.
Everything about the gay marriage debate makes the party look lost to common sense. Here we are in the depths of the worst depression, the weakest of any large economy, with investment 20% below its peak. Most of the population can feel their living standards fall further each year, yet the government is not for turning. The prime minister turns his attention to Timbuktu while shunting crucial economic decisions-- from a new airport to our European referendum fate-- into the blue yonder. The state shrinks as cuts accelerate leaving more long-term young unemployed than ever. The screw tightens on benefits, while a ratchet of bankrupt hospitals and rushed closures will stir local protests. All this is more than enough to cause tumult in the main party of government. But no. They're pretty content with all that, many of them clamouring for more, and for deeper, faster cuts.
What reasonable observer would expect gay marriage to seize their passions instead? US-style culture wars have broken out-- but only within the ranks of the Tory party. Deep divides exist on many social issues, but usually the other side is at least comprehensible to the majority. We can understand why a minority of people are profoundly upset by abortion, but this arcane marriage dispute is beyond the ordinary comprehension of anyone not guided by the Bible. The anti-gay brigade built their barricades but failed against civil partnership, which gave gay couples equal rights. Although marriage is no more than a mystical word, adding no new rights, fighting over that word lets homophobes again vent abhorrence at the modern world and all its filth.
...David Cameron will use the balm of marriage to placate Tory rebels later, promising a marriage tax-break designed to bribe co-habitees to the altar with £150 a year. Iain Duncan Smith last week said poverty is caused not by lack of money but lack of a wedding. Mention marriage, and this party vanishes away to the wilder shores of delusion... In Parliament today the old guard rallies for one last stand, but the fight is only over a word.
...This, warn the old Tory chairmen of the shires, is "shaking the very foundations of the party." If so, they really are done for. Cameron wrongly thought this a clause IV moment to parade a modernised party. Instead, he has revealed them as a nest of bigots. Disunity is electoral poison, and so is a leader losing control of his party. Rebel MPs, like runaway horses, lose their fear of whips. Gay marriage has become a proxy for other undisciplined craziness running through their veins, from hunting to Europe, privatising the NHS to breaking up the BBC, loathing windmills, loving fracking.
Never mind if the public is on the other side, the public is wrong. Never mind if YouGov finds the votes of only 7% might be swayed by gay marriage, for or against. These Tories know they are right, end of story.
|How soon before we get a royal GAY wedding?|