I am opposed to redefining the meaning of the word 'marriage'. I'm disappointed that the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor are supporting the change with such enthusiasm. When my whip discussed this matter with me soon after I was elected an MP, I advised that I wouldn't vote for it. I will vote against it, even if its a 'whipped' vote (which it probably won't be). This is the second time I have stated this opinion publicly. And its only because BBC News Channel's Chris Eakin put me 'on the spot' in last night's paper review (which was the first time). The Chancellor, for some reason, went big on it for today's papers and I couldn't avoid the issue. The reason I've not chosen to speak on the matter is that I will be accused of being homophobic - which is just not true. If this proposal was going to confer some new right upon gay people I would probably support it. But it doesn't. It just redefines a word which has great meaning for hundreds of thousands of good people across Britain - for no real purpose, other than to convey some ill-defined 'message'. Anyway, I had to say this on national TV last night, so I'm repeating it in a considered way. And hope that I don't have to discuss it again.
But this post is not about the rights and wrongs of redefinition of the meaning of marriage. In the end that will be decided on a majority vote, (which I fully expect to approve the change). Sadly, I will just have to accept it. What this post is about is whether this proposal will benefit the Conservative Party at the polls. The leaders of my party think it will boost our popularity. I don't. So today's spat about comments from ComRes's CEO, Andrew Hawkins about a letter sent by the Prime Minister to my old boss, Cheryl Gillan is particularly interesting. Its also an unusually direct criticism of the PM, accusing him of misleading voters. He says that the letter to Cheryl Gillan used statistics to show that refining the meaning of marriage would make the Conservative Party more popular. However, Andrew Hawkins insists that his polling shows that the Conservative Party loses more votes than it gains, and former Conservative voters are especially less likely to return. Andrew Hawkins also refers to a general detrimental impact on the Party's fortunes. He describes the PM's claims that all polls show more votes support the change in the law than oppose to be simply not the case. I am looking forward to reading reports in tomorrow's papers, challenging these statements. Whatever, I need to have a chat with my old boss about this next week!
Must add that I'm certainly not suggesting that the Government I support should back off doing something because its not popular. Clearly David Cameron, Nick Clegg and George Osborne think redefining the meaning of marriage is absolutely the right thing to do. Perhaps where they all live and in the circles they inhabit there are many who agree. Its just that I don't. And I would be genuinely surprised if a majority of Conservatives where I live do either.