Cameron’s gay marriage tactics were right
Everyone, except Atul Hatwal, David Cameron and me, seems to think that the Prime Minister “got the politics of the Same Sex Marriage Bill wrong“ in failing to come to the Commons yesterday to lead the fight for it in person.
On a mirror-image issue, it is said, Tony Blair would have gone into the lion’s den and persuaded it of the merits of vegetarianism, winning plaudits all round for at least standing up for his convictions.
Well, if Cameron had done that, the commentariat would no doubt have pointed out how self-defeating it was for Blair to appear to relish provoking his party so much. It helped to define him in the voters’ mind as a centrist, but at the price of diminishing the reserves of support in the parliamentary Labour Party.
If Cameron had made a brilliant speech in the Commons yesterday appealing to his MPs not to make themselves look old-fashioned, what good would it have done? It would hardly have affected the vote itself, which was won easily. He might have avoided the embarrassment of having more of his MPs vote with him than against him, which, at 136 to 127, would have required five to switch sides.
But he would have annoyed the antis more, while the pros know which side he is on anyway, and, as Hatwal points out, so do the voters, especially the ones for whom this has a positive symbolic association.
Not only was it sensible to take a low profile yesterday, I would say that Cameron gained more by bringing it to a vote early, despite advertising the Tories as an unlovely and divided party.
As for the reports exaggerated by a few antis of people leaving local Conservative associations in droves, that can only have the immeasurable benefit for Cameron of presenting the Tories at last as the sort of party a normal person might want to join.Tagged in: david cameron, equal marriage, gay marriage
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