LONDON, May 9, 2013 ( – David Cameron’s own party is increasingly questioning his insistence on bringing forward “gay marriage”. This week a group of long-time Tories urged the Prime Minister to drop the proposal that they say is costing the party voter support, and focus instead on key issues like the economy, immigration and Britain’s continued membership in the EU. 

“The Prime Minister needs to listen to voters and start acting like a Conservative,” said Conservative Grassroots, a national network of Conservative officials and supporters, in a statement. Based on recent polling data, the group estimates that the policy is costing the Conservatives three votes for every one gained.

“Voters elected Mr. Cameron to fix the economy introduce a tax break for married couples and support not penalise mothers who wish to stay at home to nurture small children,” said a spokesman. 


Last week’s local elections have revealed a Conservative Party in trouble. The huge gains made by the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) – which opposes “gay marriage” on libertarian grounds of religious freedom – have galvanized the traditional core of the party into pushing Cameron to either drop his “modernizing” program, including “gay marriage,” or face electoral disaster. The Conservative Party lost 335 council seats and control of 10 councils in the local elections. 

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Robert Woollard, former chairman of the Wycombe Conservative Association and current chairman of Conservative Grassroots said that efforts of party activists to get Conservative council candidates elected were “deeply undermined by David Cameron’s personal commitment to redefine marriage.” 

“We were met with opposition to the redefinition of marriage time and again on the doorsteps during the local election campaign with many previously loyal conservatives saying redefining marriage was the tipping point- the straw that broke the camel’s back. 

“Instead of pressing ahead with issues that were not in the manifesto of any of the major parties, we must redouble our efforts to clean up the mess left by the Labour Party,” Woollard said. 

“The Prime Minister needs to listen to voters and start acting like a Conservative…Many of our members are looking elsewhere for a conservative alternative. If this mass defection continues, we will not have the support on the ground to campaign to win the 2015 election. It is essential that the Prime Minister drops his policy to redefine marriage now,” he added. 

UKIP is not only enjoying a renewed reputation as a serious political force after last week, it is gaining members in record numbers while Conservative ranks continue to shrink. UKIP membership rose from 17,220 to 26,097 in the last year, with 550 signing up last week alone. 

The Financial Times commented that the trend “reflects wider apathy towards politics and a shift away from the two-party system that has dominated Britain for centuries”. FT noted that Conservative membership has been dropping steadily from its 1950s peak of 2.8m members to half a million in the 1990s, to about 130,000-170,000 today. 

A recent ComRes poll found that more than one in four Conservative voters said the “gay marriage” policy was turning them away from party. Asked, “Does the Coalition Government’s plans to legalise same sex marriage make you more or less likely to vote for each of these parties in next week’s local elections?” one quarter, (26 per cent) of those who voted Conservative in 2010 say less likely, with fewer than one in 10 (nine per cent) saying more likely. 

At the same time, Cameron is coming under increasing pressure on his reluctance to allow a referendum on Britain’s continued membership in the European Union. 

Writing in The Times yesterday, Lord Lawson, Margaret Thatcher’s Chancellor, called for Britain to get out of the EU. Economic and political developments in the eurozone have “fundamentally changed” the nature of the EU and Britain’s relationship with it, he said. This week, European Commission president Manuel Barroso said it will be only a “few years” before the European Union has an “intensified political union,” becoming a fully functioning federal state with fiscal and foreign policy decided in Brussels for all 27 member states. 

“The heart of the matter is that the very nature of the EU, and of this country's relationship with it, has fundamentally changed after the coming into being of the European monetary union and the creation of the eurozone, of which – quite rightly – we are not a part,” Lord Lawson wrote. Lawson believes that the EU’s ultimate goal of a full “political union,” will force Cameron into an “in or out” referendum by 2017. 

Lawson told the BBC, “It’s the nature of the EU that there is only one way of travel, which is to more and more powers to the centre, and they believe this sincerely…. They are also afraid that if they give concessions to us, then there will be demands for concessions from others and the whole thing will unravel.”