David Cameron risks upsetting grassroots Tory activists over gay marriage backing

 

David Cameron risks upsetting the grassroots Conservative activists whose help he will need at the next general election if he presses ahead with plans to legalise gay marriage, the chairman of the party's National Convention warned today.

Emma Pidding, whose organisation represents volunteers within the party, said she was concerned about the possible impact on the Tory election campaign if the plans for same-sex marriage go ahead.

The Government launched a consultation on the proposals earlier this year, and Mr Cameron was last week reported to have told gay groups he was determined to push the change through by the time of the election in 2015.

Ms Pidding today told BBC Radio 4's World At One: "My concern is that we are potentially upsetting our members and activists when I have one goal, and that is to obtain a Conservative majority government in 2015.

"Anything which upsets any of my members, I don't like to see that."

Ms Pidding said the issue of gay marriage was of passionate interest to "a few individuals" on either side of the argument but was not a priority for most Tories.

Conservative MP David Burrowes - a vocal critic of the proposals - said gay marriage was the kind of issue which might be a determining factor for a significant number of voters in crucial marginal seats, like his Enfield Southgate constituency in north London.

"The issue is one that is vote-defining for many people," Mr Burrowes told the programme. "Even in my constituency where they know that I am firmly opposed to the proposal, people say that if that does go through as legislation, then they won't vote for me.

"That must concern me and it concerns many other colleagues in marginal seats."

Mr Cameron gave his support to same-sex marriage at last year's Conservative conference when he said: "I don't support gay marriage despite being a Conservative, I support gay marriage because I'm a Conservative."

Backbench MP Mark Pritchard said he was waiting to see if the Prime Minister would make similar comments at this autumn's gathering in Birmingham.

"I think in the desire to so-called decontaminate the Conservative brand, there are those that may end up damaging our Conservative brand with our natural supporters and voters in the country, and most importantly our grassroots who support us financially and deliver leaflets day-in day-out up and down the country," warned Mr Pritchard.

"We need those people and we shouldn't take them for granted."

But Matthew Sephton, the chairman of LGB Tory - an organisation for lesbian, gay and bisexual Conservatives - told World At One that opponents of same-sex marriage were a "vocal minority" in the party but did not represent voters at large.

"You only have to look at the latest YouGov polls produced in conjunction with Stonewall, where 71% of the general public are shown to support the Government's commitment to same-sex marriage," said Mr Sephton.

"There are a huge number of LGB activists within the Conservative Party as well, and it is also the case that they shouldn't be taken for granted.

"We have got a vocal minority at the moment who have perhaps been too vocal and we who believe in the Government's priorities need to be more vocal as well.

"At the end of the day, as David Cameron has said, we need to be on the right side of history and I think the Government's proposals to introduce same-sex marriage will put us on the right side of history."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all