George Osborne backs gay marriage plans

 

Chancellor George Osborne today gave his strong personal endorsement to plans to legalise gay marriage, and warned Conservative opponents that ditching the policy would be toxic electorally.

The proposals have sparked determined resistance from campaigners for traditional marriage, and many Tory backbenchers are expected to oppose them when the legislation comes before Parliament, where they have been promised a free vote.

But Mr Osborne, who is in charge of Conservative preparations for the 2015 general election, today warned that polls indicate a "clear majority" in favour of the change, particularly among the young and women.

In an analysis of Barack Obama's victory in last week's US presidential election, Mr Osborne said that Mitt Romney's prospects were undermined by the sense that the Republicans were out of step with modern America on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

And he invoked Margaret Thatcher in saying that successful political parties must reflect modern life and the way that people want to live their lives.

After a series of senior Tories, including Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, indicated their personal support for a reduction in the time limit for abortion, Mr Osborne also made clear that he opposes any cut from the current 24 weeks.

Writing in The Times, the Chancellor said: "I should declare my personal position on these social issues: I wouldn't change the current abortion laws and I strongly support gay marriage on principle.

"Of course in Britain these issues are ones of individual conscience and free votes, but I am proud to be part of a Government that will introduce a Bill to allow gay marriage.

"It is worth reflecting that in Britain, as in America, a clear majority of the public support gay marriage, and an even bigger majority of women support it. That majority support is just as high in the North as it is the South, and it is equally high among all socio-economic groups.

"Successful political parties reflect the modern societies they aspire to lead. As Margaret Thatcher said in the first sentence of her introduction to the 1979 Conservative Election manifesto: 'The heart of politics is not political theory, it is people and how they want to live their lives'."

In a challenge to the traditional consensus that economic issues determine election results, Mr Osborne pointed out that the Republicans lost "swathes of voters who were on their side of the economic argument" because of their positions on social issues.

"It is astonishing that Mr Romney won the election among men by a clear-cut margin of 7%; but it was Mr Obama's 11% lead among women that won it for the President, even though many of those that voted Democrat thought Mr Romney would manage the economy better," said the Chancellor.

"President Obama's high-profile endorsement of equal marriage for gay couples also enthused younger voters. But polls found that a majority of all Americans supported him on the issue and voted for it in all four states that held ballots."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Day In a Page

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England