Adopting the wrong ideas

Not for the first time, the Conservatives are sending out some distinctly mixed messages on social issues. Last week, at their party conference, we heard a much more compassionate, inclusive note than we have been used to. This week, however, comes the unmistakable roar of the Conservatives' dinosaur tendency from the chamber of the House of Lords: Baroness O'Cathain and other Tory peers seem intent on defeating the clause in a government bill that would allow single-sex couples to adopt.

Whatever the merits of the noble lady's case (although we doubt she has appreciated just how supportive a single-sex couple can be to a child), she is not helping her party to "move on". As with recent conflicting noises on Clause 28, the Tories seem unable to decide whether they are socially libertarian, authoritarian or a bit of both. Until they do, they will continue to bewilder us.