How the New Labour government brought equal marriage into law

Sally Morgan was one of Tony Blair’s closest advisers. She spoke to students at King’s College London about her role in the establishment of civil partnerships. By John Rentoul

Sunday 13 March 2022 21:30 GMT
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<p>‘I said shouldn’t we be doing something bigger? And we came up with civil partnerships,’ says Baroness Morgan of Huyton </p>

‘I said shouldn’t we be doing something bigger? And we came up with civil partnerships,’ says Baroness Morgan of Huyton

Sally Morgan, Baroness Morgan of Huyton, a key adviser in Tony Blair’s Downing Street, remembers Alastair Campbell, the prime minister’s press secretary, saying to her: “You said you weren’t going to do gay marriage.” She said: “I’m not doing gay marriage.” He said: “Look at the Express and look at the Daily Mail, they say it’s gay marriage.”

She had devised civil partnerships, which became law in 2004, a significant step forward in equal rights, but she gave this example when she was asked by one of our students at King’s College London: “What was the nature of Blair’s strength as a team leader?”

She said: “He was really clear overall what he was trying to do, which meant that you did, broadly speaking, know the space you had. You knew how much you could persuade and push, and what the boundaries were. He was also extremely supportive of the team. He never lost it with people – and I don’t think most of us ever did with other people. We were mutually personally supportive. As a people leader, he wasn’t a great manager; he didn’t know how to do that, he had never managed anything, but that doesn’t matter because there were other people there who could – but he was a clear leader.”

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