Monday, 10 December 2012

Death Wish

The actual debate over gay marriage registers on my 'interest-o meter' at around the level of Manolo Blahnik shoes, and the continuing adventures of Kim Kardashian - basically not very high.

It does, however, have the amusing side-effect of watching the Tories pull themselves apart. Not content with destroying their party over the issue of Europe, they seemed determined to put another nail in their electoral coffin by splitting their party again over an issue, that seems to barely register across the country - not surprising given the economic climate, while ensuring that many more Tory members and helpers will leave in their droves. The Tories appear to have a death wish.

There is however a far more important point and it is one of democracy. The issue, which has serious implications for the relationship between the church and state needs serious debate, instead it has been reduced to cynical Tory political calculation for the next election. The voters have seen it for the cynicism that it is:
A ComRes survey published today found that 62 per cent of voters and 68 per cent of Tories believe marriage should continue to be defined as a ‘life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman’.

In a further blow for the PM, 65 per cent agree that his plans to legalise gay marriage are ‘more to do with trying to make the Conservative Party look trendy and modern’ than a matter of conviction.
It's also worth noting that the so-called heavyweights supporting Cameron, John Major and Boris Johnson are not elected as MPs. Nor will it stop there, as Peter Bone MP says in the Independent (pictured above):
"If this were a genuine free vote, which of course it isn't, I reckon most Conservative MPs would vote against." He added: "The Prime Minister is absolutely wrong on this. This 'cast-iron guarantee' he has given that no church will be forced to marry someone is obviously false, because the European courts will intervene.

"What will happen when a couple goes to a local church, same sex, saying they want to be married [and] that church turns them down? Off to a European court and, heigh-ho, all churches will be forced to.
But the money quote is this one from Mr Bone:
"It was in no party manifesto, there is no mandate for the Prime Minister to do this; he is absolutely wrong to be doing it now..."
And in one sentence Mr Bone (unwittingly I suggest) has summed up everything that is wrong. The voters' appear to be against it, Cameron has no mandate, yet he will still force this issue through Parliament against the wishes of the majority of the population opposed, topped off eventually with an intervention from European Courts which will expand the consequences of the law. Yet another example of how democracy has gone seriously AWOL in this country.

The antidote to all this is the 6 demands of the Harrogate Agenda. Parliament in its current form is not fit for purpose.


  1. The European case law from Denmark suggests that a State Church (which the CoE is of course) would be vulnerable to Human Rights/Equality cases brought by same sex couples refused a CoE wedding. Non State churches would probably be able to resist such demands.

    So a win/win for the PC brigade - The CoE gets forced to hold gay weddings against its wishes, and would probably implode under the internal divisions that would cause but the Muslims would be immune from such demands.

  2. @WfW Ta muchly, it's appreciated

    @Jim Thanks for that informative post. Oddly gay marriage has been ruled as not being a human right...

    but if it is passed then equality rules would come into play. What a mess

  3. TBF. Excellent post, and yes, not a pretty sight seeing the tattered remnants of the NOT THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY unecessarily splitting asunder on this one.

    They may well win in the H of C, but unlikely in the H of L. Neither can they use the Parliament Act to force it through should it get through the Commons.
    What is important to note on the issue itself is that they wish to make marriage something different altogether, something that it has NEVER BEEN ever, in ANY culture, past or present.
    In all then, another piece of presumptuous arrogance from this bovine.

  4. To add a rider to my last post, before some objector whines on about 'well, it is in other cultures because 11 other countries have adopted SSM''

    Making a law by the State "defining" marriage, thereby degrading it, does not alter one whit from the nature of real, heterosexual marriage itself, as understood and practiced world-wide.
    That can never be altered.

  5. @graham wood, thanks, I wasn't aware they couldn't use the Parliament Act to force it through...could you elaborate on that?

  6. TBF. By convention, governments can only use the Parliament Act to overrule peers if the new law relates to a policy that was included in their election pledges. The Conservatives only pledged to "consider" it in their equality manifesto.

    I very much doubt whether any 'marriage' Bill would get through the H of L, and then the daft Cameron will have to creep off with his tail between his legs.
    But of course the 'damage' to his party by droves of defecting grass roots Tories will have been done.
    More fool he.

  7. @graham wood, There's the Salisbury Convention

    Which means the Lords in principle won't reject any government bill that was included in a manifesto - though this was disregarded during the Lisbon debacle

    However in relation to using it to invoke a manifesto pledge I quote:

    "Clearly, a Government wishing to get its legislation under the Parliament Acts if necessary will have a stronger hand politically and perhaps morally if that legislation had been foreshadowed in its General Election manifesto.

    But the precedents do not establish manifesto authority as a necessary prerequisite for the use of the Parliament Acts. Manifestos in their modern form were only issued at the 1922 General Election and at subsequent elections.

    Asquith had, however, clearly foreshadowed the Parliament Bill in both of his personal election addresses in 1910 (but there was no such mention for Welsh Church disestablishment or Irish home rule). Labour's 1945 manifesto spoke only in general terms of not tolerating "obstruction of the people's will by the House of Lords," which is a mention of sorts for a Parliament Bill. The War Crimes Bill was not in the Conservatives' manifesto in 1987, and the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill did not feature in Labour's 1997 manifesto. While reference to a bill to ban fox-hunting was made in Labour's 2001 manifesto, the only commitment was to enable Parliament to reach a conclusion about it on a free vote.

    There is, therefore, no constitutional convention or consistent practice to the effect that the approval of the electorate must be obtained for a measure before the Parliament Acts can be invoked.

  8. I haven't looked at it particularly closely, but I get the impression it's a modernist, Westminster Bubble, progressive thing, the worth of which is measured by the extent to which it gets a small proportion of the Tory faithful frothing at the mouth, but leaves the majority scratching their heads but going along with the tribe.

    Prisoners' votes would have pissed off too many of the faithful.

    I find it hard to believe that Cameron is genuinely worked up over this.

    I suppose another way of looking at it is a distraction and displacement activity for a government which doesn't have much sense of direction and has the ball and chain of the Lib Dems round its ankle.

    I have seen it suggested that this comes from the UN via the EU. I haven't chased up the details.