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Lib Dem Chief Whip: I’m happy not to whip my MPs on same-sex marriage

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  1. Mike Pennell 13 Dec 2012, 12:59pm

    Well, it looks like all three major parties think there is a hierarchy of citizenship and equality is optional. Shame on the lot of them!

    1. That’s what I thought at first as well. But after reading Alastair’s article, I’ve changed my mind. In particular, this passage:

      “The view of my parliamentary colleagues that came up time and again was that they supported equal marriage and were keen to see it on the statute book. They wanted, in fact, not just to support the bill but to be seen to support it because they do and not because they have been told to. Incidentally no MP who spoke in the discussion last night opposed the idea of equal marriage…”

      I agree that were a political party to support a policy without being whipped, it is far more impressive than a political party supporting a policy after being whipped. It shows that the support is genuine rather than imposed. In any event, the Lib Dems have equal marriage as party policy and not a single Lib Dem MP has indicated any opposition to the Bill. I’m relatively confident that the Bill will be supported by almost all Lib Dem MPs which should be applauded.

      1. Mumbo Jumbo 13 Dec 2012, 1:43pm

        Yes, but the need to be seen to have willingly supported a whipped measure could be perfectly well accommodated by individual MPs putting out a short public statement to that effect.

        That way, both the MP and the party get to send the message they want.

  2. It looks like they are saying that there is no need to whip the lib dems as they all fully support equal rights.
    If one or two do vote against it I wouldn’t be surprised that it’s because of some small part not the overall bill – for instance equal pension rights which is STILL excluded.

  3. Typical Liberal hogwash!

  4. What about Tim farron MP? I believe he is not totally committed?

    1. Tim Farron is party president and will vote in favor

      1. Oh and he is pushing everyone else to support us as well, so he is totally committed John

  5. I welcome this move even though it carries a (low) element of risk. I believe the majority will vote in our favour and further argument will be rendered futile. However, it is unfortunate that it is constantly described (even by supporters) as a matter of conscience, implying that those with a strong conscience may oppose. This is a strange inversion.

  6. The vote in support of marriage equality will look stronger for this. It’s like the C4M campaign which actually had me worried for a bit (until the lies and dirty tricks of its organisers were brought into the light). Once the dark clouds of its spin machine were removed, it has been convincingly shown that marriage equality has majority support – 53% according to the govt’s consultation – in the country. There really is nothing to worry about. Although I’m sure the deceit and fear-mongering of a small number of religious fundamentalists will undoubtedly continue, the honesty of a free vote will cut right through it and make the final outcome – equal marriage in the UK – convincing and utterly indisputable.

  7. I’m glad there’s no whipped votes.

    I’d rather know how people *really* feel~

    1. Me too. I fully agree Peter. Let’s see their true colours one way or the other.

    2. The downside is that anti-gay will become respectable and not contradictable to the party’s values. Anyone disagreeing with them will be seen as intolerant.

      1. I can’t speak for other parties, but there is no way – whip or no whip – that being anti-gay would ever be respectable and not contrary to the party’s values. The first line of the Lib Dem manifesto is “The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.”

        Read Lynne Featherstone’s blog post ( which makes it clear that it was the Lib Dems who pushed for this inside the Government, not forgetting that they were the first party to adopt it as party policy.

        You can argue about the means, but the end result will be equal marriage because of Liberal Democrat. To then say that because they weren’t whipped that means being anti-gay will become a respectable opinion within the party is just nonsense.

  8. What will be interesting is to see how many Labour MPs vote against (or stay home washing their hair). Or any Liberals (if any)

    It will usefully bring all the Tory homophobes out from under their stones – such as Bob ‘bring back section 28’ Blackman – so they can be blinded by the light of the 21st century.

    I don’t suppose there is any chance that the measure might lose?

  9. From Maria Miller’s response to questions on Tuesday I strongly suspect the Government intends to allow ALL registrars (including those in registry offices) to opt out of marrying gay couples. The Equality Act will effectively become meaningless.

    1. Never trust a Tory

  10. I read the article.

    The LibDem whip in his article makes clear that he does not believe that civil marriage equality for all adult citizens is a fundamental civil right..

    Shame on him.

    Shame on the LibDems.

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