Current Affairs

UK: Tory Associations warn Cameron, ‘same-sex marriage has led to a drop in membership’

Ashley Chhibber July 14, 2014
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Local Conservative associations have warned the Prime Minister that party support across constituencies is falling, thanks in part to the party’s position on same-sex marriage.

A report by The Guardian looking at constituencies which have published figures over the last two years has found an average drop of 10% in full membership for the Conservative Party.

The Conservative Association in Chippenham blamed the loss of members on Cameron’s legalisation of same-sex marriage. The Association wrote: “Membership continued to fall in 2013, the ongoing mass exodus over issues such as gay marriage.”

The loss is being felt particularly in the constituencies of some key Tory ministers. In Maidenhead, seat of Home Secretary Theresa May, which saw a decrease of 20% in three years, and in the South West Surrey seat of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, decreases in membership was attributed to “disagreements with policy”.

In Kenilworth and Southam, the constituency of Justice Minister Jeremy Wright, the Association warned that membership was “affected by the same-sex marriage bill, HS2, ‘gasification’ and the prospect of a new settlement”. Mr Wright’s website records that he is “not currently inclined to support a change to the nature of marriage”.

David Cameron’s own Witney constituency saw a drop of 170 in the number of full members, as well as a financial deficit after the association was asked to pay for a Westminster Report newsletter on Cameron’s behalf.

15 associations have attributed a fall in membership to David Cameron’s support of same-sex marriage, or else to unspecified unhappiness with national decisions.

David Cameron has repeatedly rejected claims that a party backlash caused him to regret his support for same-sex marriage.

Former Conservative MP Michael Portillo described Cameron’s support as taking “an enormous risk” with his own party.

In 2013, more Conservative MPs voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its third reading than voted to support it, with 128 MPs against and 117 MPs in favour.

Related topics: Conservative Association, Conservative Party, David Cameron, equal marriage, gay marriage, party membership, same sex marriage

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