David Cameron ignored warnings from Tory election guru Lynton Crosby that pushing ahead with same-sex marriage would “f**k off” his party, a new book has claimed.
The claims were made in Anthony Seldon and Peter Snowdon in new biography ‘Cameron At 10’, serialised in the Mail, which sheds light on the Prime Minister’s first term in government.
The book reveals that Cameron mulled a direct pledge on same-sex marriage in the Tory manifesto in 2010, but the idea was scrapped.
Instead Mr Cameron told PinkNews he was “open to changing things further to guarantee equality”, while the party’s equalities manifesto pledged to “consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage”.
The book refers to the PM’s former Head of Broadcasting, Michael Salter, as his “go-to gay” on the issue. Mr Salter advised the Prime Minister on his PinkNews Q&As and articles.
Seldon and Snowdon noted: “There was ambivalence towards it even from the gay community. ‘What’s the point if it is going to p*** off a lot of people and not win us any votes?’ was the view of Cameron’s team. So it was dropped.”
The pair appeared to be referring to the views of Stonewall’s then-CEO Ben Summerskill – who claimed in 2009 that “there are quite a lot of gay and lesbian people who wouldn’t want marriage”.
When the issue eventually returned to the table during the Coalition via Lib Dem minister Lynne Featherstone, Tory election strategist Lynton Crosby warned that it could be seen as a “distraction” – despite his own personal support for equal marriage.
He warned the PM: “You’re f***ing off the party big time.”
Tory MP Liam Fox also warned him that equal marriage “represented the victory of liberal-dinner-party, metropolitan thought over the wider party” – but Mr Cameron pressed ahead on the issue regardless of both warnings.
Same-sex marriage passed through Parliament with a healthy majority – though more Conservatives voted against the second reading than in favour. Tory MPs split 136-127 against equality on the second reading.
The PM said: “Marriage is special… whether you are a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and another man.”
“Unless you are making some Neanderthal judgment on gays, those who are gay should have the same rights as those who are not.”