Most Conservative Party members still oppose the right of same-sex couples to marry, according to new research.
Academics at Queen Mary University of London found almost six in ten card-carrying Tories aren’t supportive of marriage equality, despite the move being introduced by a Conservative prime minister.
The report branded Tory members a “breed apart” from their counterparts in Labour, Liberal Democrats and the SNP after research revealed stark differences on major issues.
The study, based on polling by YouGov, found that just 41 percent of Tory members back same-sex marriage.
Labour party members were the most likely to be info favour, with 85 percent of members in support, while 84 percent of Lib Dems and 81 percent of SNP are supportive.
Re-introducing the death penalty was considerably more popular among Tory members than marriage equality, with 54% of Conservatives in favour of bringing back capital punishment.
Despite the views of members, all three living Tory prime ministers – Theresa May, David Cameron and Sir John Major – have spoken in favour.
The research also shows that opposition among Tories has fallen compared with when the law was debated in parliament.
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A survey of more than 2,500 Conservative Party members taken in 2012 found 58 percent of Tory members believed marriage “should remain between one man and one woman”, with 34 percent in favour.
Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Britain’s party members are the lifeblood and the footsoldiers of our democracy.
“But that doesn’t necessarily mean they look like or think like their parties’ voters – or, indeed, look or think like each other.
“The Tory grassroots in particular are something of a breed apart from their Labour, Lib Dem and SNP counterparts.”
David Cameron came out in support of same-sex marriage in his October 2011 in a speech to Conservative Party conference.
He said at the time: “Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.
“So I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”
The law relied on the votes of Labour MPs to be passed, however, with most Conservative MPs either voting against or abstaining.