Navigation – Plan du site

The Implementation of Same Sex Marriage in 2013: Cameron’s modernising social agenda in the Conservative Party since 2005

Stéphane Porion
p. 41-65

Résumé

While the French Socialist government introduced same sex marriage in 2013, it was the Conservative Lib Dem coalition which implemented a similar measure at the same time in Britain. It was a breakthrough initiated by David Cameron, who took over a highly homophobic Conservative Party that had implemented section 28 in 1988 during the Thatcher years. Although Cameron benefited from cross-party support in the House of Commons, he had to face criticisms within his own party, which had not completely made a departure from the legacy of Thatcherism. This paper aims to explain how Cameron managed to fuse the idea of same sex marriage into the Conservative ideology by combining the notions of marriage, morality, family and individual liberty, and how the Lib Dems supported the radical measure, while carefully claiming their differences with their Conservative allies in the prospect of the next 2015 general election.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 “Gay marriage: MPs Back Bill despite Conservative Backbench Opposition”, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ (...)
  • 2 Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, 5 February 2013, col. 230, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa (...)
  • 3 The 1957 Wolfenden Report suggested that homosexual behaviour between consenting adults should no l (...)
  • 4 Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act prohibited local authorities promoting or funding the p (...)
  • 5 Words spoken as Party Chairmen at the Conservative Party’s annual Conference in 2002.

1The same-sex marriage bill successfully got through its third reading in the House of Lords on 15 July 2013 and the Commons confirmed all of the Lords' amendments on the following day, with Royal Assent given on 17 July 2013. Yet, even if the bill had passed its second reading in the House of Commons by 400 votes to 175 a few months before, on 5 February 20131, only 127 Conservative MPs were in favour, 35 did not vote and five abstained by voting both in favour and against. It is worth noticing that 136 Conservatives opposed the bill, including two cabinet ministers – Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Welsh Secretary David Jones –, eight junior ministers, and eight whips2. There was hardly not an overwhelmingly enthusiastic support among Tory MPs to back the modern social agenda of Cameron, who had to rely on cross-party support from the Lib Dems and the Labour Party to pass the same-sex marriage bill. Why was he so determined to enact such a law when the Conservative Party had adopted an anti-gay stance before, as, for example, in the late 1950s during the debate on the Wolfenden Report3, or in the Thatcher years with section 284, which subsequently led to its being called “the nasty party” by Theresa May in 20025 ?

  • 6 Mathhew D’Ancona, In It Together, The Inside Story of the Coalition Government, London, Viking, 201 (...)

2 All the more remarkably here was a British Conservative Prime Minister calling for equality for gay people, at the same time as a socialist government in France, having passed the same law in 2013, was struggling against a fierce opposition from an array of right-wing forces. In Britain, the same-sex marriage law brought to completion a process launched by the 1957 Wolfenden report : it had taken gay people fifty-six years to “make the journey from prison cell to the altar”6. As Matthew D’Ancona has recently argued in his study of the coalition :

  • 7 Ibid., pp. 311-312. 

More than any other single reform enacted by the Coalition, it symbolized Cameron’s politics and the continuity of his beliefs in marriage. (...) Cameron did not regard the issue as a frivolity or a sideshow. In fact, it encapsulated his social philosophy more precisely than any other measure or initiative.7

  • 8 Tim Bale argues that after David Cameron’s election as Party Leader “the Conservative party finally (...)
  • 9 Francis Elliott & James Hanning, Cameron (The Rise of the New Conservative), London, Fourth Estate, (...)
  • 10 Ibid., pp. 241-242.
  • 11 Scott Roberts, “Owen Jones: Cameron Was Courageous on Equal Marriage but It Could have Happened und (...)
  • 12 “Exclusive: David Cameron Writes on Gay Rights as He Answers Questions from PinkNews.co.uk Readers” (...)
  • 13 “I also believe that marriage is a great institution, and we should support it. (...)And by the way (...)
  • 14 Michael McManus, Tory Pride and Prejudice, London, BiteBack Publishing, 2011, p. 302.

3 The law on same-sex marriage seems to embody the modernity of Cameron’s stance, who had realised that his party was out of tune with the evolution of British society and public opinion8. As Nicholas Boles puts it : “David Cameron worked his way up on the inside floor by floor, which is why having to recognise that the conservative building had to change dramatically was much tougher for him than for George Osborne for example”9. Unlike Michael Portillo’s sudden conversion : “David Cameron’s espousal of the modernising agenda was a more gradual journey”, according to an anonymous senior Conservative10. Indeed, Cameron defended section 28 for a long time11, before taking a radical departure upon acknowledging he had been wrong on this issue and subsequently apologising for that12. As early as in his conference speech of 2006, Cameron insisted that gay and straight relationships were equally valid13. Since then, he has done his utmost to put forward his modernising social agenda and to improve the position of his party on gay rights. The 2010 Conservative victory at the general election resulted in a marked increase in openly gay Tory MPs, who numbered 1514. All of the gay Conservative MPs were interviewed by Michael Mcmanus and pointed out Cameron’s crucial role in changing the party’s attitude to gay rights. For example, Margot James said :

  • 15 Margot James interview, 2011 cited in ibid., p. 303.

Credit is due to David Cameron for the tremendous change that has taken place. I attended the Bournemouth conference where he made his first leadership speech, and he spoke of gay people and their relationships in equal terms. It was a very emotional moment for me. I never thought I would hear a Conservative leader say something like that in his main conference speech – and he said that to a totally unchanged party, because he had courage and conviction.15

4 Very few studies have so far analysed David Cameron’s motive to implement same-sex marriage, with the exception of Michael Mcmanus’s Tory Pride and Prejudice (2011), a short passage from In It Together (The Inside Story of the Coalition Government) by Matthew d’Ancona published in October 2013, or Same-Sex Marriage (The Road to Equality) released in 2013. This paper aims to explore Cameron’s personal journey in making the Conservative Party more gay-friendly and to explain why this new form of Conservatism fits in with the ideology of the Lib Dems (the Conservatives’ ally in the coalition). Cameron’s brand of Conservatism shows the capacity of his party to reinvent itself and to cope with the dichotomy of “tradition” and “change” in keeping with the electorate’s concerns. To carry out this analysis, Cameron’s evolving stance on gay matters should be accounted for as a long process starting before his election as the leader of the party in 2005. His personal journey regarding gay rights encapsulates all the tensions within his party to sustain both a moral tradition and individual liberty, which T. E. Utley rightly identified in the late 1960s :

  • 16 T. E. Utley, “What Laws May Cure – A New Examination of Morals and the Law”, 1968, cited in Charles (...)

In these matters, the historic Conservative party speaks with two distinct voices. The principles it proposes are complex and often apparently self-contradictory. There is, in the first place, the old voice of Tory paternalism which may be heard in the prayer-book petition that the Queen and her magistrates shall receive the divine Grace which they need in order to execute “to the punishment of wickedness and vice and the maintenance of thy true religion and virtue”. (...) On the other hand, there is equally strong authentic note struck by the liberal elements in the Conservative tradition represented, for instance, by Burke’s admonition to Government that it must tolerate frailties until they have festered into crime. (...) If freedom in the conduct of wage negotiations is sacred, how much more is freedom sacred in the conduct of love affairs ? What right have men to impose their own standards on each other ? (...) The truth is that there are very few sane and moderate men who honestly consider these things today without being painfully torn between these conflicting traditions.16

5David Cameron had to face opposition from a large faction of his party, but managed to reconcile the ideas of the tradition of marriage, while at the same time enhancing the liberty of gay couples to make the choice, as a right, to get married.

Gay rights and the Conservative Party as “the nasty party” in the Opposition years before Cameron’s leadership (1997-2005)

From an ideological point of view : “The nuclear family” versus “The gay family”

  • 17 Bruce Pilbeam, “Social Morality”, in Kevin Hickson (ed.), The Political Thought of the Conservative (...)
  • 18 M. Portillo, The Ghost of Toryism Past: The Spirit of Conservatism Future, London, Centre for Polic (...)

6 In the Thatcher years, The Tory Party repeatedly proclaimed itself the party of “family”, which should be construed as the traditional nuclear family17 – that is a monogamous, heterosexual married couple living with children. This conception was defended by the traditionalists while, modernisers in the party were willing to accept gay couples as legitimate. Portillo argued in 1997 that the party should be tolerant and accept a range of family models18. The traditionalists contend that it is crucial to protect the nuclear family, and Roger Scruton and Oliver Letwin provide a useful account of their views :

The nuclear family is the first social institution where to form one’s identity. It establishes a link between generations, binding the individual within the web of past and future history. It is a source of natural values, stability, order and continuity. Thanks to the nature of family life, in their solemn innervations, people are conservative. (Scruton)

  • 19 cited in Bruce Pilbeam, ‘Social Morality’, op. cit., p. 171.

It is a key means by which the vigorous virtues are passed down from generation to generation. (Letwin)19

  • 20 A former adviser to Margaret Thatcher.
  • 21 J. O’ Sullivan, “Conservatism and Cultural Identity”, in K. Minogue (ed.), Conservative Realism, Lo (...)
  • 22 Margaret Thatcher, The Path to Power, London, HarperCollins, 1995, p. 150; Charles Moore, Margaret (...)
  • 23 Margaret Thatcher, The Path to Power, op. cit., p. 152.
  • 24 Margeret Thatcher cited in Anna Marie Smith, New Right Discourse on Race and Sexuality, Cambridge, (...)
  • 25 Ibid., p. 219.

7 John O’Sullivan20 argued that traditional identities might be jeopardised by non-traditional ones, such as gay families which represented an undermining threat to traditional families21. As for Margaret Thatcher, she explains in her memoirs the reason why she shifted her position regarding gay people. In the 1960s, she supported an amendment on decriminalising homosexuality between consenting male adults on the grounds that the State should not interfere in the private sphere22. In the 1980s however, she staunchly opposed the promotion of a gay life style so as to protect the nuclear family : “Homosexual activists have moved from seeking a right of privacy to demanding social approval for the ‘gay’ lifestyle, equal status with the heterosexual family and even the legal right to exploit the sexual uncertainty of adolescents”23. At the 1987 Conservative Party conference, Thatcher declared : “Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have the inalienable right to be gay”24. More generally, she blamed teachers, cultural workers, progressive politicians and intellectuals in general for promoting homosexuality, which section 28 aimed to prevent25. As Anna Marie Smith puts it :

  • 26 Ibid., p. 25.

Thatcherite homophobic discourse was deeply influenced by the homophobic media coverage of AIDS. (...) Section 28 supporters thought that the latter “had originated in the gay male space and had subsequently spread to the heterosexual space. (...) They spoke about the heterosexual nation as if it were a body whose immune system had to ward off the dangerous homosexual virus which threatened to invade the nation from the immoral side.26

  • 27 Lucy Robinson, Gay Men and the Left in Post-War Britain, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2 (...)

8Lucy Robinson argues that in the Thatcher years “gay politics remained locked in its symbolic association with radicalism. In parliament, where you stood on the politics sexuality was a code where you stood on Thatcherism and the radical Left”27. The Conservatives had then embarked on a moral crusade to defend the model of heterosexual families and their schoolchildren against the promotion of homosexuality.

  • 28 M. McManus, Tory Pride and Prejudice, op. cit., p. 209.
  • 29 Ibid., p. 223.

9 When the Conservatives finally found themselves in opposition during Blair’s first mandate, they continued to express a very homophobic stance. They were, in Macmanus’s view, “the children of Thatcher – the Margaret Thatcher of Section 28”.28 When the Blair government tried to scrap Section 28 in 1999, most Tory MPs sharply opposed their initiative. Theresa May accounts for this by pointing out the party’s will to preserve a major totem from the Thatcher era, even though it was “homophobic” : “The section 28 debate was very much a hangover from a previous era and the party was not in a mood for throwing over what it had previously done in government. A front-bench decision was taken and we all rode in behind that, (...) because it is the view of collective responsibility that you sign up to things”.29 At that time, the Conservative Party was in no way ready to accommodate a more tolerant approach to gay people at the cost of a political break with Thatcherism and political courage. Shaun Woodward exhorted the Tories to follow the path taken by Enoch Powell (though highly controversial after 1968), who was the champion of individual liberty :

  • 30 Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, 25 January 1999, vol. 324, col. 48.

The House would do well to remember the views of one of its most principled members this century. Enoch Powell argued from first principles. Soon after the 1957 report on homosexual offences, he stood firmly —against many — for its implementation. Public opinion would not have been with him, but today a majority are in favour of what he stood for. He was convinced on principle. For him it was a matter of freedom, but it was also about leadership, which required bravery. This is a time for Parliament to do the right thing : to amend the law and demonstrate leadership30.

  • 31 M. McManus, Tory Pride and Prejudice, op. cit., pp. 243 & 281; Kieron O’Hara, After Blair (Conserva (...)

10More generally speaking, the different leaders of the Conservative Party since 1997 and up until Cameron’s leadership had been either emollient, ambiguous or hostile to gay rights31.

Composition of the Tory parliamentary group and Conservative opposition in the House of Lords before 2005

  • 32 Tim Bale, The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2010, p. 139; A (...)
  • 33 Tim Bale, The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron, op. cit., pp. 139-140.
  • 34 Ibid., p. 140.
  • 35 Simon Walters, Tory Wars, Conservatives in Crisis, London, Politico’s, 2001, p. 122.
  • 36 A. Alexandre-Collier, Les habits neufs de David Cameron, op. cit., p. 49.

11 Michael Portillo contested the Party leadership election in 2001, intending “to change the party’s image and make it more inclusive and representative, and (..) more moderate across a range of economic and social issues”32. However, he did not manage to secure enough votes on the first ballot and failed to become leader of the Party. Some Conservative MPs did not vote for him because he was accused of having gay intercourse in the past. Norman Tebbit thought that Portillo was guilty of such a “deviancy”. This resulted in a rejection of his social agenda to modernise the party33 : “[The failure of his leadership bid] confirmed Portillo’s fears that the Party was unconvinced it needed to change even in the wake of a second massive defeat”34. A large faction called the “rockers”(traditionalist social authoritarians) had been outnumbering the “mods” (socially liberal modernisers)35 and dominating the Conservative parliamentary group since 1997. Agnès Alexandre-Collier underlines the significant enduring prominence of Traditional Tory MPs in the 2005 parliamentary group. They numbered 145 (73 %) compared with only 28 modernisers among whom was David Cameron, which accounts for a fierce Tory majority opposed to gay rights at the time36.

12 In addition, this anti-gay stance was also manifest in the House of Lords. For example, Baroness Young firmly resisted any move from the government to promote gay rights and scrap Section 28 from 1999 to 2003. She was strongly supported by former Home Secretary David Waddington, whose comment in the House of Lords in December 1999 encapsulates all the homophobic feelings from the Tory Party :

  • 37 Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, 6 December 1999, col. 1061.

It is our job to see that it does not infringe the right of children to be brought up knowing what is right and what is wrong, understanding that sodomy is not the moral equivalent of sexual intercourse between a man and a wife, and appreciating the importance of marriage and of children being brought up by a man and a woman bound by their marriage vows to a lasting relationship37.

13 At that time, it would have thus been heretical in the Conservative Party to think of introducing same-sex marriage. The change of course taken by the Conservative Party coincided with David Cameron’s election as Leader of the party in 2005. Why did he gradually change his position towards gay people even before 2010 ? How did he manage to brand a new form of modern conservatism which would accommodate more tolerant ideas towards gay people ?

Cameron’s revamping of Conservatism towards a gradually more LGBT-friendly position (2005-2010)

Analysis of recent studies on Cameron’s shift to a more social agenda

  • 38 Peter Hitchens, The Cameron Delusion, London, Continuum, 2010, p. 45.
  • 39 Tim Bale, The Conservative Party (From Thatcher to Cameron), op. cit., pp. 381-382.
  • 40 Simon Lee & Matt Beech, The Cameron-Clegg Government (Coalition Politics in an Age of Austerity), B (...)
  • 41 Ibid., p. 10; Simon Lee & Matt Beech (eds.), The Conservatives under David Cameron (Build to Last), (...)

14 A few examples show that Cameron had gradually adopted a more positive stance towards gay people. Despite a three-line whip for a controversial bill (adoption by unmarried and gay couples) in November 2002, over 30 Tory MPs stayed away, among whom was David Cameron. Furthermore, he always voted at every stage for the Civil Partnership Bill in the Commons in 2004. After 2005, David Cameron took the Conservative Party sharply to the left on social and cultural issues towards a general “de-conservation of the Tory Party”38. This initiated a “decontamination’ phase”, according to Tim Bale, – with “Cameron’s insistence on respecting the rights of, and according due respect to homosexuals”39. Cameron planned to “detoxify” the Conservative Party’s organization, image, ideas and policy from the worst excesses of the “nasty party”40. He contended that his party’s electoral defeats in 20001 and 2005 were due to its failure to acknowledge that it had not actually won the battle of ideas over the creation of the New Labour project. He vindicated Michael Ashcroft’s Smell the Coffee (2005), which identified the basis of public’s dissatisfaction with the party’s stance and policies. He was aware that the electorate had changed, and so his party had to revamp some of its ideas in order to appeal to the electors’ expectations. The Conservative Party’s simple appeal to Thatcherite economic liberalism and the political narrative of the “nasty party” era resulted in a failure to attract beyond the party’s core voters. Cameron needed an alternative political narrative41.

  • 42 D. Jones, Cameron on Cameron: Conversations with Dylan Jones, London, Fourth Estate, 2008, p. 170.
  • 43 B. Marshall et al., Blair’s Britain: the Social and Cultural Legacy, London, Ipsos Mori, 2007, p. 3 (...)

15 By repositioning his party and calling for equality on issues such as gay rights, he proved to be in tune with changing – and increasingly more tolerant – popular opinion. Indeed, Cameron stated : “What we want is for people to be different, but to be treated equally, rather than for people to be treated differently”42. Cameron’s change of his party reflected a change in the population showing greater acceptance of homosexuality. For example, a 2007 Ipsos MORI showed that the percentage of people believing gay couples should be allowed to get married increased from 46 % in 2000 to 68 % in 200743.

16 More generally, Cameron called for a brand of “Liberal Conservatism”, which would allow him to get the support of the Liberal Democrats on many issues but a few like Europe. He made a pivotal speech at Bath in March 2007 :

  • 44 David Cameron, “A Liberal Conservative Consensus to Restore Trust in Politics”, Speech in Bath, 22 (...)

I am a Liberal Conservative. Liberal, because I believe in the freedom of individuals to pursue their own happiness, with the minimum of interference from government. Sceptical of the state, trusting people to make the most of their lives (...) this is Liberalism. And Conservative, because I believe that we’re all in – that there is a historical understanding between past, present and future generations (...) Conservatives believe in continuity and belonging ; we believe in the traditions of our country which are embedded in our institutions. Liberal and Conservative. Individual freedom and social responsibility.44

  • 45 Cameron (2007) cited in Simon Lee & Matt Beech, The Cameron-Clegg Government (Coalition Politics in (...)
  • 46 Kieron O’Hara, After Blair, op. cit., p. 213.
  • 47 Ibid., p. 215.

17Liberalism’s emphasis on individual freedom could prevent Conservatism from becoming in Cameron’s view “mere conformity, limiting creativity and progress”.45 He redefined the idea of the “family” (a pillar of Conservatism), including and accepting homosexual families. The Party should adapt to changing circumstances by being non-doctrinaire : this is exactly how the Conservative Party reinvents itself to be appealing to the electorate and a party of government. Kieron O’Hara contends that “homosexual actions being criticised by the Tories affect no one other than the individual involved (and other consenting adults). The Conservatives would not gain anything tangible by prohibiting homosexuality apart from a loss personal liberty”. Moreover, “moral rectitude can attract charges of hypocrisy if members of one’s own party are caught out indulging”46. As a matter of fact, he added that the Conservatives should not support repressive legislation against homosexuality, but should instead respect the organic changes in an increasingly liberal society – even if they privately deplore them47 –, and create the image of a party which would longer be seen as an anti-gay party. This was what Cameron assigned himself to do. How did he proceed ?

Cameron’s strategy

  • 48 M. McManus, Tory Pride and Prejudice, op. cit., pp. 285-286.

18 Michael McManus notices that as a new leader, Cameron set about isolating the die-hard anti-gay brigade on the Party’s back benches. He appointed some to front-bench jobs so that their hands and tongues were tied by the discipline of collective responsibility. Some were left in complete isolation48. The death of Baroness Young in September 2002 also marked the beginning of a process of dwindling Tory opposition to gay rights in the House of Lords.

  • 49 Tony Grew, “Tories Will Walk with Boris at their First Pride London”, for PinkNews.co.uk,
  • 50 M. McManus, Tory Pride and Prejudice, op. cit., p. 294.

19 Moreover, the modernisers had called for a more inclusive approach on social issues. They had supported the repeal of Section 28, backed civil partnerships for gay couples and the equal treatment of homosexual and heterosexual couples in adoption law. Cameron acknowledged the need to include the modernisers’ pro-gay claims into a more coherent narrative he called “compassionate conservatism”. Under his more tolerant leadership, the LGBTory ( = the conservative gay group) was revitalized in 2007. Anastasia Beaumont-Bott, the new group’s leader, said : “We want to dispel the myth of a homophobic Tory Party’.49 In 2009, Cameron was also the first Tory leader to address a Gay Pride event”50.

  • 51 Philip Lynch, “Cameron, Modernisation and Conservative Britain”, in Jean-Philippe Fons (ed.), Le Pa (...)

20 Philip Lynch shows that “Cameron’s strategy for Conservative renewal draws heavily on that employed by Tony Blair when he became Labour leader in 1994. He aspires to be a ‘Conservative heir to Blair’ who broadens his party’s appeal beyond its traditional support and is prepared to upset traditionalists to do so”51. Tony Blair wrote in his memoirs that the Tories were influenced by New Labour to change their attitudes on gay rights with the emergence of a new political paradigm :

  • 52 Tony Blair, A Journey, London, Hutchinson, 2010, pp. 581-582. 

The Tories had also come to support the Civil Partnership Act, meaning that the issue would not be used again as a dividing line in British politics. This was an important gain for the health of our political debate (...) and it revealed something of the changing nature of politics. I felt progressive politics had to create a different set of paradigms about politics in order to achieve a greater and deeper spread of support. (...) My generation had defined a different paradigm : what you did in your personal life was your choice, but what you did to others was not. So a distinction came about between attitudes to human beings (non-discriminatory in race, gender or sexuality) and attitudes to social order (we need to impose it).52

  • 53 Ibid., p. 95.
  • 54 Ibid., pp. 95-96.

21Blair thought the Tories took the same path as New Labour in the way they modernised the party : “Take the Tory Party of today. They wanted a modernising message. To an extent, they followed the New Labour handbook. They changed their position on gays. (...) They put away some of the old Thatcherite rhetoric”53. In his view, this modernising message had then to be turned into deeds while the party was in power54. Cameron showed that he really wanted more equality for gay people and by introducing a bill on same-sex marriage he was serious about addressing LGBT rights.

The Coalition’s implementation of same-sex marriage : Cameron’s vindication of a more “compassionate Conservatism” towards gay people

Same –sex marriage : a pledge from the coalition?

  • 55 Conservative Party Manifesto, 2010, p. 35, http://conservativehome.blogs.com/files/conservative-man (...)
  • 56 Conservative Party Manifesto, 2010, op. cit., p. 41.
  • 57  “George Osborne says Tories will 'consider gay marriage”, BBC News, 11 April 2010, http://news.bbc (...)
  • 58 Martin Beckfrod, “Gay Couples Could be Allowed to Marry under Tory Election Plans”, The Telegraph, (...)
  • 59  “Lib Dem Leader Speaks up for Same-Sex Marriage”, 4 July 2009,
  • 60 H.M. Government, The Coalition: Our Programme for Government, 2010, p. 18.
  • 61 Ibid., p. 24

22 In the run-up to the 2010 General election, the two main parties now forming the coalition promised in their manifestos to struggle against hate crimes against homosexuals or to make Britain a more equal country55. The Conservatives in particular reasserted the importance of the deep-seated tradition of marriage : “We will recognise marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system in the next Parliament. This will send an important signal that we value couples and the commitment that people make when they get married”56. However, none of the two parties made any specific pledge to introduce same-sex marriage. George Osborne told gay activists that “the Tories would be ‘very happy’ to consider same-sex marriage if elected”57. On 4 May 2010, the Conservative Party released a Contract for Equalities which stated that they would “consider” recognising civil partnership as marriage if elected. As Martin Beckford puts it : “Neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats have made similar pledges in their election literature, making the Tories’ proposal the most progressive of the three main parties despite the criticism some leading candidates have received over their attitudes towards homosexuality”58. As for Nick Clegg, he clearly stated, as early as 4 July 2009, that he supported same-sex marriage and would back legislation59. All in all, The Coalition Programme committed the Conservatives and the Lib Dems “to push for unequivocal support for gay rights and for UK civil partnerships to be recognised internationally”60 and “to change the law so that historical convictions for consensual gay sex with over ­16s will be treated as spent and will not show up on criminal records checks”61. There was no pledge whatsoever on introducing same-sex marriage.

Consultation to introduce the same-sex marriage bill62

  • 62 For this section, see Same-Sex Marriage, The Road to Equality 1990-2013, op. cit., emplacements 163 (...)

23 On 17 September 2011, at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference, Lynne Featherstone declared that the government would launch a consultation in March 2012 on how to introduce equal civil marriage for same-sex couples by 2015. However, the Prime Minister's Office pointed out that David Cameron had personally intervened in favour of legalising same-sex unions. On 5 October 2011, at the Conservative Party Conference, Cameron reasserted his support for gay marriage in his Leader's Speech :

  • 63 David Cameron, “Leader's Speech”, Manchester 2011,

But for me, leadership on families also means speaking out on marriage. Marriage is not just a piece of paper. It pulls couples together through the ebb and flow of life. It gives children stability. And it says powerful things about what we should value. So yes, we will recognise marriage in the tax system. But we’re also doing something else. I once stood before a Conservative conference and said it shouldn't matter whether commitment was between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and another man. You applauded me for that. Five years on, we're consulting on legalising gay marriage. And to anyone who has reservations, I say : Yes, it's about equality, but it's also about something else : commitment. 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 despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.63

  • 64 http://c4m.org.uk/marriage-minutes/
  • 65 Same-Sex Marriage (The Road to Equality), op. cit., emplacement 2277.
  • 66 Scott Roberts, “Exclusive: Nick Clegg Signals a Free Vote for Lib Dem MPs on Same-Sex Marriage”, Pi (...)

24 On 12 March 2012, the government launched its consultation on equal civil marriage in England and Wales. Opponents to same-sex marriage saw it as a weakening of the most basic social unit. Some created a group called Coalition for Marriage64, which demonstrated outside No 10 and addressed a petition to the Commons (550,000 signatures) in June 201265. They thought that this social reform was a “frivolous distraction at a time of economic challenge” or Cameron’s political expediency with the only purpose of winning votes. Yet, the scale of public opposition to the reform in Britain never reached that in France. On 11 December 2012, it released the findings of the consultation. Out of the 228,000 responses to the consultation, via the online form, email or correspondence, 53 % agreed on same-sex marriage, 46 % disagreed, and 1 % were unsure or did not answer the question66. On 11 December 2012, the Minister for Women and Equalities, Secretary of State Maria Miller announced that the Government would implement same-sex marriage legislation for England and Wales in early 2013.

Cameron believes in marriage

  • 67 M. D’Ancona, In It Together, op. cit., p. 311.

25 Mathew D’Ancona argues that Cameron was himself the child of a successful marriage. He deeply believes in the institution, and, in his eyes, matrimony was an institution which badly needed restoration and renewal. Therefore, civil partnership between two men or two women was only a transitional measure. Cameron saw his reform as a way of strengthening an ailing institution and enhancing happiness. The Prime Minister accepted a new gay family model to support the conservative idea of marriage and to strengthen individual rights and liberties. Unlike his Chancellor of the Exchequer, he contends that there should be some recognition of its significance, however small and symbolic, in the fiscal thickets of incentives, tax breaks and benefit triggers67. This was the key to making his party gay-friendlier and more in tune with a changing society and his “compassionate conservatism” a more modern brand of Conservatism. Other key figures in the Conservative Party (George Osborne, William Hague, Theresa May) wrote a letter to the Daily Telegraph in February 2012 to support the measure, vindicating Cameron’s philosophy :

  • 68 “Cabinet Ministers Back Bill to Allow Same-Sex Marriage because They are Conservatives”, The Telegr (...)

Civil partnerships for gay couples were a great step forward, but the question now is whether it is any longer acceptable to exclude people from marriage simply because they love someone of the same sex. Marriage has evolved over time. We believe that opening it up to same-sex couples will strengthen, not weaken, the institution. Attitudes towards gay people have changed. A substantial majority of the public now favour allowing same-sex couples to marry, and support has increased rapidly. This is the right thing to do at the right time.68

  • 69 M. D’Ancona, In It Together, op. cit., p. 315.

26 Sir Peter Bottomley thought that the measure did not come from the manifesto, but rather that the duty of the Commons was to respect and respond wisely to the tide of social change. For instance, a Sunday Telegraph opinion poll in March 2012 showed that the electorate was broadly supportive : 45 % versus 36 %. A Guardian poll in December disclosed even stronger support : 62 % in favour of the reform versus 31 % against same-sex marriage69.

27 Cameron now felt buttressed by popular opinion on same-sex marriage to continue taking the nation towards more openness and greater equality of treatment, an electoral pledge but also his tenet since 2005 :

  • 70 Jessica Geen, “David Cameron Urges Tories to Back Gay Marriage”, PinkNews.co.uk, 5 October 2011,

And to anyone who has reservations, I say this : Yes, it’s about equality, but it’s also about something else : commitment. 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.70

  • 71 That was Conservative Lord Arran’s stance in the debate on the Sexual Offences Bill in 1967 in the (...)

28Just after the reform was passed, despite criticisms from his own party, he once again justified his own position to make Britain one nation, with the reassertion that sexual orientation is a private matter and individual liberty with which the State should not tamper71 :

  • 72 Scott Roberts, “David Cameron Explains what Equal Marriage Means to Him”, PinkNews.co.uk, 18 July 2 (...)

I have backed this reform because I believe in commitment, responsibility and family. I don’t want to see people’s love divided by law. Making marriage available to everyone says so much about the society that we are and the society that we want to live in – one which respects individuals regardless of their sexuality. If a group is told again and again that they are less valuable, over time they may start to believe it. In addition to the personal damage that this can cause, it inhibits the potential of a nation. For this reason too, I am pleased that we have had the courage to change72.

29If individual liberties are hampered by the State, it is impossible for the citizens to take part in the good organic development of society, as it inhibits the potential of a nation. Cameron’s stance thus embodies the Conservative idea of the organic nation in which the State’s actions should guarantee individual liberties.

The Lib Dems’ support

30 The Lib Dems wanted to pilot the reform. Nick Clegg reasserted in 2012 that it was a long-standing commitment of his party and linked “equality of treatment of gay people” to “Liberalism” :

  • 73 “Nick Clegg: First Gay Marriage before 2015, because of the Lib Dems in Government”, March 11, 2012 (...)

We are bringing forward proposals for gay marriage, already provoking debate. Let me just say, if you are a young gay person, your freedom to love who you choose is a fundamental right in a liberal society - and you will always have our support.73

  • 74 Scott Roberts, “David Cameron Praises Gay Tolerance in Tory Conference Speech”, PinkNews.co.uk, 2 O (...)
  • 75 Lib Dems Manifesto, 2010, op. cit., p. 7. 

31He reminded people that the Lib Dems had so far played a crucial role in the coalition and that should continue. Same-sex marriage was a great opportunity for the Lib Dems to exert their influence : “I am ‘proud’ of what the Liberal Democrats have achieved as part of the coalition, Britain is finally a place where we celebrate love equally”74. This implementation of the measure encapsulates the Lib Dems’ fight for individual freedom as a top priority set down in their 2010 Manifesto : “[We intend to] restore and protect hard-won British civil liberties with a Freedom Bill”75. Although he praised the reform as a step forward for gay people carried out by the coalition, Nick Clegg regretted the homophobic attitude of many Tories. One may assume that the Lib Dems will use this in the run-up to the 2015 general election to attack the Tories as being still “nasty” and “homophobic” :

  • 76 Scott Roberts, “Nick Clegg: I Didn’t Think My Equal Marriage Pledge to PinkNews Could Become Law so (...)

Well I think it is a really good thing that this has now finally escaped the strictures of one party somehow trying to get one over on the other party that actually there seems to be – not withstanding some very vociferous objections within the Conservative Party – [and] some deep splits within the Conservative Party – none the less [there is] plenty of people in all parties who want to see this change happen and think that is right that we make sure that people who love each other regardless of their gender, regardless of their sexuality can express that love through marriage.76

32 However, Andrew Cooper, Cameron’s director of strategy, made sure that the Home Office consultation announced in September 2011 had Tory fingerprints all over it and it was seen to have been personally pushed through by Cameron77. It was Maria Miller, a mainstream Conservative, not a deep-rooted moderniser, who steered the reform through the Commons. Lynne Featherstone, the Lib Dem Equalities minister, also played a part in supporting the reform. She did not downplay the role of David Cameron, but insisted on that of the Lib Dems : “As Liberal Democrats, we like to enlighten people. (...) This proposal of legalizing gay marriage is a liberal idea, as you would expect from a Liberal Equalities minister”78. This liberal measure echoes what the Lib Dems stand for, that is to defend individual liberties in J. S. Mill’s vein79. This accounts why they could easily support the Conservative Prime Minister.

Conclusion

  • 80 Robin Harris, The Conservatives (A History), London, Bantam Press, 2011, p. 517.
  • 81 M. D’Ancona, In It Together, op. cit., p. 350.

33 Same-sex marriage undoubtedly embodies Cameron’s modern conservatism. However, some, like Robin Harris, were not convinced by the coherence of Cameronism and its modernity. The latter agues that “modernization itself remains an oddly empty revolution. It has no core doctrine. Its messages were assembled ad hoc from a mix of socially liberal assumptions and marketing research”80. Furthermore, the ill-feeling that the reform had aroused in the Conservative Party would not easily and rapidly fade away. For example, the Conservatives lost the 6 by-elections in November 2013, while the UKIP increased their share of votes. The latter tried to capitalize on the gay marriage situation. The opponents of the reform within the Conservative Party accounted for it by emphasizing the discontent of the Tory grassroots base towards the introduction of same-sex marriage. Cameron might even have said to an ally at the time : “This is down to me. If I had known what it was going to be like, I wouldn’t have done it”81. Cameron was thus becoming strongly self-critical about his misreading of the party on gay marriage.

  • 82 It is worth noticing that Gordon Brown refused to introduce same-sax marriage on religious grounds.

34 As for Ed Miliband, he proudly said that Labour supported the reform which had been initiated by Blair82, thereby hoping for his party to get some credit for it too. :

  • 83  “Gay Marriage: MPs Back Bill despite Conservative Backbench Opposition”, op. cit..

This is a proud day and an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain. The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs supported this change to make sure marriage reflects the value we place on long-term, loving relationships whoever you love. (...) Equal marriage builds on Labour's successes in government which include the repeal of Section 28, equalising the age of consent, the introduction of civil partnerships and changes to the rules governing adoption.83

35Nick Clegg pointed out that the reform had been a long-term commitment of the Lib Dems, who played a significant role in supporting the law. He did not want the Tories to take any advantage of this move. Cameron’s successful passing of the reform depended on cross-party support, which shows that many in the Conservative Party, as well as many Tory voters or activists, were far from ready to accept this move from the Prime Minister. Local Conservative branches had to reassure the Conservative constituents that Cameron was genuinely Conservative. In the short term, Cameron did not really benefit from such a tolerant social initiative. This would undoubtedly pave the way for further political debates on the ideas of “individual liberties”, “equality” and “state interference in the private sphere” between the three main parties in the run-up to the 2015 general election.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

Primary sources

Blair, T., A Journey, London, Hutchinson, 2010.

Cameron, D., “A Liberal Conservative Consensus to Restore Trust in Politics”, Speech in Bath, 22 March 2007, http://www.britishpoliticalspeech.org/speech-archive.htm?speech=349, accessed on 10 September 2013.

- “Leader's Speech”, Bournemouth 2006, http://www.britishpoliticalspeech.org/speech-archive.htm?speech=151, accessed on 10 September 2013.

- “Leader's Speech”, Manchester 2011, http://www.britishpoliticalspeech.org/speech-archive.htm?speech=313, accessed on 10 September 2013.

Conservative Party Manifesto, 2010, http://conservativehome.blogs.com/files/conservative-manifesto-2010.pdf, accessed 10 September 2013.

Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, 25 January 1999.

Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, 6 December 1999.

Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, 5 February 2013.

Her Majesty Government, The Coalition : Our Programme for Government, 2010.

House of Lords Debates, 21 July 1967, vol. 285, col. 522, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/1967/jul/21/sexual-offences-no-2-bill, accessed on 10 September 2013.

http://c4m.org.uk/marriage-minutes/

- The Conservatives under David Cameron (Build to Last), Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Lib Dems Manifesto, 2010, http://www.astrid-online.it/Dossier--R3/Documenti/Elezioni-2/libdem_manifesto_2010.pdf, accessed on 10 September 2013.

“Lib Dem Leader Speaks up for Same-Sex Marriage”, 4 July 2009, http://lgbt.libdems.org.uk/en/article/2009/085780/lib-dem-leader-speaks-up-for-same-sex-marriage, accessed on 10 September 2013.

“Nick Clegg : First Gay Marriage before 2015, because of the Lib Dems in Government”, March 11, 2012, http://lgbt.libdems.org.uk/en/article/2012/569150/nick-clegg-first-gay-marriage-before-2015-because-of-the-lib-dems-in-government ; http://www.libdemvoice.org/text-of-nick-cleggs-speech-to-the-lib-dems-2012-spring-conference-27532.html, accessed on 10 September 2013.

Portillo, M., The Ghost of Torysim Past : The Spirit of Conservatism Future, London, Centre for Policy Studies, 1997.

Thatcher, M., The Path to Power, London, HarperCollins, 1995.

Secondary sources

Alexandre-Collier, A., Les Habits neufs de Cameron, Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2010.

Bale, T., The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2010.

- The Conservatives since 1945, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012.

D’Ancona, M., In It Together, The Inside Story of the Coalition Government, London, Viking, 2013.

Elliott, F., Hanning, J., Cameron (The Rise of the New Conservative), London, Fourth Estate, 2007.

Fons, J.Ph., (ed.), Le Parti conservateur britannique 1997-2007 (crises et reconstruction), Rennes, PUR, 2007.

Harris, R., The Conservatives (A History), London, Bantam Press, 2011.

Hitchens, P., The Cameron Delusion, London, Continuum, 2010.

Hickson, K., (ed.), The Political Thought of the Conservative Party since 1945, Basingstoke, Macmillan Palgrave, 2005.

Jones, D., Cameron on Cameron : Conversations with Dylan Jones, London, Fourth Estate, 2008.

Lee, S., Beech, M., The Cameron-Clegg Government (Coalition Politics in an Age of Austerity), Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Marshall, B., et al., Blair’s Britain : the Social and Cultural Legacy, London, Ipsos Mori, 2007.

McManus, M., Tory Pride and Prejudice, London, BiteBack Publishing, 2011.

Minogue, K., (ed.), Conservative Realism, London, HarperCollins, 1996.

Moore, C., Margaret Thatcher (The Authorized Biography, From Grantham to the Falklands), New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

Moore, C., Heffer, S. (eds.), A Tory Sheer, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1989.

O’Hara, K., After Blair. Conservatism Beyond Thatcherism, Cambridge, Icon Books, 2005.

Porion, S., “Conservatisme et moralité : position progressiste d’Enoch Powell en faveur de la dépénalisation de l’homosexualité masculine [1951-1960]”, RFCB, forthcoming article, 2014.

Robinson, L., Gay Men and the Left in Post-War Britain, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2007.

Same-Sex Marriage, The Road to Equality 1990-2013, (kindle edition), 2013.

Smith, A. M., New Right Discourse on Race and Sexuality, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Walters, S., Tory Wars, Conservatives in Crisis, London, Politico’s, 2001.

Press articles

BBC News :

- “Gay marriage : MPs Back Bill despite Conservative Backbench Opposition”, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21346220 5 February 2013, accessed on 10 September 2013.

- “George Osborne says Tories will 'consider gay marriage”, 11 April 2010, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/election_2010/8614235.stm, accessed on 10 September 2013.

PinkNews.co.uk :

- Jessica Geen, “David Cameron Urges Tories to Back Gay Marriage”, 5 October 2011,

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/10/05/david-cameron-urges-tories-to-back-gay-marriage/, accessed on 10 September 2013.

- Tony Grew, “Tories Will Walk with Boris at their First Pride London”, 4 July 2008, http://archive.is/sLSy, accessed on 10 September 2013.

- “Exclusive : David Cameron Writes on Gay Rights as He Answers Questions from PinkNews.co.uk Readers”, 10 April 2010, http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/04/10/david-cameron-on-gay-rights-as-he-answers-questions-from-pinknewscouk-readers/, accessed on 10 September 2013.

- Scott Roberts, “David Cameron Explains what Equal Marriage Means to Him”, 18 July 2013, http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/07/18/david-cameron-explains-what-equal-marriage-means-to-him/, accessed on 10 September 2013.

- Scott Roberts, “David Cameron Praises Gay Tolerance in Tory Conference Speech”, 2 October 2013,

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/10/02/david-cameron-praises-gay-tolerance-in-tory-conference-speech/, accessed on 10 September 2013.

- Scott Roberts, “Exclusive : Nick Clegg Signals a Free Vote for Lib Dem MPs on Same-Sex Marriage”, PinkNews.co.uk, 11 December 2012, http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/12/11/exclusive-nick-clegg-signals-a-free-vote-for-lib-dem-mps-on-same-sex-marriage/, accessed on 10 September 2013.

- Scott Roberts, “Nick Clegg : I Didn’t Think My Equal Marriage Pledge to PinkNews Could Become Law so Quickly”, 15 July 2013, http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/07/15/nick-clegg-i-didnt-think-my-equal-marriage-pledge-to-pinknews-could-become-law-so-quickly/, accessed on 10 September 2013.

- Scott Roberts, “Owen Jones : Cameron Was Courageous on Equal Marriage but It Could have Happened under Labour”, 30 July 2013, http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/07/30/owen-jones-cameron-was-courageous-on-equal-marriage-but-it-could-have-happened-under-labour/, accessed on 10 September 2013.

The Telegraph:

- Martin Beckfrod, “Gay Couples Could be Allowed to Marry under Tory Election Plans”, 4 May 2010, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/7673224/Gay-couples-could-be-allowed-to-marry-under-Tory-election-plans.html, accessed on 10 September 2013.

- “Cabinet Ministers Back Bill to Allow Same-Sex Marriage because They are Conservatives”, 5 February 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/9848067/Cabinet-ministers-back-Bill-to-allow-same-sex-marriage-because-they-are-Conservatives.html&, accessed on 10 September 2013.

Haut de page

Notes

1 “Gay marriage: MPs Back Bill despite Conservative Backbench Opposition”, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21346220 5 February 2013. All the internet websites were accessed on 10 September 2013.

2 Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, 5 February 2013, col. 230, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130205/debtext/130205-0004.htm

3 The 1957 Wolfenden Report suggested that homosexual behaviour between consenting adults should no longer be a criminal offence.

4 Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act prohibited local authorities promoting or funding the promotion of homosexuality in schools and other places.

5 Words spoken as Party Chairmen at the Conservative Party’s annual Conference in 2002.

6 Mathhew D’Ancona, In It Together, The Inside Story of the Coalition Government, London, Viking, 2013, p. 316.

7 Ibid., pp. 311-312. 

8 Tim Bale argues that after David Cameron’s election as Party Leader “the Conservative party finally began to make the kind of alterations to policies which stood some chance of signalling to a sceptical public that a party was genuinely changing its tune”. Tim Bale, The Conservatives since 1945, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 2.

9 Francis Elliott & James Hanning, Cameron (The Rise of the New Conservative), London, Fourth Estate, 2007, p. 241.

10 Ibid., pp. 241-242.

11 Scott Roberts, “Owen Jones: Cameron Was Courageous on Equal Marriage but It Could have Happened under Labour”, PinkNews.co.uk, 30 July 2013,

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/07/30/owen-jones-cameron-was-courageous-on-equal-marriage-but-it-could-have-happened-under-labour/

12 “Exclusive: David Cameron Writes on Gay Rights as He Answers Questions from PinkNews.co.uk Readers”, PinkNews.co.uk, 10 April 2010,

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/04/10/david-cameron-on-gay-rights-as-he-answers-questions-from-pinknewscouk-readers/

13 “I also believe that marriage is a great institution, and we should support it. (...)And by the way, it means something whether you’re a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and another man. That’s why we were right to support civil partnerships, and I’m proud of that”. David Cameron, “Leader's Speech”, Bournemouth 2006, http://www.britishpoliticalspeech.org/speech-archive.htm?speech=151

14 Michael McManus, Tory Pride and Prejudice, London, BiteBack Publishing, 2011, p. 302.

15 Margot James interview, 2011 cited in ibid., p. 303.

16 T. E. Utley, “What Laws May Cure – A New Examination of Morals and the Law”, 1968, cited in Charles Moore and Simon Heffer (eds.), A Tory Sheer, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1989, pp. 320-322.

17 Bruce Pilbeam, “Social Morality”, in Kevin Hickson (ed.), The Political Thought of the Conservative Party since 1945, Basingstoke, Macmillan Palgrave, 2005, pp. 170-173.

18 M. Portillo, The Ghost of Toryism Past: The Spirit of Conservatism Future, London, Centre for Policy Studies, 1997, pp. 18-19.

19 cited in Bruce Pilbeam, ‘Social Morality’, op. cit., p. 171.

20 A former adviser to Margaret Thatcher.

21 J. O’ Sullivan, “Conservatism and Cultural Identity”, in K. Minogue (ed.), Conservative Realism, London, HarperCollins, 1996, p. 39.

22 Margaret Thatcher, The Path to Power, London, HarperCollins, 1995, p. 150; Charles Moore, Margaret Thatcher (The Authorized Biography, From Grantham to the Falklands), New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2013, pp. 184-185.

23 Margaret Thatcher, The Path to Power, op. cit., p. 152.

24 Margeret Thatcher cited in Anna Marie Smith, New Right Discourse on Race and Sexuality, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994, p. 218.

25 Ibid., p. 219.

26 Ibid., p. 25.

27 Lucy Robinson, Gay Men and the Left in Post-War Britain, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2007, p. 179.

28 M. McManus, Tory Pride and Prejudice, op. cit., p. 209.

29 Ibid., p. 223.

30 Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, 25 January 1999, vol. 324, col. 48.

31 M. McManus, Tory Pride and Prejudice, op. cit., pp. 243 & 281; Kieron O’Hara, After Blair (Conservatism Beyond Thatcherism), Cambridge, Icon Books, 2005, pp. 214-215.

32 Tim Bale, The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2010, p. 139; Agnès Alexandre-Collier, Les Habits neufs de Cameron, Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2010, pp. 47-49.

33 Tim Bale, The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron, op. cit., pp. 139-140.

34 Ibid., p. 140.

35 Simon Walters, Tory Wars, Conservatives in Crisis, London, Politico’s, 2001, p. 122.

36 A. Alexandre-Collier, Les habits neufs de David Cameron, op. cit., p. 49.

37 Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, 6 December 1999, col. 1061.

38 Peter Hitchens, The Cameron Delusion, London, Continuum, 2010, p. 45.

39 Tim Bale, The Conservative Party (From Thatcher to Cameron), op. cit., pp. 381-382.

40 Simon Lee & Matt Beech, The Cameron-Clegg Government (Coalition Politics in an Age of Austerity), Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, p. 9.

41 Ibid., p. 10; Simon Lee & Matt Beech (eds.), The Conservatives under David Cameron (Build to Last), Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, p. 39.

42 D. Jones, Cameron on Cameron: Conversations with Dylan Jones, London, Fourth Estate, 2008, p. 170.

43 B. Marshall et al., Blair’s Britain: the Social and Cultural Legacy, London, Ipsos Mori, 2007, p. 39.

44 David Cameron, “A Liberal Conservative Consensus to Restore Trust in Politics”, Speech in Bath, 22 March 2007, http://www.britishpoliticalspeech.org/speech-archive.htm?speech=349

45 Cameron (2007) cited in Simon Lee & Matt Beech, The Cameron-Clegg Government (Coalition Politics in an Age of Austerity), op. cit., p. 7.

46 Kieron O’Hara, After Blair, op. cit., p. 213.

47 Ibid., p. 215.

48 M. McManus, Tory Pride and Prejudice, op. cit., pp. 285-286.

49 Tony Grew, “Tories Will Walk with Boris at their First Pride London”, for PinkNews.co.uk,

Pink News, 4 July 2008, http://archive.is/sLSy

50 M. McManus, Tory Pride and Prejudice, op. cit., p. 294.

51 Philip Lynch, “Cameron, Modernisation and Conservative Britain”, in Jean-Philippe Fons (ed.), Le Parti conservateur britannique 1997-2007. Crises et reconstruction, Rennes, PUR, 2007, p. 203.

52 Tony Blair, A Journey, London, Hutchinson, 2010, pp. 581-582. 

53 Ibid., p. 95.

54 Ibid., pp. 95-96.

55 Conservative Party Manifesto, 2010, p. 35, http://conservativehome.blogs.com/files/conservative-manifesto-2010.pdf; Lib Dems Manifesto, 2010, p. 73, http://www.astrid-online.it/Dossier--R3/Documenti/Elezioni-2/libdem_manifesto_2010.pdf

56 Conservative Party Manifesto, 2010, op. cit., p. 41.

57  “George Osborne says Tories will 'consider gay marriage”, BBC News, 11 April 2010, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/election_2010/8614235.stm

58 Martin Beckfrod, “Gay Couples Could be Allowed to Marry under Tory Election Plans”, The Telegraph, 4 May 2010, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/7673224/Gay-couples-could-be-allowed-to-marry-under-Tory-election-plans.html

59  “Lib Dem Leader Speaks up for Same-Sex Marriage”, 4 July 2009,

http://lgbt.libdems.org.uk/en/article/2009/085780/lib-dem-leader-speaks-up-for-same-sex-marriage

60 H.M. Government, The Coalition: Our Programme for Government, 2010, p. 18.

61 Ibid., p. 24

62 For this section, see Same-Sex Marriage, The Road to Equality 1990-2013, op. cit., emplacements 1637 – 2531.

63 David Cameron, “Leader's Speech”, Manchester 2011,

http://www.britishpoliticalspeech.org/speech-archive.htm?speech=313

64 http://c4m.org.uk/marriage-minutes/

65 Same-Sex Marriage (The Road to Equality), op. cit., emplacement 2277.

66 Scott Roberts, “Exclusive: Nick Clegg Signals a Free Vote for Lib Dem MPs on Same-Sex Marriage”, PinkNews.co.uk, 11 December 2012,

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/12/11/exclusive-nick-clegg-signals-a-free-vote-for-lib-dem-mps-on-same-sex-marriage/

67 M. D’Ancona, In It Together, op. cit., p. 311.

68 “Cabinet Ministers Back Bill to Allow Same-Sex Marriage because They are Conservatives”, The Telegraph, 5 February 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/9848067/Cabinet-ministers-back-Bill-to-allow-same-sex-marriage-because-they-are-Conservatives.html&

69 M. D’Ancona, In It Together, op. cit., p. 315.

70 Jessica Geen, “David Cameron Urges Tories to Back Gay Marriage”, PinkNews.co.uk, 5 October 2011,

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/10/05/david-cameron-urges-tories-to-back-gay-marriage/

71 That was Conservative Lord Arran’s stance in the debate on the Sexual Offences Bill in 1967 in the House of Lords. House of Lords Debates, 21 July 1967, vol. 285, col. 522, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/1967/jul/21/sexual-offences-no-2-bill. Enoch Powell, as well as a minority of Conservative MPs, defended the same idea in the late 1950s and in the 1960s. See Stéphane Porion, “Conservatisme et moralité : position progressiste d’Enoch Powell en faveur de la dépénalisation de l’homosexualité masculine [1951-1960]”, RFCB, forthcoming article, 2014.

72 Scott Roberts, “David Cameron Explains what Equal Marriage Means to Him”, PinkNews.co.uk, 18 July 2013,

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/07/18/david-cameron-explains-what-equal-marriage-means-to-him/

73 “Nick Clegg: First Gay Marriage before 2015, because of the Lib Dems in Government”, March 11, 2012,

http://lgbt.libdems.org.uk/en/article/2012/569150/nick-clegg-first-gay-marriage-before-2015-because-of-the-lib-dems-in-government;

http://www.libdemvoice.org/text-of-nick-cleggs-speech-to-the-lib-dems-2012-spring-conference-27532.html

74 Scott Roberts, “David Cameron Praises Gay Tolerance in Tory Conference Speech”, PinkNews.co.uk, 2 October 2013,

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/10/02/david-cameron-praises-gay-tolerance-in-tory-conference-speech/

75 Lib Dems Manifesto, 2010, op. cit., p. 7. 

76 Scott Roberts, “Nick Clegg: I Didn’t Think My Equal Marriage Pledge to PinkNews Could Become Law so Quickly”, PinkNews.co.uk, 15 July 2013,

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/07/15/nick-clegg-i-didnt-think-my-equal-marriage-pledge-to-pinknews-could-become-law-so-quickly/

77 Matthew D’Ancona, In It Together, op. cit., p. 311.

78 Same-Sex Marriage (The Road to Equality), op. cit., emplacement 1996.

79 http://www.victorianweb.org/philosophy/mill/liberty.html.

80 Robin Harris, The Conservatives (A History), London, Bantam Press, 2011, p. 517.

81 M. D’Ancona, In It Together, op. cit., p. 350.

82 It is worth noticing that Gordon Brown refused to introduce same-sax marriage on religious grounds.

83  “Gay Marriage: MPs Back Bill despite Conservative Backbench Opposition”, op. cit..

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Stéphane Porion, « The Implementation of Same Sex Marriage in 2013: Cameron’s modernising social agenda in the Conservative Party since 2005 », Observatoire de la société britannique, 15 | 2014, 41-65.

Référence électronique

Stéphane Porion, « The Implementation of Same Sex Marriage in 2013: Cameron’s modernising social agenda in the Conservative Party since 2005 », Observatoire de la société britannique [En ligne], 15 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 novembre 2014, consulté le 21 octobre 2017. URL : http://osb.revues.org/1594 ; DOI : 10.4000/osb.1594

Haut de page

Auteur

Stéphane Porion

Maître de conférences à l'Université de Tours

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Observatoire de la société britannique

Haut de page
  • Logo Université de Toulon
  • Logo Laboratoire Babel
  • Revues.org