The Conservative Party is pressuring “dozens” of MPs to support its gay marriage bill, according to a report in the Independent,
The bill will go before a free vote in Parliament tomorrow, and is expected to pass with help from the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, but Prime Minister David Cameron is reportedly keen to prevent a significant number of his own MPs from voting against the legislation.
The report claims that backbench MPs have privately briefed that the career prospects could be harmed by a vote against the legislation. Chancellor George Osborne is also reported to be contacting MPs who are still uncertain about their likely vote.
Meanwhile journalist and political blogger Iain Dale has claimed that some of the MPs who intend to vote against the legislation are themselves gay:
“I’ve been looking at the Coalition for Equal Marriage’s website, and their list of MPs who intend to vote against allowing gay people to marry on Tuesday. I note with interest the names of several MPs who most people in the Westminster Village know to be closet case gays. And I note also the names of two supposedly straight MPs who I know to be conducting gay affairs at the moment. I don’t believe in ‘outing’ anyone, but because of the rank hypocrisy there will be others who will take a different view.”
He stressed that he had no intention of ‘outing’ such MPs himself:
“[I was] merely pointing out the blindingly obvious that any apparently straight MP having a gay affair could have to defend themselves against charges of hypocrisy. Others, who are less squeamish about outing others may hold those MPs to account. All I was doing was pointing out to those MPs to be prepared for it.”
In 2003, the 50 year-old writer became the first openly gay candidate to contest a Parliamentary election for the Conservatives.
Earlier today Mr Dale emailed all MPs urging them to support the legislation, saying:
“Each of you will know someone who is gay. A son or daughter. A work colleague. The guy who owns the shop where you buy your morning paper. Your researcher. Can you really justify saying to any of them: “I am happy to vote to deny you the very same privileges and honour of marriage that I , as a straight man or woman enjoy?” Think on that.”