By Tim Montgomerie
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In one of our largest ever polls – completed by 2,568 Tory members from 22nd to 26th December – ConservativeHome has found that only 37% of Tory members support David Cameron's proposal to introduce gay marriage while 55% oppose those plans.
In this regard Tory members are out-of-step with the population-at-large and with Conservative voters. An ICM poll for The Guardian finds 61% of all voters support the move to legalise gay marriage with just 32% opposed. 52% of 2010's Tory voters support gay marriage and 42% are opposed. An Ipsos-MORI poll from earlier in the month – conducted for Freedom to Marry – found that support grew to 74% if all voters were reassured about religious liberties.
Within the poll we did find some arguments that appeared to have some resonance with Tory members:
- 44% agree that "in the long-term a party that opposes gay equality will
struggle to win support from younger voters". 44% disagree.
- 71% concede that "this will not be a big issue at the general election –
it will largely be forgotten because issues like jobs, inflation,
Europe and the NHS will dominate". 25% disagree.
Overall, however, nearly every other finding will make disappointing reading for the Tory leadership:
- 64% agree that "gay marriage is unnecessary because gay people already have civil partnerships". 32% disagree.
- 58% agree that "marriage should remain between one man and one woman". 34% disagree.
- 38% agree that "marriage is an institution that brings two people together and there is no reason why two people should be two men, two women or a man and a woman". 58% disagree.
- 71% acknowledge that "gay marriage is splitting the Conservative Party". 20% say it is not.
- 43% agree that "as long as religious liberty is protected I have no objection to gay marriage". 51% disagree.
- 78% say "David Cameron underestimated the strength of feeling among Conservative MPs and members against gay marriage". Just 19% disagree.
- 50% fear that "in a few years' time teachers and other public sector employees will be losing their jobs if they don't support gay marriage". 40% do not.
- 62% agree that "David Cameron should worry more about traditional Conservative supporters like churchgoers and less about winning support amongst non-traditional supporters like gay rights campaign groups". 32% disagree.
- 36% agree "I admire David Cameron for standing up gay equality". 55% do not.
I have made the case for gay marriage on these pages and won't repeat those arguments today.
This poll is reported in this morning's Independent.