The Telegraph’s Jonathan Isaby has done an excellent job in recording that 12 shadow cabinet members joined David Cameron last night in supporting the Government’s doctrinaire attempts to bring Catholic adoption agencies within the scope of gay equality legislation. This dozen – plus Cameron himself – accounted for a huge 45% of the vote against the Catholic Church’s position even though they account for less than one-eighth of the parliamentary party. All other shadow cabinet ministers abstained. Not one shadow cabinet minister joined the 85 Tory MPs who voted against the illiberal regulations that would compel Catholic adoption agencies to place children with gay couples. 82 Tories abstained.
It seems that the shadow cabinet is either very unrepresentative of the parliamentary party or was subject to clandestine whipping.
David Cameron’s decision to support the Government against the Catholic Church on this issue is one of the most depressing acts of his young leadership. He is denying faith-based charities the freedom of association and belief that is necessary for his ‘big idea’ of social responsibility to really flourish. Catholic and other churchleaders are not asking to ban gay adoption – merely that they do not themselves have to place children with gay couples. It shouldn’t have been too much to ask in a country that purports to value religious freedom.
7.30am Wednesday morning update: From Phil Cowley’s revolts.co.uk it is also clear that the 2005 parliamentary intake do not share David Cameron’s view on this issue: "Just six of the 2005 intake voted with their leader. A full 23 voted against – and of these 23, 20 have also already defied Mr Cameron on a whipped vote. The modernising agenda has clear limits amongst the backbenches of the Conservative parliamenty party."