Gay marriage is a lifeline for David Cameron

Short-term parliamentary pain will become long-term electoral gain for the PM, says Adam Bienkov

Last night the House of Commons voted to introduce same-sex marriages in England and Wales.

Over half of Conservative MPs defied the wishes of their leader David Cameron and voted against the legislation.

But while the prime minister may have lost the support of his backbenchers, he has also taken a big step towards winning back the support of the electorate.
 
By pushing through gay marriage, Cameron has sent a clear message to the Conservatives that they need to become more like the country. The country does not need to become more like the Conservatives.

He still faces a huge task. The party has not won an overall majority for over 20 years.

Their membership is dwindling, their core vote is dying and large swathes of the country would rather admit to an embarrassing skin condition than to voting Tory.

People don't like the Conservatives because they believe that the Conservatives don't like them.

The reason for this is simple. People don't like the Conservatives because they believe that the Conservatives don't like them.
 
Whether you're gay, black, unmarried or poor, the Tories have at some point made you feel that you are not part of their club.
 
They have divided the country into shirkers v workersimmigrants v Brits and hard working families v hell-bent homosexuals.
 
They have looked down their noses at the country, and so the country has looked down their noses at them.
 
When Theresa May warned that the Conservatives were seen as the "nasty party" she was treated like a heretic.
 
More than 10 years later, and her advice has still not been fully heeded.
 
Last night many Tories stood up to defend gay marriage, but many more insisted that it will lose them the next election.
 
They could not be more wrong.
 
Opinion polls show that a growing majority of the public supports equal rights for gay people.
 
Meanwhile the Tories’ most popular politician is a man who has not only championed gay marriage, but who actually led London’s Gay Pride march while wearing a pink Stetson.
 
If the future of the party looks like Boris Johnson then there is hope for the Tories. If it looks like the parade of ageing anti-gay Tories pictured outside Downing Street this week, then there is none.

Yesterday more than half of Tory MPs voted against equal marriage, and in the short term their infighting could hurt them at the polls.

But in the long term, yesterday will be remembered as the moment gay people finally moved towards full equality.

It will also be remembered as the day that David Cameron finally dragged his party weeping and wailing into the 21st century.

  • Adam Bienkov is a freelance journalist and political blogger who lives in London