Over eight million of the Conservative Party’s core supporters are unlikely to back issues such as same-sex marriage, it has been claimed.
Labour MP Jon Trickett, citing research by Conservative Peer Lord Ashcroft, said: “The true blue Tories are the Conservative party’s core group of supporters, who are generally aligned to rightwing issues, such as crime, immigration and taxation.
“They are also less likely to be socially liberal or to support issues such as gay marriage. Lord Ashcroft puts this group at about 8.2 million people.”
The Westminster Government proposes to redefine marriage in England and Wales before 2015.
Owen Paterson, the Northern Ireland Secretary, became the first Cabinet Minister to openly oppose the plans last month.
A number of other senior Tories, including the Secretary of Defence Philip Hammond, have also expressed reservations.
Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary, has suggested that redefining marriage is a priority for the “metropolitan elite”, but not the “vast majority of the public”.
Speaking about the issue earlier this month, Dr Fox said he was “much more in favour of social mobility than social engineering”.
In March an influential Conservative commentator warned that David Cameron’s plan to rewrite the definition of marriage is not a vote winner.
Tim Montgomerie, the editor of the ConservativeHome blog, made clear that he personally supports redefining the institution.
But he also warned that the Tories should be prioritising issues such as rising fuel bills and unemployment over its “obsession” with redefining marriage.
And a former chairman of the Conservative Party said that Mr Cameron’s plans for same-sex marriage are ill-considered and will not win him the next election.
Lord Tebbit said: “I doubt if Mr Cameron’s new-found enthusiasm for ‘gay marriage’ will make it any more likely that he will lead the Conservative Party to a majority in 2015 or add greatly to the sum total of happiness and contentment in our society.”