Local Tories ‘still very unhappy’ over gay marriage

Grassroots Conservative members are still unhappy with their party’s push to redefine marriage – with some saying they will switch their vote.

Colin Thomas, the chairman and president of the East Surrey Conservative Association, said: “A lot of the members are still very unhappy about it and they’ve said they’ll vote Ukip at the next election”.

Mr Thomas added that their voting intentions would remain to be seen, but commented: “I think it’s been rushed through, it wasn’t in a manifesto and it wasn’t even in the Queen’s Speech and then it just came out of the blue.

Consider

“I would’ve thought there would’ve been a longer conversation with the church about it, and there were excellent reasons for leaving it for a year or two and these extra considerations being taken.”

In February this year a local Conservative chairman in David Cameron’s constituency resigned over the issue of same-sex marriage.

Cicely Maunder said she had “no idea” why Mr Cameron supports the change, and said other local members also walked out over the plans.

Protest

Mrs Maunder was the chairman of local Tories in Chipping Norton, which is in Mr Cameron’s Witney constituency.

In April this year Cicely Maunder went with more than 300 local voters to protest outside Mr Cameron’s constituency office.

The following month grassroots Tories were called “mad, swivel-eyed loons” by a close ally of the Prime Minister.

Lord Feldman strongly denied making the comments after internet rumours linked them to him.

Disconnect

But Ben Harris-Quinney, head of Conservative Grassroots, said: “It doesn’t matter who made these comments, the problem is that it comes as no surprise and is representative of a wider malaise in the party – the disconnect between the leadership and the grassroots, between conservatism and the leadership of the Conservative Party.”

In April it was revealed that several Tory donors who were part of a £50,000-a-year club had defected to UKIP.

One former member, Adrian Buckley, said he had become disillusioned by the Prime Minister’s leadership and said Mr Cameron’s “obsession with gay politics is a nonsense”.

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