Same-sex marriage is a distraction which is alienating people who would usually vote Conservative, national newspapers have warned.
It comes as an influential backbench Tory MP criticises David Cameron for focusing on “divisive” issues, like redefining marriage.
Editorials in The Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Express issued warnings to the Conservatives over same-sex marriage in the wake of its third place finish in an important by-election.
And the Daily Mail criticised all three major parties, saying electors are “sick and tired of a gilded, out-of-touch metropolitan elite” which seem more concerned about issues like same-sex marriage than the economy.
The Sunday Telegraph said grassroot Tories feel Mr Cameron has “allowed himself to become distracted” over issues like gay marriage.
It added that surveys reveal the Prime Minister’s brand of ‘progressive conservatism’, “risks alienating the party’s base while failing to attract new voters”.
In the Daily Express the Tories are criticised for becoming sidelined by “trendy metropolitan obsessions such as gay marriage”.
The articles came as Nick de Bois MP, a secretary of the influential 1922 backbench Tory committee, hit out at David Cameron.
Mr de Bois said the Prime Minister was pursuing a “flawed political strategy” by focusing on “divisive” issues, such as gay marriage.
He commented: “The Government seems recently to have been focusing on what some have described as these rather metropolitan, elite, brand-conscious ideas, such as wind farms and whatever”.
And Mr de Bois added: “We need to be connecting and speaking directly to those people who are living in the very sharp and harsh real world.”
Last week the Conservatives were beaten in the Eastleigh by-election by UKIP and the Lib Dems.
The result was described as a “humiliating defeat for David Cameron’s ‘modernising’ agenda”, by one commentator.