A former senior advisor to Nick Clegg says supporters of traditional marriage are “bigots” and Mr Clegg should have said so in a speech last week.
Last Tuesday Mr Clegg was due to give a speech which referred to those who are against redefining marriage as “bigots”, but the word was removed after a furore.
However Richard Reeves, the former Director of Strategy for the Liberal Democrat leader, says: “Here’s the thing: they are bigots”.
Mr Reeves, who helped draw up the Government’s proposals on redefining marriage, made the comments in an article for the New Statesman magazine.
He wrote: “Clegg’s office got into trouble earlier in the month for calling opponents of gay marriage ‘bigots’ and then recalling both the press release and the charge.”
Mr Reeves continued: “Naturally, using words such as ‘bigot’ will upset some people”, but added the “mistake” came with the press release that removed the word and not the original release.
He also claimed that “opponents of same-sex marriages will be seen, in fairly short historical order, in the same light as those who opposed mixed-race marriages”.
His comments came as he backed Mr Clegg to “complete the journey of liberalisation” for the Lib Dems.
Last week’s draft speech which Nick Clegg was due to make included the sentence: “Continued trouble in the economy gives the bigots a stick to beat us with, as they demand we ‘postpone’ the equalities agenda in order to deal with ‘the things people really care about’.”
But the revised version issued by Mr Clegg’s officials replaced “the bigots” with “some people”.
At the time Colin Hart, speaking for the Coalition for Marriage, said: “These intolerant remarks show that there is nothing liberal about Nick Clegg.
“It also shows his contempt for the millions of ordinary men and women in this country who oppose the politically correct drive to rip up the centuries-old definition of marriage.”
Following the row a poll showed 55 per cent of respondents thought the use of the word “bigots” was wrong and only 24 per cent thought it was right.