Membership of the Conservative Party has haemorrhaged by more than half since David Cameron became leader, with gay marriage blamed as a major factor.
An article published today by gay journalist Andrew Pierce says the Prime Minister’s obsession with redefining marriage is killing the Tory Party.
Party membership stood at 300,000 when David Cameron became leader. Today it has shrunk dramatically to under 130,000, Pierce says.
And top Tories have met with Mr Cameron, warning him that membership will nosedive to under 100,000 unless he dumps the gay marriage plans.
One source told Andrew Pierce: “The Prime Minister was told bluntly that gay marriage was causing membership to haemorrhage.
“Cameron was unmoved and said the members were out of step with the country.
“He doesn’t seem to care that it’s the party members who canvass on doorsteps across the country in all weathers.
“They lick envelopes, hold fundraisers and at elections drive our older supporters to polling stations.
“These people are our mainstay and they are abandoning us. Our party is dying on its feet.”
Andrew Pierce says the damage isn’t confined to party members, potential Tory voters are also put off by the plans for gay marriage.
A national poll by ComRes on the effects of gay marriage revealed the Conservatives could lose 1.1 million votes and 30 parliamentary seats in an election, with many voters staying at home or switching to UKIP.
Andrew Hawkins, the chairman of ComRes, said: “It’s the way it has been handled that has done so much damage.
“The Government has a consultation, but says it is pressing ahead whether people like it or not.
“One of the scariest things for the Tories is that three in four of those people who voted for Cameron in 2010, but say they won’t again, cite gay marriage as the reason.
“It’s all very well for the Tory leadership to dismiss their critics as the old guard. But older voters are the ones who used to be certain to vote most loyally for the Tories.”
One senior party official said: “Gay marriage is the final straw. In London, Bristol, Birmingham and other major cities, there are dozens of constituencies with no party organisation at all.
“The voluntary party is virtually extinct in Scotland and in parts of Wales. We are relying on a dwindling band of volunteers, the majority of whom are in their 70s. It’s the most desperate situation the party has ever faced.”
David Mowat, Tory MP for Warrington South said: “I had a letter from a former chairman of Warrington South Conservatives saying he was leaving the party. We haven’t got so many members that we can lose them.”
Mr Mowat is “moderately in favour” of gay marriage, but said: “It’s a pity we have chosen to potentially alienate our activists. I would be happy if the whole thing got dropped.”
Andrew Pierce concludes about David Cameron: “the man who pledged to modernise the Tory party could go down as the leader who destroyed it.”