Newspapers and Tory MPs have reacted strongly against George Osborne saying redefining marriage will help his party win the next election.
One MP said: “The social liberal values of Notting Hill don’t translate well outside the M25.”
The Daily Express called him a “part-time Chancellor” and said long-time Conservatives are “fed up seeing their party’s leadership trampling on their beliefs”.
The Daily Telegraph said Mr Osborne was playing a “dangerous game” and picking a “needless fight with social conservatives”.
Polls show the Tories could lose up to 30 seats and over 1 million votes if they push ahead with redefining marriage.
Opponents of the Government’s plans have taken to the streets in the town of Corby, where a by-election will be held tomorrow.
They are distributing tens of thousands of leaflets urging voters to make their displeasure known at the ballot box.
George Osborne’s staggering claim, that redefining marriage would help the Tories win the next election, came in an article for The Times yesterday.
Today’s Daily Express said: “Mr Osborne appears to believe that being ‘socially liberal’ is the key to electoral success.
“In fact, most voters believe fixing the economy and dealing with bread and butter issues about living standards are by far the most important tasks facing the Government.
“Many longstanding Conservatives are also fed up seeing their party’s leadership trampling on their beliefs and depicting anyone who doesn’t embrace the full liberal agenda as a bigot.”
And The Daily Telegraph also hit out at Mr Osborne, saying he has completely misread the recent election results in America upon which he pins his argument.
Today’s editorial says: “such a literal read-across to British politics is dangerously misleading.
“In the United States, same-sex couples have far fewer legal rights than married couples.
“In this country, the Civil Partnership Act passed by the Blair government in 2004 removed any such distinctions. Mr Osborne is perfectly aware of this fact.
“He is also aware that there is little popular pressure in favour of gay marriage – on the contrary, there is widespread opposition – but that, too, is deemed irrelevant.
“The only point that matters here is political posturing. Mr Osborne wants to demonstrate that the Conservatives really are a ‘modern’ party by picking a symbolic and needless fight with social conservatives.
“He is playing a dangerous game. Six hundred thousand people have signed a petition opposing same-sex marriage.”
Tory backbencher Stewart Jackson said: “The focus should be less on these social liberal obsessions of West London and more on blue-collar issues like the cost of living, mortgages and reducing taxes for families.
“The social liberal values of Notting Hill don’t translate well outside the M25.”
The campaign against Government plans to redefine marriage is being led by the Coalition for Marriage, supported by more than 610,000 people.
Get a grip
Campaign Director Colin Hart said: “The PM and the Chancellor must stop misleading the public. The polls actually show that a majority of voters do not support the redefinition of marriage.
“It’s time for senior politicians – particularly Mr Cameron, Clegg and Osborne – to get a grip and start talking about the issues that really matter, like reviving the economy, not redefining marriage.”