The controversial push to redefine marriage is one of the reasons the Conservatives came third in yesterday’s important by-election, critics say.
Same-sex marriage is ‘drastically unpopular’ with activists and supporters, “who have been less inclined to get out and campaign on the streets because of it”, one Tory MP said.
And the result – which saw UKIP beat the Tories into third – was described as a “humiliating defeat for David Cameron’s ‘modernising’ agenda”, by one commentator.
UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage said the Conservatives had failed because of Mr Cameron’s determination on un-Conservative issues like gay marriage.
And the Telegraph’s political editor Robert Winnett listed the issue as one of the decisions which has “antagonised those who should be traditional Tory supporters”.
Thursday’s by-election in the Hampshire town of Eastleigh was won by Mike Thornton of the Lib Dems, with UKIP’s Diane James second and Maria Hutchings third.
It led to Tory MP Stewart Jackson commenting: “This is the price that has to be paid for gay marriage because of the drastic unpopularity of it with activists and supporters, who have been less inclined to get out and campaign on the streets because of it.
“The issue has been a direct recruiting seargeant for UKIP, and there’s anecdotal evidence across the country for UKIP.”
Meanwhile Nile Gardiner, an American-based political commentator, said the result was “a slap in the face for the metropolitan elites in the Tory Party whose obsession with gay marriage, foreign aid, climate change, and a multitude of big government initiatives have alienated large sections of the party’s grass roots”.
UKIP’s Nigel Farage commented: “The Conservatives failed here because traditional Tory voters look at Cameron and they ask themselves ‘Is he a Conservative?’ and they conclude ‘No, he’s not'”.
He added that Mr Cameron has been too obsessed with issues like gay marriage.
“The Conservatives’ problems are not because of Ukip, it’s because of their leader”, Mr Farage said.
And Robert Winnet of the Telegraph commented: “The Ukip surge shows that the Conservatives still have problems reconnecting with mainstream, aspiring middle class Britons.”
He said issues like gay marriage “have antagonised those who should be traditional Tory supporters and he needs radical steps to win them back”.
Ahead of the election senior Conservative MP David Davis said: “I think if we came third it would be a crisis, I think that’s the case, and if it’s a close second with UKIP on our tail it will also be uncomfortable.”