Tory grassroots leader: Gay marriage risks activists’ ire

The Conservative Party risks upsetting its members with its push to redefine marriage, according to the Chairman of the party’s volunteer group.

Listen to the comments on BBC Radio 4′s World at One

Emma Pidding made the comments as two Tory backbenchers also raised concerns about their party’s push to redefine marriage.

David Burrowes MP warned that the plan would stop people voting for his party, while Mark Pritchard MP cautioned that the Conservatives should not take supporters for granted.


Speaking to Radio 4’s World at One, Emma Pidding said: “My concern is that we are potentially upsetting our members and activists when I have one goal, and that is to obtain a Conservative majority government in 2015.”

She added that “anything that upsets any of my members, I don’t like to see that”.

David Burrowes said: “Even in my constituency, where they know that I am firmly opposed to the proposal, they themselves would say that if that does go through as legislation, then they won’t vote for me and that must concern me; I know it concerns many other colleagues particularly in marginal seats”.


And Mark Pritchard, a Shropshire MP, warned: “I think that, in the desire to so-called ‘de-contaminate’ the Conservative brand, there are those that might end up damaging the Conservative brand with our natural supporters and voters in the country, and most importantly our grassroots who support us financially and deliver leaflets day-in, day-out up and down the land.”

Mr Pritchard stressed: “We need those people and we shouldn’t take them for granted.”

Last year David Cameron said he supports redefining marriage because of, not in spite of, being a Conservative.

And last week he repeated his commitment, saying he was “absolutely determined” to bring in the change by 2015, regardless of what the public or his own backbenchers think about it.


In May Cabinet Minister Owen Paterson said he does not support same-sex marriage.

Philip Hammond, the Secretary of State for Defence, has said that the Government should “focus on the things that matter”.

And Tim Loughton, the parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, has commented that marriage should remain the union of one man and one woman.