There is much outrage at the Labour not forcing a ‘three line whip’ on the proposed Equal Marriage Bill – unfortunately we will have to forego the innuendo provided by the terminology of the British Parliamentary system, but Alan B’stard could have had a field day – is really bizarre if you stop and think about it. ‘A vote of conscience’ by the Parliamentary Labour Party could not be better judged.
At a rough count 8 Labour MP’s have voiced opposition to the proposed Equal Marriage Act, that is 3.14% of the Parliamentary Labour Party and roughly 1.23% of the House of Commons; so 96.86% of the Labour Party support Equal Marriage whilst only 57.1% of Tories believe in equality (of course we have to wait for the actual vote to be sure).
To put simply – practically ALL Labour MPs support Equal Marriage, just over half Tories do.
It is not surprising that the Labour Party are so pro-Equal Marriage. The Labour Party is responsible for some of the most radical legislation in the 20th Century, the formation of the Welfare State and also end of penal servitude, whipping and flogging was abolished under the 1948 Justice Act in the UK
The 1967 Abortion Act (introduced as a Private Members Bill by the Liberal MP David Steele) gave women rights to legal abortions and freedom from the horrendously dangerous ‘backstreet abortions’ that were prevalent – if that wasn’t enough the Sexual Offences Act was passed that ended the prosecution of homosexuals (though not making it entirely legal).
The 1997 election brought another Labour Government which saw the repeal of Clause 28 of the Local Government Act introduced by the Tories (banning the ‘promotion of homosexuality), the equalisation of the age of consent for homosexual and heterosexuals, also closing loopholes that permitted rape within marriage, and of course the introduction of Civil Partnerships.
Add to the list the first openly Gay MP’s and Ministers of State, things we hardly notice now, and I think the Labour Party’s credentials on progressive social legislation are a little more than adequate.
The Government, on the other hand, are in danger of highlighting their regressive policies and being hoisted on their own petard, 130 Tory MPs are threatening to vote against its own Government on an issue of Human Rights..
Not only does this say that David Cameron is unable to control his own party, lets face it if he thought he could win the vote he would not have thrown it open to a ‘vote of conscience’ he would have argued that equality is the right thing to do. Cameron is in the invidious position of relying on the Opposition to pass his Governments legislation because a 130 MP’s are intent on showing the country exactly how ‘nasty’ they can be when it comes to equal rights.
Whilst their MP’s talk about equality and compassion and how the State should not interfere in people’s personal lives they vote against a Bill that legalises two people to marry each other?
Just like the Church of England that cannot bring itself to contemplate women Bishops we have a Conservative Party unable to contemplate that everyone deserves the same rights as everyone else.
The point about why I feel morally superior – ok smug – at being a socialist in this is: our MP’s don’t need ‘whipping’ to make the right choices.