Post the defeat of Romney it was inevitable that “modernisers” within the Tories would draw the conclusion that the way to win in 2015 is to be more socially liberal. And so today George Osborne insists that the “nice” Conservative Party will put gay marriage at the centre of its next election manifesto. Oh saints preserve me. I think I am emigrating.
As a social liberal I actually support gay marriage as well as legalising drugs and a whole raft of other measures which would horrify traditional Tories. If gays want to sign up for marriage with a one in three chance of an acrimonious divorce to follow why not allow them that right? But do I really regard it as a key issue? Does anyone outside certain metropolitan circles (where they are never going to vote Tory anyway) regard it as a key issue, one that should be central to a manifesto? I doubt it.
There are one or two matters that do concern me. Like 48% of voters I want to leave the EU (only 29% want to stay in). Yet while I am offered referendums on whether I want a Mayor, Police Commissioner, etc, etc I have no say in this matter. Indeed the Conservative Party promised me a vote on the Lisbon Treaty and lied about it.
I am also a bit worried that Britain has a deficit of £120 billion a year and will, at current rates be bankrupt by 2020. I do not like our young men and women being sent to die needlessly in pointless (and in some cases illegal) wars overseas. I am terrified by the increasing curbs on free speech and civil liberties. But really it is the economy and the EU that bother me most. Show me that the Tories are competent on the former and believe in democracy on the latter and Osborne might get my vote.
So far he scores about 0 out of ten on both – with New Labour on minus 10 out of ten. Gestures on gay rights and other ring issues from Osborne might just persuade the odd Guardian reader to vote Tory. But failures on the matters that concern most people will see far greater numbers of those left in Bankrupt Britain switching to UKIP, just not bothering to vote at all or checking out websites about emigration.
Before revealing his next bright idea I suggest George asks Nadine Dorries what she thinks. I reckon Nad is far more likely to come up with the right answer than he is.