Same-sex marriage poll shows sharp party divide

A big gap in attitudes to same-sex marriage between members of different parties is shown in a survey of political party members’ attitudes, Grassroots, Britain’s Party Members [PDF 1,755KB], published by theĀ Mile End Institute at Queen Mary University of London this week.

Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP members all support the measure by a huge margin, with more than 4 in 5 members of each thinking it is a good thing. Among Conservative party members though that rate of support halves – with just 1 in 5 giving it strong support and as many again mild support.

It is perhaps not surprising: the measure was introduced in England and Wales by the Liberal Democrats as part of the 2010-15 coalition government, and in Scotland under the SNP, with the majority of SNP, Labour and Liberal Democrat parliamentarians giving their support at both Westminster and Holyrood. The Conservatives were sharply divided though, with a slight majority of MPs in the Commons against the measure and a slight majority in favour of it in the Lords.

Perhaps more surprising are the findings on party members’ attitudes to getting more MPs elected from particular social groups:

graph showing attitudes by social group; conservatives consistenly score lower for each

Again there is a broad pattern of clustering between the Liberal Democrat, SNP and Labour members distinct from the stance of Conservative party members. LGBT representation attracts a much lower priority than the other social groups prompted in interview questions.

The researchers note that “this could perhaps reflect an awareness among party members that the UK parliament is already one of the most LGBT-friendly (or at least lesbian- and gay-friendly) in the world”. A perceptive comment with the vast majority of our LGBT MPs being gay men, and all of them cis.