British Prime Minister David Cameron privately described opponents of gay marriage as “Neanderthals”, a new biography has revealed.
Cameron pushed through the controversial policy in 2013 in the face of strong opposition from his advisors and from within his own party.
Now his biographer, Sir Anthony Seldon, says that when advisors warned him against it he responded: “Unless you are making some Neanderthal judgement on gays, those who are gay should have the same rights as those who are not.”
The Prime Minister took many by surprise first announced the policy in his speech at the 2011 Conservative Party conference. Sir Anthony describes the mood in the party immediately afterwards as being like a bomb detonating in the party.
The Daily Mail says that advisors repeatedly told him: “What’s the point if it’s going to p*** off a lot of people and not win us any votes?” and election guru Lynton Crosby warned: “You’re f***ing off the party big time.”
Meanwhile, former Defence Secretary Liam Fox described the policy as “the victory of liberal dinner party metropolitan thought over the wider party.”
Earlier this year, the Conservative Party suspended long-standing activist and chairman of the oldest conservative think-tank Benjamin Harris-Quinney, with one Tory official briefing to the press that he was a “vile homophobe” for opposing the government’s gay marriage legislation. The same-sex marriage law brought in by David Cameron was not included in the Conservative Party’s manifesto in 2010, and saw vast swathes of the Tory membership base leave to join the UK Independence Party instead.
Sir Anthony’s revelation is all the more embarrassing as Cameron desperately tried to keep critics on side while he was pushing the policy through. He said in 2013 that he “respected” people who took a different opinion, adding: “I don’t think in any way that to oppose gay marriage is to be wrong-headed or bigoted. This is a different point of view but we should respect each other.”
The majority of Conservative MPs voted against the policy but it still passed thanks to support from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.