By James Kirkup, Telegraph
[...] Bear that in mind when you hear the inevitable claims that David Cameron has been humiliated by having to rely on Labour votes to avert defeat over gay marriage, meaning the Prime Minister is weakened and embarrassed. That assessment may well be correct, but probably only for MPs and others in the Westminster village who follow the detail of parliamentary proceedings and political powerplay.
For people outside the bubble, I suspect the key point will be this: David Cameron wants to let gay people get married and now Ed Miliband is saying he does too. (Nick Clegg also, but anyone who pays attention will surely have assumed that anyway.)
So will today’s events change anyone’s mind about the issue? I doubt it. But for those who don’t want gay marriage to be allowed, the fact that the party leaderships are in broad agreement to allow it could well reinforce the feeling that a Westminster-based political elite is trying to enforce its consensus view on the rest of the country.
Because for a lot of people, politics today is not something to participate in. It is something that is done to them, and done to them by a small group of middle-class men in with similar careers, suits and accents. Rightly or wrongly, that group is blamed for people feeling like it’s somehow bad or wrong to think and believe as they do, that, people who disagree with the men in smart suits are “mad, swivel-eyed loons”, or “bigoted” or “clowns”. (Emphasis ours.)
And anyone who doubts the importance of that view should ask Nigel Farage to explain it to them.
Now the precise level of public opposition to gay marriage – and the intensity of that feeling – is debatable. But there are people who are unhappy, and they each have a vote. And elections are won one vote at a time.
For each of Mr Cameron, Mr Miliband and Mr Clegg, the die is cast. They have committed themselves to the same course of action on gay marriage and cannot go back.
That being so, there is surely a political prize to be taken by the first leader to appeal convincingly to those who disagree with him, to persuade them that while he does not share their views, he respects them nonetheless.
So far, that prize looks like going unclaimed.
Want to read more about the gay marriage row? Try these: