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Gay Marriage and Real Conservatism

Mark Dooley, Conservative Home

Dominating political and cultural debate in 2013 will be the contentious issue of gay marriage. On the one side, you have a self-confident liberal lobby supported, ironically, by the Conservatives. Opposing them is the silent majority supported by real conservatives, including certain members of the Christian clergy.

Lest we forget, the whole point of conservatism is to conserve. This does not mean that customs, traditions and institutions cannot be reformed. But it does mean that reform must always be carried out, to cite Edmund Burke, ‘as if in the presence of canonized forefathers’. For what we have received from our forebears is not ours to do with as we please, but is a sacred bequest.

It seems to me that many within the British Conservative Party have forgotten this basic principle of conservatism. In so doing, have they not forfeited their right to call themselves 'conservatives'?

Real conservatives oppose liberals, not out of prejudice, intolerance or bigotry, but out of a concern for absent generations – both for those who went before us, and for those who are yet to come. They follow Burke in believing that ‘a spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper’, and that ‘people will not look forward to posterity who never look back to their ancestors’.

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