From the UK Daily Mail. (H/T Dina)
When he became Tory leader seven years ago, the youthful and telegenic David Cameron pledged to transform the blue-rinse image of his party and boost its membership by attracting thousands of young, ethnic and gay members.
In doing so, he would destroy forever the Tories’ reputation as the ‘nasty party’ as these new ‘inclusive’ members joined the 300,000 activists whose average age was 64
‘I was elected Leader of the Conservative Party on a mandate to change and modernise the party,’ he said. ‘I want to increase membership. I want to see a broader base. I want to see a significant increase in the number of members from all communities.’
[...]But the bitter and ineluctable truth is that, far from increasing numbers, Mr Cameron has presided over the sharpest decline in membership in the Conservative party’s history.
Today, I can reveal that the number of Tory party members has fallen below 130,000, a drop of around 60 per cent since he took over in 2005.
[...]The uncompromising language deployed by Mr Cameron who, in another sop to the Lib Dems, has cynically dumped his repeated promise to reward traditional marriage through the tax system, enraged Tory MPs and activists alike.
[...]In a tense meeting in Downing Street last month between Mr Cameron and 20 of the party’s most senior members, he was given a stark warning that membership will plunge below the psychologically crucial 100,000 mark if there were no change of heart on same-sex marriage.
[...]The damage done by the gay marriage proposals is not confined to within the party. Potential Tory voters don’t like them.
A national poll by ComRes on the likely effects of allowing gay marriage — which, incidentally, was not in any of the parties’ manifestos — revealed the Conservatives could lose 1.1 million votes and 30 parliamentary seats in an election because so many supporters would stay at home or switch to UKIP.
A ComRes poll also revealed that 56 per cent of Mr Cameron’s constituents who voted for him at the election oppose his plans to make redefining marriage a priority.
Andrew Hawkins, the chairman of ComRes, said: ‘It’s the way it has been handled that has done so much damage. The Government has a consultation, but says it is pressing ahead whether people like it or not.
‘One of the scariest things for the Tories is that three in four of those people who voted for Cameron in 2010, but say they won’t again, cite gay marriage as the reason.
[...]One senior party official said: ‘Gay marriage is the final straw. In London, Bristol, Birmingham and other major cities, there are dozens of constituencies with no party organisation at all.
‘The voluntary party is virtually extinct in Scotland and in parts of Wales.
We are relying on a dwindling band of volunteers, the majority of whom are in their 70s. It’s the most desperate situation the party has ever faced.’
The UK Telegraph notes that Cameron has angered American Republicans with his “unprecedented” embrace of Barack Obama – despite the Falklands betrayal, the leaking the name of a British agent to the press, and other gaffes by Obama.
In other UK news, I note that nearly two-thirds of Scots oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, but the liberal Scottish National Party is going forward with plans to legalize it. But nothing is set in stone yet, and things could still go the other way. (H/T Dina)