General Allenby – the late British General – was one of the great military innovators. He would pound an enemy into submission with extensive use of artillery, mobile cavalry and later, aircraft. This ‘softening up’ would make the job of troops easier when they were sent in.
David Cameron seemed to be inspired by Allenby’s tactics as he launched a volley against his own backbenchers at the weekend. It was announced (well, leaked!) that the Government would be bringing forth their plans on same-sex marriage in response to their consultation from earlier in the year. Cameron waded in with a surprise announcement that he supported religious same-sex marriage and that would be provided for in the proposed legislation (despite assurances he’d apparently given previously that he wouldn’t do this). Cheers from same-sex marriage campaigners and Tory reformers. Grumps from the likes of Tory malcontents like Peter Bone (of Mrs Bone fame). It was almost as if Cameron could be heard yelling “pound them” as a group of Tories then emerged arguing for same-sex marriage led by Michael Gove, BoJo and others.
Then Cameron called for their very own big bertha, and former Prime Minister, Sir John Major. A man of rare but thoughtful contributions, he lent his support to the Cameronite view that same-sex marriage should be supported.
It’s certainly going to be landmark legislation and even with the Tories being given a free vote, a coalition of Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem MPs will ensure it makes it through the Commons and I would expect a bumpy but ultimately successful passing through the House of Lords with implementation around 2014.
Why all the fuss then? Well, in politics nothing is certain and so we can’t be assured that it’s passed until it really is passed. More so however, this is a story about Conservative politics, Cameron’s leadership, and the 2015 general election. That’s what I suggested back in March, and so far – in the words of Emperor Palpatine – everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.