George Osborne: Equal marriage is an example of a ‘modern reformed Conservative Party’

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Chancellor George Osborne briefly touched upon same-sex marriage as an example of a “modern reformed Conservative Party” during his conference speech in Manchester.

It was a case of blink and you miss it – as the Chancellor mentioned the signing into law of marriage rights for same-sex couples among a raft of welfare and economic policies, which he said had been “delivered by Conservatives in government”.

Last October, at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Mr Osborne confirmed that he was a supporter of marriage equality – and he warned the party against ditching the policy the following month.

Over the weekend David Cameron dismissed claims made by journalist Matthew d’Ancona that the Prime Minister’s support for same-sex marriage provoked such a backlash from Tory party members that he almost wondered whether it was worth the cost.

”I don’t regret it. Britain is a more equal and fairer country for having done it,” the PM said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

Following Royal Assent of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in June, Mr Cameron spoke of his pride at the achievement in an exclusive article for

Hosting an LGBT reception at Downing Street in the same month, the Prime Minister told guests that he was never in doubt that the argument for equal marriage would be won.

The decision of the House of Lords to give the bill a larger majority than in the Commons in a key vote on 4 June was cited by the PM as an example of how the debate had shifted in society.

Just before the start of this year’s Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, David Cameron announced that couples who are married or in civil partnerships are set to be given tax breaks worth up to £200 a year. 

The policy will kick in during April 2015 – one month before the general election.

However, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have criticised the measure.

“You don’t build a fairer society by using the tax system to favour one type of family over another,” said Lib Dem treasury spokesman Stephen Williams.

“It is also not clear to me why a single person should pay more tax on their income than someone who is married,” the MP added.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Sadly it’s clear that for this Prime Minister most people’s love and commitment doesn’t count.”

“Under the coalition agreement signed by the Conservatives and Lib Dems in 2010, Lib Dem MP will be able to abstain without risking a governmental crisis.

Last week, at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, Labour leader Ed Miliband noted the role played by gay and lesbian young people in the campaign for equal marriage.

Earlier in September Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told his party’s conference in Glasgow that he was “proud” of what the Liberal Democrats had achieved as part of the coalition, and that “Britain is finally a place where we celebrate love equally”.