Labour plays politics with gay weddings



22:32 GMT, 16 December 2012

Mess: Prime Minister David Cameron has been criticised for his proposals on gay marriage.

Mess: Prime Minister David Cameron has been criticised for his proposals on gay marriage.

David Cameron's messy compromise on gay marriage has come under a siege of criticism.

Not least from the Labour Party, which has led the attack on his decision to allow same-sex weddings in some Churches, but not in the Church of England.

But is Labour in a position to be so pious Wind back the clock to March 2010, just weeks before the General Election.

Then, Labour resisted the much less radical idea of civil partnerships being blessed in church.

In a debate in the Upper House, Baroness Royall, the Labour leader in the Lords, said: ‘A civil partnership registrar will still be required to officiate the signing of the register, and it is correct that there can be no religious service during the civil partnership registration.’ Her hardline comments infuriated many, including the gay Labour peer Lord Alli and the equality organisation Stonewall.

The reason for Labour’s change of heart Simple politics and the desire to embarrass Mr Cameron, who, in 2010, as leader of the Opposition, supported church blessings for civil partnership. So much for Ed Miliband and Co’s principles.

Meanwhile, veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has made it clear there is bound to be a legal challenge to the block on the Church of England administering gay weddings.

‘The Government is treating it differently from all other religions,’ he says. ‘Discriminating between faith groups is probably illegal under the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.’

A blue plaque — an imitation, not one of the real ones provided by English Heritage — has been unveiled at the address in Bloomsbury, London, where Lenin lived for a short time in 1908, nine years before the Russian revolution.

The honours were performed by Heather Johnson, the Labour Mayor of Camden. Good to see the Bolshevik Tendency is alive and kicking in Red Ed Miliband’s local party.

In between making a hash of being chairman of the BBC Trust, the former Tory minister Lord Patten of Barnes is a member of the EDF Energy stakeholder advisory panel.

Last month, the French-owned firm announced a 10.8 per cent rise in gas and electricity prices. And the point of the advisory panel Its official brief is to ‘provide a healthy challenge to our executive team and a strong voice for our stakeholders, helping to shape our business strategy.

‘The panel helped to define our climate and social commitments, challenging us to set ambitious and relevant goals.’

Perhaps Lord Patten should widen its brief to consider whether millions of EDF customers are being fleeced by unjustifiably high energy bills

A taxing problem for balls
Taxing: Marget Hodge should have a word with shadow chancellor, Ed Balls

Taxing: Marget Hodge should have a word with shadow chancellor, Ed Balls

After her noble campaign to bring to public attention the tax-avoiding habits of giant companies such as Starbucks and Google, the Labour MP Margaret Hodge is on the warpath against the accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers.

As chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, she says the firm should not be given any more government contracts because it practises ‘aggressive tax avoidance’ (albeit legal).

First step, she should have a word with her Labour colleague, shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

He employs an analyst from PricewaterhouseCoopers, who pay his 72,500 salary.

Spotted recently in Portcullis House was Baroness Uddin, the first woman Muslim peer who also made history by being suspended from Parliament for a record 18 months and who was ordered to repay 120,000 in fiddled expenses. Since her return to Westminster, she’s claimed 3,600: the maximum attendance allowance for 12 appearances in the Lords. The woman has no shame.

Put-down of the week: David Cameron to Ed Balls: ‘I’m surprised the shadow chancellor is shouting again. We learnt last week, like bullies all over the world, he can dish it out but he can’t take it.’

Joke of the week: Euro-sceptic Tory MEP Dan Hannan, on the absurdity of the EU winning the Nobel Peace Prize: ‘What next for the EU The Nobel Prize for Economics.’

Property developer David Rowland, forced to stand down as Tory treasurer elect because of his ‘shady’ business past, remains wedded to the party. At a fundraiser attended by the PM, he paid 75,000 for a leather-bound volume of David Cameron’s finest speeches. Must have been a thin volume.