Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Newsround Blog may well, at some future date, look at BBC news reporting in the lead-up to the House of Commons marriage equality votes on 20th May. For now though, here is a short excerpt from the Prime Minister's live interview, this morning, on Radio 4's Today programme.

James Naughtie: ... You said at the time of your election as leader in 2005 in Blackpool that (this is a quote) We have to change and modernise our culture and attitudes and identity. When I say change, I'm not talking about some slick re-branding exercise. (You're nodding, you remember this) What I'm talking about is fundamental change .. Now, for many people in your party, absolutely determined to stick to their convictions - they're just not willing to go with you there.

David Cameron: Well I don't accept that. I think the Conservative Party has made some enormous changes since I became leader in 2005. We've changed the party. We had 19 women MPs. We now have over 50. We're a party that campaigns on poverty, justice, the environment, as well as the economy and Europe. We've championed and argued about the importance of international aid. To argue that the Conservative Party hasn't changed, I think, is just not right.

James Naughtie: But you know that a lot of your MPs, and a lot of people - activists and so on - party members who tramp the streets in your interest, who say listen, same-sex marriage was not in the manifesto. We didn't know it was coming along. He's just charging on. He's surrounded by a metropolitan clique who don't know what we think. And now you're saying to them there's more on the way.

David Cameron: No, I'm not saying that. I think, you know, the same sex marriage issue, I think it's important. Every country across the world is having to address this. In New Zealand the centre-right government has just legalised gay marriage. Eleven states, I think there are twelve states in the US have done the same thing. I think it's important that we have this degree of equality. And I say that as someone who's a massive supporter of marriage. I think marriage is a wonderful institution. It helps people to commit to each other. I think it's such a good institution that it should be available to gay people as well as to heterosexuals.

James Naughtie: Are you relaxed about the fact that most of your MPs don't agree with you on that?

David Cameron: Well the fact is that this is a free vote issue, that parliaments have to determine. Our House of Commons has just determined that. And I think we should think about it like this: that there will be, you know, young boys [and girls*] in schools today who are gay, who are worried about being bullied, who are worried about what society thinks of them, who can see that the highest parliament in the land has said that their love is worth the same as anyone else's love, and that we believe in equality. And I think that they'll stand that bit taller today, and I'm proud of the fact that that has happened. ...

* Downing Street clarification

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