Chart of the day: gay marriage

Where do the public stand on Cameron's plan to introduce same-sex marriage?

One of the concerns expressed by some Conservatives over David Cameron's plan to introduce gay marriage is that the measure lacks public support. The most recent YouGov poll, however, found that a plurality, if not a majority, of voters support the proposal. In total, forty three per cent of voters support same sex marriage, compared with 32 per cent who oppose gay marriage but support civil partnerships, and 15 per cent who oppose both.

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Graphic by Henrik Pettersson.

But worryingly for Cameron, while 51 per cent of Labour voters and 53 per cent of Lib Dems support same sex marriage, just 30 per cent of Conservatives do. Worse, only 21 per cent think that the PM favours gay marriage because he "genuinely believes that it is the right thing do". The majority of voters (63 per cent) agree that he "does not believe it is right, but is doing it for political reasons".

Thus, despite the absence of any evidence to support this view (Cameron, once a supporter of Section 28, underwent a clear conversion to gay rights), most voters believe that the PM is acting out of cynical motives. As YouGov's Peter Kellner writes, "This is bad news, not only for Mr Cameron, and indeed not only for the Conservatives, but for the reputation of our political system."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.