Whatever you personally think of “gay marriage”, or indeed, if one recalls the horrors of the Blair years , fox hunting, it is hardly one of the real issues of the day, confronting ordinary citizens, day in, day out. That would be the economy. Or terrorism. Or the dreaded EU.
Why, therefore, is it so big? Who really cares? As Fraser Nelson points out in a recent piece: Britain does not need legislation to make it more liberal. It can already claim to be one of the most tolerant places on earth.
The reason why this sort of non-issue ends up dominating the headlines is twofold, perhaps best expressed by others. In one Simpsons episode, Homer runs for office – and wins – on the slogan “Can’t someone else do it?” Apathy is popular. But if that someone else is Dave, then you have to expect lots of trivial rubbish, amidst the few bright spots. Hence gay marriage, although it’s not looking like a vote winner to me.
The other related point is that this kind of nitpicking issue doesn’t reflect what’s really going on, but the noise made by a few obsessives in government and the media might give you the wrong impression. Over to the great Edmund Burke, writing Reflections on the Revolution in France, 232 years ago:
Because half-a-dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field; that of course they are many in number; or that, after all, they are other than the little shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome insects of the hour.
Dave, Ed, Nick, Barack: little shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome insects of the hour.