George Osborne has warned the Conservative Party that it risks losing reelection if it fails to support gay marriage and is seen to be anti-women.
Writing in The Times on Tuesday, the chancellor drew parallels between the position of the Tories in Britain and the Republican Party in the United States.
Osborne said that Mitt Romney's loss to President Obama last week was largely down to his unpopularity among America's socially liberal youth and controversial comments made by Republican candidates about rape.
"It is astonishing that Mr Romney won the election among men by a clear-cut margin of 7 per cent; but it was Mr Obama’s 11 per cent lead among women that won it for the President, even though many of those that voted Democrat thought Mr Romney would manage the economy better," he said.
"President Obama’s high-profile endorsement of equal marriage for gay couples also enthused younger voters.
"But polls found that a majority of all Americans supported him on the issue and voted for it in all four states that held ballots.
Right-wing backbench Tory MPs have lined up to criticise the coalition's plan to introduce gay marriage, but Osborne, , one of the chief architects of the pre-election move to 'detoxify' the Tory brand, said that the public supported the government.
"I should declare my personal position on these social issues: I wouldn’t change the current abortion laws and I strongly support gay marriage on principle," he said.
"Of course in Britain these issues are ones of individual conscience and free votes, but I am proud to be part of a Government that will introduce a Bill to allow gay marriage.
"It is worth reflecting that in Britain, as in America, a clear majority of the public support gay marriage, and an even bigger majority of women support it.
He added: "Successful political parties reflect the modern societies they aspire to lead. As Margaret Thatcher said in the first sentence of her introduction to the 1979 Conservative Election manifesto: 'The heart of politics is not political theory, it is people and how they want to live their lives.'
On the same day that the United States reelected Barack Obama president, voters in Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnestoa chose to legalise gay marriage. The US Senate also has its first openly gay senator in Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin.
David Cameron is widely seen to have a "women problem", with a former senior civil servant recently warning female officials were unable to penetrate the prime minister's "Etonian clique" inner circle.
In his article Osborne relates Alec Baldwin's observation on the Republican Party's failings with women when he tweeted: “You know your party is in trouble when people ask ‘did the rape guy win?’ and you have to ask ‘which one?’"
In a sign of how the Republican Party's attitude to abortion has alienated many American women, former George W. Bush adviser Karen Hughes said on Sunday that if another man from her party talked about rape she would "personally cut out his tongue".
Tory MPs have already reacted to Osborne's column, with Stewart Jackson telling the chancellor: "Memo to George Osborne: there is a strong wish for us to deal with the deficit but no electoral mandate for same sex marriage."
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