Lord of Hampstead defies fellow Labour peers in House of Lords gay marriage vote

Lord Anthony Clarke, now 81, pictured in 1985 campaigning to save Hampstead's Victorian post box. Pi

Lord Anthony Clarke, now 81, pictured in 1985 campaigning to save Hampstead's Victorian post box. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Heathman was intrigued to cast his eye down a list of peers who voted in the House of Lords last week as part of the gay marriage bill debate.

Following the first reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the house, crossbench peer Lord Geoffrey Dear tabled an amendment calling for a second reading to be abandoned on Tuesday last week.

The amendment, which would have wrecked the government’s plans for gay marriage, was toppled by a majority of 242 votes – moving the bill a step closer to becoming law.

Among the 390 peers who voted in support of gay marriage to topple the amendment were headline-grabbing names such as Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Lord Prescott.

But more interestingly for Heathman was the appearance of a Lord Clarke of Hampstead on the less sizeable list of 148 peers who voted to support Lord Dear’s amendment.

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Lord Anthony ‘Tony’ Clarke was joined by only 15 fellow Labour peers in support of Lord Dear last week.

The former Camden councillor – who was made a life peer in 1998 having served as chairman of the Labour Party from 1992 to 1993 – stood in opposition to 160 of his Labour colleagues who voted to support the legislation.

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Among the alliance of gay marriage supporters were three female peers who hold titles courtesy of Lord Clarke’s very own London borough of Camden – Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town, Baroness Healy of Primrose Hill and Baroness Turner of Camden.

One can only hope that there will be room for a Lord Heathman of Hampstead and Highgate in the corridors of Westminster some day soon. The title has a certain ring to it.

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