“It is very tempting to vote for a collection of clowns or indignant, angry people who promise that somehow they will allow us to take your revenge…
“[UKIP is] against the political class, it is against foreigners, it is against immigrants. But it does not have any very positive policies. They do not know what they are for”
Kenneth Clarke nailed UKIP good and proper when he said that a few days ago. It was refreshing, as well, to hear him endorse Cameron’s 2006 description (now quietly buried by Tory HQ) of them “fruit cakes and loonies and closet racists.”
Farage and his shower, unused to scrutiny and criticism, have been complaining about “a morally reprehensible” “smear campaign” against its candidates in the run-up to this week’s council elections. It’s unfair, and unsporting, they bleat, to pick up on comments their candidates have made on Twitter and Facebook. Well, welcome to the rough-and-tumble world of serious bourgeois politics, Mr Farage: after all you’ve always wanted to be a part of it, haven’t you?
Today’s Daily Mirror carries an excellent exposé of UKIP candidate Alex Wood giving a Nazi salute and with a knife between his teeth (above). His Facebook page contains these comments about Africans:
“If I’m completely honest mate, they disgust me. I mean just look at the mud huts they live in and how they kill each other. It’s quite barbaric.
” This is what UKIP wants to prevent – our country ending up like Africa or some other third world country.”
The Shiraz legal team tell me that I have to point out that Mr Wood denies making those comments: ha ha ha.
Wood has now been suspended from the party and removed as a candidate: but how the hell did he get accepted as a member and selected as a candidate in the first place?
Even before the Wood exposé, UKIP had been forced to suspend another candidate, Anna-Marie Crampton, following these comments on the site Secrets of the Fed in which she claimed that the second world war was “engineered by the Zionists” in order to bring about the creation of the state of Israel. She also claimed that Zionists caused the Holocaust:
“Only the Zionists could sacrifice their own in the gas chambers…It was thanks to them that six million Jews were murdered in the war.”
Again, our legal eagles insist that I inform you that Ms Crampton denies that she made the comments, claiming the site was…ha ha ha…hacked…
What else have we got? Oh yes, there’s retired sheep farmer Susan Bowen, selected to stand in Tintagel, but now removed following the discovery that she used to be in the BNP.
Then there’s Chris Scotton, suspended from membership and as candidate in Leicester, following exposure of his Facebook “liking” for the English Defence League.
Well, at least Farage and his cronies did something about a few of the Nazis in their ranks: but what about Caven Vines, UKIP candidate in Rotherham, with close links to the BNP, who thinks there are too many Muslims in Britain? UKIP have refused to condemn him or, indeed, do anything at all about him.
Nor has they acted against the vice-chairman of Yeovil UKIP, Godfrey Davey, another candidate on Thurday, who tweeted:
“At the rate this government is going we will end up with civil war it will be us or the imegrants [sic]“.
Mr Davey also has views on other issues:
“Every time you give sodomites an inch they want a mile, no pun, pedeophilia here we come [sic].”
I suppose that in comparison with that sort of fascistic filth, UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom’s comments on Radio Five (John Piennar, Monday April 29) that women of child-bearing age shouldn’t be employed because maternity laws are “too draconian” were relatively inoffensive – even if they did amount to encouraging employers to break the law.
This shower of racists and ultra-reactionaries has been given an easy ride until now, mainly because a large section of the print media (the Mail, Express, Sun and Telegraph in particular) sympathise with them.
But why hasn’t most of the left been more outspokenly hostile to this bunch of racists, homophobes and all-purpose reactionaries? Today’s Morning Star, for instance, carries an extraordinary editorial headed “Ukip’s just a distraction“, some of which could have come straight from a UKIP press release:
“Farage denies that his party is xenophobic or racist, insisting that opposition to immigration is based on sound economic fears that huge numbers of Bulgarians and Romanians are poised to enter Britain, putting pressure on welfare benefits, state education, the NHS, housing and other social provisions.
“In truth there is no major political party in Britain that hasn’t spouted something similar in recent times to justify tough rhetoric about clamping down on immigration.
“So the jibe of racism could equally be pointed at the Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.”
Surely it couldn’t be that the Morning Star, like the Daily Mail and the Tory ultra-right, rather agrees with UKIP on at least one or two matters?
It is now universally accepted by competent health professionals that the MMR triple vaccination jab is the safest protection presently possible against measles, mumps and rubella. The present outbreak of measles in South Wales is entirely attributable to the discredited (and probably fraudulent) ”research” of Andrew Wakefield in 1998, falsely linking the MMR jab with autism. Wakefield’s dodgy ”research” was widely promoted by the Daily Mail and other media (including the South Wales Evening Post) from the moment it first appeared until well into the 2000′s, even after Wakefield’s “research” was officially discredited and the man himself struck off. As a direct result teenagers who did not receive the two MMR jabs that are required, as infants, are now the main group suffering from infection.
But still opportunist quacks are (literally) cashing in on the fears of gullible parents: The Children’s Immunisation Centre (see below) ran a clinic last weekend in Swansea supplying the less effective single measles vaccination privately for £110 for each jab plus a £50 registration fee. MMR is available on the NHS free of charge.
The Children’s Immunisation Centre website gives telephone numbers for private clinics offering single measles jabs in England and in Swansea and also links to old newspaper articles suggesting an autism link to the MMR vaccine.
It also claimed that the single vaccines are “the only safe option” to immunise against measles – but that demonstrably false claim has now been removed from their website.
Why has no government minister spoken out against these quacks? In particular, why has health minister Jeremy Hunt had nothing to say? It surely can’t be because the government rather approves of both “parental choice” and private medicine for profit – or that Hunt himself is on record as being sympathetic towards quackery?
H/t: BBC Wales
The profiteers’ fraudulent publicity, below:
The Children’s Immunisation Centre Ltd operates The Immunisation and Medical Centres. Our centres operate Nationally London, Manchester, Kent, Dartford, Birmingham, Southampton, (Leeds-Harrogate, Nottingham-Sheffield Coming Soon), has been specialising for ten years on all types of vaccinations but particularly in single vaccinations against Measles, Mumps, Rubella: MMR single vaccinations; baby jabs and other childhood and new vaccinations to protect adults and children in the UK, and for all your travel vaccinations such as Yellow Fever ,Typhoid rabies and Cholera to name but a few.
We are particularly proud of our 100 per cent safety record and have over 18,000 registered patients and we are one of the UKs largest and friendliest injectables company.
Our group was established in 2002, and for the last 10 years has brought PEACE OF MIND to thousands of patients for affordable private single baby jabs of single Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR single jab vaccinations) -currently no mumps vaccine available in the UK.
All our thousands of patients are healthy, with no autism, no hospitalizations or fits (anaphylaxis shock) no febrile convulsions. We have a 100% Safety Record and have given over 70,000 vaccinations.(over 18,000 patients)
Our Measles, Mumps, Rubella single jab (MMR single jabs) immunisation clinic was the first private health clinic to obtain its Care Quality Commission. We have been independently audited and checked by Care Quality Commission Assessors;
FOR YOUR PEACE OF MIND.
Our clinics are in Birmingham, London Harley Street, Manchester, Kent-Dartford, Southampton, (Leeds-Harrogate, Nottingham-Sheffield Coming Soon). All our clinics are open on Saturdays so that parents can conveniently bring their children for their single MMR jabs (single immunisations). It is essential children and adults keep up with all their immunisations and check booster requirements.
Apart from MMR single jabs, we also protect against the following diseases, especially for travelling children. No NHS referral necessary.
The Thatcher fan club (led by the Daily Mail) howls with rage at those who dare ’disrespect’ her memory.
Remember when harmless, decent, old Michael Foot died?
From the Daily Mail (two days after his death):
NB: Wikipedia states that ”at the outbreak of the Second World War, Foot volunteered for military service, but was rejected because of his chronic asthma. It has been suggested (2011) that he became a member of the secret Auxiliary Units.
“In 1940, under the pen-name “Cato” he and two other Beaverbrook journalists (Frank Owen, editor of the Standard, and Peter Howard of the Daily Express) published Guilty Men, a Left Book Club book attacking the appeasement policy of the Chamberlain government, which became a run-away best-seller.”-JD
H/t Sunny at Liberal Conspiracy
As a general rule, it’s the political right who object to attempts to explain crime by reference to the social, economic or political context in which it occurs. This is, they say, to make excuses and to let evil people off the hook. Individuals must be accountable for their actions and distractions like poverty and unemployment should not enter into the equation.
Guest post by Pink Prosecco
This morning I discovered that the PCC had determined that Julie Burchill’s disgusting transphobic rant in the Observer did not breach their code of practice. Now I have just read about the death of Lucy Meadows, a transsexual woman who was the subject of a hostile article by Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail. (This is no longer available on the Mail’s website). He sneered:
“Mr Upton/Miss Meadows may well be comfortable with his/her decision to seek a sex-change and return to work as if nothing has happened. The school might be extremely proud of its ‘commitment to equality and diversity’.
“But has anyone stopped for a moment to think of the devastating effect all this is having on those who really matter? Children as young as seven aren’t equipped to compute this kind of information.
“Pre-pubescent boys and girls haven’t even had the chance to come to terms with the changes in their own bodies.
“Why should they be forced to deal with the news that a male teacher they have always known as Mr Upton will henceforth be a woman called Miss Meadows? Anyway, why not Miss Upton?”
The precise circumstances surrounding Lucy Meadows’ death are still not certain [but would appear to be suicide - JD]. However it is clear that many people, including those whose views are otherwise liberal, have a higher tolerance threshold for transphobia than for just about any other kind of bigotry.
To be fair, the PCC, in giving Burchill’s article a clean bill of health, are only following their own guidelines, according to Pink News:
“The PCC’s Editors’ Code of Practice states in a clause on discrimination that the press ‘must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.’
“However, in its ruling of the Burchill article, the PCC acknowledged that it had caused offence but declared the decision to publish was not in breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice…
“It said: ‘the clause does not cover references to groups or categories of people. The language used in the article did not refer to any identifiable individual, but to transgender people generally. While the commission acknowledged the depth of the complainants’ concerns about the terminology used, in the absence of reference to a particular individual, there was no breach of Clause 12.’”
In theory this would seem to imply that it would be ok to propagate ideas straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – as long as no individuals were named. Of course in practice, despite concerns about (for example) Islamophobia, even the tabloids usually avoid the crudest expressions of bigotry, despite their selective, and often factually incorrect, reporting. This makes the publication of Julie Burchill’s disgusting article by the liberal Observer all the more noteworthy. Here’s a reminder:
“She, the other JB and I are part of the tiny minority of women of working-class origin to make it in what used to be called Fleet Street and I think this partly contributes to the stand-off with the trannies. (I know that’s a wrong word, but having recently discovered that their lot describe born women as ‘Cis’ – sounds like syph, cyst, cistern; all nasty stuff – they’re lucky I’m not calling them shemales. Or shims.) We know that everything we have, we got for ourselves. We have no family money, no safety net. And we are damned if we are going to be accused of being privileged by a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs…
“To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women – above natural-born women, who don’t know the meaning of suffering, apparently – is a bit like the old definition of chutzpah: the boy who killed his parents and then asked the jury for clemency on the grounds he was an orphan.”
Finally, as Lizzie c notes on Twitter:
“just a thought: it’s probably harder to explain to your child why their teacher is dead than why they are now a woman. #lucymeadows”
A show of hands! That’s how the Socialist Workers Party cleared a comrade of rape
- Female party member made claims against full-time party activist
- Dispute was heard by party’s ‘disputes committee’, decisions of which need to be ratified at annual conference
- Five of the panel’s members had previously worked alongside the accused
- SWP insists victim herself chose not to involve the police
PUBLISHED:23:48, 1 February 2013| UPDATED:23:49, 1 February 2013
First, some historical background (From Steve Lowe and Alan McArthur’s 2006 best seller, “Is it Just me, Or Is Everything Shit”):
The Mail is very keen on tradition, heritage and ‘never forgetting’ all sorts of heroic British endeavours. Unfortunately, the great publishing institution appears to have accidentally forgotten one particularly heroic aspect of its own heritage—viz. their wholehearted support for the fascism of Hitler, Mussolini and Oswald Mosley. How terribly absent minded of them.
Acclaim for Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists kicked off on 8th January 1934 with the unequivocal headline; ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts!’ Some Mail staff even wore black shirts to work. Lord Rothermere, the paper’s owner, wrote of the BUF in the 15th January 1934 issue that they were ‘a well-organised party of the Right ready to take over responsibility for social affairs with the same directness of purpose and energy of method as Hitler and Mussolini displayed’. Oh, good.
Rothermere and the Mail broke with Mosley in June 1934, when the Blackshirts brutally suppressed (that is, kicked the shit out of) Communist Party supporters who disrupted a BUF meeting at the giant Olympia hall in Kensington, London—although not before investing (and now losing) £70,000 in New Epoch Products Ltd., a business arrangement with Mosley whereby the Blackshirts were to sell cigarettes made by Rothermere.
Towards Mussolini, meanwhile, the Mail was ‘always friendly’ (SJ Taylor, The Great Outsiders: Northcliffe, Rothermere and the Daily Mail). In November 1926, Italy’s fascist supremo dropped a hand-written line to G. Ward Price, the paper’s Chief Correspondent, congratulating him on his appointment as a director: ‘my dear Price, I am glad you have become a director of the Daily Mail, and I am sure that your very popular and widely circulated newspaper will continue to be a sincere friend of fascist Italy. With best wishes and greetings, Mussolini.
Through the 30s, the Mail was ‘the only major British daily to take a consistently pro-Nazi line’: it ‘stuck out like a sore thumb’ (Richard Griffiths, Fellow Travellers of the Right: British Enthusiasts for Nazi Germany 1933-39). Rothermere penned a July 1933 leader, ‘youth triumphant’, praising the Nazi regime for its ‘accomplishments, both spiritual and material’. True, he admitted, there had been ‘minor misdeeds of individual Nazis’ but these would certainly be ‘submerged by the immense benefits that the new regime is already bestowing on Germany’. So complimentary was the article, the Nazis used it for propaganda.
Rothermere eventually struck up a friendship with Hitler – or ‘My dear Fuhrer’ as he invariably began his regular correspondences – and visited him numerous times. Rothermere and Ware Price were among only three or four foreigners invited to Hitler’s first ever dinner party at his official Berlin residence. Rothermere, ever the gent, presented the Fuhrer with some Ferrero Rocher. Probably.
In 1937, Ward Price – who ‘was believed to Rothermere’s mouthpiece not only by the public but by Ward Price himself’ (Taylor) – published a chatty memoir about his great mates Hitler and Mussolini entitled ‘I Know These Dictators’. Last revised and reprinted in August 1938 – when fascism’s dark intents were obvious to even the most ardent reactionary – the book called Mussolini ‘a successful man of the world who is expert at his job and enjoys doing it’ and spoke warmly of Hitler’s ‘human, pleasant personality.’ The chapter ‘The Human Side of Hitler’ (not a phrase you hear very often) revealed that, alongside his affection for kiddies and doggies, the great dictator was also partial to the odd chocolate Ãclair : Naughty but nice’, as the Fuhrer used to say.
Price urged readers of ‘I Know These Dictators’ to keep an ‘open mind’ on fascism. Of Hitler’s initial wave of repression on gaining power, he wrote: ‘The Germans were made to feel the firm hand of their new master. Being Germans, they liked it.’
The concentration camps – about which ‘gross and reckless accusations (have been) made’ – were just full of dirty Reds. The Night of the Long Knives, when Hitler took on his party rivals – by killing them all – was a sensible bit of forward planning avoiding the need for lots of silly arguments later on. Overall, ‘in every respect of the German nation’s life the constructive influence of the Nazi regime (was) seen’. The only people who suffered were a few troublesome ‘minorities’. Like, for instance, the Jews.
In the chapter ‘Germany’s Jewish Problem’ (the title’s something of a giveaway), Price explains how the Jews only had themselves to blame as there had been too large a Jewish immigration to Germany following World War I: ‘The cause of this migration was the collapse of the German currency, which gave the Jews of neighbouring countries a chance after their own heart to make big profits.’
Lord Rothermere last visited Hitler in May 1938. While other papers condemned the regime’s brutality and oppression, the Mail still claimed Germany was ‘in the forefront of nations’ and that Hitler was ‘stronger than ever and more popular with his countrymen’. On 1 October 1938, after the signing of the Munich treaty in which Britain and France appeased Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia’s disputed Sudetenland region, Rothermere sent a telegram to Hitler: ‘MY DEAR FUHRER EVERYONE IN ENGLAND IS PROFOUNDLY MOVED BY THE BLOODLESS SOLUTION OF THE CZECHOSLOVAKIAN PROBLEM STOP PEOPLE NOT SO MUCH CONCERNED WITH TERRITORIAL READJUSTMENT AS WITH THE DREAD OF ANOTHER WAR WITH ITS ACCOMPANYING BLOODBATH STOP FREDERICK THE GREAT A GREAT POPULAR FIGURE IN ENGLAND MAY NOT ADOLF THE GREAT BECOME AN EQUALLY POPULAR FIGURE STOP I SALUTE YOUR EXCELLENCY’S STAR WHICH RISES HIGHER AND HIGHER.
Oddly enough, ‘Hitler the Great’ never did become a popular figure in England or, indeed, any other part of the British Isles. When war was finally declared in September 1939, Rothermere reportedly uttered just two words: ‘Ah’ and then ‘Bugger’.
Ward Price finally broke with Hitler following the March 1939 invasion of Czechoslovakia. Only a ‘foreign policy issue’ (Griffiths) could provoke this shift in his opinions: ‘Germany’s internal policies, even at the extreme moment of the Kristallnacht Pogrom, could never have had such an effect.’
Strangely, though, that’s not how he remembered the whole thing afterwards. In his 1957 memoir, Extra-Special Correspondent, he ‘recalls’ how he always thought Hitler was weak and neurotic. Saw through it all from the start. Never even owned a black shirt. Some of his best friends, etc.,etc.
Price was clearly suffering from an affliction still rife at the paper today: a version of false memory syndrome that makes you forget you used to be a bit of an old fascist.
It can only but make you wonder what would have happened if the Nazis had won the war. Presumably in the newly fascist Britain they would soon have found a collaborator in their old friend Rothermere. Then we might have ended up with the Daily Mail pouring forth reactionary bile against immigrants, gays, trade unionists, asylum seekers, women . . .
Now, what the Mail says about the present French election:
Despite her flaws, the only responsible vote in France next Sunday is one for Marine Le Pen
PUBLISHED: 12:26, 20 April 2012 | UPDATED: 15:20, 20 April 2012
France’s politics would appear to be in deceptively rude health. As Sunday’s first stage of the country’s two-round presidential election approaches, the vital indicators return vivid signs of life.
Mass meetings in Paris and elsewhere have drawn numbers and passion hard to imagine in some parts of an exhausted Western Europe. Online politics has made an impact for the first time. There is a choice on the ballot paper of ten candidates, ranging as fully from right to left as from plausible to eccentric.
France’s rarely quiescent intellectuals have offered their customary profusion of commentary on the country’s choices.
What France has not confronted honestly is the likelihood that this is the final French election for some time in which the country will vote on its future with an acceptable degree of control over its own destiny. The erosion of French self-government has been commissioned from within and awaits to be ratified from without.
Nicholas Sarkozy has campaigned on the theme of a ‘Strong France’. His speeches consciously allude to the Fifth Republic’s founder General de Gaulle, praising an ‘Eternal France’ Sarkozy himself has never been in danger of embodying. Rather, he is the latest architect of the decline of French democracy to something bordering on irrelevance.
More from Richard Waghorne…
- The dangers of a subservient press, and how Dominique Strauss-Kahn could have become President of France 22/02/12
- The defence accord with France is an irresponsible Blairite stunt to bolster Cameron’s European credentials 17/02/12
- Immigration and unemployment but not Europe: Sarkozy’s pick-n-mix referendums 09/02/12
- French downgrade shows that Marine Le Pen’s role in French public life is not just legitimate but increasingly necessary 15/01/12
- VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
The most urgent, the most assiduously avoided challenge facing France is the erosion of its self-government. Sarkozy’s European policy has abetted the long-desired European federalism of the French political class, through means of government by decree from Brussels and the outright replacement of recalcitrant governments in Greece and Italy.
In other European countries, the surface pretence of politics as usual has only been perpetuated by the craven compliance of hostage governments, as in Ireland. The fundamental deceit is that France herself is immune from the consequences of her president’s betrayal of other ancient European nations.
As the election campaign has demonstrated, this is not so to any extent which would return decisions over economic matters and identity to the French people. France’s banking system is critically exposed to the debts of the delinquent European margins, confirmed in Sarkozy’s last year in office by the trauma of a sovereign downgrade in a country where banks hold a status akin to proxies of the State. This very central standing in French public life, with its implicit expectation of support in crisis, was not enough to convince ratings-agencies of their durability – precisely because it is in question whether the French State possesses the capacity to deliver such support if required.
Although it is unlikely that this will come to pass, should Sarkozy secure re-election he would in all probability find himself faced with the appalling question of whether France herself could
Also worth reading on The Mail’s pro-fascism: Representing The Mambo
So apparently there *is* such a thing as a good asylum seeker. Shame not everyone can be a Premiership footballer, I suppose. (And get well soon, Fabrice).
Brodie Clark’s performance today at the select committee seems to have been pretty impressive, though he didn’t quite deliver the knock-out punch on Theresa May that some of us had been hoping for. May has been helped (and possibly saved) by the support she’s received for her version of events, from Rob Whiteman, the chief executive of the UK Border Agency, a man who clearly knows on which side his bread is buttered.
Even if May survives Clark’s evidence to the select committee, she still faces almost certain defeat and humiliation when Clark wins his constructive dismissal claim at an employment tribunal. There can be no doubt that Clark, a conscientious career civil servant and (by all accounts) a ‘by-the-book’ bureaucrat, has been hung out to dry by May – a most unedifying spectacle by any standard.
And I suppose it’s inevitable that the Labour front bench will make hay over the government’s and May’s embarrassment. Yvette Cooper has already effectively accused May of being soft on illegal immigrants and terrorists and we can expect more of this sort of opportunism in days to come. The truth, of course, is that border controls are an anachronism that do little or nothing to prevent the entry of suspected terrorists and other undesirables (who can, and should, be stopped by use of intelligence). What border/immigration controls do is to restrict the entry of genuine migrants seeking work and a better life for themselves and their families. Border/immigration controls are inevitably racist and the left should not shy away from the short-term unpopularity involved in opposing them.
Far from jumping on the Daily Mail‘s hysterical bandwagon (well described here), we should be arguing for the abolition of border/immigration controls. A good start (as Dave points out) would be for Britain to sign up to the Schengen agreement.
Below: the Daily Mail‘s view:
Part of ‘Shiraz Socialist”s mission is to bring you excellent writing, even (actually, especially) from unlikely sources. Janice Turner, writing in this Saturday’s Times, deals with anti-abortion Tory MP Nadine Dorries in vintage fashion. As the article is shielded behind Murdoch’s paywall, we reproduce it below:
Britian doesn’t want a Mama Grizzly, Nadine
For some time Nadine Dorries MP, has buzzed around public life like a late-summer wasp. Vexing and attention-seeking as her utterances have been – whether calling for abstinence in girls, for disabled Twitter users to lose benefits, or championing the “rights” of high-heel-wearers at work – one hoped she would just exhaust herself banging repeatedly against the media window pane. But now, as her unsheathed sting hovers over the reputations of important and upstanding charities, there is no option but to cross the room with a rolled-up newspaper.
Where did it come from, this grotesque slur that Marie Stopes International and the British Pregnancy Advisory Sevice (BPAS) do not provide objective counseling to women but strong-arm them into abortions? Not from their raft of of strict regulatory bodies or independent inspectors, including the Care Quality Commission and the Department of Health. Nor their women clients, who routinely award satisfaction ratings around 97 per cent. Not even from the Daily Mail, which this week, on a trawl for evidence of abortion-peddling, sent a “pregnant” undercover reporter to BPAS only to find every possible option, including adoption, was evenly presented.
Now we hear that Marie Stopes and BPAS have a “financial incentive” to promote termination – that they are “kept in business” by some pay-per-abortion piece rate. Really? Two long-established, not-for-profit bodies that are awarded contracts by the NHS to supply myriad services from family planning to cervical smears and vasectomies. They just want to kill babies to make a quick buck? Well, they need to work on their productivity: the abortion rate has remained almost static for 15 years.
Speak to either charity and it is bemused, hurt and deeply alarmed. Hithertoo they had heard not a whisper of government concern or criticism. This storm came from nowhere. Because it emantes soley from the mind of Nadine Dorres.
At present a woman visiting Marie Stopes or the BPAS with a “crisis” pregnancy is given a medical check. She can then, if undecided, discuss her fears and options – often immediately, in the same building – with a trained therapist. Under the Dorres amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill, she would be sent away with a list of “independent” counsellors that might include actively anti-abortion groups. An appointment could take weeks, a decision stalled perhaps until the option of termination expires.
Which is what underlies Ms Dorries’ zeal. She has a declared mission to reduce abortions by an annual number plucked from the air: 60,000. (What she will do to assist this extra town of humans not born into the most favourable circumstances we do not learn). Her two parliamentary attempts to cut the abortion time limit from 24 to 20 weeks failed. To mount another openly would mean not just taking on not just the pro-choice lobby but the British medical establishment. Easier, then to circumvent ethical debate and slyly slip her agenda through, even if it means women’s health is imperilled by the increased likelihood of later abortions.
What Ms Dorries and Louise Mensch MP – who, smelling a media picnic, has buzzed right over with her own amendment – do not grasp is that being “pro-choice” means just that. Marie Stopes and BPAS are not “pro-abortion”. If women had been pressured to terminate, would newspaper not have resounded with such scandals? If these charities have any financial incentive at all, it is in a woman leaving their clinics satisfied with her own choice. Marie Stopes wishes to show Ms Dorries case studies of women counselled by it who do not terminate pregnanacies, including a 16-year-old girl who it discovered was being coerced by her family. Ann Furedi, the head of BPAS, has invited the Labour MP Frank Field, co-sponsor of the amendments, to meet and hear about their work: he has nor replied.
Because the object here is not best medical practice, it is only to make noise. Such was the volume of Dorries-generated droning that the Department of Health initially agreed to move towards counselling becoming independent of abortion providers. This was downgraded quickly to pland for a vague consultation, perhaps to avoid trying epistemological questions such as: “Who is truly independent?”
Or more likely Downing Street feared that if government had to step in and create its own abortion counselling body, it might be pricey, considering Marie Stopes alone receives 500,000 calls a year.
Besides, the aggregate of voters who must be grateful for such services must be legion. Though Ms Dorries suggests that she speakes for a groundswell of socially conservative opinion, there is nothing to suggest that abortion is starting to define our political landscape as in the United States, where legal abortion is under grave threat. The British position remains one of tolerant distaste: it is a grave, unpleasant provision, but a necessary one.
The trouble for Nadine Dorries is that God and hellfire don’t scare enough British women into carrying unwanted children. Neither are they swayed overly by the notion that life begins at conception. So anti-abortionists have resorted to appropriating the language of feminism. Abortion is anti-women, they say: it denigrates our nature, our unique capacity to make babies.
Furthermore these groups utilise spurious medical data to “prove” that abortion is detrimental to our health.
Look at the website of Care Confidential, a counselling organisation with branches across the UK. It purports to be even-handed while concealing its faith-based views. Abortion is listed as having many risks: mental illness, alcoholism, panic attacks. Adoption, however, is all sunny upsides: no mention of anguish suffered by generations of women who handed over their children at birth. Wopuld this, under the proposed amendment, qualify as independent advice?
This has been a week of of a dishonest debate and shameful accusations against two charities doing good work. But Nadine Dorries, hoisting the flag of her phoney counselling crusade, would seek to reverse that, How brave she likes to tell us she is; how she yearns for the adulation enjoyed by Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann for her sassy right-wing woman power.
And yet she receives only anger, ridicule and distrust. No Mama Grizzly: just a nasty, whining and bothersome bug.