On Closer Inspection
Posted Saturday, 31 May 2008 at 13:56
You may remember the surreal interview I did with Marcus Brigstocke
It was for a Radio 4 programme, On Closer Inspection http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/oncloserinspection/pip/241zp/
Which is running for two weeks, this Sunday at 10.45pm and next.
Im not even sure if I made the final cut, however,
if nothing else it will be funny.
My guess is that Marcus may slightly moderate his views regarding politicians, but not enough to change his act!!
Posted Friday, 30 May 2008 at 13:13
Who would want to be Hillary Clinton right now?
As Simon Burns MP has pointed out this morning on the BBC Online:
If the Democrats had adopted the same method of selection as the Republicans, Hillary would be the clear nominee by now.
This makes a slight nonsense of Gore Vidal’s comment that America is a nation of misogynists – if they hadn’t used PR and she were the nominee, would he still have made that comment? Or would he have described America as the nation of opportunity for all. Which it clearly is, proven by the fact that a woman and a black man are in the final two positions for the Democratic nomination!
It is impossible to imagine how Hillary Clinton feels. This process must have consumed her every waking thought for years. Becoming the US President is all she is about. When she lets go of that who does she become?
The wife of a former President. The one who betrayed her trust; but who she has stuck by, because she had to.
To have returned to the White House, the Oval office, as President of the United States of America may have been the only path to redemption that she knew. What else could compensate for the global humiliation she was put through?
Just in case there is anyone left on the planet Simon has forgotten to tell, he is on the Politics Show this Sunday morning talking about… mmmm, let me see now, what would Simon be talking about on the TV?
Fuel security and lots of cards!
Posted Thursday, 29 May 2008 at 16:37
When we closed down our mines, forever, Germany kept theirs ticking over, so that if necessary they could be 're-booted' in the future. Which they have been.
Makes sense as technology has provided us with the ability to extract all the harmful chemicals from coal to provide a clean burn.
France went nuclear. Three quarters of France’s energy is met by nuclear power.
So, just thinking along the lines of economic competitiveness, does being almost totally dependent on fuel imports put us at a disadvantage? Do you think that just maybe someone in this place may suggest it's time to end the culture of short termism?
I wrote a blog a while ago about food security. The same principle applies to fuel surely?
Apparently, the sofa in my office is piled high with thank you cards, letters, and emails; and now the piles have started on the floor. All from people thanking me for the position I took on abortion.
A lady has written in one of the cards “Sometime in the future, our great grandchildren will look back on what we did, in the same way we look back on the appalling practice of slavery, and try to make sense of what appeared on the outside to be a progressive and civilised society, but which was all the while butchering unborn babies”.
Stop and Stare.
Posted Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 11:44
When I wrote this blog last recess, I received more emails and text messages than I have for any other, ever.
A shadow minister even called me at home to tell me it was one of the best things he had ever read! Highly unlikely, but I am as susceptible as any female to flattery…
Today I read two stories which reminded me of that blog, also written in recess.
One which made me smile and another which brought a tear to my eye.
The story which made me smile was of a couple who are celebrating eighty years of marriage.
The secret of their long and happy marriage? To have a kiss and cuddle every night at bedtime.
The second sad story of a love tragically cut short was written in the words of Natasha McElhone, whose husband Martin Kelly, a celebrated surgeon died of a heart condition aged 42 on the steps of his London home last week.
Natasha's brave article was her way of telling the world about the incredible man she was married to and carried within it a powerful message for all from a deeply solid and successful marriage.
Her words both touched and struck me.
"I loved and touched him every day..... I just can’t believe I won’t feel his skin any more, how is that possible?..... to have had ten years of utter bliss waking up next to someone who made my heart flutter..... we never raised our voices to each other."
A small section of the article referred to "their pups" and Natasha is pregnant with their third child, however, her message was of the intimate and close relationship they had maintained throughout their marriage.
A relationship which had not been subsumed by work or children or the pace, demands and constant noise and bustle of everyday life, but had remained as it had started, as something special and magical between just the two of them.
Throughout the article it was plainly obvious they had retained the passion and excitement, but the most poignant words were "we never raised our voices to each other."
It takes a selfless kind of love to achieve that, to always put someone else's feelings before yours. Not raising voices is the ultimate in kindness and mutual understanding, it demonstrates a realisation of a life shared with another whose happiness is more important than your own and thereby ultimately enhancing your own shared contentment.
People look to politicians to fix the rapid disintegration within our society today. 2 out of 5 marriages end in divorce which brings with it all the attendant problems which society in general has to pick up and deal with.
Have you ever met anyone who doesn't want to be part of a marriage like the amazing one Natasha shared with her husband or the couple celebrating 80 years?
Do you know any child from a broken relationship living with an unhappy single parent whose deepest, deepest wish isn't for mum and dad to be back together, and love each other?
It takes hard work and effort to overcome the demands of work, family and finances.
Which laws would ensure that two people are always aware that the reason their family unit began, exists and works is as a result of the feelings, needs and commitment they have for each other as two individuals?
Feelings and needs which if not tended to will over time simply fade away, leaving behind a void of emptiness and discontent which will always be filled eventually by something or someone.
No one who has been the victim of a failed relationship can ever remember the exact moment things changed, they just know they weren’t looking at the time.
How do politicians legislate for successful marriage?
Can we write a law which says 'love and touch each other every single day'?
Can we legislate to 'never raise your voice to each other'?
Natasha herself says that she has had the most incredible love and even though it has been tragically cut short she understands that others can go all of their lives not understanding, knowing or experiencing for one day what she knew for years.
Natasha and Martin had a life philosophy - work hard, expect nothing, celebrate!
I think without knowing it, this Golden if tragic couple lived the magic recipe for the perfect society.
I was listening to One Republic, Stop and Stare whilst writing today's blog.
For no other reason than I was!
Abortion Vote Update
Posted Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 12:29
Over the weekend I have had feedback from people who canvassed in Crewe and Nantwich. Apparently - and this is only what I have been told - the abortion vote played a part in the last few days.
Crewe has a very large Irish Catholic population as a result of the historic railway building programme.
Wilted Rose has a very good blog on it .
If this information is correct, then the impact could play out in many other seats.
I have been contacted by Muslim faith leaders who were horrified at the vote.
During my meetings with the Muslim and Jewish faiths as part of my research into abortion, I discovered that the positions taken are similar to the Catholic viewpoint - which is more prescriptive than mine. (The Church of England amazingly have no official position on the embryo!).
Take a seat like Bedford which comprises a community of Italian, Muslim and Irish residents and the Bedford MP who voted to maintain 24 weeks.
Could be fair comment to make that the people of Bedford may vote with their beliefs and the Bedford MP could be toast!
And just before anyone takes a sharp intake of breath and thinks that maybe I am making abortion a political issue – may I just remind people that it was Harriett Harman and Gordon Brown who did that by whipping the vote.
The Mail On Sunday - 25th May 2008 - How Harriet Hardwoman Whipped Wavering Abortion Votes.
Archbishop Cranmer - Why Christians Should Think Thrice Before Voting Labour.
Posted Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 11:48
If a judge has ruled that MPs' home addresses should be in the public domain, may I also suggest that as someone who is paid by the public purse, that the home addresses of judges are disclosed also.
It is hard enough to find MPs who will run with contentious issues as it is, it will become impossible from the day of publication onwards - another death knell for democracy and fair representation.
Remember the tragic incident in Cheltenham in 2000, when the Lib-Dem MP Nigel Jones was conducting one of his surgeries - he was attacked by a crazed constituent with a Samurai sword. The MP's assistant subsequently died in the attack from horrific injuries.
Some MPs live alone, many live with spouses, partners and young children.
Abortion issue aside, I have had two cases of ‘un-balanced obsessed’ constituent’s which have involved the police over the last year. On one occasion, when one turned up un-expectedly at a surgery, I had to ask a member of the public to stay with me as I was so afraid of being left on my own with him.
Being high profile in the local media has been the reason cited, however, what do I do? Bunker down in my office and not do the work?
The judge who made that ruling has displayed a total lack of understanding and I hope it isn’t a decision he may one day come to regret.
Mail on Sunday
Posted Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 10:49
I mentioned last week that there was something I had to keep out of my blog. The something is on page 9 in today’s Mail on Sunday. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1021733/How-Harriet-Hardwoman-whipped-wavering-abortion-votes.html
Simon Walter’s has proved today that investigative journalism is alive and well.
Simon rang me the day after the vote to tell me that he had been given information that Harriett Harman had organised a huge whipping operation after the abortion vote. He wouldn’t disclose any details, however, I did get the feeling that maybe his information had come from Labour MPs as there was no way I, or any other Conservative, would have access to that kind of information.
His article today bears that out.
I love the picture of Harriet Harman watching my speech from behind the speaker’s chair, hand on hip – with a look that says it all!
Apparently, mine was the only speech she came into the chamber to listen to.
Harriett Harman’s mistake was to politicise an issue which has always been a free vote. She has now altered the basis upon which abortion discussion takes place within Westminster for a very long time.
Do you remember the film ‘Pretty Woman’ and shop assistant on the strip, who looks down her nose with disdain at Julia Roberts as though she is not worthy of her attention? And in particular the scene where Julia Roberts walks back into the shop, arms loaded with designer bags and says to the commission paid gobsmacked shop assistant "Big mistake, big, HUGE"
I do too.
Oh Happy Day!
Posted Friday, 23 May 2008 at 14:55
In case you hadn’t noticed, we have a fantastic new MP!
Congratulations Edward, the warmest welcome awaits you. What a stonking, amazing victory that was.
How incredible is Eric Pickles? What an amazing man.
Did you see David Cameron? He was bursting with energy and pleasure and goodwill to all men.
The people haven’t spoken – they have yelled it from the roof tops!!
Will Gordon go or will he stay?
Well, no one is coming forward. Alan Milburn and Stephen Byers were in deep conversation the other night, but I am sure that was more to do with football than leadership challenge. Besides, there were only two of them; it’s not officially a plot until three are huddled together on a green carpet.
The ridged look on Jacqui Smiths face gives me huge pleasure.
She is possibly the most arrogant and least pleasant of all the Labour women. There will be no seat turning from red to blue which will give me as much pleasure as that one.
The Sky News prediction for a general election makes me giddy!
I have to go and lie down.
PS I haven’t been triumphant or complacent in this blog have I?
Posted Thursday, 22 May 2008 at 12:27
Much went on behind the scenes at the vote the other evening, and I have promised one particular journalist to keep it off my blog until Monday - so frustrating!
The voting divided along party lines.
For the 22 week amendment 83 per cent of Conservative MPs voted for 22 weeks, 80 per cent of Labour MPs voted against it.
To say that abortion is a free vote and non party political issue is a nonsense. It clearly divides along party lines.
Labour abandoned the free vote principle by whipping their MPs on a three line whip 'to attend the chamber'. I saw the whipping note, a copy of it was left for us to see .
More of what happened will surface over the weekend.
A high point for me was that during the evening Labour MP Frank Field came into the 20 week lobby and said my speech had convinced him to change his mind.
The next morning he called me and offered his support. He has suggested ways we might move forward together on the issue and work as a team.
I may have lost the vote but that was a result!
Posted Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 23:24
I am writing this blog by way of an apology – there is just no way I can physically respond to all the letters and emails I have received.
I want people who have written to me to know that I have already read and will be reading, every single letter.
The messages of support have been amazing, kind and have given me such insight and help.
I will blog some good news tomorrow.
Posted Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 15:00
Who is this Alchi Ida that Gordon Brown talks about so much?
Is she a pensioner who drinks too much mother's ruin?
Answers on a postcard please!
In The Chamber
Posted Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 10:53
Last night, sitting in the chamber waiting to speak, I had that usual ‘sick in the pit of your stomach’ feeling that arrives when you know you are about to speak.
When the Speaker called my name, I was lifted to my feet by the cheers and support of my colleagues, and an overwhelming feeling of good will, which sustained me throughout.
I work with lovely people.
The Times described them today as my personal ‘marem’, the male version of a harem. I wish!
God help me!
Posted Tuesday, 20 May 2008 at 11:54
Apparently now I'm a religious fundamentalist! Of all the arrows I've had slung at me since I picked up abortion, that has to be the most ridiculous.
Am I a Christian? Yes I am. Do I go to Church? Occasionally. Do I pray? Sometimes. Do I believe in God? Yes. Does this make me a freak? Well, if it does, we're a nation of freaks, that's all I can say.
Almost everyone I know believes in a God. It may not be the same God as mine, they may not go to the same Church as me, but they do believe in something.
My position on abortion is motivated by my experience as a nurse, witnessing late botched abortions .
I will say this once again - I am not a religious fundamentalist !!!!
No such thing as a free vote?
Posted Tuesday, 20 May 2008 at 07:34
A Labour MP took me to one side last night and gave me the Labour whipping instructions for today.
They are on a three line whip to ‘attend’ the chamber. They still have a free vote once they get there, however, that counts for little.
The Labour whips were all over the place yesterday herding MPs into the right lobby. To the annoyance of many Labour MPs.
Two thirds of Labour MPs never vote on abortion.
They will wander into the lobby tonight and ask the nearest Labour whip “which way”, they will be directed straight towards the 24 lobby.
Gordon Brown stuck his neck out on 24 weeks, why? A ridiculous thing for a Prime Minister to do if he were entering into the spirit of his MPs having a free vote.
He desperately needs the 24 week limit to remain, if it doesn’t, he will be shown to have no leadership. Not a good thing to happen two days before wipe out in Crewe and Nantwich.
I hope that Labour MPs have the moral courage tonight to vote the way the people who elect them want them to vote, time will tell.
Posted Monday, 19 May 2008 at 21:15
I despair. Three Liberal Democrat MPs , one after the other have just told me they can’t support my amendment to 20 weeks because, I quote, “what about the 20 week scan and if the baby has a severe handicap, that means we would be subjecting parents to have to look after a disabled child”.
Leaving my views on disabled children and their right to life completely to one side, I will say yet again-
MY AMENDNMENT IS FOR HEALTHY BABIES AND SOCIAL TERMINATIONS ONLY.
If a mother has a 20 week scan and it detects a disability the mother still has the right to abort right until birth.
This has shown me one thing tonight; the majority of Lib Dems are going to file into the 24 week lobby because they would rather do that than vote for a Conservative amendment. Not because they have bothered to learn anything about the issue.
I Just hope they can defend their position at a general election. I reckon any MP who votes for 24 weeks may find it’s more of an issue than he or she thought.
Nick Clegg has got a long way to go before his MPs will back a Conservative government!!
Posted Monday, 19 May 2008 at 14:06
There are a few things that I think I need to make clear.
I am an advocate of fast, free and safe access to abortion in the first trimester.
My 20 week amendment does NOT cover babies with serious handicaps.
Those mothers who hear bad news after the 20 week scan will not be affected, as abortion for serious handicaps is available until birth.
I do not believe that cleft palette, hare lip or club foot should be classed as serious handicaps.
My amendment is for 20 weeks only and is based on the following 20 reasons. Click here.
I would personally like to see the UK in step with the rest of Europe, and have a cut off limit at 13 weeks; however, I am a realist and know that Parliament would never agree to this.
22 weeks is not a sufficient reduction, science has moved on further than two weeks in 20 years.
What the papers say..
Posted Saturday, 17 May 2008 at 11:46
I have an article in the Daily Telegraph today.
The front page of the Daily Mail is excellent too!
Why 20 and not 22 weeks?
Posted Friday, 16 May 2008 at 15:53
The Duchess and I
Posted Thursday, 15 May 2008 at 12:35
The above photograph is of Louise, the Duchess of Bedford, and I outside Louise’s home, Woburn Abbey.
In the pouring rain we were promoting the NSPCC Big Bike Ride event which is to take place at the Abbey on June the 29th.
I firmly believe that families which play together stay together; and the NSPCC event is a perfect opportunity for everyone to have a really fun day out.
The two mile course is hardly arduous, and this is Bedfordshire, so it’s mainly flat; and then there is the opportunity when you stop to have a picnic in the grounds.
I will be there, on my bike and this blog, and others to follow, are to encourage anyone to come along and join us, and help raise both awareness, and money, for the amazing work that the NSPCC and Childline are involved in.
You know that most of you reading this won’t have experienced abuse as a child, but can you imagine the responsibility that Childline has to answer their phone quickly?
It takes a lot of courage for a child to phone for help, and by the third ring that courage can evaporate, and the phone goes down.
So, get on your bike and come and join us. The sun is bound to shine!
I Love Eric..(and Mrs Pickles too!)
Posted Thursday, 15 May 2008 at 09:45
Eric Pickles is never wrong. There are a number of council leaders floating around who have ignored his advice, to their peril.
Eric has always been the man behind the party scenes, who has now gone centre stage.
MC of our recent local elections victory, he zoomed straight up to Crewe and Nantwich and has been in charge of what is probably the best organised by-election campaign we have ever run.
He is one very busy man, who in the middle of it all, found the time yesterday to text me and ask me what time I needed him to be in Westminster for the 20 weeks vote.
I love Eric, and Mrs Pickles too, because behind every great man there is always a wonderful woman.
I am now off on a constituency engagement. Photos and post in a while and then off to Crewe and Nantwich.
Hounds of Hell
Posted Wednesday, 14 May 2008 at 11:07
The Hounds of Hell are chasing me.
We received another unpleasant parcel in the post today. Nasty web sites set up, email account and post bag bombarded, people crawling all over my expenses, which they are entitled and I am very very happy for them to do...
Scary, threatening angry and downright nasty phone calls. A message smeared on my window.
This is all meant to destabilise or distract me.
I have a very clear message to those who are attempting to do this – back off. You will not stop me, you will not undermine me, you do not scare me. In fact, you make me much more determined than I ever was before. You give me strength.
I received a lovely email today from the photographer who took the picture of Samuels’s hand reaching through his mother’s womb during the operation when he was 21 weeks gestation.
The picture below is of Samuel giving evidence to the US congress five years later.
The email reads:
"Dear Ms Dorries,
I can’t tell you how honoured I was to hear that you had posted the picture of Samuel reaching from his mother’s womb on your blog in an attempt to lower the age abortions can be performed……
I have been on pins and needles trying to keep up with the vote there in the UK….I would love to know if the attempt is successful…"
I will Michael if I survive long enough!!!
The 20 Weeks Campaign
Posted Tuesday, 13 May 2008 at 18:05
Posted Tuesday, 13 May 2008 at 12:44
That’s how John Bercow, the Conservative Member for Buckingham described members, (inc me) who want to reform the abortion law. He also used words such as prejudiced.
Antediluvian isn’t a word you hear much on the housing estates across Britain, so I had to ask what it meant. Before a flood apparently.
So, I'm an antediluvian, as is David Cameron and the majority of the Conservative Party. Three quarters of all women across the UK, two thirds of doctors and leading Professors such as Stuart Campbell, John Wyatt, Sunny Anand and Dr Vincent Argent, consultant gynaecologist and former Medical Director of BPAS are all antediluvian.
This description also includes Parliaments across Europe, as most of the countries in the EU have a cut off date of twelve weeks.
France 12, Germany 12, Italy 12, Belgium 12, Bulgaria 12, Denmark 12, Czech Republic 12, Greece 12, Hungary 12, Luxembourg 12, the Netherlands 13, Poland 12, Slovakia 12 and Sweden, the most liberal, 18.
All faiths, including Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus and Christians are all antediluvian.
But of course, John Bercow must be right and I believe that maybe the three quarters of women across Britain are grateful to him for being there to point out the error of their judgment.
I have never written or spoken of the main reason why I want to reduce to 20 weeks, but I am now.
Women further on in pregnancy than 16 weeks used to be injected with a chemical, Prostoglandin. This used to induce spontaneous labour and the foetus would be delivered still born.
Unfortunately, in the later abortions at 21 weeks onwards, a baby sometimes struggled for life, an event I personally witnessed.
As neo-natal services improved, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) put out guidelines which state that from 19 weeks of pregnancy onwards the baby needs to be - and I can't think of a gentler way of saying this - put to death in the womb before it is delivered, in case it lives. A procedure known as foeticide.
Late surgical abortions mean that a baby is dismembered in the womb, and removed limb by limb, head often last.
Professor Anand, incredibly well respected and acknowledged as the world's leading expert in foetal pain, believes that a foetus feels pain as low as 18 weeks gestation. Before the dismembering takes place, the baby is injected with a lethal injection of Potassium into its heart, via the mother's abdominal wall. I will leave it to you to imagine how much distress and pain this may cause the baby.
Even when I pressed Dr Vincent Argent, the consultant gynaecologist and a practicing abortionist who supports my amendment to explain in detail the procedure, he was uncomfortable and wouldn’t go into detail.
So, on the one hand the pro-abortionists argue that a baby can't live below 22 weeks, and on the other they deploy 'just in case' techniques.
I suppose if wanting to come in line with other European countries and end such a barbaric and inhumane practice is antediluvian, I can only wonder what word applies to wanting to continue with such practices within the context of a civilised society.
Marcus and I, and More Beer Vicar.
Posted Monday, 12 May 2008 at 10:53
When I agreed to be interviewed by Marcus Brigstocke of ‘Have I Got News For You’ fame in Ampthill Library, I was nervous. The thought "now, why did you go and agree to that"? did cross my mind a few hundred times between agreeing and the actual day.
Meeting him did endorse a personal viewpoint – that to be a good comedian takes a certain amount of searing intellect - he has obviously thought about politics very deeply.
He will probably rip me to bits in the programme which comes out on 1st of June, and the 8th; however if he does, so be it.
I can be nothing other than who I am. If I had tried to be someone I wasn’t then I would have fallen flat on my face.
I actually enjoyed the interview, his questions were probing but honest. Our one moment of disagreement came when I announced, that on the issue of abortion, I had found Sky to be much fairer and balanced in its reporting than the BBC.
He blew a mini Murdoch fuse at that one!
I will await, with baited breath and noose in hand, for the final programme.
I opened Elstow Village May Festival at the Abbey on Saturday. England at its very best.
Unbeknown to me before I arrived, Jeremy the Vicar had written to the Bedfordshire On Sunday to support the 20 weeks campaign.
Given that the official representatives from the Church of England had told me only a week ago in a meeting that the Church “had no view on the Embryo”, and when I quoted a Psalm to the contrary said “that’s just words, mere poetry”, I was relieved to find a clergyman with a view. Thanks for your support Jeremy, excellent letter.
Day by day I become more disappointed with the established Church, and even more disappointed with the Bishops who sit in the Lords. What purpose do they serve when they don’t have a view on something as important as abortion?
Hansel and Gretel Part II
Posted Saturday, 10 May 2008 at 21:10
Or, I smell a Ratty...
And there's more.....This is how sad I am - my mind is working overtime and I know you will think that I am dreaming up conspiracy theories, however, just bear with me a moment.
What Winston, Brown’s right hand man in a white lab coat has effectively done, via his interview with the Telegraph, is blow the two most contentious aspects of the Embryology Bill right out of the water.
He has stated that his position, as the government expert on this Bill, is completely at odds with the PM.
Winston, who argued till the cloned cows came home in the Lords, and then voted for saviour sibling and animal-human hybrids, has now suddenly, totally, changed his opinion.
This will cause mayhem and confusion next week amongst MPs and Peers.
Add what Winston has done today, bearing in mind this is one serious underpants on the outside of his trousers geek of a science boffin, to what Frank Field has written in this weeks Spectator and what do you get?
As (was it Ratty or Toad?) used to say in Wind in the Willows, and as I oft repeat, what is occurring?
Plots and scheming and dirty tricks that’s what.
Winston knew exactly what he was doing during that interview in today’s Telegraph; he was firing a sniper shot straight through the door of No10, as was Frank in the Spectator.
The question is, are they lone marksmen, or is this monkey warfare? Are these two men leading the attack to bring Brown down on two different fronts alone, or are they the first campaigns in what is about to become a bigger battle?
Phew, now I’ve got that of my chest I can get back to the ironing - now that really is sad!!
Hansel and Gretel
Posted Saturday, 10 May 2008 at 19:33
In a recent letter to MPs, Gordon Brown wrote;
I wanted to write to you to set out my reasons for supporting all the measures in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, and to clarify how we propose to handle it in Parliament
Gordon Brown thinks animal human hybrids are 'vital to the progression of stem cell research'
By contrast Robert Winston, the Peer who took the Bill through committee stage in the Lords, is not so sure on animal human hybrids...
'But if the hybrid embryo thing doesn't go through, it in no way shakes the body of science... It's a nice adjunct; a useful extra. But if we don't have that resource, it won't fundamentally alter the science of stem cell biology.' (Robert Winston, Telegraph, 10 May 2008)
And is even less enthusiastic about saviour siblings...
"I'm very unhappy about 'saviour siblings'."
His concern is that children selected to provide treatment for a sick brother or sister may be put under undue pressure to give bone marrow or organs. So it wouldn't break his heart if the measure was voted down? "Absolutely not," he says. (Robert Winston, Telegraph, 10 May 2008)
So, if Lord Winston is the Peer and eminent scientist Gordon Brown thought was the right man to lead this Bill where it began its course, in the House of Lords, why does Gordon Brown think his un-learned opinion is more valid?
When faced with a conundrum like this I always like to do a Hansel and Gretel and follow the money.
You can bet your life it’s stacked up behind this Bill somewhere.
Who do we believe, Gordon or Winston, and why?
Posted Saturday, 10 May 2008 at 16:36
After a slow start the 20 reasons for 20 weeks web site has suddenly begun to gather momentum.
I have watched the ticker clicking by and I reckon within the next few minutes we will have passed 2000!
Don’t anyone nag me for not doing the perma link thingy, you know what it’s like at weekends, just little old me !!
Posted Friday, 9 May 2008 at 12:40
I was woken up by requests for media when it was still dark.
I didn't get to sleep until 2 and so feel like a zombie.
I gave so many interviews yesterday that I just talked all day non stop, from morning until night.
The report presented on TV today by the Doctors' Union the BMA - which I believe, along with other Unions funds the pro-abortion activists 'voice for choice' - has given the 20 week campaign a great lift and will guarantee that the campaign stays in the media spotlight over the weekend.
For the BMA to argue that the survival rates of neo nates born 12 years ago should endorse the 24 week limit today, is, as I said yesterday, an act of desperation, but one that suits me and the media opportunities such a biased piece of 'research' provides.
The difference between being a back and front bencher, is that on the front bench you have a team around you and a press officer filtering and handling your media requests - during a profile/feature interview with the Guardian I had to keep interrupting to take other interviews which were deadline driven.
I felt very rude, but what could I do?!
Having agreed to give a speech in Radlett, I have to turn almost all media requests down today which is sad as it means I have lost the opportunity to put my case over for the 20 week campaign on some of the prime time news bulletins. However, I promised to be in Radlett and that's where I will be.
After Radlett I have a surgery in Ampthill, Mid Beds at which Marcus Brigstock will be joining me.
I will blog a photo of proof at about 5pm and let you know what he's doing at one of my surgeries!
In the meantime, if you haven't yet visited the 20 weeks web site click here!
And for more, I've done ITV and will do channel 4 news at 7.30.
Posted Thursday, 8 May 2008 at 14:34
When the abortion vote is over the loudest sound will be the ‘phew’ emanating from my mobile phone, which is on overtime-plus at the moment.
The BMA union is getting fairly desperate.
The BMA, along with other unions, funds ‘Voice for Choice’ which is the pro-abortion lobbying organisation.
The BMJ is the union’s trade magazine and has produced a report showing that there has been no improvement in neo-natal survival rates for 12 years.
I think this report insults the intelligence of the public and MPs alike.
No improvement in neo-natal care in twelve years? Really? So where has all the money that has been pumped into neo-natal services gone then?
A baby born at 23 weeks today stands no better a chance of living than it did in 1996?
This report is the most desperate piece of tosh produced by the pro-choice lobby and it smells of one thing, desperation.
However, my thanks go to the BMA. Their news release has only been out a couple of hours and journalists have made comment like “I can’t believe they are serious” and “it’s impossible to believe”.
I think they may have just shot themselves in the foot with this one.
Dead Man Walking
Posted Wednesday, 7 May 2008 at 17:32
On a Wednesday morning David Cameron strides along the corridor to PMQ’s.
His aides shuffle and trot alongside in a vain attempt to keep up with him, as he chats and and laughs whilst walking down to the House.
He waves and says hello to anyone he knows on the way and returns smiles to those he doesn’t.
As he walked into the chamber today he was the picture of disgustingly good health. Tanned, smiling confident. Totally at ease with both his surroundings and the task ahead.
His PPS Desi Swayne who entered the chamber with him shuffles along the second row past those of us who were seated, knocking back the jokes about his pretty pink tie, grinning from ear to ear, about to take his important seat behind David.
It wasn’t like that for Gordon.
Gordon walked along the corridor surrounded by his aides in sombre silence.
You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife.
His pallor was a deathly waxy grey and he half stooped as he walked, shoulders haunched by the weight of defeat.
His aides looked scared witless. Not a word passed. No one dared speak.
No smiles to passers-by or friendly aknowledgments.
Gordon Brown walked into the chamber and, as he moved along past the Speaker's chair to his place in front of the dispatch box, looked to all the world like a dead man walking.
House of Barred
Posted Wednesday, 7 May 2008 at 13:21
The press conference yesterday almost became a fiasco.
To be perfectly honest, I hadn't really expected anyone to turn up. So when I walked into a room full of cameras and journalists, it was a bit of a shock to say the least.
I arrived in the room just as a jobs-worth security guard from the Himmler school of charm and diplomacy, called the Palace of Westminster police to escort the cameramen off the estate.
It took a call to the deputy Sergeant at Arms to discover that we could audio record only. And the use of that would be what? In case I forgot what I said?
It appears the House of Commons' authorities had decided that my press conference was OK for radio. But not TV.
Just who are these faceless people who occupy hundreds, nay thousands of offices in this Palace, which belongs to the people, and the representatives of the people?
Who are these nameless bureaucrats who tell an elected MP sent to Parliament by the people, that I can't film in a room which broadcasts committee meetings every day to the nation, from five permanent suspended cameras?
Who are these people sat in plush offices centred around the chamber whilst MPs walk miles to and fro each day, and camp out in corridors and the library; and by what right do they tell me that an event planned to launch a major campaign, aimed at amending legislation, cannot continue?
Someone who has a democratic right, a far greater right than any jobs-worth officious rude security guard, to be here.
Who has the right to run this place? Is it the people or the bureaucrats?
As it was we de-camped onto College Green.
Within seconds another security guard arrived. He asked me did I have a permit?
I said yes. I lied, we began.
Perhaps someone would now like to report me to the standards committee?
I am going to hunt down one of the legal constitutional brains over here. I have rights and I am going to find out what they are and, make sure every other MP knows what they are too.
There should be a balance between the executive and the administration, however it appears to me that balance needs to be redressed.
As it was, despite the attempts by the House of Commons' politeriat to thwart the day, it was a beautiful sunny day and worked out really well.
We had interlopers, the MP who is the Labour version of Evan Harris - Chris McCafferty - sent her husband and researcher along.
They were very welcome!
Click here to watch the Press Conference
Im in trouble..
Posted Tuesday, 6 May 2008 at 21:20
At 00.40 on Saturday morning I sent my daughter a text message, it read – he did it, he did it Boris is Mayor!
At 00.50 I sent another one, it read– Sorry darling, happy birthday princess xx
As a Queen once said, she was not amused!!
I can't help giggling though every time I think of it :-)
20 Reasons for 20 Weeks
Posted Tuesday, 6 May 2008 at 10:31
The campaign launches in earnest today. Even in my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined the coverage that The Daily Mail has given us this morning. Not sure I will ever appear on the front page again!
The 20 reasons are listed in full in the article, just click on the link above.
Amanda Platell has also dedicated a page to the campaign and we have the top of the Daily Mail Comment Strip.
The 20 Reasons for 20 Weeks website launches today, of which I am immensely proud and grateful to all the people, who have made the campaign happen.
My first ever press conference takes place at 3.30pm!
If there is any humour to be found in this campaign, it may be in listening to Dr Evan Harris MP shouting at the presenter on the BBC Asian network this morning - I am sure they have the listen back facility.
He walks in their shoes....
Posted Monday, 5 May 2008 at 13:33
Having worked all morning I have just got around to reading yesterday’s Observer.
There is an article, ‘what does Cameron need to do next’. Brown has lost. What David needs to do to win the next general election will become the emerging debate over the next few months.
To me this issue is about far more than developing a few policies on crime and health.
David needs to connect with the greater majority of the general public. The connection between him and them is vital; it’s happening now and needs to go deeper.
Low income families are hurting. In a week when the 10p tax band was removed school dinners went up to £2 per child. The streets are no longer safe, house prices are in decline, you can’t get a mortgage or educate your children well. In today’s Britain, Its tough trying to heat your home, fill your car or feed your family.
David needs to show that he will make this country a different and better place than it is under Labour. He cares about the low paid with genuine passion.
He’s a family man, a dad who loves his kids. He finds it easy to empathise with those parents who can’t give their children the things in life they want to – like a decent education or quick access to the healthcare they need. He finds it easy to put himself into someone elses position and understand how they feel.
To win the next General Election he needs to learn how to convey that genuine passion and empathy right in through the front door of every struggling family home in Britain.
And then people will vote for him, they will know he really feels for them, because he can walk in their shoes.
Posted Saturday, 3 May 2008 at 10:44
Chatting to other MPs from under my duvet from where I refused to move, having had so little sleep over the last 48hrs, we were all agreed on one thing - there is absolutely no such thing as a safe seat.
Comparisons with ’95 are tricky. There weren’t the same number of alternative parties and besides, John Major got more of the vote share than Brown did on Thursday despite the number of fringe parties who do often claim the disenfranchised voter, which would also have affected our share of the vote on Thursday night in a big way.
Winners ond losers over 48hrs other than political parties - YouGov called it right, Jeremy Vine presented it so seriously wrong!
Whilst everyone else chats about strategy and scenarios, I am only concerned about one rather big issue – how am I going to remember the names of 200 new MPs? I’m going to have to start learning them now!
I won’t be blogging again until Monday night when I will have some big news.
The rest of this weekend is given over entirely to serious socialising, having fun, spoiling my girls, a birthday lunch, walking the dogs and did you know, it’s Margarita Saturday today?
Now, where did I put the Limes?
Time To Go Home
Posted Friday, 2 May 2008 at 10:15
Good Morning Boys and Girls.
Has anyone seen Gordon? He's the man in charge don't you know, where do you think he could be hiding? Hello?
Gordon, come out and play, all the boys and girls are waiting to see you.
Let's go and see if we can find him shall we?
Is he hiding here in No 10?
Let's open the door and step inside.
Oooh what's under this big desk in the corner, lets lift the lid boys and girls and take a look.
Oh there you are, you silly boy, what are you doing hiding under teddy Harman, PC Smith, Big BufHoon and the Mayor.
Look, you are making Big BufHoon cry, that’s not very nice is it.
Oh dear boys and girls, Gordon’s not looking very well today.
Lets put him back in the desk shall we and see if he can face coming out tomorrow.
Poor Gordon, say bye bye to Gordon boys and girls.
Bye bye Gordon, bye bye PC Smith, Bye bye Big BufHoon Bye Bye Mayor.
Time to go home.