Saturday, 22 March 2008

Cameron loses all credibility

David Cameron lost all credibility this week, if he ever had any anyway.

This blog commended the Tory leader for challenging the Prime Minister to allow a free vote to his party on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. At Prime Minister's questions on Wednesday, Cameron reiterated his call.

But on Monday the Daily Mail exposed his warped position on the abortion issue. After initially announcing that he backs moves to cut the abortion time limit for social abortions down from 24 weeks to 20, he told the Mail that he still agrees with the law that allows abortion up to birth for unborn babies with disabilities despite having a child with a severe disability. The paper reported that:

MPs are expected to vote on a proposal to change the rule that allows abortions as late as 39 weeks if the unborn child is diagnosed with a disability. But Mr Cameron said: "I won't be supporting that. The current law should remain."


Cameron's five-year-old son Ivan was born with a severe form of cerebral palsy and epilepsy and needs 24-hour care.

This makes it all the more baffling that he supports a law which would have legally allowed their son to have been aborted as late as 39 weeks if they had so wished. So Mr Cameron thinks the life of healthy unborn babies past 20 weeks should be protected by law but babies with as minor a disability of a hare lip or as serious as cerebral palsy can be violently killed in their mother's womb? This is a seriously confused man.

As John Smeaton rightly points out, this news shows the danger of amendments to reduce abortion time limits in the HFE Bill. It's an approach that pro-life MPs are almost definitely going to take - but the real consequence of such a move may well be a concession to liberalise the law in other areas. The current parliament is possibly the most anti-life ever. It is very likely that Mr Cameron's warped view is shared by many other members. Other amendments could include removing restrictions to abortion on demand in early pregnancy, allowing nurses to perform certain types of abortion and extending the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

Cameron also revealed that he would be largely supportive of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill "because he supports its objective of overhauling the rules on fertility". The clause which will remove a child's need for a father is about the only aspect of the bill that he raises concerns about.

He told the Mail: "Generally my approach is I want to improve the process of dealing with the genetic defects and diseases that cause so much suffering.

"When you have been for genetic counselling and had the answer it could be this or that it could be that, the idea of medical science advancing is not without its attractions," he said.
"I feel it very strongly myself for obvious personal reasons, so I will be voting for the Bill in free votes pretty much the whole way through."

I wonder if Mr Cameron knows that during 18 years of legalised embryo research, not one cure or treatment has developed from it, whereas plenty have resulted from ethical adult stem cell research. He is deluded if he thinks that widening the scope of embryo research through the provisions of this pernicious bill will automatically provide wonder cures. The astonishing thing is that no-one pushing for relaxing embryo research laws has managed to explain in depth just how creating animal-hybrid embryos will help to cure degenerative diseases. As Lord Alton has been saying in his public meetings on the Bill, the government is going into a cul-de-sac which is going nowhere.

On the free vote for Labour MPs issue, I have now come to realise that, whilst it is scandalous that these matters of consciences are the subject of a three line whip, this issue is now becoming a tool, a smokescreen which the government is using to its advantage. This is apparent from Gordon Brown's latest response to a question asked by Cameron on Wednesday. The Prime Minister said:

"This is an important Bill that improves the facilities for research and is vital for dealing with life-threatening diseases. It is a Bill that has gone through the House of Lords. I said very clearly that everybody in this House should have the right to exercise their consciences. We will come back to the House with our proposals to take it through in later times."


Tonight, on BBC News 24, political correspondent Rita Chakrabarti understood this to be an indication (backed up by her Labour backbench sources) that the Prime Minister and Labour whips would negotiate concessions on the bill introduced at a later stage on the condition that Catholic cabinet ministers and Labour MPs with concerns on the bill vote for it in principle at second reading. If this is the case it is seriously alarming. There is nothing good about this bill - the mere title of it indicates that it is just plain wrong for Catholic politicians to vote for it. They have a moral obligation not to support it and, indeed, to oppose it regardless of the consequences to their political careers. It was encouraging to hear from the BBC correspondent about fresh indications that Paul Murphy (Welsh Secretary) is prepared to resign if not granted an un-whipped vote.

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