Nadine Dorries just won’t let it go, will she? Ever since her move to amend the upper legal limit for abortion from 24 to 20 weeks, she’s been blaming the Labour whips for her failure.
Now she prays in aid of her argument an article in the Daily Mail, which claims that Harriet Harman led a whipping operation. Harriet is a long-standing supporter of the right of women to choose to have an abortion; she feels strongly that the limit should not be lowered, and she and other (mostly, but not all, female) colleagues lobbied for her position. Why on earth wouldn’t they? Is Nadine claiming that she didn’t try to persuade other colleagues to support her amendment? I hope she won’t claim that, because she approached me!
So if Nadine encourages support for her amendment, that’s democracy. But if a Labour MP tries to organise against her, that’s anti-democratic. At least she’s dropped her silly claim that there was any kind of official whipping operation by the government whips.
For the record, having announced in my blog and in the media that I was sympathetic to a reduction in the time limit, I was lobbied by two MPs – Anne Snelgrove, who asked me to support the status quo, and Nadine. There was no arm-twisting, no threats. As it should be.
As someone who did actually support a reduction to 20 weeks (unlike Nadine who, in supporting other amendments in favour of limits as low as 12 weeks exposed her opposition even to her own amendment!), I find Nadine’s attempts to make abortion a party political issue extremely distasteful. At the first ever Labour Party branch meeting I ever attended, in 1985, I spoke against a motion calling on Labour policy as agreed at conference (abortion on demand) to be enforced by the whips in the Commons. This has never happened, it will never happen and it didn’t happen last Tuesday, despite Nadine’s fantasies.
Let it go, Nadine, there’ll be other opportunities. But if you keep banging this partisan drum on an issue as sensitive as abortion, you may get all the PR you’ve ever dreamed of, but you’ll alienate any Labour MPs who might otherwise have considered supporting you.