The latest scandal – Abuse of Parliamentary Process
by Rev Lynda Rose
Yesterday in Parliament saw the debate of the much-hyped amendment by Nadine Dorries to the Health Bill, calling for it to be a legal requirement that all women seeking abortion be offered counselling. At the beginning of last week, prospects for the amendment were looking distinctly hopeful, after Ms Dorries had a meeting with David Cameron – a supporter of abortion, but who admitted to being scandalised at the abuse of women under current practice. Ms Dorries reported that he was so supportive, he actually suggested inclusion of the word independent, before counselling, in order to protect women from what might be seen as manipulative pressure by abortion providers, who might be thought to have a vested interest in the procedure going ahead.
A couple of days after that meeting, however, Mr Cameron apparently did a complete volte face, writing to Ms Dorries withdrawing all support. On top of that, he then wrote to all Conservative MPs, telling them the government did not support the amendment, and urging them to vote against it; what has been described as tantamount to the imposition of a three line whip.
Why should he have done this, when only days before he had reportedly been so enthusiastic?
The answer emerged the following day, in an exuberant tweet by former LibDem MP, Dr Evan Harris. A long time proponent of abortion and campaigner against any right to real choice, Dr Evans crowed that he had been so incensed at news of the Prime Minister’s support that he had immediately gone to see Nick Clegg. There, in words we can only imagine, he apparently pressured the leader of his party into withdrawing all LibDem support for the Health Bill, unless Mr Cameron in turn withdrew support for the amendment. On the strength of that – again according to Dr Harris himself – Mr Clegg then went to see David Cameron … who in the interests of coalition solidarity, we are told, deemed it politic figuratively to withdraw the rug from under Ms Dorries’ feet.
What on earth was going on here? How, in a democratic society such as our own, can an unelected individual apparently wield such immense influence that he can in a matter of hours reverse Government policy? How can this be right? How can a private individual, who represents no one (indeed, one whom the voters have so recently positively disclaimed), be able to force a change, not just on the party which defeated him, but on Government policy overall?
The answer would seem to lie with Lib Dem organization, which appears to vest the formation of party policy in non-elected party members. In other words, it would seem the leader, along with all the party faithful, has to tow the party line! This is scandalous. No one unelected to represent us should be able to influence or dictate policy – and especially not someone who was voted out of office because of the very same views that so appalled his constituents.
So please, if you feel similar concern at this patent abuse of democracy, write to your MP today, asking him or her to raise the matter in Parliament. A specimen letter is included below, and please feel free to personalise and amend it as you see fit, if you would like to use it as a model. But whatever, please do write, and ask others to write too.
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