Friday, March 24, 2006

The Unspeakable Losers of the British Conservative Party

Commentary by Martin Kelly
April 5, 2005

A politician’s announcement that he will hold a debate on reducing the legal time limit for abortions should he gain office would, in almost all cases, be cause for celebration.

However when the pledge comes from the mouth of Michael Howard, the leader of the undisciplined and unprincipled losers of the British Parliamentary Conservative Party, then pro-life voters should be very wary indeed.

Social conservatism does not come easily to Conservative Members of Parliament – although they are all very comfortable with the concept of managing the behaviour of others, they show no inclination to accept any kind of limits on themselves. Many have viewed being an MP as an excuse to get freebies and expand their contacts books so they can retire on swollen public pensions and then walk into any number of directorships.

Indeed, whatever has caused Howard to break out in this blue fit of real conservatism is of very recent origin; as recently as February 2004, Howard announced his support for ‘civil unions’ for gays. A pro-life, pro-gay marriage British conservative?

Is he Andrew Sullivan in disguise?

The announcement that he is proposing a debate on the reduction of the legal time limit from 24 to 20 weeks was made in the March 20 ‘Sunday Telegraph’. Hard leftists and libertarians have dictated the social culture of the UK for so long that any attempt to loosen the Vulcan deathgrip they have on policy should be viewed as being a victory of sorts; but in this case, it’s not any kind of victory at all.

All Parliamentary debate on social issues is conducted on the basis of a ‘free vote’; therefore, the laws by which 60 million must live are dictated by the consciences of fewer than 700. The majority of those few privileged even to have a voice in the debate will be from either the Labour or Conservative camps, career politicians whose livelihoods depend on courting popularity, not on taking difficult or unpopular decisions.

In most instances, they will see no further than the date of the next election; like states, they have no friends, only interests. Also, a free vote is one of the very few occasions on which a drone MP can exercise real power, and decide for themselves in which direction they wish the country to go – the vast majority of Parliamentary votes are conducted on a partisan whipped basis.

These factors themselves mean that if Howard becomes Prime Minister, and if he actually does hold the vote, he will restrain himself from directing his minions on how they should vote.

Which means that, even after any debate, the laws will remain unchanged.

Which shows Howard’s announcement up for what it is – a shallow, opportunistic attempt to sway pro-life sentiment in favour of a party which calls itself Conservative but which has shown no interest in any genuine conservative values for decades; the shallow, opportunistic gesture of a shallow, opportunistic man.

He, and the Parliamentary Party he leads, are largely unspeakable.

But the collective desire to restore the culture of life that this country’s leaders abandoned one night in 1967 is gathering steam. The pro-life movement has a photogenic and very vocal advocate, the Rev. Joanna Jepson, who has harried two doctors who performed a 28-week abortion on a child with a cleft palate – she herself suffered the condition in childhood, and was cured by reconstructive surgery.

In the ‘Sunday Times’ of March 20, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, perhaps mindful of the social conservatism of those African evangelicals who are threatening schism in the Anglican Communion over the ordination of homosexuals, came out publicly as a pro-lifer.

There is a change in attitude taking place, slowly, painfully, little by little, towards a restriction in the abortion laws. What’s needed is a party leader of great conscience to say publicly that they oppose abortion under all circumstances and will do everything in their power to restore its rightful illegal status. Will we ever get that?
Not on Michael Howard’s watch.