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Nadine Dorries MP

Nadine Dorries MP: Number 10 is simply throwing red meat to Christians over abortion - it will not reduce the limit

So, within three days, three ministers declare their position on the taboo subject of abortion, including the Secretary of State for Health. Has that ever happened before, in any government?

All three, Maria Miller, Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt, voted on an abortion amendment I brought forward to reduce the abortion limit in 2008, and so their position was already firmly on the record. This week, the story began with Maria Miller, who confirmed her preferred position on a reduction to twenty weeks.

It was surprising as Miller is possibly the most cautious of MPs. However, she was asked a direct and un-prompted question by the respected journalist Cathy Newman, and gave a straight answer. Maria Miller is the Minister for Women and Equalities, and it could be argued that there is a vague overlap from the equalities brief into abortion, so she felt compelled to answer.

Then, on the eve of conference, Number 10 put Jeremy Hunt up for an interview with the pro-choice Times newspaper and the aggressively pro-choice journalist Alice Thompson.

Given the attention Maria Miller's comments attracted during the week, and the fact that Jeremy was on the record as voting for a reduction to twelve weeks, it would have been safe to put a large amount of money on it being just about the first question Thompson was going to ask. And of course, it was. As with Miller, Hunt gave an honest and direct answer. He is the Secretary of State for Health, and abortion legislation is health legislation.

But then it becomes suspicious. On the Today programme, Theresa May was asked the same question. Instead of answering that, she was there to discuss the very important subject of the deportation of Abu Hamza, and strongly stating "as Secretary of State for the Home Office, I'm not here to talk about abortion", as she was quite within her right to do, she replied fully and stated her support for a reduction to twenty weeks.

A coincidence?

Well, hardly, unless Number 10 really are very stupid indeed and, although I am not their greatest fan, even I can't believe they are that disorganised.

Smell a whopping big rat?

I'm afraid so. The Maria Miller interview was genuine. Cathy Newman had not been prompted and asked a sincere question. I believe Number 10 decided they needed to do something to placate the Christian community and were intrigued by the positive reaction from the public to Miller's direct comments. I think Number 10 warned Hunt that he would be asked about his abortion voting record and to answer candidly. Ditto May. Which leads me to believe that this week may hold some further announcements regarding gay marriage.

In the Sunday Telegraph today, there is a poll of Conservative Party chairmen which shows 71% are opposed to gay marriage. Maybe Number 10 thought that staging a distraction on abortion voting intentions would be like throwing red meat to the Christians. Maybe they thought they would swallow it?

On Monday, the Coalition for Marriage will be holding one of the biggest receptions at conference with over a thousand people attending.

The Government has no intention of reducing, or supporting a reduction, to twelve weeks, and would try to avoid, at all costs, a vote on twenty weeks. Whatever the reason for the confusing, obviously staged, cack-handed, ministerial announcements on the abortion voting record of ministers, Number 10 have created a mess of their own making, which is bound to bounce back and bite them. 

You can't take five million people for idiots, they will make us pay - of that we can be sure. 


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