- 92% of Conservative MPs backed Iain Duncan Smith's call for fatherhood to be recognised when decisions about fertility treatment are being made. 82% of Labour MPs were opposed to such a recognition.
- A very similar divide was clear when it came to the unsuccessful attempt to reduce the time limit for abortion. 83% of Tory MPs favoured a lower limit and 80% of Labour MPs opposed it. Tory MP after Tory MP gave speeches last night in favour of increased protection for the unborn child.
If the Conservatives win the next election and if new MPs vote in similar proportion to the way their existing parliamentary parties vote then it is very likely that a tougher regime for abortion will be introduced.
The only clues to the next Conservative intake's views on social issues come from a November 2007 survey of candidates by ConservativeHome.com. Abortion wasn't addressed but euthanasia and gay adoption were. Candidates were divided on a right-to-die for very sick people but largely in favour of Catholic adoption agencies being free to deny placing children with gay couples.
- We're hearing that Brown's opposition to the fatherhood clause has really upset Mail Editor Paul Dacre. Dacre - who has been far too easy on Brown for many years - has often seen Brown as a social conservative and recently gave an enthusiastic welcome to the toughened status of cannabis. Mr Brown may have finally lost the goodwill of one of his biggest Fleet Street allies. We'll see...
- Can't think of a polite way of saying this... but the report in this morning's Times - David Cameron risks his moderniser image with vote on fatherhood - is real rubbish. Not everything needs to be reduced to the moderniser-traditionalist axis. The evidence - in our opinion - is now on the side of those who believe that fatherhood is important for the upbringing of children and that the 22 week old foetus is deserving of protection. You can disagree with that conclusion but it's petty to reduce these serious issues of morality and scientific judgment to whether you are a political moderniser or not.