Conservative Diary

Bioethics, abortion, euthanasia

24 Dec 2012 08:46:04

Cameron's Christmas message described "as the most Christian of its kind from an incumbent prime minister"

By Tim Montgomerie
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Screen Shot 2012-12-24 at 01.00.18

The Telegraph describes David Cameron's Christmas message "as the most Christian of its kind from an incumbent prime minister". The Daily Mail concludes that Mr Cameron "went further than ever last night when he quoted from the Bible, referring to Jesus as ‘the light of all mankind’ and the ‘Prince of Peace’".

Here is the key section of the message that has aroused reporters' interest and is being interpreted as an attempt to woo Christians offended by the Coalition's plans to introduce gay marriage:

"Christmas also gives us the opportunity to remember the Christmas story – the story about the birth of Jesus Christ and the hope that he brings to the countless millions who follow him. The Gospel of John tells us that in this man was life, and that his life was the light of all mankind, and that he came with grace, truth and love. Indeed, God’s word reminds us that Jesus was the Prince of Peace."

It is certainly more emphatic than the way he described his faith in 2008:

"I believe, you know. I am a sort of typical member of the Church of England. As Boris Johnson once said, his religious faith is a bit like the reception for Magic FM in the Chilterns: it sort of comes and goes. That sums up a lot of people in the Church of England. We are racked with doubts, but sort of fundamentally believe, but don't sort of wear it on our sleeves or make too much of it. I think that is sort of where I am."

Read Mr Cameron's full Christmas message here.

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6 Oct 2012 08:44:57

Cameron focuses on NHS at start of his "no turning back" Conference

By Tim Montgomerie
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Abortion: Day one of the Downing Street grid for party conference week did not have "abortion row" written on it but that's what Cameron has got. New Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has repeated his view that abortion should be restricted to a 12 week limit. This is what he has supported and voted for in the past. He has repeated that view in an interview with this morning's Times (£). The Today programme is leading on the issue this morning. I can hear the groaning from inside Number 10.

NHS: What Team Cameron wanted the media to be focused upon was Cameron's restatement of his commitment to the NHS. At a Tory Conference six years ago, Mr Cameron - seeking to emulate Tony Blair - suggested that his priorities were not three words but three letters: N-H-S. In opposition he erased Labour's advantage on the NHS. It was probably the Tory modernisers' single biggest political accomplishment. All that has sadly been reversed because of the NHS Bill controversy. In the start of a fightback Mr Cameron writes for the Daily Mail, restating his personal commitment to the health service's values and also promising a new £140 million fund to tackle the red tape that entangles nurses and doctors. The 'NHyes' campaign is about to be relaunched by the party.

Europe: Tory supporters wanting a more Eurosceptic party leadership in Birmingham look likely to be disappointed. The Foreign Secretary gives an interview to The Daily Telegraph in which he appears to downplay the possibility of a referendum on Britain's future relationship with the EU. He implies that the "fresh consent" referred to by David Cameron last week could easily mean a general election mandate. "I haven’t seen anything as Foreign Secretary that shows we should be leaving the European Union,” Mr Hague tells the newspaper. “I see many difficulties, I deal with hundreds of them every day but I support being in the single market …I remain a supporter of our membership of the EU.”

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8 Sep 2012 09:02:44

The new Ken Clarke? The new Health Minister, Anna Soubry, certainly gets off to controversial start by backing a right-to-die

By Tim Montgomerie
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Soubry Anna.ashxThe new Health Minister Anna Soubry gives an interview in today's Times (£). She's described as the "new Ken Clarke" and for good reason:

"The Conservative MP from Nottingham is a state-school-educated, clever barrister who loves cricket, beer and shoes. She’s straight-talking — “I hate bullshit: if you don’t know the answer, fess up,” she says. With a raucous laugh, a ballsy attitude and a wicked sense of humour, she seems normal... Mr Clarke, she says, is her inspiration. “I am from that side of the party. Ken is a hero, brave and with a brain the size of a planet.”"

She is, I predict, also going to follow Ken Clarke in another way. Anna "Knitting Needles" Soubry is going to be loved by the media for her straight-talking and anti-Right outbursts while she will be disliked (and envied) by many in her own party. She is already unpopular with some of her colleagues who allege that she shouts down critics of the Tory leadership at backbench 1922 meetings.

Three days after being promoted she's already courting controversy. She makes it clear in her interview with Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson that she's sympathetic to a right-to-die:

"“I think it’s ridiculous and appalling that people have to go abroad to end their life instead of being able to end their life at home.” She criticised the present law, urging greater “honesty” over when people would be prosecuted for helping relatives to die. She said: “The rules that we have about who we don’t prosecute allow things to happen but there’s a good argument that we should be a bit more honest about it.”

Continue reading "The new Ken Clarke? The new Health Minister, Anna Soubry, certainly gets off to controversial start by backing a right-to-die" »

1 Sep 2011 14:14:53

92% of MPs support the principle behind the Dorries/Field campaign for independent abortion counselling

By Matthew Barrett
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FIELD FRANK 2Nadine Dorries, a Conservative MP, and Frank Field, a Labour MP, jointly tabled an amendment to be debated when Parliament returns this month. The amendment's aim is to break the stranglehold on abortion counselling of certain groups which Dorries and Field say have a financial conflict of interest in advising women seeking terminations, and open up counselling to independent counsellers.

Today's development in the story is that Downing Street will reportedly vote against the amendment. How does the Guardian title their article on the issue?

"Downing Street forces U-turn on Nadine Dorries abortion proposals"

Continue reading "92% of MPs support the principle behind the Dorries/Field campaign for independent abortion counselling" »

22 Sep 2009 10:16:48

David Cameron signals strong opposition to assisted dying, stating that its consequences would be "dangerous for society"

As the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, reportedly prepares to rule that those who help a sick relative to die will not face prosecution, David Cameron has signalled his strong opposition to euthanasia or assisted dying.

Today's Daily Mail reprints excerpts from a letter the Tory leader wrote to pro-life campaigners three years ago - but which a spokesman for Mr Cameron confirms are very much still his views on the matter:

"The letter says: 'I would not have voted for this or any Bill legalising euthanasia or assisted dying.' He added that there was a fine line between 'allowing nature to take its course' and allowing doctors to accelerate death. 'I do not think we should tread over this line and we should not allow doctors or others positively to accelerate death - because I think the long-term consequences of permitting such action are too likely to be dangerous for society. I do not believe we should place anyone in this position (of being a burden) and believe that any such change in the law may have a profound impact on the relationship of terminally ill patients with their doctors'."

The party leader's office has reiterated, however, that the issue of assisted suicide, as a matter of conscience, would continue to be a free vote issue in Parliament.

Last month, 54% of Conservative members said that they believed people "should be able to die at a time of their own choosing".

Jonathan Isaby

7 Aug 2009 08:38:57

Tories members support a right-to-die in principle but fear the practical consequences

ConservativeHome found considerable support for the principle of ending one's own life in our latest monthly survey but also strong concerns about the vulnerability of the very old, very sick and very disabled should a legal right-to-die become enacted. There was strong support for Parliament, rather than the courts, deciding British law on this issue:


Continue reading "Tories members support a right-to-die in principle but fear the practical consequences" »

4 May 2009 19:50:39


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