Labour’s Deputy Leader Whipped Abortion Vote
It’s now out in the open. Despite the fact that abortion is meant to be a conscience issue in the House of Commons, Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, organised a massive whipping operation on Labour MPs during Tuesday’s debate on lowering the legal limit on abortion.
A secret plot led by Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman sabotaged moves to reduce the time limit for abortions, it was claimed last night.
She is accused of organising a group of women MPs who ‘browbeat and bullied’ their colleagues into voting to keep the 24-week limit.
The disclosure prompted claims that Labour had made a mockery of Gordon Brown’s pledge to allow MPs to vote last Tuesday according to their consciences.
Labour opponents of cutting the abortion limit allegedly got round this by persuading party chiefs to order MPs to attend the debate.
Do you see what they did? It’s a "free vote", but you have to attend.
Technically, once the MPs turned up, they could vote either way. In reality, sources say, they were greeted by Ms Harman’s group, who pressured them to vote against the move, proposed by Tory MP Nadine Dorries.
According to one account, women Labour MPs formed a ‘human corridor’ to channel their colleagues into the ‘No’ lobby. One Labour MP claimed to have heard one of Ms Harman’s team shout: ‘Vote against us and the sisterhood will never let you forget it.’
Ms Harman was assisted by fellow pro-abortion Labour MPs Barbara Follett, Joan Ruddock and Emily Thornberry.
Pretty disgusting, especially since Dawn Primarolo, Minister for Health and High Priestess of Molech, accused Nadine Dorries, Ann Widdecombe and Edward Leigh of playing party politics with the debate.
Ms Harman last night denied she had acted improperly. ‘It is deplorable that people who lost the argument now attempt to cry foul,’ she said. ‘It was a free vote and I worked with others to ensure that as many MPs as possible voted for the status quo.
‘We won because we had the most persuasive arguments. It is totally untrue that there was any kind of whipping operation.’
And yet, she was applying pressure on only Labour MPs. How does such an action tie up with the idea that she was trying "to ensure that as many MPs as possible voted for the status quo"? Surely if that’s your aim you twist the arms of all MPs, regardless of party.
Here’s how Nadine Dorries has responded:
Simon rang me the day after the vote to tell me that he had been given information that Harriett Harman had organised a huge whipping operation after the abortion vote. He wouldn’t disclose any details, however, I did get the feeling that maybe his information had come from Labour MPs as there was no way I, or any other Conservative, would have access to that kind of information.
His article today bears that out.
I love the picture of Harriet Harman watching my speech from behind the speaker’s chair, hand on hip – with a look that says it all!
Apparently, mine was the only speech she came into the chamber to listen to.
Harriett Harman’s mistake was to politicise an issue which has always been a free vote. She has now altered the basis upon which abortion discussion takes place within Westminster for a very long time.
Too right. If Gordon Brown thinks he can let his deputy abuse the notion of a free vote then Labour will get eveything coming to them. If the majority of Labour MPs lined up to support the 24 weeks position, despite the clear evidence that babies born before that time survive, despite the clear evidence that babies as young as 16 weeks (or less) feel pain, then we need to name them as what they are – men and women prepared to let others murder children. Abortion is nothing less that child murder and the Government has chosen to take a particular stance on the issue that allows thousands of children to be murdered every year then we must speak out against it.
Do you remember the film ‘Pretty Woman’ and the commission paid shop assistant on the strip, who looks down her nose with disdain at Julia Roberts as though she is not worthy of her attention – and in particular the scene where Julia Roberts walks back into the shop, arms loaded with designer bags and says to the gobsmacked shop assistant ‘Big mistake, big, huge’.
I do too.
I look forward to seeing where Nadine takes her campaign.