The Week: Theresa May's Abortion Dilemma, JezFest Flops and Dominic Cummings's Brexit Rant

May’s Abortion Debate Nightmare

The fall-out from the overwhelming vote to change Ireland’s abortion laws was inevitable.

Theresa May now faces a lose-lose situation as campaigners pressure her into decriminalising abortion in Northern Ireland.

When David Steel’s legalised abortion in Great Britain, it did not extend it to Northern Ireland due to religious sensitivities on both sides of the religious divide. Now the DUP is opposed to abortion and has made threatening noises about blocking May’s Brexit legislation should she act; meanwhile Sinn Fein now supports reform but opposes Westminster intervening.

May would be accused of intervening on a devolved matter against both main parties’s wishes should she support legalisation, even if a great majority support greater access to abortion. .

Stormont has not met for 15 months. That means power has ceded back to the Secretary of State and Westminster. 

There is no point devolving power if everytime it is opportune, the central parliament plays Mummy. The point about principles is that one sticks to them even when they are inconvenient.

However, there is precedent. Civil partnership legislation was passed, and included Northern Ireland, while Stormont was suspended. And if May does not intervene, she allows the callousness of the North’s abortion laws to continue to harm lives. There is a principle there too.

There is a lot of political point scoring going on here. Labour are attacking the prime minister because anything that brings up her reliance on the DUP makes her look weak. In addition, it helps them with their supposed women’s vote problem. Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabati has said the issue brings up the issue of whether the prime minister is a feminist.

She goes onto to say that you cannot have democracy without human rights. Is abortion a fundamental right that it is an exception? I ask the question genuinely. If so, these issues should not have been devolved in the first place.

On that issue, the Supreme Court will rule on 7th June and it may be that the decision is taken out of the government’s hands.


Moggwatch (Part 3)

It is an oxygen and publicity thing. Moggwatch is being suspended. (HT Matt Chorley)

Instead, we turn our focus to Dominic Cummings, the former director of Vote Leave, who in an extraordinary open letter has attacked Brexit as a “shambles” and “a trainwreck”.

Welcome to the club, Dom. Take a seat. What were you doing when we said all this?

Cummings’s point is that he ran a campaign that said Brexit would be simple and those who attacked it were ‘Project Fear’. The trouble started when the idea of Brexit collided with something called reality. Had we avoided this, Brexit would now be going smoothly.

It is, of course, not Cummings’s fault that this happened. It is our fault as we did not realise for Brexit to be successful, we also had to elect Michael Gove as prime minister etc etc etc. As I said, that easy bit confused voters who did not know there was small print to the promises of sunlit uplands.

In all of this, Dom, you - not the country you betrayed with your dishonest campaign -  are the one let down. We are sorry. What is the best way we can show our contrition?

Can we put it on a bus?

JezzFest Flop

When the Labour party came up with the idea of ‘JezFest’ they obviously wanted to recreate the iconic images from summer 2017 when crowds serenaded the Labour leader. Today, the lack of enthusiasm is leaving the party facing losses of millions.

Its failure brings up a serious political point. The last month has seen a hive of activity from the Tories as they scrabble about for new ideas. The chances are any policy will not make it to the top table. However, the Tories realise they have a problem. It is a starting point.

On the Labour side, there is strategic inertia. Corbyn has seemed convinced he will become PM but has been unable to tell us how, nor come up with big ideas that capture the public imagination and win elections.

The days after Grenfell where his show of humanity captured parts of the public’s imagination are long gone.

Labour are resting their hopes on polls that show policies such as nationalisation are popular to get them over the finishing line. Polls in the 1980s rarely showed support for Thatcherism and often showed voters approved of higher taxes: on polling day people voted Tory not Labour.

Politics has rarely been so fluid but the one certainty is that the next election will be nothing like 2017.

Corbyn’s new-found ability to make hay at PMQs on crime, the NHS and Brexit demonstrates he has tactics. The flop that is JezzFest shows his strategy is a bit last season.   

The Interview that Split the Nation

Who do you support in a dispute between Richard Madeley and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson?

Madeley inches it by making Williamson look like a chump. However he then goes and ruins it all by writing a self-congratulatory piece in The Guardian.


More about the author

About the author

Educated at Durham University and UCL, Graham is Disclaimer's editor and a regular contributor. He has written for numerous publications including Tribune, Out Magazine and Vice. He has also contributed to two books of political counterfactuals for Biteback Media, Prime Minister Boris (2011) and Prime Minister Corbyn (2016).

A democratic republican lefty, he struggles daily with the conflict between his ingrained senses of idealism and pragmatism.

Follow Graham on Twitter.

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